It’s safe to say that pro wrestling fans haven’t been having the greatest experience with video games as of late. While there are some bright spots, such as Spike Chunsoft’s Fire Pro Wrestling World, the majority of fans only check out 2K’s WWE offerings. They have been largely treated to glitchy games like WWE 2K20 that have failed to live up to the expectations one expects from a 2K Sports title, especially when compared to their excellent and highly-polished NBA 2K series of basketball games.
With WWE games operating on a yearly release schedule, there isn’t much of a chance for 2K to implement the overhaul they clearly need to do. The answer might lie in a hypothetical WWE Immortals 2, which could help fill the gap.
Allowing another developer to release a WWE video game on consoles could be the best-case scenario for all parties involved. It would allow for WWE to keep its yearly release schedule going and give the sports entertainment Goliath a game to promote while also giving 2K more time in fixing the dated engine that they inherited from previous developer Yuke’s. The solution is already right there on mobile phones as NetherRealm Studios released WWE Immortals back in 2015.
While NetherRealm’s fighting game take on the over-the-top form of entertainment is now defunct (the game was shut down in February 2019), a console version could be a huge success. The free-to-play mobile game was largely based upon the iOS version of Injustice: Gods Among Us, and it received a positive reception upon launch with both fans and critics.
It was much different from normal wrestling games as it played like a proper fighting game with health bars rather than trying to replicate the action inside the squared circle with pin attempts. However, it still nailed the character aspects of wrestlers and NetherRealm wasn’t afraid to put their own spin on characters to make them even more larger than life than their television personas. It provided a non-realistic experience, yet one that was authentic to the overt ridiculousness that makes pro wrestling so much fun to watch.
There is no better time for WWE Immortals 2
The gameplay of WWE Immortals being so different from what WWE fans have come to expect from console games is exactly why it would be a refreshing change of pace in 2020. While the game never could support the huge roster of hundreds of superstars like WWE 2K20 does, the smaller scale allows them to focus on characters that matter. Let’s be real, players come to pro wrestling games to play as the stars, not random wrestlers like Heath Slater that barely appear on WWE television.
Much like the actual product, WWE games have a bloated roster size that showcases that bigger isn’t always better. A properly balanced fighting game would probably top out at around 24 characters, and that’s plenty enough to feature 12 of the biggest WWE stars (the likes of Becky Lynch, Bray Wyatt, Charlotte Flair, Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Kofi Kingston, Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins) and 12 legends (The Rock, John Cena, The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Batista, etc.).
Since we know that NetherRealm and WWE both love the idea of DLC characters, it’s a natural fit for additional character packs down the line as well. A fan vote could even be held to get superstars promoting the game on social media for a chance to get into it.
The mobile version of WWE Immortals focused on three-on-three battles, but since six-man tags are rare in WWE, I’d like to see the game focus on two-on-two matches. Not only would this be different from current WWE games, but it would also help add some variety to NetherRealm’s slate of fighting game releases.
They have been alternating between Injustice and Mortal Kombat titles, but the two titles play quite similarly down to the special moves that unlock once a player’s health is low and the interactive environments. This tag fighter could allow NetherRealm to test some new ideas that they could eventually use in their more marquee titles down the line.
NetherRealm could do a story mode that does wrestling right
A lot of the most memorable pro wrestling storylines have been completely over-the-top with Vince McMahon revealing himself to be the leader of the Corporate Ministry to what we currently see with Bray Wyatt as “The Fiend.” WWE Immortals 2 could totally embrace this wacky side of pro wrestling and further go into their superhero-like versions of wrestlers we saw in the mobile game. Considering how great NetherRealm has got at producing thrilling campaigns in their fighting games, they could do something really special with all of the characters they would have available with a WWE game.
The first game being released on mobile phones may have been a necessity at the time due to licensing agreements, but it just wasn’t the best fit for the idea. Fighting games are best on consoles where players have more control over inputs and the games can house more depth. WWE Immortals 2 could deliver on all of the untapped potential of the first game while also taking it further than the original ever could have gone due to the extra power that current game consoles house. It has every chance to be more of a success and both the WWE brand and NetherRealm have proven their ability to sell full-priced titles to gamers.
With the WWE 2K line of games in an uncertain spot due to how much negative press WWE 2K20 has received, there is no better time than now for WWE Immortals 2. With Mortal Kombat 11 already released, and it seems a bit too early to go back to Injustice so soon, it makes sense for NetherRealm and WWE to do something unexpected. The fighting game should never be a yearly series like the WWE 2K series can go back to being after it retools, but it can definitely serve its purpose as a potential stopgap measure and a way to appeal to other types of gamers.