Not long after the death of publisher THQ, Take-Two Interactive (under its 2K brand) revealed that it had scooped up the WWE video game rights, ensuring that gamers would continue to get their recommended annual allowances of body slams, suplexes, piledrivers, and backbreakers. Japanese company Yuke’s remains the developer behind the franchise’s next entry--simply titled WWE 2K14--and many former THQ personnel continue to provide creative direction on the new title. Still, we have high hopes that the change in publisher will provide an opportunity for plentiful innovations, enhancements, and fixes to the seminal pro wrestling series.
Here are 14 additions we’d like to see made to WWE 2K14 that could make it the world class grappler we always wanted. But first...
Release date is set for October 29
Even though WWE games have a new home, it looks like the release dates are staying virtually the same. WWE 2K14 publisher Take-Two confirmed that the game would be coming to stores October 29. For the record, THQ's final entrant in the series, WWE 13 launched a day later last year, on October 30..
Currently there’s no confirmation of what systems the game will be available for exactly, or if next-gen versions are planned for release later this year. If it’s any comfort, we do know that The Rock will be the cover star. Keep reading if you’d like to see our best guesses when for what else WWE 2K14 has up its sleeve.
A more robust career mode
The Attitude Era mode in WWE ’13 was very good, and the Road to WrestleMania modes in past WWE titles were enjoyable, but there’s no question that those modes were fairly limiting--you could only play as a handful of certain superstars, and there wasn’t a lot of room for choice. We’d like to see a Road to WrestleMania mode that allows you to pick any superstar you want, then go after whatever championship you desire, participating in storylines with branching paths that provide significant replay value.
There’s no reason that the main single-player mode should be limited to just a few big stars; if it’s your dream to see Cody Rhodes reclaim the Intercontinental belt at WrestleMania, or Zack Ryder to pull off an upset and become WWE Champion, then so be it. It’s not exactly a groundbreaking idea--earlier WWE games have successfully explored similar concepts--but it’s one that’s well worth revisiting.
Make it next-gen
PlayStation 4 and (probably) the next Xbox will be in gamers’ living rooms by the end of the year, and we want to see WWE 2K14 right there with them. Sure, it’s not always easy to quickly bring an annual franchise onto new hardware, so maybe a “next-gen” WWE 2K14 means a game with high-poly-count character models, more wrestlers on the screen at once (who’s ready for a 10-man battle royal or a 5-on-5 Survivor Series match?), the ability to put more layers on custom characters, or some social functionality, but however it’s done, we hope that 2K and Yuke’s can put the resources behind a next-generation wrestling game sooner rather than later.
And let’s not forget about Wii U. For the entire lifespan of the Wii, Nintendo users have to suffer through inferior versions of WWE games; hopefully this will be the year that Nintendo fans get the full experience, complete with online play, downloadable content, and the full customization suite.
Improved visual details
In some ways the WWE games look fantastic. In others... not so much. The series could especially use a boost in the cloth-physics department. Currently, the clothing acts like it’s part of the character’s body instead of moving independently, which just looks bizarrely unnatural when it comes to details like robes, coats, and shorts. (Witness Edge’s trench coat, for example, which sticks to the back of his legs, or Brock Lesnar’s shorts, which move as if they’re part of his thighs.)
The hair physics need some help, too--hair doesn’t move most of the time, and when it does, it tends to go wildly out of control. Fixing both of these details would go a long way in WWE’s push toward authenticity.
A new universe
The WWE Universe mode has so much potential, yet continuously fall short. In WWE ’13, you’re constantly forced to fight back against the CPU’s bizarre booking decisions. We’d like to see the mode fixed so we’re actually able to establish feuds and influence the outcomes of simulated matches, but we wouldn’t stop there. We want to design entire event cards before playing them (rather than modifying each match as it comes up), add run-ins to custom matches, and adjust card lengths (why does the 1-hour Superstars have as many matches as the 3-hour Raw?).
In general, the mode needs to provide the kind of godlike control that it always aimed for, while still allowing for the option of unpredictability. We’d also love to be able to add promos and backstage events into the mix, including full-fledged scenarios that could be imported from the game’s story editor mode. The possibilities could be endless if WWE 2K14’s Universe mode receives the proper attention.
Fix the commentary
Let’s face it--the commentary in the WWE games is not very good. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler say the same things match after match, and much of the commentary is recycled from previous games. To make matters worse, half the time the comments don’t even pertain to the competitors or actions in the ring (such as during Divas matches when Lawler gets confused and refers to the ladies as men).
The only solution is to scrap the current commentary and start over, offering a wider variety of insights and play-by-play remarks. And while they’re at it, they should bring in Josh Mathews and John “Bradshaw” Layfield to provide the commentary for SmackDown matches. As long as we’re getting into wish fulfillment, how about an adjustable “annoying” scale for Michael Cole’s voice?
Flexible, evolving DLC
There’s no question that downloadable content has been a big part of recent WWE offerings, but it’s always been very rigid; the publisher announces its DLC lineup, it comes out as dictated by a schedule, and that’s that. WWE is supposed to be a place where anything can happen, and we’d like to see more dynamic DLC offerings to support that. An absent superstar suddenly returns? Add him to the DLC schedule. John Cena debuts a new color of Fruity Pebbles attire? Make it a downloadable costume. Cody Rhodes starts sporting a mustache? Make that a downloadable option as well.
We know it’s impossible to keep the game constantly up to date, but if something big or exciting happens on WWE programming, 2K should find a way to work in dynamic DLC like this, just like it does for its other sports games.
Speaking of downloadable goodies, we’d love to see a new feature in WWE ’14 that allows users to download and play through pre-designed event cards on a weekly basis, preferably based on a historical pay-per-view or a recent televised event. How cool would it be to watch a blockbuster Raw one night, then have it automatically pushed to you a day or two later, featuring approximately the same matches, stipulations, and participants--but in an environment where you can control how each match transpires?
Perhaps you could even play through the matches with other players online. The content doesn’t need to be anything too elaborate, and, of course, some particularly specific stipulations likely couldn’t be re-created in the game, but such a feature could provide a lot of fun nonetheless.
Is it too much to ask that the WWE superstars have a little bit of variety when it comes to their outfits? Sure, some WWE performers have alternate attire in the current titles (although they’re usually unlockable), and you can always modify the colors yourself via the Superstar Threads option, but we’d like to see this greatly expanded upon.
Every character should have at least two outfits, and longtime competitors should be have distinct clothing options that represent each era--for example, the Undertaker could appear in his classic mortician attire, in his Ministry gear, as the American Bad-Ass, and in his current bald persona, while Chris Jericho could have outfits from his Lionheart, Y2J, and Save Me periods.
The WWE superstars are a colorful group of individuals, but in the video games they often feel a bit too similar. We’d like to see them feel a bit more distinct, just like their real-life personas. The reintroduction of weight detection in WWE ’13 was a big step in the right direction, but it needs to go a step further. Perhaps something akin to the character classes in WWE All Stars so technicians, brawlers, high fliers, and power wrestlers all feel unique.
We’re not saying that everything should be true-to-life, otherwise The Great Khali would have only, like, two moves, and John Cena would Superman his way through every match. However, it’d be nice to see subtler changes, like big guys jumping from the second rope instead of leaping from the top turnbuckle.
Power to the creators
WWE games have traditionally offered fantastic creative options. If you spend a little time, you can come up with some absolutely stunning custom characters, arenas, special moves, and more. But while it’s very satisfying to spend hours making perfectly lifelike create-a-wrestler representations of Mr. T and Chuck Norris, it kind of stinks to have to do it all over again the next year.
It would be great if players were allowed to import the CAW data from the previous year’s edition of the game. And if that’s not realistic this year considering the change of publishers, there’s no excuse for the installment after that. Of course, we wouldn’t mind seeing other refinements made to CAW mode; despite being very robust, the creative options haven’t changed much in recent years, and we’d like to see a greater variety of textures and parts added to the mix.
Tag me in!
Though tag-team wrestling has been a staple of WWE events and games alike for ages, recent virtual representations have been somewhat lacking--specifically when it comes to the AI. Intelligent tags are few and far between, but the biggest issue is when you go for a pin: your partner never seems to do what you want, while your opponent’s partner is always keen on jumping into the ring to break up any attempt at a finish. That’s not how matches unfold on WWE TV, so why is it that way in the games?
The fix is pretty simple: if you’ve completely decimated your opponent and drained his health, his partner shouldn’t be able to break up the pinfall (unless he has a finishing move stored in reserve). With that, the matches would go from an exercise in frustration to something actually fun. These same complaints and fixes could go a long way with controlling managers as well.
Staying in control
Have you ever tried to change your control setup in a recent WWE game? If you have, you’ve quickly discovered how limited your options are. You can choose to move with the D-pad or the analog stick, but that’s about it. Gaming has advanced enough that there’s no excuse for not having fully customizable controls.
We’d especially like to see attention paid to the targeting button. For some reason, focusing on the proper opponent in multiman matches is nigh impossible; whether you opt for manual or automatic targeting, you’re in for an exercise in annoyance. Simply put, targeting needs to have its own dedicated button--it’s just too important to be an afterthought, delegated to a button combination or an awkward click of the joystick. More critically, in needs to work in every situation; in WWE ’13 sometime you just can’t switch targets no matter how many times you hit the button.
Make specialty matches more special
We love specialty bouts like cage matches, ladder matches, and the Royal Rumble as much as the next guy, but a few refinements are definitely in order. In cage matches and ladder matches--especially contests with more than two characters--it seems that no matter what you do or how much damage you inflict, your opponents always spring back into action just in time to stop you from claiming victory. As a result, the winner often seems determined by luck as much as skill--something we’d like to see changed. Heftier object physics and more creative ways to use ladders, tables, and steel cage walls are also in order.
Where the Royal Rumble is concerned, we’d like to see better implementation of Rumble-specific finishers, and we wouldn’t mind seeing some extra attention paid to Divas matches as well. The women don’t wrestle like their male counterparts, so why should their matches feel exactly the same?
An All-Star cast
It’s hard to complain about the roster of WWE ’13. The game features more than 80 characters from both the modern era and the Attitude Era, and when you count DLC, the roster is over 100 deep. That’s unprecedented, but we think 2K can take things even further. Why restrict the legends to the attitude era? Why not bring in more stars from the early ’90s, ’80s, or before?
Admittedly, that’s asking a lot, but if 2K games could manage to hit the magic 100 for on-disc characters we’d be well on our way to having the most comprehensive wrestling title ever created. And maybe, just maybe, Funaki could finally get some respect. (He is SmackDown’s #1 announcer, after all.)
Best of luck in future endeavors
Naturally, there are countless other changes that 2K could make to the WWE franchise--some even more radical than the ones we’ve suggested. Could we see an all-new gameplay engine? Separate buttons for strong and weak grapples? Some might say that if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it, but on the other hand, there’s arguably nothing worse than letting a franchise go stagnant. Tell us in the comments what you’d like to see 2K implement.
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