With Visual Concepts now stepping into the lead of WWE Games, it's time that we see some changes that have been asked for, but never really delivered upon, at least in a significant way. While we're definitely bound to see some fresh ideas in terms of both gameplay and modes, the fundamentals behind the game need some improvement, or even completely rebuilt.
The biggest of these is the game's artificial intelligence. With the game being built on the old Toukon Retsuden engine from '94-'95, with alterations and additions made over the years, the A.I. seems to be limited by the technology of days passed.Over the past 10 years, we've seen many sports and even action-adventure titles implement A.I. that actually thinks progressively and learns your weak points.
Professional wrestling itself is about telling a story with your bodies, and with the WWE games now falling into the simulation realm, the one thing that needs to be implemented is the AI attacking specific body parts, the same way Alberto Del Rio works an opponents arm throughout the match in order to weaken it for his Armbar finisher. We currently have a limb-targeting system in the game that would be of great use to something like this, not to mention that each part of the body can be damaged to different degrees.
One way to easily make the A.I. stand out among the rest of the series goes back to the progressive thinking. Let's say that we're approaching the finish of a match and the A.I. needs to do a series of moves in order to set you up for his finisher, which we'll use again use Del Rio's Armbar as an example. You're on the top rope, and the opponent needs to get you down... 4 steps:
1.) Cause you to break your balance, strattling the top rope.
2.) Top rope arm drag (which is in the game)
3.) Wake-up taunt
4.) Armbar finisher.
As you can see, the focus of that sequence was not only getting you down for the finish, but also working your arm further. This plays into the whole "psychology" of wrestling. Such a small detail that would make the experience of matches seem much deeper than just having your opponent doing random moves, and being amazed when the the A.I. actually does something like that by accident.
The same thing applies to weapons. A few years ago, Cory Ledesma spoke about how the A.I. was improved in that area, and that if our opponent picked up a chair, they intended to use it. The problem was that it didn't exactly work out that way. Opponents would often pick up the chair and get in the ring, as if they intended to use it, but then dropping the chair. Again, this is problem with the progressive thinking of the A.I.
The artificial intelligence should always be looking for ways to work body parts, and get you into position for big moves, whether it be a Superplex, or an RKO. If your back is weak, and your opponent has a backbreaker or any other move(s) that cause a fair amount of back damage, they should be progressively thinking of ways to set you up for those. If you're fighting outside, and your back is weak, they should be throwing you into the ring apron, suplexing, and/or using the barricades to weaken your back further.
And that brings me to another point: separating the back, chest, and mid-section/abdomen in the damage meters. This allows further strategy from not only the players, but the A.I.
The standards have long since been raised, and I think it's about time that WWE Games played catch up. I'm not sure what the capabilities of the Toukon Retsuden engine are, but this is one thing that certainly needs to be looked into.