Summerslam silence triggers Kane-sized questions ahead of this year’s big show
PublisheR Yuke’s / Visual Concepts Developer 2K Format Xbox One ETA 9 October
WrestleMania in April is the most important date on the calendar for ‘real’ WWE – but in videogame terms, it’s usually August’s Summerslam event which garners most interest. That’s because it’s the weekend where journalists first go hands-on with each year’s game, publisher 2K reveals which superstars have made the roster, and the community whips itself into a frenzy over potential improvements and downgrades. This August, however: none of the above.
This deafening silence just six weeks before 2K19’ s street date is especially curious because details released until that point seemed – and remain – encouraging. Pick of the bunch is the return of showcase mode. A series favourite upon its introduction in 2K15 but later retired, it sees you mimicking great WWE moments of the past via a mix of archive-footage videos, interactive cut-scenes and actual matches. Perform specific tasks en route and you unlock new wrestlers or gear. Simple, retro, effective.
Showcase returns here to commemorate a similarly longdesired comeback: that of Daniel Bryan, who retired through injury in 2016 but was surprisingly cleared for in-ring action last March. The mode revisits his tag-team with Kane and memorable clashes against Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton, with an astonishing 11 attires for Bryan to unlock. It’s an emphatic response to complaints about his character model not being updated post-retirement, and if there’s a place for his infamous 18-second loss to Sheamus at WrestleMania 28 – fan backlash to which set him on the road to super stardom – we’ll be very happy indeed.
The inclusion of that particular match is questionable as it involved AJ Lee. She’s reportedly been on difficult terms with WWE since leaving in 2015, not least because of her marriage to CM Punk – who successfully sued company doctor Chris Amann following his WWE exit. She’s unlikely to make the roster, then, but one old-school star who does is Rey Mysterio, albeit as a pre-order character. Ronda showroom 2K is banking on getting your money before release to play as the biggest new name of all: Ronda Rousey. The former UFC champ and ‘baddest woman on the planet’ made her WWE debut at WrestleMania, and took less than five months to be crowned Raw Women’s Champion. Her likeness is spot-on, but fear not if you don’t wish to pre-order; both Rousey and Mysterio are sure to be released as standalone DLC before the year is out.
As regards the on-disc roster, while Summerslam was quiet, certain names have been confirmed via the Daniel Bryan showcase and new ‘Tower’ mode. (In which you must overcome a succession of opponents in a row). Longstanding main eventers like Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton hardly need mentioning; more exciting is Smackdown lady Lana being playable for the first time, and wrestlers who were DLC in 2K18 getting installed to the game proper: Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Elias.
All of which sounds promising, though again with a touch of restraint given that Summerslam silence. Just what has 2K been hiding? If it’s the shock inclusion of AJ Lee or other surprise legends, great. If it’s a failure to remove glitches from last year, like the inability to delete AI-set promos in Universe mode, not good at all. We’ll know very very soon, by way of OXM’s upcoming review.
“Perform specific tasks en route and you unlock new wrestlers or gear”