It is never easy to have to pump out new games every year. A limited development window means publishers have little time to truly change the way a game plays, and that is just one of the problems facing WWE 2K16. It also has to win fans back after the disastrous outing of its predecessor. That title faced harsh criticism for removing huge swathes of content, leaving players with just the scraps of what could and should have been a much better game. It is safe to say that the team at Yuke’s definitely had their work cut out for WWE 2K16 to be a success.
What they improved upon immediately is the gameplay. The WWE 2K series has never tried to be like other fighting games that rely on complicated combos and expert timing. Instead, it has always been designed to encapsulate the sheer entertainment and showmanship of wrestling. WWE 2K16 nails that perfectly. There’s no need to memorize move sets here. Instead, you just have to keep in mind the basic controls that will allow you to put on a spectacular show.
To that end, the controls are relatively basic. You can kick and punch like you might expect but also grapple or lift an opponent with just the press of a button. Other keys are mapped to actions such as counterattacks, allowing you to turn an opponent’s own attack against them. It is a system that works very well and ensures there is a good flow to each wrestling match. Another positive to this is that anyone should be able to pick it up and give it a go without having to worry too much about learning how to play.
Speaking of counterattacks, a new addition to WWE 2K16 is the introduction of a limit to how you can use this particular move. A news banner scrolling across the screen keeps players up-to-date on just how many more times they can use a reversal. It is an elegant way to get across this information that doesn’t break the immersion, as it genuinely looks like part of the overall presentation.
Only allowing a set number of reversals is also a smart decision in terms of keeping matches flowing. Matches now feel more offensive, with players not simply playing defensively waiting for an opportunity to strike.
An ability to perform rest holds has a similar effect. Whereas bouts might have descended into slow slogs in previous installments, these rest holds give both players the chance to regain stamina so that fights can remain energetic throughout.
Changes have also been made to the mini-games that are associated with performing several moves such as holds and submissions. These have been somewhat clunky in the past. Yet, with WWE 2K16 the developers have fine-tuned them to ensure they are easy to understand and more accessible to use. That hasn’t made them easier to pull off, though, as these modifications apply to both the defensive and offensive player on each occasion. Overall, it just seems like a fairer way of settling up these actions so that one player cannot simply dominate others.
There are plenty of game modes available to play as well. Ranging from MyCareer, where you can build your very own wrestler and advance him through the ranks to the top of WWE, to 2K Showcase. This year, Stone Cold Steve Austin is the protagonist of Showcase and the mode lets you journey through all of the significant moments in his career. Thankfully, there is also a huge variety of match types to play in. Unlike last year’s game, WWE 2K16 has brought back everything from cage matches to tag team ladder bouts.
The same can be said of the wrestler roster as well. WWE 2K16 contains the biggest ever roster and features over 120 wrestlers. It isn’t just the modern audience that is catered to, either; superstars from the past are playable in addition to the current headliners. There are some notable exceptions who are missing. However, it is difficult to complain about this when there are so many choices available. Yuke’s would never have been able to include every wrestler from the entire history of the sport and they have still provided a great selection.
Bugs and Glitches
Despite all this good work, WWE 2K16 has its fair share of problems. Bugs and glitches show up with an alarming frequency. This is an issue that has plagued the series for several years and it seems like the developers don’t know how to fix it. You’ll run across technical difficulties all the time and they can be incredibly frustrating. Playing against the AI still seems far too tough, with you needing to execute a perfect strategy and get a lot of luck to come out victorious. That doesn’t stop WWE 2K16 from being great fun with friends, but playing alone against the CPU might not be everyone’s idea of a good time.
Audio and Visuals
The presentation also has ups and downs. While character models look amazing and have very smooth animations, the overall look of the different arenas can be lacking. Some of the less well-known wrestlers are not as detailed as their more famous counterparts, either.
Audio-wise, WWE 2K16 hasn’t done anything to improve the commentary that begins to repeat itself even within the same match. Other sports titles definitely have an edge over this wrestling franchise in terms of look and sound.
There is no doubt that WWE 2K16 is a far better game than what came before it. While it may not be as good as some of the iconic wrestling games of the past, it has improved massively compared to the previous few 2K titles. A focus on making the title more accessible has also opened it up to a bigger audience. Yet, even with those improvements, it cannot be considered a great game. There are just too many complaints in terms of technical performance and the presentation to make it a must-buy game for wrestling fans.