GiveMeSport caught up with 2K executive producer Mark Little at a WWE 2K17 preview event in London to find out what improvements fans can expect from the popular franchise this year.
Ever since 2K truly got their hands on the WWE back in 2014, the wrestling gaming industry has continued to evolve beyond the wildest dreams of many.
Wrestling fans themselves are renowned for having runaway imaginations that tend to lend credence to even the tamest report emanating from the eternal rumour mill.
Those rumours pertain to fantasy matchups, surprise returns, who will win title matches, who deserves a push and much, much more.
With all of that considered, it should come as no surprise that WWE's video games are among the best-selling franchises in console history.
2K offers a world where, essentially, the WWE can become the player's playground. The creative aspect has been a staple of the WWE 2K franchise for a few years now, so how can WWE 2K17 - released on October 11 - continue to improve on its predecessors?
Giving a broad overview of the progression the game has made, Little said: "I mean WWE 2K17 has a lot of new great features. Obviously, there is backstage brawls in the game this year and in-crowd fighting, and that's a huge thing that the fans have been looking for, and it allows the fight to go anywhere and you can continue wrestling anywhere in the area. But, on top of that, we have the all-new promo engine, which really changes how you interact as a WWE superstar in My Career and WWE Universe.
"And then there is the creation suite - there is so much to this game! And we went and added even more creative options for our fans. The creative suite is something our die-hard love and do amazing things with so this year we added 'create a victory', 'create a video' and deepened up things like 'create a show' and 'create a superstar' as well."
Cutting a promo
The introduction of promos to wrestling games is an overdue one, but the challenging nature of the art has probably prevented developers from attempting to tackle the exciting area sooner.
The promo engine gives the player four choices of what to say in an allotted time. Whatever the player picks has to fit with whether they are a good guy or a bad guy, and factors like how long the player takes to pick their option and what kind of crowd they are dealing with can also affect the reception of the promo.
"One of the goals from the beginning was to have a system that wouldn't, after playing it for five hours, feel like 'oh I've already done this' over and over again."
Backstage characters like Paul Heyman play a more prominent role in 2K17 and the likes of Bobby Heenan and Ted DiBiase among others are also available in manager roles.
Paul Heyman & Brock Lesnar
Little insisted with Brock Lesnar serving as the game's cover star, getting Paul Heyman on board was elementary. Endeavouring to become a 'Paul Heyman Guy' is sure to be at the top of a lot of players' to-do-lists.
"Obviously, with Brock Lesnar on our cover, you can't talk about Brock Lesnar without talking about Paul Heyman as well. So, for us, it was just a great time to incorporate a lot of Paul and what he brings to the WWE and career mode and it felt like a really great natural extension for this year's career mode."
Speaking of cover stars, we asked Little who they might have in mind for the next edition of the game and if they were looking to continue the trend of returning legends, could Kurt Angle earn the honour?
"A lot of those sort of names all rely on the WWE and Kurt," Little insists. "A lot of that is out of our hands, we put in requests and see how it goes and we just have to wait and see.
"Part of it is what their planning to do and what they want to do and how their relationships are and how it works out for everyone involved. A lot of it has to do with us having really good open dialogues about 'here's what our fans would like', 'we know this would be popular for the game' and then see what we can do."
Backstage brawls have also made a welcome return to this year's game and after playing the game for an afternoon, it's clear that a lot of thought has gone into where a player can go and what weapons they can use in that area.
It's not a case of just fighting in one segregated area; the player has carte blanche to stray into a number of different areas and make use of the environments around them. There is also a larger selection of weapons to use on an opponent than ever before and punishing your foe in such a number of ways is very entertaining.
So what made 2K bring that element of the WWE back for the fans?
"It was a combination of, you know, whenever you see interviews happening they're happening backstage and you see segments with the guys doing other things backstage and it is something the fans have been asking for for years, too," Little said. Whenever we see these things aligning there are really easy choices for us to make. 'Ok, well let's go forward and make backstage brawls and in-crowd fighting'.
"It is something the fans have been asking for for years."
A lot of Little's answers seem underpinned by the common theme that 2K simply want to make their WWE games as realistic as possible. They've done a fantastic job of making this game such a close representation of the WWE world and there has never been such a well rounded effort in the gaming world.
Nearly all of the things you would see on an episode of Monday Night Raw can be vicariously enacted through your very own WWE superstar on WWE 2K17.
Given the WWE Universe's hunger to control the WWE - as seen by Daniel Bryan's crowd-driven rise to stardom - 2K has presented fans with the most comprehensive platform to do just that.
The game was released on October 11 and those who pre-ordered the game will enjoy the luxury of playing as Goldberg.
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