WWE 2K18 Review
Let me get this out of the way for the impatient among you — if you liked WWE 2K17, you're not going to find anything you don't like in WWE 2K18. There. Enjoy your coffee.
I'm actually struggling to come up with more than that, because any changes between the two games are, at most, superficial. Yes, the graphics are improved — although they're not even remotely as amazing as described elsewhere.
Other than a few tweaks here and there, there's nothing new about how the game plays. Plus, it has all the bugs and glitches we've come to expect right after the game launches.
Let's get those bugs out of the way, first. As part of the "Deluxe Edition" of the game, players who bought it were able to play the game four days before the actual release date, which gave players who bought it four extra days to complain online about what a glitch fest it is.
For example, Universe Mode is actually a lot easier to navigate than last year. And the weekly cards for each show are also really easy to edit, giving you plenty of ways to guide WWE programming the way you want to.
Sadly, whenever I get to a point on a card where I've manually placed a promo, the game straight up crashes. So, I'm not even bothering with Universe Mode anymore until a patch is released.
During my time with Universe, however, I was pleasantly surprised at how well everything flowed. The one thing I really care about this mode is creating and moving along storylines. I felt last year's game didn't provide this enough and 2K18 has certainly improved on that. It's still not perfect (even without the bugs), but it's an improvement.
The MyCareer mode is also a mixed bag. Players start out creating a whole new wrestler (no importing a CAW here) with minimum options and starting them at the lowest rung in the Performance Center totem pole. As you prove your worth, you'll wander backstage (like you could in the previous Smackdown vs Raw games) and take one - get this - friggin' side quests. I saw that with emphasis because that is awesome.
However, the reason you can't import a CAW is because of the new Loot system. As you complete sections, tasks, and side quests, you'll earn currency that will let you purchase new items and the infamous "loot crates". Some items can only be unlocked in these crates. Of course, you can also purchase this in-game currency with real money, although you don't need to in order to enjoy this new mode. But it's kind of a sad reflection of where gaming is going these days.
There's no voice acting in this section, just text - and right now, there's a number of typos to be found. Again, nothing a patch can't fix, and we've already been expecting a patch even before the game was released.
In general, the graphics are fantastic. Sadly, however, the way the actual wrestlers themselves look is pretty hit and miss. It's as if they put a lot of work into the wrestlers they knew the majority of players would pick, and then just sort of stopped trying down the road. Heck, Seth Rollins is on the cover; take a gander at how he looks in the actual game.
There's a new commentary team this year. While Michael Cole is still around, gone are Jerry Lawler and JBL. Instead, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton have joined the team. It's... not an improvement. While Graves is currently the best announcer in WWE and Saxton... well... has his charms, they're both totally wasted here. In fact, during the game, I had a hard time telling the two apart. Usually, I was only 100% sure I was listening to Graves because the voice I heard was insulting Saxton.
The incidental/ambient noise — the crowd, the action in the ring, etc. — however, is spot on. The ring announcing has improved, too, especially when it comes to CAWs (a special shout-out, though, to Wrestling With Wregret's Brian Zane, who still can't use his name for a CAW despite the fact that WWE employs a wrestler named "Zayne").
Speaking of Create-A-[you name it] modes, this might be the biggest improvement from last year. The Create-A-Wrestler mode itself provides some really good templates to work with, allowing gamers who don't have the skill or the patience to go into the in-depth tweaks to creations (i.e. me) the ability to still make some pretty cool creations.
There's also a Create-A-Match mode, which I admittedly haven't had a chance to play with much. And, of course, all of these creations can be shared online in a significantly improved Community Creations section.
Let's wrap this up
In all honesty, despite needing some serious patchwork, WWE 2K18 is in better shape now than its predecessor was at this point in its run. Most of that has to do with the updated MyCareer mode, the even bigger roster, and the improved graphics.
This is all well and good for this year, but this franchise needs a revamp, and badly. I'm not sure how they'd do that, though, as fans are expecting a new title each year — like Madden or NBA 2K. And developing a new game engine alongside creating a new annual title with the old engine is prohibitively expensive, even for Take-Two — and they publish the Grand Theft Auto games.