WWE 2K18 Review
Extra Features: Local and Online Multiplayer (2-6), Local and Online Co-op, Leaderboards, Add-On Content
The sport of wresting has been a constant on and off entertainment source for me since I was a teenager and I still fall back into watching it from time to time. Besides the overdone stage entrances, alliances that form and crumble and impressive moves there is the wrestlers' unique attitude that makes some of them very memorable. The WWE games have kept all of this in mind and allow us to experience and personalize these experiences rather well over the years. WWE 2K18 is the latest wrestling game in the long-standing WWE franchise from developers Yukes and Visual Concepts.
It's been quite a while since I have last played a wrestling game in the main WWE series (last one was WWE'12) but the overall gameplay hasn't changed that much from the last few iterations. Reversals are still just as important as ever and they are much harder to do this time around. In prior games, the prompt for reversals would stay up much longer by default, but in 2K18 the prompt merely serves as a learning curve for reversal timing rather than something you can rely on for button timing - basically, by the time you see the reversal button in 2K18, you're already too late on the reversal. Reversals can have a greater window of opportunity by adjusting the sliders in the option menu, but this only changes that timing for the versus modes and not the story modes or online. It's understandable that we can't change reversal timing for online, but not being able to change the timing for single player modes against the CPU seems like a cheap way to make the game harder. So basically, either "git gud" with reversal timing or go home when it comes to the main single player feature of the game in MyCareer.
MyCareer mode allows players to create their own wrestler with the some customizable options then play through several matches while climbing up in rank in a sort of RPG style story mode. Thankfully, the game offers you only the most basic customization options from the start and then allows you to fully edit the character in all possible ways once you have started MyCareer. I absolutely hate it when a game offers me TONS of customizable options from the start since I feel compelled to spend over an hour on that creation, but 2K18 forces you to make those decisions later, which I feel is a plus. Sadly, you can only create a male wrestler - there is no option for female. Anyway, the backstage of each event allows players to explore and talk to other wrestlers and engage in side quests. Side quests allow you to make new alliances and they give you extra side missions to get more points in certain aspects. The game offers a few tutorials from the start on the most basic attacks but you'll have to learn some of the more advanced techniques yourself. There are many customization options to unlock in the game and these are all unlocked through loot boxes, so you'll never truly what you'll get whenever you spend your points on one. There are three tiers of loot boxes, each costing a different amount of in-game currency. Thankfully, there are no micro transactions for customizable parts or real life currency needed to gain money for loot boxes.
MyCareer sounds great on paper, but once I actually started, I immediately got tired of seeing the constant loading screens. You'll go through a total of four loading screens per event - one to start, one before the match, one after the match and another after leaving the backstage area following the match. The setup for MyCareer gets exhausting fast. The conversations between wrestlers are very dull. I don't see much individual personality in conversations and the dialogue is overall boring making me want to avoid conversations.
I don't remember the Promo system in the wresting games I have played so they seemed all new to me. Besides engaging in matches or staging an attack on another wrestler, you an also engage in a promotional event where you get to choose your own dialogue as your wrestler is up on stage. You get a few choices and a timer that will tick down as you're allowed to choose. The objective is to pick an option then stay coherent in your overall conversation to build the highest score. Both promotional events and MyCareer would be so much better with voice acting, but the game offers none. You get wrestlers that move their mouths and make expressions to match the dialogue, but all of this falls flat when there is no voice. Personality seems to fly out the window when looking upon silent wrestlers that stand on stage like mimes.
Along with MyCareer is Road to Glory that allows you to take your custom character online to fight other players' creations in daily match types. The netcode seems good and doesn't give me any input delay or slowdown during matches. The game also has the standard versus mode that allows players to set up one-time matches with many different options. The cast for the game is truly expansive. There are far too many wrestlers to count and the game only lists out their names with a pic instead of a selection screen since there are so many. The graphics have greatly improved since the last time I have played a WWE game. I can easily see veins on wrestler's arms and bodies and see sweat appearing on them as a match goes on. It's easy to tell that some wrestlers' models get more attention to detail than others however. Some of the more popular wrestlers get much more detailed character models than some of the lesser known wrestlers.
Even with all my gripes for WWE 2K18, I did have a lot of fun with it. The overall game will still be appreciated by hardcore wrestling fans that have stuck with the series, but I'm sure even the most hardcore of players will notice flaws with this latest installment. The overall gameplay still remains quite solid - if you can get used to the stricter reversal timing, 2K18 is just as fun as another other WWE game. I really hope to see the developers expand upon MyCareer in the next game and make it a truly ultimate WWE RPG experience that it could be. MyCareer is a great idea, but it needs a lot of work to make it more fun overall and for god's sake add voice acting!
+ Huge cast of wrestlers
+ MyCareer is an interesting take on a WWE RPG mode that I hope to see expanded upon in the future
- MyCareer has a repetitive setup and feels shallow
- This game REALLY needs some voice acting to liven up conversations
- The overall wrestler dialogue feels weak all too often
- All reversals now require some ridiculously good timing by default
Final Rating: 60% - WWE 2K18 introduces some new modes and advancements in visuals but it falls flat in too many ways.