Another year brings another WWE game, but this time things are going to be a little different. We are entering a new generation of gaming with WWE 2K15 coming out for the PS4 and X-Box One. All I have to say about that is… thank God. To say that WWE games on the seventh generation game consoles have been a roller coaster ride, would be giving them too much of a compliment. The ride has definitely seen more downs than ups. Considering the poor direction from the game producers, long and constant loading screens, glitches, broken game mechanics, corrupted save and game data, game modes that don’t work as advertised, and unrealistic game physics, I’m looking forward to moving away from the PS3/X-Box 360 era. So what does WWE 2K15 have to offer for us on the gameplay level, and what improvements will the PS4/X-Box One versions of the game bring to the franchise? Well, I’d like to briefly discuss what we know, what’s been said, and my general thoughts about it all. One could look at this as a sort of State of the Game Address. This is Part 1 of the Road to WWE 2K15.
The #1 Rule of Advertising
Much like storytelling, advertising is most effective when you take the “show don’t tell” philosophy. For example, it is not enough to just say that Aleve is a longer lasting pain reliever than Tylenol. You have to actually show the two in action so that the potential buyers can see that Aleve is the superior pain reliever. That’s why you have commercials like this
Apparently 2K Games doesn’t agree with that philosophy. Instead of actually showing how the implementation of the head and body scanning technology has improved the graphics, it’s better to just say the graphics have improved. Instead of hearing an example of the improved commentary, it’s better to just say that it’s better than ever and for us to just take their word for it (after all it’s not like we’re promised improved commentary every single year or anything like that). Actually showing gameplay footage so we can see for ourselves that it’s smoother and more polished? Get outta here! We don’t need that. 2K Games is a company trying to get our money. Would they lie to us?
Some may say that 2K is just working us. They are holding off showing us gameplay footage in order to heighten our anticipation. When they do eventually show gameplay footage later on, it will be that much more satisfying. To those who make that argument, I have one message for you:
If WWE2K15 really was a huge improvement over last year’s installment (especially the PS4/X-Box One versions) I’m sure they would show us game footage ASAP. They could still work us by showing a little bit of the game yet, save the more specific details for a later time. Not showing us anything at all has me believing that there’s not much to show.
Take the Sting trailer for example. They just recently announced that Sting is going to be the pre-order bonus for WWE 2K15 (more on that later). The trailer they gave us was beautiful and very well made. It was a smart mixture of epic and an itty bitty dash of silly that WWE tries to do a lot but often fails at. It was almost perfect, but there is one thing I would change about it.
Between 0:48 and 0:50 they very briefly show archive footage of Sting during his WCW days. If during that small window of time they instead showed gameplay footage of Sting in action, this would be one of the greatest teaser trailers for a game I’ve ever seen. That we can’t even get one and a half seconds of gameplay footage at this point of the pre-release period makes me feel like this upcoming game might end up being a huge disappointment. The ball is in your court 2K; prove me wrong.
My Problem with Pre-Orders
Recently I was accused of being too negative about this game. There was a discussion about intergender matches (and how that still won’t be possible in 2K15), and my argument was that intergender matches should be the least of our concern; there’s a very real chance that this game is going to suck. In response someone said that I was already calling this game bad before it even comes out. If I was really sure that this game was going to suck, I wouldn’t still be following news about it. I was just saying that this franchise doesn’t necessarily have a spotless record. Not only has the franchise suffered from the problems stated earlier, but they released three games in a row that were not only bad, but even worse than last year’s release. It because of this that I not only feel that a little bit of pessimism is healthy, but having a pre-order exclusive bonus is complete bullshit.
Pre-orders should be for franchises that have a reputation for consistently good games. I would pre-order a GTA game. Pre-order bonuses for something like a Pokemon or Zelda game are fine too. The WWE Games franchise? I don’t think so. Some may say that because the franchise has been handled by THQ previously, it would not be fair to hold the mistakes of the past against 2K. Even WWE 2K14 was mostly produced by THQ right before they closed down. Well… okay, but the best thing you can say is they haven’t made the mistakes THQ has made. 2K has never made a wrestling game before WWE, so they have absolutely no credibility as a wrestling videogame producer. That’s hardly a reason to pre-order a game when we haven’t even seen footage of it yet.
To make matters worse, the pre-order bonus is a wrestler that a lot of people thought would never be in a WWE game. So a lot of people will be tempted to pre-order this game despite having major reservations for this series. If you think the WWE Games are fine and you have no major complaints, go ahead and pre-order the game. If you feel like I do, however, and you’re just pre-ordering solely for Sting, you’re pretty much proving that WWE owns your wallet. Chances are Sting will be available to everyone via DLC (for a price of course) later on anyway, so you might want to wait a little while before making a decision to buy the game.
My Problem with a Nostalgia Theme
Rumor has it that WWE 2K15 is going to have a WCW theme. These rumors are probably based on Sting being the pre-order bonus. I really hope this isn't true. After two games in a row with special nostalgia themes, I would prefer a game with a different focus. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not against a nostalgia theme because I hate legends. I love legends in the game, and I feel they have a strong importance as a selling point and as a way to get moves into the game that would have otherwise been left out. The main problem is a nostalgic theme allows WWE Games to go another year without innovating their game.
I don’t want to unfairly accuse game designers and producers of laziness, but it’s pretty hard to deny that game modes like Attitude Era mode and 29 years of Wrestlemania are instant hooks. That’s good for the 2K and bad for people who want more complex and varied gameplay, a revamped CAW mode, a decent Story mode, or a Universe mode that finally works as advertised. It might be possible to have a nostalgic theme and put effort in other aspects of the game, but imagine how great Universe mode would be if they put the same amount of time, money, and effort they put in Attitude Era mode and 29 Years of Wrestlemania. Imagine how great CAW mode would be. It’s possible to walk and chew gum at the same time, but it’s clear what the focus is on.
Another problem I have with the nostalgic theme is story mode. For me an original story made specifically for the game tends to stay with me more than a rehash of angles of wrestling’s past. If I wanted to relive the past I’d watch a DVD collection or an old VHS. When I’m playing the game I would rather create my own moments instead of retreading the past.
And finally, even from a business perspective it might be a bad idea to continuously rely on nostalgia to sell these games. Something like a WCW themed game might be cool every now and then, but when it’s done year after year after year it stops being special. Eventually people stop seeing it as some awesome thing and start seeing it as just another part of a game that’s really not that great, all things considered. History has proven that great gameplay sells units. A nostalgic theme should be something extra, not the main reason to get the game.
If you’re still reading at this point, I’d like to thank you for taking the time off your busy schedule to read this. If you liked this, please comment. My goal is to have a new installment of “Road to WWE2K15” every week until the game comes out, and reader feedback will be very important for this series. So if you agree, if you disagree, if you have an idea of what you want me to write about next, or you just want to share a pasta sauce recipe, please leave your thoughts below. Thanks again for reading.
Edited by King of Kong, 22 August 2014 - 02:10 AM.