WWE 2k15 will be marking the WWE video game series’ debut on the new generation of gaming systems. It will also be the first time that 2K Sports has controlled the development of the title from beginning to end (as 2k14 started out as a THQ published game). We know very little about what direction 2K intends to take the series, but there are some things that must be improved, changed or added to breathe new life into the series. Having played every single WWE game ever made, I have some strong ideas about where this series should go for the next year. Here are my top 10 practical ideas for WWE 2k15:
1. Universe mode must continue to be the heart of the game and most development hours allocated toward developing and improving game modes should be used to improve this mode. Universe is the Dynasty/Franchise mode of the game now. It is time to fully embrace it the way other yearly sports titles have done.
Rivalry Manager needs a drastic overhaul. This feature was just introduced in the current version of the game. The idea of the feature is great and something that is needed in Universe Mode. The implementation of the feature is poorly done and really serves as a source of frustration more than anything else. Once a rivalry between superstars is established, all that happens is that rivalry manager books those superstars in a match against each other every week and every PPV until the length of the rivalry is over. There is no intelligent or diverse booking. Instead of Superstar A vs. Superstar B for 12 straight weeks, Universe needs to book matches more like they do on actual WWE programming. There needs to be various forms of match interference, tag matches combining two different rivalries, back stage segments, matches against allies of your rival, injuries that cause a rivalry to be put on hold and then resume hotter than ever when the Superstar returns from injury and anything else that WWE programming uses to keep us interested in a storyline for multiple months. No one wants to play John Cena vs. Randy Orton for 15 or more straight matches no matter how big of a Cena fan they may be. Also, the number of rivalries on a show should be determined by the number of matches you have on that show. 3 rivalries on a show that has 7 matches on it every week is just not enough. It would even be a good idea to have types of rivalries to choose from which would set the overall tone and direction of the rivalry. There are a lot of great scenes inside story designer that could be used to make unique rivalry storylines. Perhaps at the beginning of a rivalry you could choose between preset stories like a rivalry over a championship, battle for #1 contender, rivalry over a diva, defending a friend from a bully, hiring a hitman to take out a rival, formation of a faction, formation of a tag team, break up of a faction or tag team, etc.
The cut scene mechanic needs a major overhaul. I don't believe that the cut scenes in Universe Mode have ever truly worked the way they were designed to work. This year, they seemed to have more glitches than ever. In tag matches, you would often have people from two different teams celebrating together for instance. Other times you would have someone attack someone on the ramp who was already standing in the ring. That is just the tip of the iceberg; I have had all manner of weirdness when it comes to Universe cut scenes. There is nothing that will rip you out of the immersion of the game like a cut scene that makes no sense. Even when cut scenes are working right, they often times don’t matter. You might have someone attack a superstar before a match and then nothing becomes of that at all. It doesn’t start a new rivalry or anything. Those two superstars may never interact again. Universe Mode needs a lot more branching cut scenes as well. This was a good idea when it was introduced, but it also has never seemed to work right. I have probably seen a handful of branching cut scenes over the last 2 years. Almost every cut scene needs to be designed so that the player has a decision to make. This makes the player feel like he or she is part of the action rather than watching it. It also gives the player a reason to watch the cut scenes rather than skip them because they have seen that scene enough to know exactly what will happen. If there is an action for the player to perform (in this case which direction to guide the story in), the player becomes invested in the scene. This is needed in Universe Mode.
Give us the full functionality of the King of the Ring Tournament Mode in Universe. I want to be able to set up a tournament and have damage carry over from match to match. Why I can do that in one place in the game, but not in the most important place in the game is beyond me. Let me set up tag tournaments too. Also, Universe should be smart enough to recognize the KOTR on the card and not make me play a full card and then a 16 man tournament all on one PPV. It would even be nice to have the option to have the tournament on one night or have qualifying matches across several shows.
Universe Mode needs to be brought into the 21st century by letting players play Universe online. Rarely, if ever, do yearly sports titles not have an online component to their Franchise/Dynasty type mode these days. It can be as simple as letting my friend jump into my Universe to play matches with me or as complex as letting us each be a general manager of our own brand and compete against each other for ratings and/or advertising dollars. You could let us do a draft for superstars we will control until the entire roster is divided between us and let us play Universe Mode like that or you could let one person be the faces and one person be the heels. There are a number of ways it could be done, but the point is there needs to be some way that a friend and I can play the mode together. You could even have levels like the Madden Connected Career Mode has. You could play as a superstar (you control a single superstar and follow his career in Universe Mode), a manager (where you draft a roster of superstars that you control throughout Universe) or as a General Manager (where you control a brand and compete against other brands in Universe for ratings and/or television contracts.
2. With the debut of WWE Network, this is the perfect year to have the largest and most incredible roster in the game. It can span the entire history of WWE, WCW and ECW. There is no need to limit the roster and there is no need to stop making DLC roster packs available for the entire lifecycle of the game. I remember on the Fire Pro Wrestling games when you could vote for whom you wanted the next DLC character to be and also you could vote on the next DLC move to be released. This would be a great way to keep the game fresh an entire year. Make a WWE Network mode that is similar to the 30 Years of Wrestlemania Mode where you can play out some of the most important events in WWE history and keep adding new events via DLC as voted on by the fans.
3. Improve the striking. The faster striking introduced in 2k14 hasn't been a positive in game play in my opinion. A quick perusal of online forums reveals I am not alone in that opinion. The new faster strikes look like playing a WWE match video in fast forward. This looks really out of place considering that the series has spent the last 5 years or so building on to more realistic looking matches that are meant to simulate actual programming. I understand this was primarily done to enhance online matches, but that shouldn't be done at the expense of the realism of the rest of the game. Strikes should carry weight and should look like they hurt. Also, give us the ability to use a strong strike as a finisher the way we can use a submission as a finisher. This could even be a new ability.
4. Fix created special moves. This is another thing that is a great concept but has never been executed properly. This mode has had an issue since the first year it was introduced. This year the issue is that created moves don’t trigger the correct finisher or signature pin meter. Instead, they trigger the same pin meter you get when you do a chain grapple which means your opponent is almost always going to kick out of your finisher if it is a created move. The top rope diving moves still don’t flow like a natural top rope dive. They have never looked right. Allow us more freedom in creating moves. From the beginning of the mode, you have only been able to create a set number of predetermined moves because only certain animations link together. Rather than being a true creation mode, it is more of a puzzle mode where you simply link predetermined pieces together. How many times have you thought, “If only I could finish this move with the impact animation from that other move” only to be frustrated because they don’t link together in the database? Unlock the animations. Let us decide what pieces to fit together.
5. Give me another level of strategy by allowing me to use stored finishers to kick out of a pin. Make this the new resiliency ability. If a superstar has resiliency, then he can use finishers to execute a finishing move or to kick out of a pin/get out of a submission. This adds a whole new level of strategy to the game. You have to figure out a way to get your opponent to use his finisher icons before you use your last one or they will be able to kick out. This is adding a bit of chess to a game that is mostly checkers.
6. Fix managers. Managers are an important part of WWE programming. What would The Real Americans be without Zeb? What would Brock Lesnar be without Paul Heyman? What would the Wyatts be without Bray? What would Los Matadores be without El Torito? What would Fandango be without Summer Rae? First, you should be able to assign a manager to superstars and anytime that superstar is booked on a show his manager will come out with him. Secondly, the manager functions need to be overhauled. The managers in WWE Legends of Wrestlemania were amazing and really helped your superstar. That is the way managers should be in WWE’s flagship game.
7. Allow us to choose the match experience setting before each match the way you choose which superstar to control. I want to be able to decide between fast, normal or epic before each match without going all the way back out to the menu. This is actually one of the best features to be put in the series in the last few years, but it is rendered useless because most players are not going to go back out to the card menu to choose the match experience setting after every single match on a card. This should be done pre-match just like how you get to choose which superstar to control before each match.
8. Allow us to import paint tools from the computer into the game. There are many sports games that let you do this and have been for a long time. WWE is probably the game where this makes the most sense, but instead creators are forced to use third party software to make this happen rather than use something provided in the game. Unfortunately, this third party software sometimes causes glitches. Allowing users to import paint tool files from their computers into the game via a website would be a major improvement of the creation suite in the game.
9. Give us a lot more created content. The create-a-superstar mode has been largely untouched for years. It is time we get a lot of stuff added into the mode. We need more hair styles, more clothing, more entrance gear and more masks. We also need more body styles and face templates to choose from.
10. We need more complex AI. Superstars all feel the same in this game. It doesn’t matter if you are playing with Big Show or Rey Mysterio, it still feels basically the same. The problem is there is no way for a user to differentiate superstars. Sure, there are attributes, but those attributes don’t really affect behavior. We need logic windows that allow us to adjust how often a superstar grapples, strikes, uses submissions, runs, goes to the top rope, fights outside, uses weapons, tries to cheat and other behaviors that will determine how a superstar behaves in the ring. The tools are already there. We have seen how drastically different the AI can be in the Beat the Streak Mode. Undertaker had amazing AI in that mode that was far better than the AI in the rest of the game. Give us the tools to be able to make each superstar feel that genuine.
If you have any suggestion of what you would like to see in the game, leave them in the comment section below or tweet me @cavemangamer on Twitter.