PAX Prime 2013: WWE 2K14 hands-on
After a slight existential crisis as we scanned the booth list for THQ’s name before reality hit us that they’re no longer a company, and that WWE was now under the stewardship of 2K, we made our way to their booth and partook in Yuke’s latest wrasslin title. A developer on hand was genuinely excited to be under the watch of 2K, who bring incredible production values into their Basketball game and was optimistic that this golden touch would extend into their wrestling titles. It’s an exciting time for the series, then, and so he went on to enthusiastically lead us through the key changes for this year’s edition.
Building off the foundation of last year’s inclusion of an Attitude Era, WWE 2K14 lends a similar treatment to Wrestlemania. The storied history of WWE’s biggest pay-per-view event is showcased within the most important matches of the company’s past. If this is a reflective look back at the moments that came to define what WWE is today, then we can expect the follow-up to present the future of the companies, in-line with the storylines WWE’s presently running following Summerslam. Although the developers were tight-lipped about any future entries, there’s a precedent for us to anticipate 2K’s involvement.
We started with a match between the Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan (whose inclusion has been questioned in the media, with his recent move to TNA). The event called back to the classic Wrestlemania VI. As it took place in 1990 there’s a film grain effect layered over action, much like 2K’s Basketball game creates an era-specific atmosphere, informing the game with a real sense of authenticity. Furthering this are key moments, challenges that recall real match events and can be completed within each match, rewarding the player with a cutscene reliving the actual events.
These dream matches are what WWE 2K’s all about. We asked Yukes how they felt about the recent surge of interest in Create-a-Wrestler matches. They said this is exactly why they’ve created such an in-depth creation system and how they were excited to see such an interest in the possibilities.
We then challenged the designer to a match-up. It would be us playing Mick Foley as Cactus Jack versus their Ryback. He talked about his involvement with WWE Wrestlers. Mostly they brought in former wrestlers for their motion capture. However, he got the opportunity to work directly with Ryback, who came in to record lines for his entrances and said on special occasions, they’d bring in the real stars when the motion capture guys were unable to perform their moves convincingly. For one example, they had to bring in the real guy to do a dance upon finding their guys weren’t much for dancing.
The match played out evenly with plenty of back and forth. The one-on-one was a chance for Yukes to show us some of the newly added moves and to play competitively, the nature of competition being the selling point for any contact sport. We ended up taking the match with a late pinfall, after seeing the flashy new holds.
After talking to the team at PAX, we can’t help but feel reinvested in the prospects for the franchise’s future. Yukes are a competent team, best seen in their UFC work, and with the production arm of 2K, are fully capable of creating a great wrestling title. Along with the new energy in the actual promotions, there once again looks to be a sense of hope for the videogame adaptations. We’ll see the first stage in this transition when WWE 2K14 launches this fall.