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    Sunday, October 1, 2017

    18 Reasons To Stay Hyped For WWE 2K18

    Every year, 2K gets us all excited with their annual WWE 2K release as the biggest edition of the game ever because of all the new upgrades that the latest installment brings to the table. Comparing last year’s game alone to the WWE 2K14, 2K’s first venture into the franchise, 2K17 was already miles ahead in terms of gameplay, visual effects, and roster selection. But with all of the improvements, additions, and subtractions, it’s easy to dismiss the hype as mere hyperbole heading into the release of WWE 2K18.

    Here’s the thing: it looks like 2K is ready to put its money where its mouth is.

    Don’t believe us? Well, Cafe Puro columnist Lance Tan Ong and I sat down and put together 18 reasons why you shouldn’t just get hyped, but stay hyped for WWE 2K18.

    Biggest roster to date

    Let’s start with this one. Yeah, yeah, we hear the phrase “biggest roster to date” get thrown around every year. What sets 2K18’s roster apart is the fact that there are over 200 playable characters; and that number rises to 218 when you include the managers—way up from last year’s total of 177!

    A Glorious Debut

    Last year, it was a huge deal when AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura made their WWE video game debuts. This year, Bobby Roode gets that hype as he makes his first appearance in the virtual ring for WWE 2K18.

    Fans all over the world just lose it whenever Bobby Roode makes his entrance. The moment we hear those keys, we’re just getting ready to sing along to “Glorious Domination.” Now, we get that moment in the video games, and it should be nothing short of… GLORIOUS!

    The Women’s Evolution

    Not going to lie. I'm really excited to play as Nikki Cross this year.

    Gamers everywhere will feel the impact of the Women’s Evolution, with 32 playable female Superstars from both the past and present—making this the deepest women’s division in the franchise’s history to date. You’ll feel this the most in the construction of NXT’s roster in the game. Whereas last year, only Nia Jax and Asuka were the female Superstars from NXT, now, you have Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Ruby Riot (from the DLC package), Nikki Cross, Ember Moon, and Asuka—if you still want to count her.

    The Rise of the Cruiserweights

    Pinoy gamers no longer need to worry about putting TJP together from scratch. HE'S IN THE GAME!

    Oh, you want the Cruiserweights, too? Well, you can have an entire division of them! You can literally have Enzo Amore as the dick champion, while guys like Neville, TJP, Cedric Alexander, Jack Gallagher, Akira Tozawa, etc. jockey for position to challenge the certified jerk and bonafide scum(bag) for the title. While I know how to appreciate a good thing when I see it, it is still a crime that Lince Dorado, Mustafa Ali, Tony Nese, Drew Gulak, and Ariya Daivari were left off the game for one reason or another. I need Senator Gulak to rant about this through a PowerPoint presentation on 205 Live.

    5, 6, 7, 8

    My boot-scootin’ baby’s driving me crazy—oh, wait, we’re not karaokeing Steps here. In the words of the great philosopher Ron Killings, my bad, y’all be good.

    One of the biggest knocks against WWE games since Here Comes The Pain is that you can only have up to six Superstars in the game at the same time. How can you have an actual traditional Survivor Series match or a fun Royal Rumble match when you can only have up to six guys in the ring? Over the last 15 years, we haven’t really gotten a solution for that until now.

    Sure, we still can’t have that Ubusan Ng Lahi 5-on-5 traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team match, but we can at least recreate the 4-on-4 scenario that WWE gave us in 2004. Plus, having two more entrants in the game should make this year’s Smark Henry Christmas Party way more fun because we’ll have more people involved—as long as Shoot Henry columnist George “Babe” Pastor doesn’t fall asleep before all the fun starts.

    This is all thanks to 2K embracing the current generation of consoles, and finally letting go of the previous generation—which leads us to...

    Enhanced Graphics Focusing on the Current Generation of Consoles

    Good news: WWE 2K18 is the most visually impressive wrestling game to date.

    Bad news: In order to deliver these impressive visuals, 2K had to finally do away with previous generation consoles to fully utilize the capabilities of the current generation of consoles and PCs. So for PS3 and Xbox 360 owners, this is a sign that your consoles are due for an upgrade. But trust us when we say it is going to be worth it as it brings us closer to the best possible wrestling experience in years.

    Improved MyCareer Mode

    Where do we even begin here?

    Over the years, MyCareer hasn’t gotten a lot of love for being a one-track game mode. Whether it was because that it was too hard to rise up the ranks and conquer each division, like it was in last year’s installment, or that it was too boring following just one story like an RPG, MyCareer just hasn’t been as fun of a game mode lately.

    I'm sorry, Coach, you want me to get out of the arena, where it's freezing... in my trunks?!

    That changes this year as 2K updates the way your CAW’s story progresses with the two unique paths that make it a choose-your-own-adventure type of deal. You can choose to be a heel and be the Company Man, which means you’ll kiss as much ass as you can and be the GM’s lapdog as you try to make your way to the top. Or you could be the babyface and go the Fan Favorite route, where you let your matches and promos do all the talking.

    Speaking of promos, 2K changed the game when they introduced the promo feature in last year’s installment. This year, they improved it by creating new animations, personalizing promos to match the respective Superstars delivering them. Last year, it was limited in the sense that you had to stick to a babyface or heel formula in delivering your promo. In 2K18, you can now focus on just getting your message across in an impactful and coherent way instead of obsessing over whether this phrase or that phrase is something a babyface or heel should be saying.

    Hey, uh, what did you say your name was? Oh, wait, 2K didn't give you one?

    And then there’s the Free-Roaming Backstage feature, which a lot of us missed from all the way back in Here Comes The Pain in 2003! This update’s what I’m looking forward to the most because it means that you can talk to whomever you want and do whatever you want, instead of just following whatever path’s been laid out for you. You can go on your own little sidequests by interacting with allies and rivals, or even people like Performance Center Head Coach Matt Bloom, Renee Young, or the game’s unnamed Seamstress!

    Consider us hyped!

    Different Editions of the Game

    Much like NBA 2K has released tiered editions of its games—Standard, Legend, and Legend Gold—WWE 2K follows in that direction this year by releasing Standard, Deluxe, and Collector’s Editions of the game.

    The Standard Edition is pretty straightforward, with the only benefit being that you get to play as Kurt Angle (2001 and 2006) if you pre-order the game. That alone should convince you to pre-order it at your favorite video game retailer or online.

    The Deluxe Edition gives you a little bit more than just the Deluxe Edition packaging. Not only do you get both versions of your favorite RAW General Manager, but you also get Vintage John Cena from ECW One Night Stand (2006) and WrestleMania 26 (2010)! On top of that, Batista and Rob Van Dam are also included as part of the package, which makes for six additional characters in your game. But wait, there’s more! You get a MyPlayer Kick Start, which should give your Create-A-Wrestler (CAW) a huge boost early on, and the 2K18 Season Pass DLC content, which means you’ll be saving up on the DLC characters—more on them later—instead of having to buy them individually online.

    As for the Collector’s Edition, you get everything from the Deluxe Edition in a different package, plus a sweet John Cena exclusive “Cena Nuff” action figure made by Mattel. You also get a limited edition plaque featuring a piece of the ring mat and an autographed photo of John Cena from Royal Rumble 2017, where Cena won his 16th World Championship. 2K also includes bonus WWE SuperCard content, featuring limited edition in-game cards of Cena, Batista, and Rob Van Dam, and a special Cena (Nuff) Card Back.

    This one will set you back about thrice the cost of the Standard Edition. But if you’re a huge John Cena fan—which is totally cool now, by the way—then it could very well be worth the investment. Take it from a guy who missed out on the Finn Bálor figure and the signed Shinsuke Nakamura portrait by Rob Schamberger last year when some dude sold it separately in a Facebook group for only PhP 2,000. Ugh.

    Kurt Angle

    You didn’t think Kuya Kurt wouldn’t get his own item on this list, did you?

    It’s been eleven years since Kurt Angle was in a WWE video game, and nine years since he was even in a video game, period. Needless to say, we’ve missed having the option of playing as Kurt Angle, even when good samaritans have been uploading him as a downloadable character in the game’s creations suite every year.

    That all changes this year, now that Angle makes his WWE 2K debut, in both his American Hero and Wrestling Machine personas. While the overall ratings aren’t out yet, we at the Smark Henry Offices wouldn’t be surprised if gamers all around the world go apeshit and use Angle over and over again. Kurt Angle is indeed worth the pre-order. Oh it’s true, it’s damn true.

    Angle’s Return To The Ring…?

    When 2K15 came out, it eventually led to Sting’s WWE in-ring debut, as we all collectively picked up the remains of our brains following his surprise appearance at Survivor Series 2014. Two years later, we got Goldberg’s return to WWE after he was the pre-order legend that was made available in 2K17.

    Unlike Stone Cold Steve Austin, the cover athlete of 2K16, Angle can still go in the ring. He’s made no secret about his desire to do so. WWE’s also capitalized on the hype of the video games to bring these legends in for a high-profile storyline and match. Now who’s to say that this won’t be the vehicle that allows Kuya Kurt to put on that singlet one more time and have one more match?

    This could very well be fan speculation for now, but given the WWE’s recent history with the legends in the video games, this shouldn’t be too farfetched. TELL US WE’RE BEING DELUSIONAL. WE DARE YOU.

    More Harambe

    Speaking of user creations, WWE 2K players everywhere went nuts over Harambe being immortalized in the game as a downloadable Create-A-Wrestler. Seeing him as an option to begin with was already fun in itself. Using him to run roughshod over any opponent felt as cathartic as whipping your di—wait, let’s not go there.

    Still not forgotten. #RIPHarambe
    Screenshot from Lance Tan Ong

    Whether Harambe makes a comeback this year so we can use him to brutalize Enzo Amore for hours and hours on end, or a new meme rises to find its place in the pantheon of great WWE 2K CAWs, this is a testament to how the system itself is conducive for fans who just want to let their imaginations run wild through the game.

    Carry System

    Ever wanted to powerbomb someone on top of the steel steps?

    With the new carry system, you’ll be now able to lift your opponent and carry them in different positions to control the match in your favor. You can easily transition from a powerslam position into a powerbomb set-up and drop your opponent on any surface, such as the ring mat, on the edge of the apron, on the corner turnbuckle, and yes, even the top of the steel steps. It’s a function fans have clamored for years, and finally, we are getting it.

    Sawyer Fulton

    Sawyer Fulton is part of this year’s roster. Let that sink in for a moment.

    Gets a spot in WWE 2K18 over the Singh Brothers. I WIN!

    The guy who was supposed to be part of SAnitY, then got injured, and then has not been heard from since gets a spot in the game over the Singh Brothers, who appear on SmackDown Live on a weekly basis alongside WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. He looks slightly different from how he was presented as a part of SAnitY, but we don’t even know what his character is now that Killian Dain’s taken his slot!

    It’s too easy to be up in arms over Fulton’s inclusion in the game, so instead, I will make it a point to always have a match as Sawyer Fulton when I get the game. Hell, I’ll require myself to put Fulton in all sorts of matchups against Cruiserweights, main roster guys, and especially top guys, just for the lulz. He’s already in the game anyway, so what the hell. Let’s have fun with Sawyer Fulton.

    The DLC Pack

    Since the game hasn’t been released yet, the DLC package looks thin at this point. But don’t let that fool you because on its own, it could very well be worth the additional purchase. For starters, the Hardy Boyz make their return to a WWE video game like Kurt Angle does. Jeff Hardy hasn’t been in a WWE video game since SmackDown vs. RAW (SvR) 2010, while Matt Hardy’s last appearance was in SvR 2011.

    Other Superstars in the DLC pack include Ruby Riot, Lars Sullivan, Elias, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson), Aleister Black, and NXT Champion Drew McIntyre. Of those mentioned above, we’re most excited to play as Black and McIntyre for two reasons.

    First, it’s Black’s debut in a WWE game, and it should be fun seeing him mix it up with main roster Superstars as we tease ourselves with what his future should look like post-NXT. Second, we’re pretty curious what McIntyre’s overall rating is now that he’s back as a reinvented warrior. His rating was 84 in 2K14, his last appearance in a WWE video game. Not that we don’t trust the ratings then, but that same game rated Aksana higher overall than AJ Lee and Kaitlyn, sooooo...

    New Commentary Team!

    Byron Saxton's jammies not included.
    Screenshot from Cageside Seats

    2K18 gives us the debuts of Corey Graves and Byron Saxton on the announce team alongside Michael Cole. As a fan of commentary, I can’t be more excited for this. Say what you want about Byron Saxton, but few things gave me more joy than listening to him get set up for a “Shut up, Saxton!” by Corey Graves. I hope we hear that in the game.

    While older gamers might miss having Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler on commentary, I think we can all agree when we say that 2K made the right move in making sure we don’t have to suffer through another year of John “Bradshaw” Layfield’s commentary while we play the game. Here’s to hoping Mauro Ranallo finds himself on the commentary team in next year’s game!

    Simultaneous Release with PC version

    PC gamers won’t have to wait until February to get their hands on WWE 2K18, as the PC version will also be released on October 17, the same date as the PS4 and Xbox One! It may not seem like such a big deal, but the fact is that some gamers really just prefer to stick to the PC. It’s about time 2K showed them some love by not making them wait four months to get the next installment of the video game franchise.

    But, what about the Nintendo Switch?

    WWE 2K18 will also be available on the Nintendo Switch, making it the first wrestling game available on the console. Its worldwide release date hasn’t been announced yet, but it should be out by the fourth quarter of the year.

    Unlike the PS4, Xbox One, and PC versions, the Switch version only allows a maximum of six players at the same time. Hey, it beats not being able to play the game at all on the Switch, right?

    Updated RAW and SmackDown Live Arenas

    If you remember last year’s RAW and SmackDown arenas, they still look like the old setup pre-brand split. That gets a makeover this year, as the arenas of both shows now reflect the current stage setup.


    October 17 can’t come any sooner because we at the Smark Henry Offices have been fantasizing over the 4-on-4 Survivor Series matches we’d be having, or the fact that we can finally play as Kurt Angle, TJP, or Bobby Roode. And if that upgraded MyCareer mode even approximates the level of fun we had from Here Comes The Pain, then we could very well have a winner on our hands with 2K18!

    We didn’t even talk about the soundtrack because we already covered that in a #ThemeSongTuesday column from last month. Whether you end up loving or hating the song selection, you can direct your feelings to a certain Johnson: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

    What are you looking forward to the most from WWE 2K18? Which Superstar are you most excited to play as? Hit us up in the comments section below!

    WWE 2K18 will be released on the PS4, Xbox One, and on the PC on October 17. The Nintendo Switch version is slated for a Q4 2017 worldwide release.

    Photos from 2K, unless otherwise stated.


    Stan Sy (@_StanSyis the Editor at Large of Smark Henry, and is also a radio DJ on Wave 89.1, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXT, Lucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. You can also catch him every month attempting to keep order in a fancy suit as PWR's General Manager. You can ask him questions about wrestling, Survivor (yes, the reality show), or whatever you like on his Curiouscat account.

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    Item Reviewed: 18 Reasons To Stay Hyped For WWE 2K18 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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