Best for business

Back in August, when I got to go hands-on for the first time with WWE 2K15, 2K revealed that the series would fall more in line with NBA 2K and feature a career mode for the first time. This past week, I was able to go hands-on with MyCareer mode for WWE 2K15 for about 45 minutes and take a look at life in the squared circle at three separate stages.

First, however, I must say that I was a bit disappointed I wasn’t allowed to play at all with the customization features for which the series is known. Of course, you’ll be able to do this in the final game, but “my” wrestler was pre-made. Although the couple of created characters we played with gave a nice overview of different hair colors, body types, and luchador masks, it wasn’t really the same as actually being able to dig through the creative options.

Beyond this, though, WWE 2K15’s MyCareer mode impressed me in a lot of ways. I began my journey as a wet-behind-the-ears rookie with a 55 overall rating. Without any pomp and circumstance, I was thrown into one of the seven rings available at a digital re-creation of the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, the company’s new home for training up-and-coming superstars.

And who was there, immediately barking orders and telling me how awful I was? WWE head trainer Bill DeMott. Now, Mr. DeMott is a very nice person, and I was fortunate enough to actually meet him at the Performance Center last week. But when you’re one of his students and you step into one of his rings, things change, and my created wrestler had Bill’s ire fall upon his head several times—and it was awesome.

As I worked matches in the ring, I received a one-to-five-star rating based on how I did in the and the show I put on for the crowd (if there’d been an audience besides good ol’ Bill). A match’s ebb and flow is also taken into consideration, so dominating against a jobber might not be best for business when you’re trying to tell a story in the ring. This made the new stamina bar (which I’ve now confirmed cannot be turned off) make a lot more sense, since it allowed my opponent a chance to get in a few strikes and provide at least a little bit of offense as I tried to catch my breath to perform my finisher. After the match, I got points to spend on my wrestler and level up his in-ring abilities, such as arm strength, speed, and stamina.

Once I was done messing around with my rookie, I flashed forward in my career and made it to the main RAW roster. At this point, I’d only been on the show a few weeks. It was immediately evident that no matter whether I won or lost, MyCareer mode would carry on and adjust accordingly. If I was in the midst of a rivalry, matches against other wrestlers weren’t as important, but they helped set up the story—a rival might interfere with our match or try to get in a cheap shot when I wasn’t looking. And even if I lost the match against my rival, I could still elevate my status in WWE and try to become a main-eventer.

Since the WWE had clearly invested a lot in me, though, in order to help elevate my brand, they wanted me to start a feud with an established star—and, in my case, I drew Daniel Bryan. I had the choice of shaking his hand to start a friendly rivalry or giving him a low blow. I gave him the low blow, which promptly started a “No!” chant led by my character.

I then flashed forward one more time to almost seven years into my career. By this point, I’d won a few titles, including the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and main-evented some pay-per-views. I was still wrestling at a high clip, but then Brock Lesnar decided to show up and demonstrate what he thought of me by F5’ing me in the middle of the ring. This prompted a Twitter feud between Brock’s advocate, Paul Heyman, and me, where I could choose to respond to Heyman via a couple of options—much like I had the choice on how to kick off my feud with Bryan. Meanwhile, in the ring, over the course of several weeks, Brock and I continued getting in each other’s faces—until finally, Heyman said the two of us would meet in a no-disqualification match at the next PPV.

Though I only saw a brief glimpse of MyCareer mode, it definitely feels like something that I could play again and again just to see how my superstar’s career could change each time based on decisions I made. Also, storylines you might see in real life started to unfold organically, which made it feel like I was watching actual WWE programming and not just playing a game. If MyCareer can give me this feeling for hours on end, WWE 2K15 now has a mode to elevate the franchise to the next level—and I can’t wait to really dig into it on the new generation of consoles.

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