Footage has just been released of WWE 2K16, showing that… well it’s pretty much the same as all the other ones. WWE games have been running off the same tired engine for years now and even with a change in developer, it doesn’t look likely to stop anytime soon. Sadly, that engine just doesn’t work and creates an experience that has more in common with a fighting game than a wrestling game.
Wrestling is predetermined, however the video games seem determined to be anything but. In real life two wrestlers get in the ring and slowly build a match, they start small and get bigger and bigger until they hit a suitable crescendo and one of them wins. Sometimes that is done over 1 minute, sometimes it’s done over an hour. Each match, at least in theory, tells a different story. In WWE games, two wrestlers go into a ring and beat each other up. It’s UFC but with moves that if you actually executed them properly would kill someone, and it’s really boring.
Because you see the best parts of a wrestling match are the ebbs and flows. It’s the build up to something special happening. Two guys struggling to their feet can be just as exciting as a 450 splash. The WWE games don’t seem to get that. 2K15 seemed to hint towards some knowledge of that, by introducing the chain wrestling at the start of the game to slow it down. However, that was just a fiddly mechanic that never really worked. It also showed some indication that it understand how wrestling worked. In career mode you got experience based on excitement and near falls, as well as for wins and loses. It’s just a shame it was wrapped in the same old, boring and broken game.
So how do you change it? Well first you have to make the moves mean something. If you hit a guy with a high impact move, he needs to stay down for a bit, to sell it. He shouldn’t be able to instantly jump to his feet, reverse your next move and go on the offensive. That change would then play into the larger change. You take it away from being a fighting game and turn it into a real wrestling simulation. It’s not about wins or loses, but about creating matches. You could even go as far as having you and your opponent being told who will win before you wrestle and the time you have and then take it from there. Between the two of you, you then have to make magic happen.
Of course this will never happen. It’s far too radical a change for these games and it isn’t worth the risk. So instead I’d just like to see them have a nod towards it. Put in a mode that allows you to do it. It could even be a part of a larger GM mode, something they have done in the past. Let you build a wrestling company around real wrestling, rather than just fake fighting. Because the truth is these games got boring a long time ago and no amount of shoving the Terminator into them is going to change that.