For a game that's coming out at the end of October, it's surprising that we haven't played WWE 2K15 or even seen it until now. However, it has helped build anticipation and prevented oversaturation that can sometimes sink in by the time a game is launched.
As we've heard, 2K is scanning in as many wrestlers as it can for inclusion in the game, including traveling to Shawn Michaels' remote home in Texas. Today we learned that the developers have traveled all over the U.S. with this mobile scanning setup and it wasn't just a one-off special favor. 2K confirmed that both Stone Cold Steve Austin and Sting were scanned in Los Angeles, and if the visuals we've seen so far are any indication, they're going to look great.
Currently, there are four playable fighters at Gamescom: John Cena, Randy Orton, Cesaro, and Goldust. As you can see in the screenshot above, the character models are impressively accurate. Everything from the shine on Goldust's suit to Randy Orton's smirk are spot on. You can even hear Cena yammering at the camera before he runs down the ramp in his entrance. Crowds look better with much more face and outfit variety, new child character models, and dynamic chants that respond to the situation at hand.
The new 2K Showcase mode (announced last week) is based on the rivalries between CM Punk and John Cena and Triple H and Shawn Michaels. We got to see the opening video package for Punk/Cena and, with WWE's excellent production team onboard, it got me super hyped all over again for their historic Money In The Bank 2011 championship match in which Punk threatened to leave the company with the title. Spoiler alert: He only left in the "storyline" at that time. Today, he has parted ways with WWE in real life, so unfortunately 2K was not able to get him in front of its scanners. I'm sure in a previous WWE game CM Punk's character model would blend in with the rest, but when everything else looks this good his face is noticeably off.
In-ring action feels crisp and looks far more natural thanks to over five times the animation data of last year's entry. Strikes feel like they connect more and moves performed near the edges of the ring will cause wrestlers' body parts to interact realistically with the ropes. A new chain wrestling minigame kicks in towards the start of the matches, mimicking real life wrestling ring psychology. This initiates a rock, paper, scissors mechanic between the two grapplers in which both select either a side headlock, a wrist lock, or a waist lock. Each hold beats or loses to another. The winner ends up in a dominant position, but victory isn't in the bag yet. Both players must find a sweet spot with the right stick before their opponent. If the dominant wrestler wins, they'll perform a move, and if the defender wins they will move into the dominant position. It sets up a chain flow you couldn't really do in the game before and offers a close look at the wrestlers' more expressive facial animations as they wince in pain while someone's wrenching on their arm, for example.
Commentary makes a leap as well, with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler recording VO at the same time rather than doing it solo and mashing the tracks together later. 2K is trying to focus on telling a story in the ring with the calls rather than just describing the moves in the ring. When I was playing as John Cena, Lawler discussed the effectiveness of his signature STF, noting that he used it to beat Mark Henry at Money in the Bank 2013 and Chris Jericho at Armageddon in 2008.
We've got a lot of details here in Germany, but there's even more to come very soon. The entire WWE 2K15 roster will be revealed tomorrow, a day before the annual SummerSlam pay-per-view event in Los Angeles.