With the release of WWE 2K16 now several weeks behind us, we’ve had plenty of time to grapple with the latest professional wrestling simulator title. With last year’s release, 2K Games brought back and revamped the stamina system, which has been retained this year. The bottom line of it is this; performing moves, running or diving will deplete your bar, when it’s running low you’re unable to perform big moves. In theory, this is a great addition to stop players simply hitting running moves over and over, but in reality it does take away from the realism somewhat.
The fatigue animations of superstars falling to their knees when they’re tired and needing to get their breath back is a welcomed addition. It certainly adds authenicity to those long, difficult matches when you’re not still popping up after twenty minutes in true John Cena fashion. You want to feel like this match is taking everything out of you, and the game generally achieves this based on how much stamina you have left. You have the option to turn off fatigue in the options menu, but we personally enjoy it.
What you can’t turn off is the stamina system. We have no issues with it for the most part; it’s when it comes to hitting a finisher or signature move that it really feels like a hindrance rather than a benefit. Several of the best WWE matches involve superstars countering each other’s finishers back and forth until one finally connects for the three count. When you counter a finishing move in 2K16, you get a boost to momentum, usually resulting in a finisher opportunity of your own. However, this leaves you with no stamina left to hit it straight away. Whereas in 2K14 for example, we would see Randy Orton counter a chokeslam, attempt an RKO, only to have that countered and fall victim to a tombstone from the Phenom. It was these exchanges that gave us those “wow” moments and had us on the edge of our seats.
Having a stamina bar rips that away from us. We love the idea that we can go online and other players can’t keep running at us, or if we’re getting beat down we know we’ll have a window of opportunity shortly when our opponent needs to gather some air. However, when it comes to finisher reversals, we may counter a Sweet Chin Music but then we’re too tired to hit our Pedigree. This often results in us just standing there waiting for the purple bar to increase.
The stamina restrictions are most evident in MyCareer mode, where you start out as a weaker superstar on NXT with less of a stamina rate before leveling up. We’ve had several instances where we’d hit our signature move, then we’re either forced to just stand there waiting, or pick our opponent up and stand face-to-face while mashing the triangle button, hoping that our bar hits the right spot before he shakes off the cobwebs and hits us with his own move.
Due to the new system being an integral part to how WWE 2K16 plays, you can no longer turn it off in the options menu, which is even more infuriating. It sounded like a great idea when it was announced, but if we’d known we’d have to give up those final exchanges which made matches so entertaining, then we probably would have said no thanks. We don’t want it to be scrapped all together, but maybe 2K17 could have a refined system? We’ve already worked hard to build up our finishing moves so we shouldn’t be punished for trying to use them.
Maybe finishers shouldn’t use up any stamina. It’s impossible to spam them anyway as if they are running clotheslines. Besides, how many times have we seen Roman Reigns hit a spear from nothing when he’s exhausted? That’s the beauty of wrestling matches; they can end at any moment. Currently, you know exactly when your opponent is going to try and finish you, as they generally stand in a corner doing nothing and you see their bar slowly increase.
It’s food for thought, but until it’s refined, until it’s perfect and accepted by everyone, the option to disable it should be included. You can alter it slightly, you can decrease the rate it’s consumed and increase the rate it returns, but it makes little difference. When your bar inevitably gets low, each move will take the majority out of your superstar and you’re left standing there, slowing the pace down when the best matches in WWE are the high-octane, unpredictable ones. The Rock and Stone Cold never stood face-to-face in the middle of the ring waiting to have enough energy to hit their respective finishing moves. They’d hit them out of nowhere when you’d least expect it, no matter how tired they were they had to dig down deep and hit that one move that could win them the match.
With the WWE series trying so hard to replicate its TV counterpart, we should also be able to recreate those types of showcase matches. As it stands, there remains a large disconnect between live wrestling and it’s video game counterpart, and that will remain as long as the stamina system continues to exist in its current form.