There's an old saying that goes along the lines of "If you don't learn from history, you're doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past". Such was the case for last year's WWE 2K15, a game that marked the first in the series on a "next-generation" console (read: PS4 and Xbox One) - and, just like the first WWE game to be released on the Xbox 360 and PS3, it wasn't very good. Stripped down, and missing several big features, while the actual wrestling was alright, it felt a little bit like half a game. Luckily, WWE 2K16 looks set to put all that right.
For starters, the roster is shaping up to be one of the biggest of all time - and it's not just the new guys and NXT wrestlers that get a look in. Instead, the WWE 2K16 roster is packed to burst with both stars of the past - and stars of the future. With over 120 wrestlers making the cut, from Diamond Dallas Page, Ravishing Rick Rude, Brian Pillman and Jake the Snake, to Kevin Owens, Finn Balor and Zack Ryder (woo woo woo), there are some really interesting picks in here - like three generations of Sting, and Stunning Steve Austin - or as he's otherwise known, "Stone Cold, from back when he had blonde hair"...
But it's no use simply having a great roster if the gameplay isn't any good, and WWE 2K16 looks set to make a number of changes to the standard formula. By far the biggest here is that you'll now only have a set number of reversals to use per match, adding more of a strategic element to the gameplay - why counter a punch when you might need that reversal later on to reverse a finisher? In another nice twist, you'll also be able to attack wrestlers during their entrances, letting you get the jump on a heated rival before the match begins. One of the bigger tweaks to the pure wrestling gameplay comes from the new submission minigames, where one player now has to move a marker around a circle on screen, while the other player tries to make their marker match up with it - something that should be a bit easier than the sometimes haphazard submission modes in the other games.
Perhaps the best news about WWE 2K16, though, is that the creation suite is not only back to how it was before - it's arguably better. Create-a-wrestler is back to its full strength, now featuring the ability to create both men and women, along with some new features like the ability add hair dye, and change the properties of certain fabrics (making them matt or shiny). Also seeing its triumphant return is the championship creator, and the arena creator, both of which will no doubt come in handy for those who like making their own stories in the free form WWE Universe mode. Of even more interest to those folks will be the ability to create-a-show, and set all the idents and pop-ups that'll show up when wrestlers make their entrance. In fact, perhaps the only downside here is that there seems to be no sign of the create an entrance video mode - and similarly, no highlight reel, to let you capture your best moments in a replay. Still, 2K are so proud of the new and improved creation mode, they've put together an entire trailer, which you can find below:
In terms of modes, we're promised a similar line-up to WWE 2K15, with plenty for wrestling fans to sink their teeth into. The two main single player modes this year are once again 2K Showcase, and MyCareer - the first offering a series of matches following a career retrospective of a certain wrestler, while the second lets you take your created wrestler from jobberhood to stardom, working your way up from the WWE Performance Center to NXT, all the way to Wrestlemania. The 2K Showcase was one of the highlights of last year's game, taking an almost DVD style biographical approach to a famous feud - and while this year's Showcases have yet to be revealed, we know at least one of them will follow the story of one Stone Cold Steve Austin, from WCW to ECW, and on to the WWE, taking in many of his most famous matches along the way. With plenty of footage in between matches, commentary from Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, and with each match itself offering you a number of historical objectives to complete, this looks set to be a highlight - although we hope there's more than just a Stone Cold Showcase on offer.
Still, having seemingly listened to fan feedback from last year, WWE 2K16 looks set to put almost everything right. Due out at the end of the month, 30th October on PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Xbox 360 (the latter two will likely have different feature sets to the PS4 and Xbox One versions), this is one all wrestling fans should be looking forward to. Now give me a hell yeah!