2K's latest creation, WWE 2K17 hit stores today and, as usual, there are great expectations for the premier game in wrestling.
In the first quarter of 2016, WWE reported they had made significant money from WWE 2K16 and the game itself sold pretty well in both “domestic and international markets“.
With the success of last year's release and the progress it made from 2K15, how is the 2017 version going to up the ante?
One of the primary game modes that wrestling fans gravitate to is the 'My Career' option. The WWE Universe just loves to imagine they are the next great WWE superstar and the game's developers have gotten increasingly better at making that experience as immersive and engaging as possible.
2K invited GiveMeSport down to an event in London to play the game before it hit the stores and we managed to have a chat with 2K executive producer Mark Little in amongst the hours of glued gameplay.
We asked Mark how the My Career mode will improve this year and what the fans can expect.
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"I think that [progression] is something that people should expect to see year over year. I mean, that's what we always try to do just like our friends upstairs on NBA," Little said. "We always set lofty goals for ourselves and My Career is a core group of our fans that love that mode and want to have that experience, and it's a very different experience to just an exhibition match of playing the Universe or Online.
"So yeah, we're always going to keep working on it. Obviously, in the last couple of years, we have spent a lot of time switching over the core of the game engine to be this more simulation, authentic based wrestling - that was a lot of the focus. Now we have kindly progressed that farther you're going to see us focus on the ancillary modes and features and build up a lot of depth into a lot of these modes."
There is no doubt the game has given itself a terrific platform to exceed expectations. All things considered - downloadable content, pre-ordered content etc - the game features a record 169 playable characters and another record of 25 playable women.
"So if you want to get into a rivalry with that guy, call him out in the promo and see what happens, maybe he'll react, maybe he won't. You never know."
With backstage and in-crowd fighting making a return and the all-new promo engine, My Career has shown it can perpetually expand and improve.
"A lot of what we have done this year is the user has a lot more control over their career," Little has explained. "I mean, it's supposed to be your career and it's supposed to be unique to your superstar, and this year, rather than relying on Vickie to tell you what you can or can't do, you can use things like the promo engine to start out a new rivalry. So if you want to get into a rivalry with that guy, call him out in the promo and see what happens, maybe he'll react, maybe he won't. You never know.
"That's the whole point of that mode is that you can build your character the way you want to build and be the type of superstar you want to be. It's not just all about in-ring skill anymore, it's all about other stuff that goes along with being a WWE superstar, too."
Having spent the first portion of our afternoon playing the game, the My Career mode is certainly engrossing. There are plenty of options when it comes to the mannerisms and look of your character, let alone the almost endless movesets.
"That's the whole point of that mode is that you can build your character the way you want to build and be the type of superstar you want to be."
Being in control of your own destiny is refreshing and having the ability to attack people when they are cutting promos, before or after a match of simply cutting a scatching promo on a superstar can kick-start things for your character. There is no linear storyline to the world title, the player's journey is their own.
Also having the chance to get yourself under Paul Heyman's wonderfully wicked wing is appealing in itself.
Matt Bloom, aka Prince Albert (even the dreaded Lord Tensai, to some) greeting you and taking you through your training in NXT is a nice early touch, too.
We merely scratched the surface of the various things your very own superstar can do in the game, but there is no doubt the guys at 2K have given some special attention to the My Career mode and it certainly has a chance to be the best yet, at the very least.