WWE 2K18 – Wrestling with Frustration

Let’s start out by stating this article is in no way an attack on WWE 2K18 or the series from Yukes. 2K18 is a wonderful game… but with a few massive flaws that take away from the enjoyment of the game as a whole. So-much-so that I’ve already thrown in the towel with it after putting in a good thirty hours playing it. It’s not any fault of the game that has caused me to quit, it’s a couple of issues that detract so much from the enjoyment of the game, that for my own sanity I cannot play the game any more.

First, let’s start off with the pros. The game is beautiful. It’s truly stunning. For visual quality and replication of the sports entertainment it successfully mimics, 2K18 rivals UFC 3. The sprites are jaw-dropping, each wrestler, and even the Create-a-Wrestlers you can download, are so lifelike you would never be mistaken for trying to work out who they are meant to be. Their quirks and mannerisms are also replicated exactly. If you’re a fan of the WWE, then this is the game for you.

The various modes of gameplay are excellent, each match type that can be selected are fantastic. The in-game physics are great. I love how when a wrestler is staggered or near a rope, they’ll casually take the ropes in their hands and rest, or pull themselves up off the mat. Or perhaps they’ll rest in the corner to catch their breath, it’s one of the best shadowing of a person’s mannerisms I’ve seen in a video game.

Gameplay is great. There is a lot of brilliant moments that really draw me into the game and I have a huge grin when playing the game.

But that grin is taken from me each and every match…

It’s the finishing of a match that’s the problem.

For example, I was playing a match in the Universe mode, and was pushing Vader as the next big thing in my universe, but the CPU had other ideas. I played Vader v Dusty Rhodes seven times before I got the result I wanted. Each time Dusty would have a miraculous comeback and manage to overwhelm me, even if I had beaten him to a pulp, he was impossible to pin, and after each time he pinned me, Sting would enter the ring and attack Vader. It was the CPU trying to start a feud. One I didn’t want or had planned, but the CPU was insistent this feud was gonna happen.

You could argue that I should be better at the game, and I would accept that if this was my first outing in the WWE game series, but I’ve been playing these games for over twenty-five years. I’ve been playing these games before the WWE was called the WWE. I appreciate the algorithms at play that determine feuds but keep those outside of the direct player. I want to be able to direct who feuds and when, not the CPU, and if the CPU is going to insist that I feud with this guy, then don’t fix the matches to get the outcome you want. Wrestling has a hard enough time convincing people that wrestling is not staged. without the simulation of the experience also fixing matches. It’s taking things a little too far when it’s replicating it this much.

My second critique in this game is the pinning and submission system. Let’s start with the pinning system. Whatever happened to good old button-bashing to kick out of a pin? What is it with this infuriating timing system where you have to time it just right to hit the colour in the right area on the wheel to effectively do a kick-out. It’s not fun, in fact, I downright hate it. Not a little, a LOT. I mean I really despise this. If you are insistent on putting it in the game, then at least put in an alternative that allows for us button bashers to be able to play a game we’ve paid good money for.

The second part we’ll cover is the submission problem. This is also a mini-game. Where the user will have to overlap one colour onto the other to get the submission. Or, if you’re trying to escape, move the colour away from the other as quickly as possible. All fine, except it is almost impossible to be able to pull this off in the time it gives you. Sure, you can change it to match a button combo to what you see onscreen, but that’s not really an improvement either. The lesson I’ve learnt here is not to use a wrestler with a submission finisher because you won’t be able to have that glorious finish that you so rightly deserve to be able to pull it off.

Lastly, the counter system. You could time the button press perfectly, and I mean exactly as soon as the prompt appears onscreen, and it’s pot luck if you get it right. It’s not just now and then, it’s every other time you counter. It’s very disappointing and is frustrating to the point of, again, stopping you wanting to play the game.

Which I have now done.

Online is still an issue. There is some lag, but it’s the input lag that bothers me the most. The input lag between the controller in your hand and the game. It causes gameplay issues, and that mixed with a questionable escape system and you have a recipe for disaster.

I really wanted to like WWE 2K18, I really did. I love wrestling games, and there is so much in this game that I can applaud, but the gamification of what should be a simple escape button-bashing exercise completely nerfs any enjoyment I get from the game.

For this reason, I am condemning it to the Dump.

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