WWE 2K24 first impressions from our hands-on preview including brutal Ambulance Match gameplay

WWE 2K24 first impressions from our hands-on preview including brutal Ambulance Match gameplay
David Luff Updated on by

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One of the best perks of working in this industry is getting access to games prior to release! That is exactly what happened when were were invited to a hands-on preview for the upcoming wrestling game from Take-Two, WWE 2K24.

There isn’t much longer to wait until the WWE 2K24 release date, with fans eager to try out the new gameplay, graphics, and match types. Well, we can give you a sneak peek of what to expect!

However, before getting into the first impressions, there is something you should know. I’m not a WWE fan. I just don’t get it! I haven’t even played previous WWE games from 2K. In fact, the only time I can recall playing any sort of wrestling game was on a GameCube sometime in the early 2000s.

Now, the downside to this from a reviewing point of view is I can’t personally compare the new game to its direct predecessor. However, it does mean you will get a fresh opinion from someone with no preconceptions of what to expect!

So, let’s get to it…

wwe 2k24 trading blows
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I really enjoyed my time on the game! Getting used to the controls was pretty simple, with pop-up instructions really helping. I’ve always been a PlayStation guy, but the hands-on was on Xbox. This did occasionally throw me – especially in button-bashing mini-games!

The graphics impressed me, especially the facial expressions of the wrestlers. The mini-cut scenes that pop up every now and then also throw you into the action, giving you a better view of a combo or a pin.

2Ks Slingshot Tech, which is implemented in Showcase Mode, is impressive. It takes you from gameplay to cinematics, into live-action footage, and back again. The immersion is seamless and really gives the impression that you are the character you’ve just witnessed live-action footage of.

On that note, and sticking with WWE 2K24’s Showcase Mode, we were given access to three WrestleMania matches. These retell some iconic bouts from four decades of the sport’s history, with the trio available to us being:

  • Ultimate Warrior vs Rick Rude (WrestleMania 5)
  • Rhea Ripley vs Charlotte Flair (WrestleMania 39)
  • Roman Reigns vs Cody Rhodes (WrestleMania 39)

The introduction to these matches meant even a newbie like me got hyped for the upcoming event. Commentator Corey Graves provides us with the backstory and history of the clash. This takes us on a journey before aiming to reenact history by achieving certain objectives. Plenty more Showcase matches will be in the game, so good news if you’re a lover of WWE history!

As a first-timer, I was pretty useless at the game! At first, I got a bit annoyed with my character being incapacitated at times, wanting to get up or retaliate but not being able to. Once I realised this wasn’t how the game worked it didn’t bother me. In fact, it actually added to the enjoyment, with my annoyance mirroring that of the in-game character. Knowing you’re going to take another beating and there is nothing you can do about it creates more animosity towards your opponent. This makes the storyline of the match hit you more personally.

While most of the animation was great, I did feel the walking and running were sometimes a bit robotic. This was especially noticeable when your character was locked onto the other.

There were a couple of times the ref would stand between the camera and the action, obscuring the view. Also, when fighting at the front of the arena (closest to the camera) you didn’t always get a decent view of the action when a character was on the floor.

After some time in Showcase Mode, I switched to the new Ambulance Match. This involves pummelling your opponent to a point that you can chuck them into the back of an ambulance that has been backed into the arena, and close the doors.

wwek 2k24 ambulance match
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It’s pretty no-holds-barred, with maximum pain needed to be unleashed to reach the endpoint. This includes grabbing objectives from around the arena to use as weapons. A really fun addition is being able to lob these at your adversary! You can also climb on top of the ambulance to continue the fight, even throwing your foe from the top of it onto the ground below.

The Ambulance Match was great, although I did find it hard to actually get the opponent into the ambulance. There were many times I had stunned them and thought I could then grab and pull them to the back doors, but they broke free as soon as I did. Despite not being able to get someone else into the back, I was thrown in many times! When this happens, a button-bashing mini-game pops up. This mimics the struggle of trying to break free while the back doors are being closed on you.

I loved this and the other mini-game challenges that popped up at certain points. These helped keep the gameplay feeling fresh and not too repetitive. Trading Blows is a new mini-game introduced in WWE 2K24. At various stages of the bout, you face off with your opponent in a turn-based punching match! You have to hold a button to charge up the meter, and then time the release in a green zone which decreases the more blows that land. Once one fighter fails to hit that zone three times, the other takes advantage of the battle.

Backstage Brawl has also been updated, now featuring 4-player support and new interactive environmental elements. This includes, among other things, a working elevator, breakable control room glass, and a vending machine with throwable sodas. It’s a decent environment to explore, and will no doubt provide various surprises for players who like to smash everything in sight!

wwe 2k24 backstage brawl
Image captured by VideoGamer

In a Triple Threat match on Backstage Brawl, I found it slightly difficult to understand when to toggle between opponents, focussing on another fighter to either attack or defend against. I’m sure this is something that can be picked up over time. However, during the scrap, the fight felt very uncontrolled.

Another slight issue I had was how long it took to pick up objects. Really, this should be a simple button press that leads straight into the animation of the wrestler interacting with the object. However, for me, there seemed to be too much of a delay. This does build tension, as you might not be able to grab your weapon before another attack comes in from the opponent. Yet, it didn’t seem to be planned that way.

Overall, I didn’t expect to enjoy the game or be impressed with it as much as I was! It was such great fun, and I’m all for more button-bashing mini-games in future installments. If I got such enjoyment out of it, I can only assume that a WWE fan – who knows the whole roster of Superstars and Legends, with their signature moves – will appreciate it even more.

I lost every match I played during the WWE 2K24 hands-on! My only real achievement was knocking out one adversary during the Triple Threat brawl, only to be taken out myself shortly after. Yet, I still had a great time!

In sports games, winning is often the bee-all-and-end-all. However, in WWE 2K24, the ebb and flow of a match and the story that tells feel more important. So, whatever the final result, there is still some sense of achievement.