As I’m sure it is for many others, WWE is pure nostalgia for me. My era was the height of John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista, and the like in the mid to late-2000s.
I played the wrestling games during those years, but have only paid irregular attention to the sport since. That hasn’t stopped me getting goosebumps at the likes of Edge returning at Royal Rumble in 2020, wishing I was still up to date with the week to week drama.
2K’s games clearly understand that nostalgia is a big part of WWE, doubling down on it for WWE 2K24 with famous fighters, match-ups, and even iconic fight types.
This week, I played 2K24 for a couple of hours and the new Showcase events are my favourite part. I recreated Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude from WrestleMania 5, and both Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair and Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes from last year’s WrestleMania 39.
It’s great to play matches that are more structured than when you’re essentially the writer in basic modes. If you’re not familiar, Showcase matches follow the sequence of the real world match as you complete specific moves that happened in the iconic fight. The fight doesn’t progress until you complete each set of objectives, even though it can be won by either fighter at any time.
As you complete the tasks, 2K’s Slingshot Tech seamlessly, and really impressively, switches the match back and forth between the live-action footage and your own fight. The animations in these moments are phenomenally smooth and the commentated clips really add excitement to each event.
I don’t know what other Showcase events will be included in 2K24, but I can’t wait to play some of the iconic fights from my own time as a WWE superfan. Give me Randy Orton vs. Batista from 2009 – not that I’d like to break someone’s arm in a video game.
The good technical impression continues in the rest of the game. The funky animations and odd movements we’ve seen from WWE 2K games in the past are nowhere to be seen for the most part. Aside from some sideways flying when jumping from the top rope at not quite the desired angle, move animations are consistently smooth and the action remains fluid.
The new gameplay improvements and features are woven in seamlessly too. I found the trading blows mini-game, where you have to press square at the right time as fighters take turns hitting each other front on, a little anticlimactic, but it does break up the flow of a fight nicely.
Regular WWE 2K players will also notice real WWE referees are returning to the series, and some changes have been made to weapons and how you use them. Not only are there now guitars, sodas, microphones, and more, but you can now throw them at another fighter at a press of a button, interrupting attacks at useful times.
There’s some other fun new content too. The iconic Ambulance match set-up arrives as a Play Now option. There are no rules to the match beyond needing to get your opponent into the back of an ambulance and shut the door. Beat the life out of them, carry them to the hospital transportation if you can work out how to, and send them on their way. It’s a cool, and once again nostalgic addition to the options.
I didn’t have time to try it in my preview, but Backstage Brawl has also been updated in some fun ways. There’s a working elevator, a breakable control room, and vending machines you can interact with. As always, there are some cool match set-ups you can create. More new features will be revealed in the run-up to release too, which is exciting.
While none of the new WWE 2K24 features are game changing, it’s great to see the series continuing to improve year on year. Nostalgia is once again at the forefront, so I can’t wait to recreate some classic matches from my childhood over and over again.
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