Bigger doesn’t always mean better, but in the case of “WWE 2K16,” 2K Sports and Yukes have delivered not only the biggest roster in the history of the series, but one that adds a host of other gameplay improvements across the board.
For Yukes, 2K Sports and Visual Concepts, the creative direction comes from within. Inspired by their love of the platform and constant interactions with their community, 2K Sports feels as if this game represents everything fans have been clamoring for.
“We are passionate WWE fans who listen to [gamers]. We watch everything they say and we love your passion, even though sometimes you can be very mean to us (laughs). No, I’m kidding. We want them to know we’re trying to put out the best product possible,” Chris Snyder VP of Marketing at 2K Sports said. “We’ve done a great job this year and have made a huge roster in the game, which is something we’ve been touting since E3. We knew we were going to have a really big roster and knew we were going to almost double last year’s roster. We didn’t want to just come out and give all of the details right away. When we said, ‘hey, we’ve got the biggest roster ever.’ It was met with a lot of cynicism. A lot of people were saying, ‘oh, it’s going to be three different versions of HHH,’ and we were laughing to ourselves because we couldn’t wait to tell everyone, ‘no it’s not three different versions of HHH.’ It’s literally the biggest roster you’ve ever seen with different characters. We’ve gone out and proven that, and I think we’ve won a lot of people’s trust and gave people what they wanted, which was a really robust roster. “
But “WWE 2K16” is about more than a historical roster that encompasses a good thirty years of sports entertainment. With a focus on realism and fun, the development team for 2K Sports’ “WWE 2K16” felt that the foundation was in place from last year’s “WWE 2K15” to make ensure that this year’s game got it right.
With a new pinning system and charged counters, the refinements continue to be made on the gameplay front. According to 2K, it’s what fans asked for.
“Something I think we did 100 percent well was gameplay. When you look back at last year and people compare 2K14 to 2K15, gameplay was the most drastic change. That was a gutsy move by the development team, to do that,” Snyder said. “They did it and they did it well. This year is when it just becomes fine-tuning. Now, they’re in fine-tuning mode, they’ve listened to the criticism of last year’s gameplay and they’ve fined it for this year. That’s just the process and is what Visual Concepts does really, really well. We got a lot of feedback last year about the reversals and this year you now have a limited amount. You’ve got to figure out the right time to use them.”
With the addition of being able to interrupt your opponent’s entrances this year as well, the gameplay, while being similar, continues to be added to and tweaked.
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“If you go back through the [history] of WWE, you’ve seen it all. It amazes me to this day that they are still creative with how they develop stories, characters and ways to create rivalries,” Snyder said. “We wanted to honor that. Now listen, you can never really get it all in, but for us to be able to run in on someone was a natural progression.”
With gameplay the series’ strong point according to 2K Sports, they knew they had to tackle the extra gameplay modes in “WWE 2K16.” 2K Sports has heard gamers concerns about the MYCareer in “WWE 2K15.” From “It’s not the same as NBA,” to “It’s not fun,” gamers have let 2K Sports, Yukes, and Visual Concepts know that they deserve more. Although not many details have been shared with the game only weeks away from shipping, 2K has confirmed the Career mode in “WWE 2K16” will be an upgrade.
With more decisions to make for your character this year in ‘WWE 2K16,” the added depth gamers have clamored for will be there, but with a focus on answering interviewing questions backstage, there’s an air of authenticity to the updated mode as well.
“It’s kind of random. Sometimes you’ll only get one question and sometimes you’ll get multiple,” Snyder said. “If you look at WWE programming, it’s not like a sports interview at the end of a game where you have 10 different reporters asking 10 different questions. It’s one reporter, who is part of the show, and we wanted to stay true to that. You’ll get one to two questions, but how you answer is how you form your character. “
How they will form your character is the interesting part. Just like actual WWE programming, your created wrestler in the MyCareer mode will have plenty of opportunities to pick his friends, enemies and define his role in the company.
“I would say that depending on how you answer, it affects your relationships backstage, especially if they ask you about another wrestler like The Authority or something like that, your answers can definitely crimp your style,” Snyder said. “If you really go after them hard, they can really make your life miserable. There are consequences to the things you say, just like there are consequences to running in on someone over and over again. You will eventually become an enemy with that person or if you start constantly helping somebody, then they could tag team with you and you’ll form an alliance.”
Gamers wondered why “WWE 2K15” felt stripped down in terms of extra modes and 2K Sports knew they said some serious explaining to do. But now, the first-year jitters on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are over. With last year’s game behind them, “WWE 2K16” will have the creative suite the hardcore fans of the series have begged for since 2K took over the series.
“First and foremost, we wanted to bring it back and bring it back to where it worked,” Snyder said. “What people have to realize is that when you take over a franchise and you start working on it for the first time, there can be a lot of issues that you encounter. We wanted to make sure the experience is rock solid and that was the first thing we wanted to do. People will get a rock solid experience in Create this year. We just wanted to give more. I know we went from 25 slots in Create A Superstar to 100 slots. We now have Create-A-Show, which gives players the ability to realize how they would want to see a show happen and what it would look like. For example, you could make Mania every Tuesday and create that kind of a show. That was a nice step in the right direction for Create.”
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With that created superstar now in an improved MyCareer, the changes in that mode will also create a deeper gameplay experience. While managers were in last year’s MyCareer mode, they’ll play a much larger role in your matches.
“You’ll notice that managers can now interfere with the match,” Snyder said. “They can distract the referee and interfere. We watch so much programming and want to replicate that experience through the gameplay and make it fun. We had to go and make referees and managers matter. I would say interfering and them being there as a part of the match is how they’ve been improved.”
There’s a lot of new content in “WWE 2K16,” from the updated pinning system and improvements in the MyCareer mode, but the visuals have been stepped up tremendously as well. From better hair and cloth animations to wrestlers grimacing and making faces during taunts and while performing/taking moves, “WWE 2K16” is a hottie from every single angle.
For 2K, it’s almost a night and day experience from developing the games solely on last generation’s hardware when they took over the series from THQ.
“Graphically we could do a lot more (Than on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360), especially when everyone really responded well to our scanning process,” Snyder said. “We scanned pretty much everyone in the WWE. We continue to scan, we don’t just scan a guy or diva one time say ‘hey, that’s it.’ We’ll go around all year long and continue to scan, continue to scan. Just being able to carry as many modes and wrestlers we have, there’s a lot in this game, where it be Create or Career or the Online experience or the Offline experience or the Stone Cold showcase. There is a tremendous amount in the game, including an entire soundtrack. I think as far as disc space goes, what a lot of people don’t realize is we were maxing out the discs on old-gen and we have a lot more space now with next-gen. There are a lot of areas we haven’t even scratched the surface on yet.”
That’s not to say “WWE 2K15” looked like that nerdy chick from “Big Bang Theory,” but with a year of learning the ins and outs of the PS4 and Xbox One, 2K Sports has begun to hit the sweet spot they are looking for.
“I think we’re on a really good path as far as graphics and presentation goes,” Snyder said. “Those are two things that 2K does really, really well. Presentation in our games, whether that be our games or sports games, they do a great job with that.”
WWE 2K16 is currently scheduled for release on PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360 on October 27, 2015, in North America and October 30, 2015, internationally.
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