Tag Archive: WWE 2K16


WWE 2K16 Universe Mode Gameplay

I play WWE Universe mode in WWE 2K16 on Xbox One. Sounds like we still were having a couple of audio issues, but it was far better than my Transformers: Devastation video. Thanks everyone for watching and don’t forget to subscribe!

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A mid-card contender

The Attitude Era, a time period that engulfed wrestling in the late 90s through early 2000s, is widely considered to be the pinnacle of modern sports entertainment. Never before had WWE’s brand reached such a wide audience, and many of the television ratings records set back then remain standing today. So, it is no wonder that when wrestling video games need a pick-me-up, they look back to that era for inspiration to put themselves back on track—and WWE 2K16 is no exception.

After a down debut on current-gen consoles last year, the annual WWE 2K franchise looked to one of the greatest faces of the Attitude Era—Stone Cold Steve Austin—as a reason to inject some much-needed edge back into the series. The Texas Rattlesnake was a beast for WWE starting with his meteoric rise in 1997 through to his retirement in 2003, so it’s no surprise that they’d model this year’s 2K Showcase mode after him.

Letting players relive many of Austin’s best matches from his time with WWE is a concentrated shot of nostalgia that any child of the Attitude Era can’t help but enjoy, as classic footage is spliced with recreated in-game cutscenes. Making things even more enticing are Bonus Matches. After completing certain bouts, some of Stone Cold’s best pre-WWE moments—like when he was “Stunning” Steve Austin in WCW—are unlocked, letting you take on the likes of Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and many others.

While the 2K Showcase mode is great for a walk down memory lane, where the WWE 2K series usually shines is when it lets gamers play wrestling god and create different matches, wrestlers, arenas, and more to satiate whatever their heart may desire to see inside the squared circle. Or, if they’d prefer, they can walk the path of a superstar themselves and see what it takes to win major gold in the world’s premiere wrestling promotion.

For those micromanagers out there, WWE Universe returns, letting players pit their favorite wrestlers of the past and present from the WWE series’ largest roster yet (120 superstars and divas combined) against each other. If you want, you can create major wrestling shows for every day of the week, cultivating made-up arenas with the returning Create-an-Arena feature, and then watch as matches play out. You can also step in, if you’d prefer, and influence the direction of your WWE over the course of several years on the calendar. There are even adjustable sliders that can affect a wrestler’s personality this year, influencing how they will or won’t act in the ring, and injuries can now occur, drastically shifting storylines at times just like the real-world WWE. The only knock against WWE Universe is the inability to create more detailed storylines, but seeing as how much you are able to customize here, filling in the gaps for the usually impressive AI isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Sometimes the best part of the WWE games aren’t just playing as your favorite wrestlers from TV, but inserting yourself, or some crazy cockamamie monstrosity, into the action. Create-a-Wrestler is far deeper than it was last year, bolstered by the fact that you can upload your own personal designs quickly and easily via the WWE 2K16 website to put on your wrestler or their clothes. You can even upload your own face—like I did to create super-journalist Murrow Thompson—and really feel like you’re getting into the game (quality of results will vary).

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You can also customize your wrestler’s moveset, with thousands of attacks and abilities available to you. My only disappointment here is the lack of Create-a-Finisher, as nothing makes your wrestler feel more like your own than piecing together a finishing move that no one else in the world has, even if it borrows parts from already existing moves. I think a pop-up DDT would’ve been just what Murrow needed to enlighten the masses; instead I settled for Dean Ambrose’s Dirty Deeds.

Once you have a created wrestler, you can then import them (or a different superstar made from scratch) and enter the revamped MyCareer mode. Looking to add a stronger sports simulation aspect to the traditionally arcade-inspired WWE series, last year’s MyCareer mode was the worst kind of grind that culminated in a single Wrestlemania match. This year is different.

Starting off in NXT, your mission is to one day make the WWE Hall of Fame. By wrestling in highly regarded matches, you can build your character up to more easily achieve a series of possible career goals that will lead to guaranteed enshrinement. What goals you pursue are entirely up to you, however. You can dominate at the mid-card level, winning the US and Intercontinental titles multiple times. Or, if you’d prefer, you can try to hold every title once and get the career Grand Slam. Wrestling in certain kinds of matches at certain venues as well as a multitude of other paths can also catapult you to the desired stardom you require. Although, I will warn that if you choose to focus on tag team gold, the AI for your partner may make you want to go the way of The Rockers sooner rather later. You also get to actually play an entire career, instead of flash forwarding to your retirement match upon completion of certain objectives (unless you choose to retire, which is entirely up to you)—giving the mode much needed longevity and replayability.

There are also more ways to play to the crowd and develop your wrestler’s personality. By participating in Extreme Rules matches and the like, and using weapons and tables, your aggression and other personality traits will adjust. The most important personality factor, however, comes from your post-match interview with Renee Young. From here, depending on your answers, you can start rivalries, change alliance, or turn face or heel. What decisions you make there can in turn gives you more options, like participating in a new feature that allows you to interfere with your rival’s matches.

The biggest addition to MyCareer mode is the in-match feedback on how your match is going. Move variety, hitting signature and finishing moves, and sprinkling in some “OMG! Moments” will help result in a 5-star match. Repeating moves, never countering, or quick matches will result in lower stars and less progress for your character. This emphasis on move variety helps each and every match feel genuinely like something you’d see from the real life WWE.

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Even with all these modes and the additions made to them, though, it would all be for naught if the in-ring product did not make advancements from last year’s game—and in a fair amount of ways it did. A slew of new mechanics have been added to WWE 2K16’s gameplay, and most of them work very well. A new, slowly refilling reversal meter finally nerfs players who know how to perfectly time every move, with each wrestler only having three-to-five reversals to start a match, and you’re never allowed to hold more than whatever you started with. You can also now slow the pace of matches down with Working Holds. Just like in real life, these allow wrestlers to catch their breath while also draining the stamina of their opponents. These two changes alone greatly expand the strategic depth you now carry into the ring, especially when combined with the chain wrestling and stamina meters added last year.

One gameplay addition misses the mark, though, and that’s the new submission system. The button mashing minigame of yesterday is thankfully dead, but in its place is an overlay system where you must try to get your bar to consistently overlap an opposing wrestler’s. The more tired they are—or if it’s a finishing submission like a Sharpshooter—the easier it will be to make them tap, but controlling the bar makes it feel like you’re wrestling the controller as much as your opponent.

WWE 2K16’s in-ring product has also seen its fair share of polishing. While the occasional glitch still pops up, it’s nowhere as bad as last year. Many character models also look much better—especially impressive considering the 120-person roster—but there are still a few examples where wrestlers look like they were being pulled from games that are two or three years older than this. While she never steps in the ring, I feel it necessary to point out the aforementioned Renee Young looks particularly stiff and frightening during your MyCareer interview segments.

It also needs to be said that, unlike the look of the game, the commentary has not come very far. Some new lines have thankfully been recorded to avoid as much repetition as last year, but too often Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler talk about subjects irrelevant to the match, making you think at times the dialogue has glitched. Oh, and it sounded like JBL, who was added to mark the first time we have a three-man commentary team in the game, had a cold when he recorded his lines.

Some minor annoyances aside, WWE 2K16 has taken a step largely in the right direction. Many, but not all, features missing from last year’s game return. Online functionality was questionable on the first day of launch, but seems to have stabilized over the weekend from what I’ve seen. A fully realized MyCareer mode and reliving the glory days of Stone Cold Steve Austin highlight an improved in-ring experience and the largest roster in the series’ history. While not ready to hog the spotlight like a main eventer, WWE 2K16 should find a nice spot on any wrestling fans’ roster of fall games.

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Developer: Yuke’s/Visual Concepts • Publisher: 2K Sports • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 10.27.15
8.0
A big step forward for the series, WWE 2K16 is still some polishing and a new submission system away from being Hall of Fame material, but should make a nice living as a stop gap in your library before hopefully bridging the gap to a bigger and better game next year.
The Good The fleshing out of MyCareer. Reliving Stone Cold Steve Austin’s glory days. The long-awaited balancing of reversals. Return of many match variations.
The Bad Submission system still misses the mark. I miss Create-a-Finisher. Tag team AI needs work. Awful announcing.
The Ugly The haunting robot that claims to be Renee Young when it comes time for your MyCareer interviews.
WWE 2K16 is available on Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, and PS3. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by 2K Sports for the benefit of this review.

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When I got my hands on WWE 2K16 for the first time a few weeks ago, the small amount of gameplay I saw had me worried. After playing a more complete build of the game this past week, however, that first demo seems to have been an earlier build that wasn’t quite ready for prime time. Now, I’m more confident the franchise is taking the necessary steps forward to get it back to where fans of “sports entertainment” want it to be.

The most obvious difference between my demos was found in the gameplay. I experienced a lot less glitches in and around the ring, and now grapples and reversals both felt much tighter. I also saw the return of the collar-and-elbow tie up from last year’s game at the beginning of matches that prompts a rock-paper-scissors mini-game, showing the franchise’s commitment to providing more realistic, properly-paced matches.

The ability to “run-in” or “break-out” during entrances was also an interesting feature that I began to take more advantage of during my second time playing the game. While getting a cheap shot in on my opponents may not have been the most sporting thing to do, it was a lot of fun, and authentic to what you might see on RAW every week when you have two opponents who particularly hate each other.

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Where I spent most of my time, however, was with the returning career mode. Once again, you get to create your own wrestler from scratch, see them toil in NXT, and then hopefully make the main-roster—with your primary goal being to see their 15-year career culminate in a WWE Hall of Fame induction.

Due to the limited amount of time I had with the game, I didn’t have much of a chance to dig deep into the specific options of wrestler creation. To save time, I just slapped some brightly colored trunks and boots onto my guy before sending him out to be lambasted by WWE’s new head trainer Matt Bloom (better known as Albert, or Lord Tensai, to longtime fans of the product). Here, career mode took its time teaching me the ins and outs of what it means to put on a good match, focusing on the importance of move variety and how the new Five-Star system works.

What’s really nice about this new career mode is that you now get a lot more dynamic feedback in the ring. Each move you perform can add or detract to your match’s five-star rating, and utilizing every move in your repertoire to keep the fans entertained is critical. Every time you step into the squared circle, it’ll be those fans—not wins or losses—that’ll be most on your mind.

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There are other ways to get fans to react than what you do in-ring, however. After any big match, you’ll be interviewed backstage by WWE’s Renee Young, during which she’ll pose to you a multiple choice question. How you respond over the course of the interview can change you from a face to a heel (good guy or bad guy for those not up on the lingo) or vice versa, as well as help flesh out your personality. Do you want to be aggressive or cocky? Charming or funny? How you answer these questions will determine how the fans react every week when you make your entrance.

Your fellow NXT and WWE superstars are also paying close attention to these interviews, as what you say or who you call out can lead to different rivalries. Because tag-team wrestling has also been given a heavier focus in this year’s game, who you have a greater affinity with personality-wise will also help determine who is willing to wrestle alongside you when the time comes to find a tag-team partner.

Once you start working on your character, you’ll then be able to pick your own set of goals as you start working towards having a Hall of Fame career. You can focus on climbing the ladder, working your way from NXT to the main roster to obtain the US Championship, Intercontinental Championship, and finally WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Maybe you want to focus on being part of a tag-team, and go for double-digit tag team championship reigns like the Dudley Boyz. Or maybe you’re okay being a mid-carder, setting your sights on breaking Chris Jericho’s nine-time reign record with the IC belt. There are multiple paths to the Hall of Fame—but how you get there is your choice.

It’s this new depth to career mode and the pacing of in-ring matches that has me really excited again for WWE 2K16. While I think it’ll be fun to relive the glory days of Stone Cold Steve Austin, the real meat and potatoes of the WWE 2K experience needs to start coming from other places. In that, career mode looks primed to start pulling its weight as a top-of-the-line attraction in this annual sports entertainment simulator.

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Even after a relatively weak showing last year, I had hope that the second new-gen outing for the WWE’s annual wrestling franchise would be able to right the last game’s wrongs and bring the series to a new level. After all, it’s very common that yearly sports releases require an extra year or two before they hit their stride with new technology. Unfortunately, if everything I saw at the hands-on reveal of the game at SummerSlam this year was any indicator, WWE 2K16 is still a ways away from being a main event attraction in gaming’s always crowded fall season.

The demo we were given had access to two modes. The first is your standard Exhibition, which allowed us to tussle with a dozen or so revealed wrestlers from the company’s massive roster. We could do your standard one-on-one face-off, or wrestle as a tag team. I quickly set up a match between current WWE World Heavyweight and US Champion Seth Rollins (who I controlled) and Brock Lesnar, creating a rematch of sorts from the WWE Battleground PPV from a few weeks ago.

As soon as Brock started making his way to the ring, I was able to try out one of the new features the game touts—which gives wrestlers the option to run out during their opponent’s entrance to sneak attack them. With the element of surprise on my side, I began pounding on Brock as we slowly fought our way down the steel ramp. To my chagrin, after a couple of minutes the referee called off the match, much like he would on Monday Night RAW, and the match was declared a no-contest.

When offered a rematch I took it. This time, when I jumped Brock (again, not mandatory, but I was embracing my heel nature), I ran into the ring after clotheslining him, and Brock followed suit. After a quick, but very awkward cutscene that automatically positioned each wrestler on their starting marks—and which suddenly changed Seth’s clothes from his pre-match attire to what he more traditionally wears in the ring after a series of oddly timed cuts—the match started, with Brock at a slight disadvantage.

The idea of being able to run out during another wrestler’s entrance is a good one. It adds an element of unpredictability when playing with friends, and a sense of authenticity when compared to the product we see on TV every week. I think players need a better sense of when the referee is about to call the match off, because had I known that at first, I would have run into the ring much sooner in my first match—but otherwise this is a welcome addition.

Once the action got going in the right, however, I noticed an alarming problem: all the wrestlers felt particularly sluggish. In every match I played over the course of the evening, with different wrestlers from Wade Barrett to Daniel Bryan, it felt like they all had cement shoes on. This wasn’t just a problem in terms of speed, but also in how fights flowed. Gameplay was relatively unresponsive, with most matches devolving into the counter-fests that had plagued previous iterations of the game. We can only hope that everything is tightened up in the two months before launch, but this was disappointing to see to say the least.

Another issue that has troubled the WWE series is glitches, and this demo was chock full of them. The awkward resetting of the wrestlers at their starting marks was just the beginning; clipping issues, broken animation and ragdoll effects, and awkward cutscenes and replays happening in inopportune moments—like when I was going for a pinfall against my opponent—were all prominent throughout my playtime. While all of these are things that will hopefully be fixed by the final version, with 120 wrestlers on the roster, it’d be shocking if they all could be cleaned up by October’s launch. Even some of the wrestlers themselves seemed unfinished, with the quality difference between characters models for guys like Wade Barrett and Brock Lesnar being extremely evident.

Once a given match gets underway, whether you jump your opponent or not, the combat is the same as it has been in years past. Last year’s stamina meter returns, along with three health bars. You still use the face buttons on your controller to perform a series of strikes, grapples, Irish whips, and finally the pin. The only difference I noticed immediately in the ring is the quicktime grapples that started matches last year have been removed. It’s unclear whether or not they can be turned back on in options, but they were clearly missing from the demo we had.

There is also a brand new pinning and submission system, with the latter being similar to what was seen in EA Sports UFC, where each person has a bar in a circular icon. The hold applier is trying to overlap the defender’s bar, and if they do so for a long enough time, the defender will tap out. It’s a nice change from the button mashing system of years past but definitely takes a few attempts to get used to.

The pinning system is still a timing-based mechanic similar to previous games, but instead of holding a button and then releasing it when a meter fills into a “sweet spot” (resulting in a kick out), there’s now a spinning bar in a circle that only requires a tap of the button in hopes of landing in the target area. The more health you have, the bigger that sweet spot is, but both myself and my opponents found it easier to kick out with this method. In fact, I was kicking out of pinfalls even after three of Brock Lesnar’s F5s, and the other player after two Pedigrees from me.

The tag match I played with Tyson Kidd and Cesaro versus the Lucha Dragons played out similarly, but the one observation I made there is that the AI for your partner is much smarter than it used to be. Whenever I went for a pinfall, my teammate would often intercept the opponent’s tag partner and prevent the pinfall from being broken up—whereas, in last year’s game, I often had to take out both opponents before I could attempt a pinfall. As long as I went for the pin closer to my corner than the opponent’s, there was a great chance my partner was going to jump into the ring and make sure we got the win.

The other mode I got to go hands-on with was 2K’s Showcase mode, which this year follows the career of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Besides tapping into that nostalgia factor for those of us who grew up in the Attitude Era, Austin had some of WWE’s best matches in the late 90s and early 2000s. The first of the mode’s sixteen chapters sees Austin in the finals of the 1997 King of the Ring against a hobbled Jake “The Snake” Roberts, who was reeling after receiving a Vader Bomb in the semi-finals. Just like previous years, meeting each match stipulation results in a full cutscene, and rewards that would be fitting for the Texas Rattlesnake, before unlocking the next chapter.

The new aspects that are trying to be added to WWE 2K16 this year seem like steps forward, but with foundational elements—like how the wrestlers feel and look when you play—still needing to be fixed before the game launches, I’m admittedly worried about this year’s entry. With a couple of months still before release, I’m hopeful the bumps can be smoothed out and that we’ll see a higher level of quality in the game modes we’ve yet to encounter. If not, WWE 2K may need to take a long look at itself as a franchise before being sent back down to a developmental territory to work on its gimmick.

Recently, I had the chance to talk with the legendary Stone Cold Steve Austin during the filming of his WWE 2K16 reveal trailer. What does the toughest man to ever step inside the squared circle have to say about being named the cover athlete? Hear what he told me in this behind-the-scenes video interview!

WWE 2K16 will be available on October 27 for Xbox One and PS4.

WWE Legend Stone Cold Steve Austin is turning WWE 2K16 into WWE 2K 3:16.

Stone Cold Steve Austin, a six-time WWE Champion, three-time Royal Rumble winner, and 2009 inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame will officially grace the cover of WWE 2K16 this year. Looking to raise some hell in video game form, the official announcement came via trailer this morning showcasing Stone Cold digging up a key aspect of his past, the Smoking Skulls WWE Championship belt.

Austin was one of WWE’s most celebrated superstars during the Attitude Era of the late 90s, cementing his status as an icon with classic rivalries against Bret “The Hitman” Hart, The Rock, and especially WWE CEO Vince McMahon.

WWE 2K16 will be available for Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, and PS3 on October 27.