Adam Hunger/Associated Press
Not even the hype of The Shield reuniting could match the hype train following WWE 2K18 to its Friday release.
The latest offering from 2K Sports is a juggernaut in its own right, boasting various versions and preorder bonuses before release and a deeply customizable game with more than 180 playable characters ready to go as soon as fans rip off the plastic and pop it in a system.
Those different editions range from standard to deluxe and all the way up to the “Cena Nuff” spectacle, which comes with a John Cena action figure and other collectible items.
Fans of the series who slap down a preorder get the game Friday as opposed to the worldwide launch on October 17, alongside other bonuses.
Not done doling out extras for dedicated fans, the game has a strong DLC presence already, per 2K Sports:
WWE 2K18 @WWEgames
The complete #WWE2K18 downloadable content and season pass rundown is here! https://t.co/zmvmqATrxE https://t.co/M0rN1i4hzQ
New moves, boosts for MyPlayer creations and superstars from the past and future round out a nice list of DLC offers atop the base game.
For most players, though, DLC bonuses are just that—a bonus.
This year’s release goes deep enough in new directions to keep coming back for more. Whether it’s the extensive recreation of a deep, ever-changing roster, or new modes outright, 2K18 aims to have a bit of something for everyone.
A good example of the game’s innovative new offerings is Road to Glory:
Fans have clamored for something like this, and it sounds like the implementation will work to hit every mark on the request list.
Players get to create their own superstar from the deep pool of customization options before working through an online mode with the hopes of qualifying for a pay-per-view event, which mimics the real schedule seen on television.
The end result is another option for players outside of MyPlayer to put a strong creation suite to extensive use while interjecting a character of their own design into the colorful world of WWE.
When it comes to MyCareer, the developers wanted to open up how a user gets to experience the WWE Universe while playing through one of two storylines, as designer Jason Vandiver told Game Informer‘s Keenan McCall:
“We wanted MyCareer to be more experiential this year and enable players to spend more time interacting with the unique personalities across all the WWE superstars and supporting personnel. Rather than looking at menus to find out who you should ally with or make your rival, you can simply go talk to these people or ambush them in the backstage environment.”
We’ve mentioned the creation suite a few times, and for good reason. Of all the offerings in the 2K series as of late, this has been the deepest and arguably the most important.
The developers understand how important it is to nail this feature for a WWE game, much more than compared to other sports games.
The list of improvements is noteworthy:
Of course, players being able to create their own wrestler and progress through various modes doesn’t mean much without other refined elements such as presentation and gameplay itself.
For the latter, 2K Sports has crafted a new mechanic with the carry system, which allows for more options but also interjects realism into the equation by factoring in the weight of each superstar involved:
When it comes to presentation, fans of the series already know 2K Sports goes out of the way to make sure entrances and the superstars themselves mirror the real-life product as closely as possible.
That said, one point longtime fans might make is the promos felt lacking in past years. Fair—and 2K Sports is all over it this year, with creative director Ramelle Ballesca telling GameSpot’s Mat Elfring: “Especially with the promos, one of the things that we felt we were lacking, was just making superstars feel like themselves when they’re getting in the ring, doing those promos.”
WWE 2K18, like most sports games at this point of a console generation, feels like a final refinement on a strong base package where the team at the controls has the freedom to branch off in new areas requested by fans.
With this theme in mind, it isn’t hard to see why the hype for 2K18 seems bigger than the past few iterations. Those who take an early dive get to start Friday.