Why WWE 2K24 Will Maintain the Series’ Upwards Trajectory

Visual Concepts and 2K Games have closed the casket on the dumpster fire that was WWE 2K20. Underbaked, under-developed, unfinished, 2019’s disastrous WWE game should have seen the last calling for the long-established wrestling series, but a cancelled 2K21 entry, management reshuffle, and renewed focus on what made older games in the series so memorable resulted in a rejuvenated WWE 2K22 that came out swinging. The resurgence continued with last year’s WWE 2K23, arguably the best wrestling game in years.

The team at Visual Concepts deserve huge credit for their achievements. 2K20’s pitiful sales inevitably meant 2K Games restricted budgets for the next entry, but WWE games – much like their TV counterpart – are enjoying a new golden era. There’s pressure then on WWE 2K24 to continue this upward trend, but the perennial problem with annual sports titles remains. That is, how to distinguish the latest iteration from its predecessor without tampering too much on an already winning formula. Can innovation prevail just enough to convince players this latest version is an essential upgrade?

[embedded content]

Well, WWE 2K24 looks to have added a sizeable raft of updates and improvements, marginal of course in terms of graphics and cosmetics, but new game modes, match types, gameplay upgrades, enhanced camera angles, facial animations, weapons, and career mode storylines mean Visual Concepts have really pushed the boat out this year.

Grabbing the headlines for this iteration is the new 2K Showcase of the Immortals game mode. A celebration of wrestling history as Wrestlemania 40 approaches, this new showcase game mode puts players right in the centre of some of the most iconic Wrestlemania matches in history, reliving the moment-to-moment magic via gameplay interspersed with live action footage. It’s similar to what’s been done before in WWE 2K14 and its 30 years of Wrestlemania mode for sure, but this rebrand seems to be promising an experience more immersive that any prior showcase mode to date, and it’ll please long-time wrestling fanatics alongside wrestling newbies who’ll be treated to an excellent history lesson.

There’s an extensive list of Wrestlemania matches to recreate too. Get a load of this: Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant from Wrestlemania III way back in 1987, Bret Hart vs Steve Austin’s Wrestlemania 13 submission match, Steve Austin vs The Rock from 2001’s Wrestlemania X-Seven, through to last year’s undisputed universal championship match between Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes – there’s 21 famous bouts confirmed so far to grapple through.

Matches play similarly to previous showcase modes, with objectives to complete that replicate manoeuvres executed in the real match. A vital update to 2K24 though is the required button inputs to execute said manoeuvres appear on screen in game instead of being nestled in pause screen menus. It’s a long overdue update that’ll suit newcomers whilst maintaining the pace of matches for both new and seasoned players.

wwe 2k24

Four new chaotic match types appear in WWE 2K24 – Gauntlet Matches, Casket Match, Special Guest Referee, and Ambulance Matches, the latter whereby a literal ambulance parks up beside the ring for you to hoist your pummelled opponent into, slam the door shut, and wave them off to the nearest medical facility. These ambulance matches are the most publicised of 2K24’s new match types thus far, and they appear to play out like any other match but with the bonus of an ambulance to hurl your opponent from the top. As soon as a brawler is suitably weakened, they can be loaded into the back before a button mashing sequence engages, delivering a dramatic finale as one fights to lock the doors whilst the other desperately attempts to escape. It’s an exciting spectacle for sure, and utilising the ringside ambulance certainly gets the crowd and commentary team pumping.

During bouts you’re likely to engage the new trading blows turn-based mini-game, a back-and-forth of one-handers between opponents that’s typical of wrestling matches. Players must hold down the attack button to fill a meter before releasing it in the highlighted area, landing a blow in the process. There’s a slim gold section whereby should the meter stop here then a more powerful smack will land. First to three blows renders their opponent stunned and exposed to a more devastating attack. This seems to be a humorous addition that’ll replicate the performance of real-life wrestling, and it doesn’t seem like the success or failure when trading blows will affect the outcome of matches in any significant way. It’s just extra seasoning on an already well-cooked steak.

More humour is found in WWE 2K24’s new weapon capability. Another long-overdue addition, players can now lob weapons at their opponents (although, surely this feature isn’t entirely new. Wasn’t there a WWE game a couple of decades ago that already featured this? It’s hard to remember, but with chucking weapons at an opponent’s head a mainstay of real-life wrestling for such a long time, it’d seem strange if weapon throwing hasn’t been a core mechanic until now). Anyway, launching a trash can, lobbing a sledgehammer, tossing a microphone, and flinging ringside steps at an opponent is uber satisfying, the sound design delivering a satisfying thwack with every landing object. Animations are hilarious here too, with opponents turned into momentary ragdolls when they take a stick to the neck.

Backstage brawling takes full advantage of the new weapons too, as presumably more bric-a-brac is lying around amongst the crates and such. This mode returns from previous iterations and on surface level it appears largely the same apart from now offering four-player support alongside a fully functioning elevator and smashable windows. The elevator is a weird one, as whilst wrestlers brawl their way in, they appear to walk out together as if they’ve made friends on the short ride up a storey. Perhaps there’s an animation still to be loaded into the game that’ll have one hurl the other out. That’d certainly be in keeping with the overall presentation of this latest WWE iteration.

wwe 2k24

Presentation covers the pacing and strategy of bouts too, providing ample theatricality that’s in keeping with real-life wrestling. The most noticeable way this is illustrated is in the new super finishers whereby players can stock up a three-bar finisher gauge via dominant play. It’s a small iteration that’s potentially more impactful than trading blows, as it rewards patient play and creates a dramatic build-up before players unleash a devastating final blow that’ll render their opponent lame.

Real referees, utilising the announcers table to perform moves, jumps, and finishers, new paybacks, expanded move sets, improved blood systems, and fading face paint, new perspectives in the ramp camera, and the small but very welcome rope diving into multiple opponents are just a handful of other incremental improvements expected in WWE 2K24. If last year’s version was amongst the best wrestling games ever made, then Visual Concepts largely sticking to the same formula whilst adding minor but important improvements means we surely have a new champion on our hands. Whether this will end up being one of the biggest games of the year remains to be seen. It’s certainly got an uphill battle to be the marquee sports simulation title of the year given FC, NBA, and Madden’s popularity. Still, WWE’s problems are firmly in the past, and now the only way is up.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.

Comments are closed.