In an interview with Reddit, WWE 2K Executive Producer Patrick Gilmore spoke about upcoming plans for WWE 2K22, including changes to the core gameplay, what went wrong in WWE 2K20, and more.
Gilmore on the next WWE title’s core gameplay:
“Core gameplay is one of the major investments we’re making in the next installment—one of six pillars we are focused on disproportionately in development. We are looking at much-loved previous games like No Mercy or SmackDown: Here Comes the Pain, along with top franchise installments, and more modern wrestling and fighting games to build an all-new philosophical foundation for the game. People who hope that we holistically adopt the control scheme or philosophy from one of their favorite games are likely to be disappointed; we are trying to combine the best ideas out there into a brand new wrestling experience that sets a new standard.”
“The game play team is focused on Accessibility, Depth and Wrestling Experience. For Accessibility, we’re obsessed with a simple, intuitive interface which has meaning and depth in a wide variety of contexts—i.e. the game is a lot smarter about what the player is trying to do given a gameplay situation (in a grapple, on the ropes, against a turnbuckle, etc.), with consistent inputs regardless of situation. New players should be able to accidentally pull off awesome moves just by playing with and experimenting with controls.”
“For Depth, we’re looking a lot at ring position, deeper combos and working moves, limb damage, technical capabilities, match momentum and unlocks, and rock-paper-scissors (RPS) strategies by archetype and player style. Depth doesn’t come from the manual skill of pressing the proper buttons but from the psychological game of anticipating and countering your opponent’s strategy, and this needs to be built in from the very foundation, so expect a significant evolution in gameplay with the next installment.
“The last aspect of great gameplay is capturing the essence of professional wrestling, which has dimensions of drama, changing context, massive roster, backstage action, weapons and props, audience participation and spectacle. One of the huge challenges of the franchise is finding ways for players to feel in control of the vast number of potential outcomes in a given match. While we take lessons from fighting games, action RPG’s and other genres, this aspect helps us stay focused on delivering a through-and-through wrestling game. While we’re determined to deliver the spectacle and specific moments of a genuine match, I can say we’re trying to get away from UI popups or mini-games to represent things like pins or reversals, and instead move those concepts into more fully-realized mechanics which feel like extensions of the main experience.”
Gilmore on his vision for the WWE 2K series:
“I personally put a huge value on authenticity—making the stakes of a match feel real, visceral, impactful. Early on, I spent a ton of time with the creative director, and we went through a bunch of shows, PPV’s and such. I responded to a lot of it, and really wanted to synthesize into a unifying theme. Then, one day, I walked past his desk and he was watching some behind the scenes material that really focused on Bautista. I stopped in my tracks, and we spend the next hour or so scrubbing through material. I think the vision really emerged from those conversations—what’s it like to actually BE on the roster, to be a part of this spectacular entertainment? To describe this in terms of a “vision” I would say our goal is to focus a lot more on the superstar experience.”
His thoughts on the team’s main pillars:
“The six core areas of focus: Core Gameplay: making the superstar vs. superstar gameplay the best it’s ever been. Emergence: leveraging physics and more generic object/environment systems to enable spectacular gameplay that players feel in control of. WWEX (WWE Experience): delivering an end-to-end true WWE experience in all aspects of the game, from UI and wrapper, to superstars, match types and story modes. Online: improving all aspects of the online experience. Character: make the best looking superstars of all time. Create: Upgrade the creation suite, and make our community creation tools feel like magic to use.”