WWE 2K17 Hands-on Preview
Hands-on time with the 2K17 iteration of the wrestling game series.
Before I reviewed last year's WWE game, I was what most would consider a 'lapsed fan' of professional wrestling. The heroes of my day, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and plenty more, were retired years previous, making the WWE landscape into something the old me would never have recognized. But with absolutely no desire to dive back into the sport, WWE 2K16 still managed to impress. I loved the technicality of it all; counters, broken pins and submissions were the game's bread and butter. So it's a year later and WWE 2K17 is just over the horizon. After spending a little time with the game in a preview session, it became clear that there were some significant changes to the previous year's formula. And though the technicality of the matches has been somewhat scaled back, WWE 2K17 still feels like the definitive wrestling video game.
Author's note: So this has nothing to do with this game, but if you haven't watched The Resurrection of Jake the Snake, a documentary about the former superstar's attempts to crawl out of a drug and drink fueled existence, you really need to do so. That's it; on to the preview.
I'll be covering the game's staggering amount of modes and content in my full review; this preview is really more concentrated on the two major standouts ' the character creator and the previously mentioned and scaled back technical combat. As with the more recent WWE games, creating a character and taking him/her through a fully-fledged wrestling career is a huge part of the WWE 2K17 experience. Apparently, the character creation was a bit of a mess in 2k15, with 2k16 addressing every complaint. This mode has been even further nudged up on the quality scale for 2k17. You've heard people say they could spend literally hours creating characters in other titles, and from what I saw this game will carry that same distinction. Aside from maybe Fallout 4, WWE 2K17 has the best, most fully featured character creator I can ever remember fiddling with. If you can dream it, you can make it happen here.
Literally everything about the human form is fully customizable as you create your wrestler. Gender, proportions, hair, etc.; all of it is 100% in your control (though there are options to randomly generate characters as well). During the preview event, I got totally lost in this, spending nearly an hour ever so slightly altering my wrestler's facial proportions. Even when I finished the character herself, there was still more work to be done in creating an intro, a nickname, special moves and even teeny details like her hometown. Another nice thing about the system is that playing through the game, even with actual wrestlers, seems to result in new clothing and items on a rapid fire basis. You have a ton of outfit choices on your first go, but with new ones being added all the time it's easy to get lost in the creation system over and over again.
When I started to actually play, it struck me right away that the game feels less deliberately technical than the previous one. A lot of the same systems remain for things like breaking pins and succeeding with submission holds, but the matches have a much more action/arcade feel to them. At first, I wasn't exactly thrilled about this, but it grew on me. The matches feel much faster and somehow more exciting, and while the back and forth countering guessing game hasn't been eradicated, it has been brought down a few notches. It was mostly noticeable in the grappling, which has been simplified for the better. I felt like I needed the instruction booklet open next to me on the couch to play through and enjoy 2k16, but 2k17's controls are more fluid, natural and comfortable. WWE 2K17 succeeds in making things a little less intricate to bring in newer or younger players, but keeps some of the complicated systems from last year's title to appease the hardcore players and fans.
From what time I did have with WWE 2K17, I feel like I can already give it a ringing endorsement. The matches are better than ever, the character creation is jaw-dropping and with a few small exceptions, the game really does feel like a step up from last year, a trait so many annual games seem to completely ignore. The WWE superstars I grew up with are all enjoying retirement now and the new faces may not be as familiar to us old timers, but this game really draws the player into the world of pro wrestling. Even if you are lapsed or never enjoyed the WWE at all, 2k17 may still be a good enough game to keep your interest for quite a while. Look for the full review very soon, but if you can't wait, know that a purchase will not be something you regret.
Transmitted: 7/23/2018 3:37:20 AM