Published on December 16th, 2015 | by Don Parsons0
WWE 2K16 Review
Summary: Another great showing for the yearly release, securing another victory.
Much like Madden for football fans, the WWE 2K series is usually a cornerstone of my fall gaming habits. The series lets me indulge in fantasy wrestling situations, whether it’s a career-oriented gameplay session, or dabbling in the booking mode, WWE Universe. WWE 2K16 starts on the foundation it built last year. Showcases are back, there’s online play, the WWE Universe is available for fantasy bookers to play out their dream feuds, and the My Career returns with a beefed up presence. But some of the tweaks to each of these modes, not to mention gameplay in general, is what makes WWE 2K16 stand above its predecessor.
First and foremost, the roster is absolutely spectacular. With over 100 superstars, there is a fantastic variety for someone who has (mostly) followed the sport for a few decades, and read about the history of wrestling before my time. Sadly, there is no Hulk Hogan, which is a shame they excluded him for a poor decision on his behalf, but there are created wrestlers to be downloaded to fix that minor error. Several superstars will be added over time if you purchase the Season Pass, too. But the main guys are all there, current and nostalgic alike. Seeing Finn Balor and Ultimate Warrior duke it out in my fantasy universe over the NXT Championship was a treat.
The in-ring action has been reworked, and in most ways is improved over last year. Matches tend to start off with a chain-wrestling sequence, with a rock-paper-scissors approach. I prefer to ignore these, as I try to plow through opponents as a powerhouse, not a technical wrestler, but these openings are more believable to the grand scheme of the matches.
Reversals are the big change, and I love how they have been revamped. Each wrestler has a set limit (dependant on stats) that can be used, and refill as the match carries on. So when playing on normal (or online), you don’t have to worry about every move being reversed. That’s a strong departure from the past several years. My entire thought process during the match changed because of this. If my opponent was winning, and I had a reversal bar almost filled, I would wait out some punishment, and time my reversal accordingly. I also tried to slip my opponent without using a reversal more often, like rolling out of the ring when down.
The changed mechanic I felt had failed this year was submission wrestling. When you put the other guy in a submission move, a circle with a red section and blue section comes up. Your goal as the attacker is to overlap your color over their color. The weaker the defender, the larger their color is going to be, and in theory, the easier it is to make them submit. I felt it was an awkward struggle, so I strayed away from trying to making my opponent tap out. And a few times I lost because of this. But in one case, it was okay, Rusev should have won the World Heavyweight Championship, anyhow.
All of these together enrich the actual in-ring action, and make everything feel more natural and the matches simply flow better. I have spent a lot more time with this year’s WWE release, and have just had more fun than year’s past. Most of my time has been building my fantasy federation with WWE superstars, past and present. Each of those matches with a variety of wrestlers felt more dynamic than usual. Some matches opened with some chain wrestling. I avoided submission wrestlers and tried to overpower them more than usual, and depending on who had the most reversals, I had to find ways to keep the lead.
Speaking of WWE Universe mode, its comeback feels a little fresher this year with rivals. I dabbled in it in years past, but this year finally pulled me back into it. Watching the rivalries play out can be more entertaining than the actual product, as Seth Rollins is embroiled with Kevin Owens for the United States Championship right now on Raw for me. Everything can be manipulated, and once a Money in the Bank winner is crowned, said winner can be chosen to cash in anytime the champion is in a match. I split the roster in my game, which was a tedious task, and have been soaking up as much as possible. Hopefully next year, they will make a “draft” option so I don’t have to manually manipulate it. Either way, WWE Universe mode has kept me playing far longer than I usually play WWE games.
The My Career mode has been totally revamped, and can be a lot of fun, but quite a bit irritating. You start through a training process and then climb the ranks to challenge for the NXT Championship. They don’t tell you (I missed it) that you have to be in a rivalry to challenge for a title, because I was the #1 contender for three months, with two main events against Balor before starting a feud and winning the title. I promptly moved on to the main roster, only to start at the bottom again.
Once you hit the main roster, The Authority comes into play and each match has an objective to keep them happy. After losing a few favor points, I was on track to score a five star match, which ole Triple H wanted, and then I got pinned. It was a little frustrating trying to work towards my goal and have a sub-objective to maintain from match to match, so I went back to WWE Universe mode.
Showcases are back, too, except there’s only one this year. Based around Stone Cold Steve Austin, the cover star, it is really put together well, and outlines a bunch of his key matches throughout his career. The matches are still the same as last year’s Showcase matches, where you have to hit certain moves or criteria to progress the match, all cut together with in-engine cut scenes and real footage. I’m not a huge fan of Austin, so while I played quite a bit just to play, it certainly didn’t grab my attention. Still, fans of Stone Cold should be pleased.
All in all, WWE 2K16 is a step up from its predecessor. There are still some things I’d like to see added or changed, mostly to the WWE Universe mode and My Career, but overall it’s a pleasant package this year. More Showcases and Superstars can be added via DLC, but there are already a ton of wrestlers on the disc. 2K16 should easily get any wrestling fan through the winter months leading to Wrestlemania.
This review was written with material provided by the publisher. For more on our review process, please read here.