A Rival ‘WWE 2K’ Game Is Coming: Here’s What We Want from Yuke’s Wrestling Game

The development studio responsible for WWE’s games wants (and needs) to produce something new

wwe 2k the rock mobile
The Rock. / “WWE 2K19”

Wrestling fans certainly have a lot to celebrate (and complain about) these days.

One of those celebratory instances comes in the form of a new alternative to Vince McMahon’s empire—the up-and-coming All Elite Wrestling promotion led by Cody Rhodes, the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega. It’s a common and proven belief that competition within any market makes everyone step up his or her game. When there’s only one dominating presence within a particular industry, the sole product that’s delivered tends to falter and stay in a holding pattern. That’s sadly been the case for 2K Sports’s WWE games. Ever since the AAA-game publisher acquired the rights to the franchise, fans have been treated to annual sequels that arrive with more problems than solutions. While WWE 2K19 was a marked improvement over previous installments, it still didn’t do enough to please die-hard fans who’ve been lamenting the series’ faults since its inception.

Yuke’s, the Japanese development studio responsible for crafting a majority of recent WWE games, has grown frustrated with what it has been able to do with the WWE 2K series. Hiromi Furuta, the studio’s senior vice president and producer, knows that the lack of competition within the genre has caused the brand’s work to stagnate and disappoint the dedicated fan base. Furuta recently gave wrestling fans a reason to be hopeful when she announced that her studio is in the process of producing its own rival wrestling IP.

If Yuke’s truly wants to capture the excellence of golden era wrestling games and recapture the magic of the company’s finest work, then the following suggestions have to be taken into account. In order for Yuke’s to return to top form, Yuke’s next wrestling game needs to get back to basics and still do enough to push the genre forward.

Create a New Graphics Engine

If you’ve stuck with the WWE 2K franchise since its introduction in 2011, then you’ve probably noticed how its visuals haven’t truly evolved. Move animations from past entries have been carried over to new installments, plus some of the create-a-wrestler tools still look a bit wonky in motion. In order to start this new project on the right foot, Yuke’s needs to create an all-new graphics engine. Fans will be far more receptive to this new IP if it visually sets itself apart from the WWE 2K games. The days of unruly hair and in-game models that look a bit off when compared with their real-life counterparts need to end.

Abandon the Simulation Feel

Whenever the topic of best wrestling games pops up, a few notable titles are always a part of the conversation: AKI’s legendary N64 WCW and WWF games, WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain, WWF WrestleFest and even Def Jam Vendetta immediately come to mind. There’s a reason gamers still look back fondly on these brawlers; they weren’t overly complicated, slow-paced wrestling simulators. Instead, these titles embraced a simple control scheme that made way for an immensely fun experience. Yuke’s needs to take a step back from the plodding action fans have been subjected to for the past few years and adopt a more “arcade-y” feel for its next project. The last game that adopted that mentality (WWE All Stars) was a damn good time, so there’s proof that this suggestion has some merit to it.

Work with a Different Wrestling Company

If Yuke’s has the option of producing a non-WWE wrestling game, then it should make sure that game adopts the likeness of its home country’s biggest wrestling promotion. Back in 2006, Yuke’s Wrestle Kingdom series paid respect to New Japan Pro Wrestling, All Japan Pro-Wrestling and a host of Japanese wrestling icons in digital form. Fast-forward to today’s Japanese wrestling scene and it’s easy to see that NJPW is the number one federation to follow. A fresh take on the Wrestle Kingdom formula that places the spotlight firmly on NJPW’s massive roster would be awesome to see. Thanks to the company’s worldwide popularity, wrestling fans would be far more receptive to a fully realized NJPW game. Fire Pro Wrestling World did a good job of showcasing NJPW’s most popular superstars in 2-D form. But we’d love to see the Japanese promotion step back into the world of 3-D and deliver a AAA wrestling game experience.

Return to Form for GM Mode

One of the more oft-requested features from WWE 2K fans is the return of a fully featured general manager mode. Those same fans lamented the absence of GM mode from WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 and have requested its return ever since. WWE 2K’s universe mode has tried to replicate the feel of that fantasy management simulator, but it’s still lacking in a few areas. Yuke’s certainly can give fans a fresh take on GM mode. The studio’s newly proposed wrestling title would do well to feature this mechanic and allow its players to do something else besides body slamming the competition. Setting up feuds, developing stables and switching up the babyface/heel alignment of each wrestler is more fun than you’d think.

Include Missing Modes/Features from ‘WWE 2K’

The most perplexing thing about the WWE 2K games is that they completely omit fan-favorite modes from past entries. There are even cases of legacy modes failing to fulfill several fan requests. Where’s “create a finisher”? How come the women don’t have some sort of career-mode story line to follow? And why hasn’t some sort of custom theme music mechanic been implemented in the newer games? Yuke’s must come across these questions on a yearly basis. If Yuke’s wants to start this new IP on the right foot, it needs to implement the aforementioned missing features. If a new wrestling game enters the ring and rights the wrongs of its competitor, then it’ll be easy to generate an instantly satisfied audience.

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