Fans of this long-running wrestling franchise came away feeling that last year’s effort, the first on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, was average at best. With modes trimmed out and odd changes to the control scheme that messed with match pac- ing, fans turned their attention forward in hopes of improvement.
Based on our brief time with the game, developers Yuke’s and Visual Concepts are addressing concerns not only from last year, but those that have lingered for a while. Last year’s back-and-forth chain wrestling tie-up system has been tweaked. Players can tie, which opens the door for them to break out of the lockup or deliver a cheap blow.
One of the other major changes is an overhaul to the reversal system. In last year’s game, priority could switch back and forth indefinitely. Provided both players nailed the timing, you could go on and on without either side landing a blow.
Reversals are now on a meter that recharges over time. If your bar is empty, you’d best stay away from your
opponent or engage on your own terms when there’s an opening. Some moves require a major reversal, which costs two sections of meter. Others give you a single opportunity for a string of attacks, and both of these are noted with different versions of the reversal icon.
The referee, pin, and submission systems are updated for 2K16. Rope breaks are now initiated manually, and you need to make sure the ref can actually see you grab it. You can still kick out of a pin, but the meter is overhauled. The horizontal display is gone in favor of a circular meter. You need to stop the bar in the pie-shaped section of the meter to pull out of the pin. As you get weaker, the wedge shrinks and can move, making it harder to escape. Functionally, it’s the same, but works better aesthetically.
The submission minigame takes a page from UFC Undisputed 3. When you have someone in a hold, a circular meter appears with two bars (one for each opponent). The aggressor uses his line to chase the defender’s. If they overlap, a meter fills up, ultimately leading to tap-out.
Our demo included one-on-one quick play matches and the first Showcase fight, featuring cover star Stone Cold Steve Austin. The introduction takes us all the way back to 1996, for the King of the Ring finals. Both Austin and opponent Jake the Snake Roberts were injured earlier in the night, with Roberts taking a beating from Vader.
Objectives return this year, and as Austin, players need to bring Roberts into critical range and then perform a Stone Cold Stunner before a pin. The controls and the user interface depicting stamina and momentum are identical to last year, with no major surprises. I transitioned to WWE 2K16 without a problem.
We don’t have information yet on the other modes, including creation, universe, and career. They’re likely to be in place as you’d expect, but details on changes and improvements will come later. Our first look was brief, with very little to sink our teeth into, but what was there felt better than last year’s first outing on new-gen platforms