WWE Immortals may just be a reskin of the popular Injustice fighting game on mobile, also developed by NetherRealm Studios, but transforming WWE Superstars and Divas into battle-hardened warlords and sorceresses who might as well belong in the Mortal Kombat universe captures a certain childlike imagination. Turning Cena into a superhero, Triple H into Thor, Trish Stratus into a white witch, and Roman Reigns into a centurion gives my adult brain a headache, but it has that strange touch of magic (and awesomeness). Despite several technical difficulties, the free-to-play WWE Immortals follows through with its concept and gladly doesn't take itself too seriously.
Those who have played the mobile version of Injustice will be familiar with WWE Immortals, which pits teams of three characters against each other in an all-out brawl. Quick taps on the screen will have your character perform a series of light attacks, while continuous swipes bring out heavier strikes that can be blocked more easily. While blocking only mitigates a portion of incoming attacks, it's far better than taking the brunt of a signature or finisher move, performed by tapping on the tri-segmented adrenaline meter that builds much like any energy bar in a fighting game.
The AI foes in WWE Immortals aren't too difficult so long as you block properly without spamming. Knowing when to swap out characters, boosting your wrestler's signatures and finishers through the mini-game (for example, rapid tapping and swiping), and taking advantage of the enemy's recovery frames make all of the difference. Of course, the strength of your rivals matters too, as Silver- and Gold-rarity wrestlers have much higher attack power and health points. But strategy can rule the day if you're patient, like taking advantage of Paige's signature which drains adrenaline or waiting for Shaemus to build his adrenaline in the background for a game-changing comeback.
Beyond that, WWE Immortals has more depth than you would expect from a free-to-play title. While characters earn experience points after battle for increased damage and health, they can also increase in rank by finding another card of the same wrestler. Coins you collect after each battle can be used to purchase booster packs or wrestlers a la carte. Both methods are quite pricey, but this is a long-term investment unless you wish to speed up the process by purchasing coins with real-world money. Equipping talent enhancements and gear on your characters will also improve their stats, as well as pairing certain wrestlers together who have chemistry or rivalries. Also, by the endgame, there's a simple crafting system that you can sink loads of time into.
The range of environments, the graphical quality, and the overall roster of characters are sufficient for a free-to-play game and will likely be improved over time. Many wrestlers like The Miz, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston, and Stone Cold Steve Austin aren't available, but might make their entrance in later patches. As you progress through each ladder of matches in the offline campaign, you'll receive minor one-time rewards here and there, but it would have been nice to have a few more drops for extra characters.
WWE Immortals has plenty of mishaps that limit its appeal. Since every match requires stamina and characters only have 10 units of stamina, you will also reach a point where your collection of wrestlers are all spent, forcing you to use refresh cards or simply wait for them to recover. There's no separate mode here, so the game literally makes you quit the game for you to do something else. That isn't anything new in the free-to-play mobile space, but sometimes a single session only lasts about 30 minutes before you have to wait again. Combat can become unstable as well, with wrestlers clipping through the ground and signatures being performed in nowhere land. Worse, the game crashes constantly on my Samsung Galaxy Tab S, and the online servers don't work just yet.
WWE Immortals is an imaginative recycling of ideas and an easy recommendation for casual WWE fans, particularly those who are currently engrossed in WWE Supercard. Of course, it's a deal-breaker if the game constantly breaks on your phone or tablet, though the approachable combat system and the fact that it's free helped push me through the opening loading screens (at least thirty times). Let's hope that NetherRealm Studios patches these problems soon, because WWE Immortals not only deserves to be fixed, but it deserves to be turned into a proper fighting game for consoles.