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2K Sports only announced its latest WWE game 10 days ago, but since its release is little more than a month away it’s already entering the final stages of pre-release hype.
No sooner had we started contemplating the newly announced modes than we found ourselves sitting in Take-Two’s UK office with a demo build of the game, trying some of them out for ourselves.
From what we’ve played – and as you can likely see in the two gameplay videos we’ve put together, which can be seen in this article – 2K is clearly being careful not to fix what wasn’t broken last time.
The WWE 2K series is currently experiencing a resurgence again, following the disaster that was 2K20, the subsequent cancellation of 2K21 and the vastly improved 2K22 and 2K23. This year’s version is very much an evolution of the previous two, with not too many changes in the ring.
There are some tweaks here and there – you can now perform diving attacks on more than one person, for example (if you connect with the person you’re aiming at, they’ll fall back and knock over anyone they hit).
We noticed more camera cut-aways during certain moves, making it look a bit more like a televised event. And, perhaps most entertainingly of all, you can finally throw weapons, which is satisfyingly accurate (though we hope there’s a way to block or catch them).
One of the highlights of each 2K game is the Showcase mode, and this time the theme is 40 years of WrestleMania. We were only able to play three of the matches on offer here, but it was a nice selection. The first was Ultimate Warrior vs Ravishing Rick Rude in WrestleMania V, which was Warrior’s first ever pinfall loss in the then-WWF.
We were then fast-forwarded to two of the final matches in the Showcase, both from WrestleMania 39 – Rhea Ripley vs Charlotte Flair, and Cody Rhodes vs Roman Reigns. The fact that you play as the winner of each match means you have to play as Rude, Ripley and Reigns in these particular instances.
WWE 2K24 Gameplay Montage:
As in the last two Showcases, 2K24 still features what 2K calls its Slingshot Technology, in which the action switches from the game to real life and back again. This time the Showcase is hosted by Corey Graves and he talks you through these live-action sections to give you a bit more narrative on how the real match’s story progressed.
It’s likely that, as in other 2K games, you’ll play through the Showcase first to unlock all the extra wrestlers, outfits and arenas that can be earned by completing each chapter, and will then likely never look at it again. As a first impression, though, it’s always great to have.
Of the other modes we tried out, ambulance matches are probably the most unique. Indeed, the only time this match type has featured before in a main WWE game was in the DS version of WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2010.
“Of the other modes we tried out, ambulance matches are probably the most unique. Indeed, the only time this match type has featured before in a main WWE game was in the DS version of WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2010.”
The concept is fairly simple – before the match starts a large ambulance reverses down the entrance ramp and parks at ringside, and the aim is to weaken your opponent enough that you can throw them into the back of the ambulance then close both doors.
The act of closing the doors involves some heavy-duty button-bashing, so in a sense it’s not too different from a submission match, albeit with a more colourful way of defeating your opponent.
It remains to be seen how accessible this will be, however – at least when you kick out of pins you have the option of button-bashing or a timing-based mini-game, depending on your personal taste or ability, but it seems that ambulance matches may be strictly button-bashing affairs. We hope we’re wrong.
WWE 2K24 – Full Ambulance Match:
We also got to try out the enhanced Backstage Brawl, which can now be played by 1-4 players. For the most part it’s similar to the backstage area in last year’s game, but there are new features like the ability to smash certain glass panels and a new elevator which gets you up to the higher level a lot quicker than the massive ladder you had to use before.
These new features aside, it appears to be business as usual with WWE 2K24 so far. There are still some unknowns which will have to be addressed when we get our hands on the finished version for review, most notably involving MyFaction mode.
One of the most popular modes in the game, MyFaction has a brilliant premise – build a roster of your favourite superstars and use them for various regularly updated challenges – but the egregious selling of cards in this mode in WWE 2K23 was so expensive that they could only accurately be described as ‘transactions’, with no ‘micro’ prefix needed.
Combined with the way it regularly introduced new outfits or character variations (like the Mattel action figure version of John Cena) and locked them to MyFaction mode instead of making them available in other modes, there’s plenty that can be improved in MyFaction – certainly more than the modes we played during our preview session, none of which raised any major issues.
Ultimately, we won’t have long to wait to see how it all plays out, because WWE 2K24’s March 8 release date means it’s only a matter of weeks away. As soon as we have the finished version locked up in a collar-and-elbow tie up, we’ll stretch it like Stu Hart for the definitive verdict.