With the biggest roster in the history of WWE video games, WWE 2K16 has got a lot of tongues wagging and wrestling fans excited. We got the opportunity to put some questions to 2K brand director Bryce Lang about the new title, why the Four Horsewomen haven't been included in the final roster and exactly what changes we should expect when the game hits the shelves.
The game seems to have gone through quite the overhaul this year, what are the major big changes players should be getting excited about?
Wow, there's so much content this year in WWE 2K16, it's hard to know where to start! The thing that fans are most excited for, and keep talking about, is the roster. WWE 2K16, with over 120 unique playable characters from WWE past, present and future, gives fans the largest roster EVER in a WWE video game. There's been almost 30 years of WWE video games, so that's a big one for them.
In addition, we've really loaded up 2K16 with so much new content so gamers can recreate what they see on WWE television from any era. And if somehow it's not in the game, we have an extensive creation suite in 2K16, where fans can recreate pretty much anything they've ever seen on WWE programming in the game, or create anything from the outer reaches of their creative minds.
And let's not forget WWE 2K16 features the Showcase 2K3:16 mode, in which fans can play through the legendary career of cover star Stone Cold Steve Austin, as told through awesome historical cutscenes and objective-based gameplay.
Early reviews say the game pulls away from button-mashing and instead focuses on strategy - was that something the team really focused on this year?
Each year, the development team tries to deliver the most authentic WWE video game experience that they possibly can, and the evolution of the game is exactly a result of that gameplan. A good example of button-mashing, or trigger-mashing, was the reversal system in the series.
This year, the team definitely wanted to provide a more strategic way of reversing in the game, so it's not just the trigger reversal game if you're really good. Players need to be more strategic in how they use their limited number of reversals, saving them for smaller moves, or for fewer, but bigger moves.
Another new thing is the submission and stamina system. Instead of aimlessly walking around the ring, in the hopes of not getting hit, to recharge your stamina, you can apply a submission hold to your opponent, which then reduces your opponent's health, but also helps your stamina... just like you would see the WWE Superstars and Divas doing on WWE TV.
There was a lot of fan reaction to the roster with it being the biggest roster ever in a WWE video game, how did you find the response to the reveal?
The response to the roster of WWE 2K16 has been huge. It might just be the most anticipated aspect of the game. So many fans of WWE are longtime fans who remember their favourites from childhood and years past, so the nostalgia factor of having the Legends, in addition to the current stars, is huge. Many of our gamers weren't even born yet when many of these characters were prevalent, so they now have the opportunity to play as these legendary stars in WWE 2K16 and create fantasy match ups. Andre the Giant vs The Undertaker? John Cena vs Sting? Seth Rollins vs Shawn Michaels? Only in 2K16.
There was also a lot of upset about the lack of The Four Horsewomen in the game, 2K revealed their exclusion is due to "various reasons" - are you able to expand on that?
There are many factors that go into the roster of this game each year, and also a very extensive creative process to create every single character. We work with WWE each year to determine the roster of the game each year, and we always want to deliver the most accurate rosters we can. We are fans of The Four Horsewomen, and they've put on some of the best, if not THE best matches in WWE and NXT this year. We would have loved to have included these athletes in the game this year, but unfortunately, we were unable to this year. But, we are very excited for fans to be able to play with them in the future in WWE video games!
Despite that we will see Trish Stratus and Lita in the Legends DLC - how exciting is it to bring these iconic women back to the video game world?
We are very excited to have Trish and Lita in WWE 2K16 as downloadable content. You can't deny their contributions, and continued contributions, to WWE over the years. Both of these WWE Hall of Famers left their mark on WWE and paved the way for the Divas of today, each with a bit of their own flavour and style. Fans can now have fantasy matches in 2K16 - Paige vs Lita, Trish vs. Natalya and so many more!
Will we see Trish and Lita's rivalry in a 2K16 showcase?
We've announced the 2K16 Hall of Fame Showcase, and while their rivalry is not included, we are featuring matches from some classic rivalries, including the Outsiders vs Harlem Heat, and Jake Roberts vs the Macho Man Randy Savage. There is a fantasy Diva matchup, featuring WWE Hall of Famer, Alundra Blayze vs current WWE Diva Paige.
MyCareer seems to be very choice-driven this year, what should we expect from that mode?
Last year we built a great foundation for MyCareer. This year, fans should expect everything from last year's MyCareer, but with the addition of a ton of new content, much of which is what makes WWE fun to watch for fans. We're adding the "sports entertainment" to the "wrestling" this year, so to speak.
This year, fans can shape their career with more precision than before, and integrate much more personality and fun into their careers and characters. Want to be a dastardly heel? A squeaky clean babyface? You can do that this year through your actions and your post-match interviews with Renee Young. And if you achieve certain objectives this year, you'll be able to ascend to the WWE Hall of Fame and become legendary!
Similarly, how much has Universe mode changed - what should we expect?
Universe Mode will give players more freedom to shape their WWE than ever before. In addition, there are new cutscenes and storylines in the game this year, with a focus on quality vs quantity. Everything will make more sense logically with the Superstars involved based on their personality traits as well.
This new personality system gauges a variety of stats to influence Superstar traits and actions in Universe mode. Meters display opposing traits like loyalty vs treachery, respect vs disrespect, and discipline vs aggression. By default, these sliders are tuned to align with Superstars' traits shown on WWE programming. Brock Lesnar, for example, will be highly aggressive while The Miz will be cowardly and egotistical. By playing these characters against their base traits, one can gradually steer then to behave differently, but there's also the option to go into the menus and adjust their traits manually.
Finally, it is now much easier to track changes in Universe. Whenever a rivalry match finishes, a new results screen offers immediate feedback on how it affects everything. Previously, players would have to dig through menus to gather this information and this cuts that down significantly. Keeping tabs on developments and progression has never been easier!
Arnold Schwarzenegger is on board this year and seems very hands-on with all the promos he's been involved with - what was he like to work with?
Arnold Schwarzenegger definitely lived up to, and exceeded, all expectations on every level as part of the 2K16 campaign. Of course, this year, following in the lineage of The Rock, Mike Tyson, the Ultimate Warrior and Sting, gamers can play as Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the Terminator, in WWE 2K16. Two versions of him, the T-800 from Terminator and Terminator 2. Almost the face and heel versions, in wrestling-speak.
Arnold is a true global icon, and how else can you follow that series of predecessors? Well, with the biggest action star in the history of film, a bodybuilding trailblazer, and the former governor of the state of California. Arnold has been a pleasure to work with, from filming a commercial to announce the partnership, to promoting the game on social media, to joining in on the fun with some classic WWE-style promos on the WWE roster and 2K16 cover star Stone Cold Steve Austin. Only through the magic of video games can Arnold, as the Terminator, compete in a WWE ring, against the likes of Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker.
Finally, why should gamers give WWE 2K16 a chance?
Everybody at 2K is extremely proud of WWE 2K16. As fans of WWE and this series since the very beginning, we can honestly say that no prior WWE has delivered such a complete and authentic experience. Not only do you get the best of WWE and NXT today, but you'll also get the best of WWE's past as well.
The Showcase is such a deep storytelling experience each year, and reliving the epic career of Stone Cold Steve Austin is worth the price of admission alone for many of our fans, but for those who want to create and achieve their own dreams, the very complete Creation Suite and the MyCareer mode will give gamers the ability to do just that in WWE 2K16.
As someone who has owned a WWE game on each generation of video games, from WrestleMania on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, it is absolutely mindblowing to see what our development team at 2K has been able to squeeze into WWE 2K16.
WWE 2K16 is out on October 27 in North American, October 29 in Australia and October 30 in Europe.