WWE 2K24 preview: small changes make a big impact
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Featured Image Credit: 2K
I was invited by 2K to check out the latest instalment of the WWE 2K franchise and while this year's release is no overhaul, its subtle tweaks and improvements should make enough of an impact to please returning WWE fans, present company included. So with that being said, let’s topé suicida into this preview so that I can tell you about what I played of WWE 2K24.
Firstly, Visual Concepts has retained the same basic controls as recent games in the series. So if you’re used to the last few games, you’ll be good to go from the offset. What’s more, the controls to Visual Concepts WWE 2K games have always been playable on a basic level, so newcomers will be fine too but there’s also plenty to master should you desire.
Check out the WWE 2K24 trailer below!
In terms of combat, what’s new in WWE 2K24? Pinning your opponent and making them tap with your finishing manoeuvre has always been the customary way to defeat a foe in style such as Stone Cold’s ‘Stunner’, Roman Reigns’ ‘Spear’, Rhea Ripley’s ‘Riptide’, and more. In WWE 2K23, you were able to store up to three finishers, however, in WWE 2K24 you can now store up to five. Furthermore, if you store at least three finishers in the newest game, you can now perform a ‘Super Finisher’ which not only has extra pazazz, but will also be increasingly more difficult for your opponent to kick out which will surely come in handy when playing on Legendary difficulty.
In-game, you can now instigate the ‘Trading Blows’ mini-game which will kick off a series of brutal QTE “Wooo” chops between you and your opponent by holding in the X/Square button, which will be a treat for fans of Gunther and Drew McIntyre especially. If you don't want to trigger ‘Trading Blows’, you can mostly avoid it by not holding down the designated button. But that’s not to say that AI Gunther won't want to chop your poop out of you anyway. Elsewhere, depending on the Superstar that you’re controlling (such as a high-flyer), you can perform a dive over the top rope into a group of opponents. Sadly, I was unable to perform this particular move, as you’ll need your opponents to be grouped outside of the ring at the same time. However, I will look forward to trying this move out in the full game.
Hardcore matches have always been fun in WWE games because it’s absolute brutal mayhem. While these match types, as well as Backstage Brawls, remain largely the same in WWE 2K24, being able to throw weapons is so much fun. This may seem like a meaningless feature, but when you’re viciously launching chairs, baseball bats, guitars and more to your opponent's head, I couldn't help but laugh out loud. Speaking of Backstage Brawls, this was mentioned before the preview as a mode that’s been improved, and it has - just not by much. During my few hours playing the game, I didn’t experience every backstage area the game had to offer, but I did manage to try out some of its improved interactive environments such as a working elevator and throwing cans of pop from the vending machine. It’s not a massive change, but it’s subtle tweaks like this which make the game a little more fun.
In terms of the modes I sampled, we had three chapters of the ‘2K Showcase…of the Immortals’ campaign which is all about 40 years of WrestleMania. Those chapters included Ultimate Warrior vs Rick Rude (WrestleMania 5), Rhea Ripley vs Charlotte Flair (WrestleMania 39) and Roman Reigns vs Cody Rhodes (WrestleMania 39). These are objective-based chapters, as in previous WWE 2K ‘Showcase’ modes and the more objectives you achieve, the more unlockables you’ll acquire such as character skins.
One of the best new match types that played during the preview was the Ambulance Match, which was far more fun than expected. The premise is simple, beat your opponent, and throw them into the back of an ambulance to send them on their way to the make-believe hospital. As long as your opponent is beaten up enough, you should be able to win the prompted button-bashing QTEs. Just make sure you beat them down well, otherwise, those QTE sequences are going to be far more difficult than they need to be. The full game will have a Casket Match, which I’m guessing the mechanics will be similar to the Ambulance Match, so I’m looking forward to trying that mode come launch.
Visually, even for a pre-release build, WWE 2K24 looked stunning. The camera angles represent real-life TV and Premium Live Events like never before. During the entrances, I also noticed that clipping has been reduced. If you’re familiar with the previous games, you’d be used to seeing hair and championship belts clip through clothing. I only had a small portion of the 200-plus playable characters, but when I played as Iyo Sky, who has long hair, tassels on clothing as well as being a WWE Women’s Champion, clipping was far less obvious and it's clear that this is something that Visual Concepts have been improving. Character models also look incredible not only in face and body, but also in subtle movements such as the way they walk, react to getting hit, and more. On close inspection, the sweat and skin pigments are amazingly detailed. It’s these small things that make role-playing as your favourite Superstar all the more enjoyable.
During the few hours I spent playing WWE 2K24, I was feeling very impressed, not only as a Pro Wrestling obsessed fan but also as a fan of the WWE 2K series. It wouldn't be wise to go into WWE 2K24 expecting massive changes, but I’ve always believed when a game has reached a peak, all you need from that point onwards are small changes that make a positive impact, and that’s what WWE 2K24 seems to achieve. If you’re a fan of this series too, you’ll also have a reason to get excited and I can’t wait for its launch.
WWE 2K24 will be released on 8 March 2024 for PC, PlayStation and Xbox.
Flights and accommodation to the preview event and Royal Rumble were paid for by 2K. This does not affect the sentiment expressed in this piece regarding the writer's impressions of the game.