While 2K Sports and the team at Visual Concepts continuously dominate the basketball market share with their near-impeccable NBA franchise, the WWE franchise, developed by Yuke's in partnership with Visual Concepts—despite running unopposed—has left a lot to be desired since the series debuted on the PlayStation 4/Xbox One generation of consoles back in the fall of 2014. The commentary has rehashed many of the same trite phrases we’ve heard in years past, character models have been wholly inconsistent, various match types have been removed, and while Universe Mode and MyCAREER are solid additions, year-over-year they tend to come across uninspired, lacking depth, and directionless.
WWE 2K18, and the team over at Yuke's, hoped to assuage wrestling fans’ worries back in July when they began rolling out the first bits of information for the next installment in their annualized wrestling franchise. With the promises of new commentary, deeper game modes, a more robust Creation Suite, and a new engine, they're on the right track with addressing the nagging issues that have plagued this franchise. This will be the first iteration of the franchise to not be released on the previous generation of consoles (i.e. PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360), which lends itself to some optimism as they focus their development solely on the PS4/Xbox One install base.
The developers showed off aspects of their new engine last month to display better lighting and camera effects via deferred rendering, and more realistic skin shading while promising, “the most realistic WWE game ever.” While that promise sounded great, the deliverability was up in the air as the demo shown was the 2K18 engine, but with 2K17 player models, leaving fans wondering how the game will look once all the pieces are in place.
We received our first glimpse of that earlier today when 2K Sports shared the first screenshot from this year’s game via cover athlete Seth Rollins’ Twitter:
Image courtesy of @WWERollins and @WWEGames
The new engine appears to be a shot in the arm for the character models, and is a vast improvement over recent years. The aforementioned lighting effects and skin shading provides more realistic definition which can only serve to benefit the game as it hopes to provide the realism level the developers are seeking. Another highlight of this image is this may in fact be the WWE game that finally gets hair right. While my gripe can be classified as nit-picky, hair (specifically long hair) has been seen in previous titles with heavy aliasing creating jagged edges that tend to clip through the character, and it looks as if facial hair has gone beyond the realm of just being a layer painted on the character’s face. As a whole, I am excited to see how everything looks in motion once we see gameplay, which historically we’ll see alongside the roster reveal as we get closer to WWE SummerSlam on August 20th.
WWE 2K18 releases October 17, 2017 (Early access for those that pre-order the Deluxe Edition begins October 13) for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. For more information about the game, be sure to come back to www.48minutesnetwork.com.