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WWE 2K14

First Hands-On Reveals Polish And Speed For Wrestling's Finest

Yesterday, we shared surprising and exciting information about the inclusion of Ultimate Warrior in WWE 2K14. For the first time in the history of the Smackdown/Smackdown vs. RAW/WWE series, this electrifying personality will enter the ring. At a preview event in New York City, I also got to talk to the man himself about what this means for him and for the series.

Before I sat down with the legend, I was given access to multiplayer matches with a small selection of superstars. Included in the limited roster are The Rock, John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Randy "Macho Man" Savage, and Ultimate Warrior. Even though WWE 2K14 looks similar to last year's release under THQ, matches feel smoother and faster.

Senior gameplay designer Bryan Williams told me that the over 200 animations have been rebuilt from the ground up for a more fluid feel. For instance, superstars now accelerate into a run rather than going from standing to full speed instantaneously. Strikes have been sped up to make them the fastest moves of the game, whereas some grapples could beat punches and kicks in previous years. This also makes them harder to counter.

Small "fidgets" have been added to idle animations to create a more lifelike impression, which goes along well with the less robotic movements. Short taunts, attire adjustments, and other minute gestures add color and texture to the on-screen action.

Reversals have also seen a major overhaul. Instead of possibly endless chains of counters that swap priority back and forth, successful reversals now immediately transition into moves. This makes for fewer disruptions in the action and more evenly paced bouts.

The tweaks and polishes are joined by advancements in features introduced last year. "Catch Finishers," which could only be activated while on the receiving end of an Irish whip or when an opponent leapt from the top rope, now allow players to catapult an opponent into the air offensively. I tested this out with Shawn Michaels, landing a Sweet Chin Music as Steve Austin dropped toward the mat. This makes running toward a foe who has a stored finisher especially risky. Ten of these have been added for 2K14.

Last year's "OMG! Moments" have been reinforced with seven new examples of brutality. For instance, outside the ring, players can be positioned near the post. Using a stored finisher will launch your character into the groggy superstar, sandwiching his head between a foot and the unpadded metal.

In triple threat matches (or other multi-superstar bouts), some superstars can use a single stored finisher to inflict huge damage on two opponents. We were shown John Cena performing a double Attitude Adjustment. Not only does this make economical use of the most powerful moves in the game, but it creates a critical window to pin one foe while the other is struggling to recover. Other examples include Ryback's double Shellshock and a Double Chokeslam for some big men.

Comebacks have been revamped, and instead of lengthy windups and chains of more mundane moves, they are now linked signature moves ending in a finisher requiring only two button presses mid-execution. These are some of the most visually stunning moments I saw, and I can't wait to see more of the roster in action.

I asked Williams how it was working with 2K Sports after so many years of publishing under THQ (he has been working on the series for a decade). "Honestly, my day to day hasn't changed at all," he told me. "But 2K is pushing us in all the right ways. They've spared no expense. They wanted to be in business with WWE and with us."

After chatting with the team and playing the gameplay slice, which had the trappings of a traditional demo (something the series hasn't seen in years), I was shown into a room to speak with Warrior. In our 15 minute conversation, we chatted about his appearance in the series and what it means for his beloved character to return to the fold.

"The video game thing is humbling to think that what I did back then, the character, still makes an impression on people," he said. "It's a rocking character, man. It's a comic book character. It's over the top and serious and cryptic and misunderstood and goofy and wild."

He hasn't played the game before, but he still recognizes the significance of his inclusion in WWE 2K14 and is grateful for the fan support. He continues to be a consummate performer, and his primary concern is the enjoyment of those that are engaged with the Warrior character. "I want people to have fun with the game," he told me. "When you sit down to play the game, you're just there to have fun and get caught up in something. It's ok to have a fantasy or day dream."

WWE 2K14 arrives on October 29, 2013, for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The Ultimate Warrior character is available for those that pre-order.

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Comments
  • With all these new changes.... I might actually have to try this one. (I had last years but something about the game just didn't control well)

  • All these changes sound amazing. I can't wait to pick this one up (I skipped 2013's edition).
  • I have never cared for wrestling much, even though I got to meet a bunch of them when I was younger (Macho Man & Elizabeth, Big John Stud, Hulk Hogan and goodl ol' Andre the Giant) as my uncle who is a cop used to escort them all the time when they were in town.

    However, the old games were kind of fun if not a bit goofy, but I have never tried any of the recent games so I'm kind of wondering what this one will be like.
  • Haven't played a wrestling game since the GameCube era thats the last time i step foot in an imaginary journey to the ring, although this sounds great im glad the franchise is still running.

  • Mod

    I haven't even had the chance to play WWE13 yet. I need to catch up.

  • Sounds good!

  • I'm gonna buy this. Mike has sold me on it.

  • Can I play as the Warrior and just shake the ropes like a madman until my opponent collapses? 'Cause I could do that for hours.
  • So we must play as the second Ultimate Warrior because I am pretty sure the original is dead. The changes look welcome although I have skipped the last couple years so I might jump back in. Edit: just googled if the original died or not. It sounds like it might have been a rumour but if any can clear this up for me that would be cool.
  • finally, running animations will feature acceleration!!!!  

  • The more I hear about this game the more I want it.  And if I'm going to get it I may as well pre-order it to get the Ultimate Warrior.  Sometimes those little changes will make the biggest impact.  Last year's game was great, so this would have been a bad time for an overhaul of the game.

  • macho and warrior?  time for some Ultimate Maniacs tag team action!

  • I love the changes made, but I still hate the graphics. SVR 2006 had better graphics, and that was on the PS2. I hate to say it, but I haven't bought one of these since SVR 2008, and until these graphics change for the better, I'm not going to.
  • I realllllly hope they get Bret Hart in this one. Been waiting to have Bret Hart, Macho Man, and Ultimate Warrior in the same one. And toss in Mr. Perfect please!

  • I was thinking why not make a fan favorite WWF (yes that's right WWF not E) game with everyone's favorite wrestler. You could call it Retro Rumble or Retro Royal Rumble. Include all the oldies but goodies like  Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart, Million Dollar Man, Ravishing Rick Rude, Rowdy Piper, Bam Bam Bigalow, Andre The Giant and the list goes on and on.

    Seriously just warp back to the 80's and very early 90's and you have yourself a goldmine.

  • It looks good, but i still thing it could be better. I'll wait a few more years i guess.

  • These have been getting steadily better the past few years

  • From the sound of this article, I get the impression that 2K is trying to do what THQ couldn't and that's get a good game out of Yuke's.  Unfortunately, I still can't believe the word "polish" in reference to a WWE game, until I play the game myself.