WWE 2K17: The Biggest Changes Coming to This Year's Game
Get the tables!
WWE 2K17--just like the last few WWE games on this current generation of consoles--seems iterative, adding new features and expanding on existing ones as opposed to coming up with huge new changes to its well-worn formula. There's likely a reason for this--WWE 2K games on this current generation of consoles have been relatively feature-light compared to their previous gen counterparts, so catching up seems like a natural progression. So outside of its large roster of wrestlers, what exactly are the biggest changes in WWE 2K17? We spoke to creative director Lynell Jinks and game designer Ramelle Ballesca to find out.
GameSpot: There are a few things you've changed about this year's game, but one thing I noticed was the timing on reversals seemed different. Did the team change that at all?
Lynell Jinks: I haven't noticed a difference but I have heard people say in development, say they can't get it so I don't know. I think it's one of those things where it might feel different but I think it's the same. We haven't changed it. There's also now an alternate submission meter as well, so there is more button mashing if you want to use that instead.
You can either stick with the trigger-based mini-game thing or you can go into options and change it, is that right?
Right. It's more of a button mashing and tug-of-war system. Just going around all the menus in the game, one of the key things that leaps out is just "more."
For someone who's played the game quite a lot, what do you feel are going to be the key gameplay differences that they are going to notice?
Basically in WWE 2K15, we knew we had to strip from the game a lot of elements that people really liked just to get it onto new platforms. Our goal (now) is basically trying to get those modes back in. We're trying to slowly put those back in but also we're looking at gameplay, in smoothing out transitions, so people will notice that the animations feel a lot smoother. [There are also] new mechanics with tables, and the ladder system is completely redone this year. We're getting backstage brawls back in, fighting within the crowd--those elements are really cool and really fun.
Let's talk about those mechanics. You mentioned tables and ladders. Can you talk a little bit more about what you've done with those?
With the ladder system, we totally re-shot all the animations. You can use modifiers to adjust how you hold the ladders as well. Placing the ladder in the middle and being able to go up the ladder is new. Being able to do finishers off the ladder is also new. There's also the ladder bridge if you can move the ladder out from the ring. Then with overall gameplay, we're adding more finishers and signatures. Also, you now have up to seven different slots that you can use contextual taunts, depending on where your characters are. You can taunt to the crowd, taunt to your opponent, or perform wake-up taunts.
And tables? Mechanically, do they work similarly to the ladders, now?
We have a bunch of different scenarios where you can set up. We have seven different spots where you can assign finishers for tables now. There is also the new table meter that basically measures the damage that you have on your opponent or yourself that's attached to a table. For instance, hit a guy against a table and strike him, it can damage the table, so it's basically just letting you know when the table will break.
I had a cool scenario play out the other day where I was running towards my opponent. He flipped me over the ropes, and I fell through the table. At the end of the match I was like, "Ah, that was cool, didn't even have the table meter going at the time!" It's just more dynamic in that way and gives users a better experience rather than just arbitrarily breaking tables and not really understanding why it's breaking or not.
You guys have reintroduced brawling backstage, brawling in the crowd. Can you talk a little bit more about those?
There are a few ways that you can go into the crowd and brawl. You can get thrown over the barrier, hop over the barrier if you want, break it with a move. There are tables, ladders, and some other props there you can interact with, or you can head over towards the ramp and head backstage from those areas in real time.
When you're backstage, you can also use objects?
Yeah. There you have a few rooms like the production area, the locker room, the office where Stephanie, Triple H, and Mr. McMahon will be. You have some objects that you can use, and you'll also find Renee Young interviewing someone. We're just trying to give users more freedom and bring some of the features that used to be in our previous old-gen games back to the newer consoles but with a fresh new face.
One of the other key things you're introducing this year is promos. Why did you guys decide to bring that in this year?
Ramelle Ballesca: We always thought it was something that's missing from our WWE games. It's half of what they wrestlers do--it's all that athleticism combined with all that charisma, so we really wanted to try to bring that to our fans this year. It's almost like a branching conversation system, but the crowd reacts to what you're saying moment to moment. You can be a good face or heel by picking the right choices, and just like we see on WWE TV, you can be a heel and the crowd would still buy into you, so that's what we were really targeting for this time around. Not just, are you being a face or heel but also, are the things you're saying, does it resonate with the crowd as a heel character?
Is that how a player measures how well the promo is going? They listen to the crowd or are there other indicators to show that?
It's mainly the crowd. There are going to be different types of crowds so one night you might have a kid-friendly crowd and if you're a face it makes sense to say all the heroic things, but if you're a heel you play against that. Or you might step into a hardcore crowd, where you want to say a lot of shock value.
How many actions are you generally given in a promo?
Ideally it's four choices and five rounds of that. That can change if someone interrupts your promo--then you're in a sort of promo battle where it's you against another person vying for the crowd. There are going to be two meters. One is a meter that shows you how much the crowd is liking you and then the other meter is for your face or heel status, which is separate to that. If you still want to, especially for career mode, if you still want to shift between being a face or being a heel or being a mega-face or a mega-heel, those two things are separate.
So even if you're John Cena, you're super babyface, you're still going to have the really heel stuff to say if you want to say that, is that right?
Right, right. In fact, we're going to give players bonuses for putting together a cohesive promo. If you're trying to be heel for that night, you're trying to get the crowd to buy into you as a heel and you don't flip-flop back and forth, you gain more popularity for that.
Any other little things that you may have changed or tweaked in the game but fans may not immediately notice, but is important to the overall package?
Lynell Jinks: For us, I'm really proud of just the amount of data we actually put into the creation suite. We know that that's where our game has legs. In production, we try to follow what's going on in the WWE and WWE Network as much as we can, but at a certain point we have to basically put pencils down and try to get the game done. As you know, the WWE changes constantly. So our job is to help try to give this game legs by giving the users the tools to try to do the updates on someone's likeness or their gear or their entrance, or even create someone who just is entering to the WWE.
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