From the makers of Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid comes a new fighting venture featuring your favourite wrestlers in the form of WWE Undefeated, a free to play title for iOS and Android.
Now, I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but I’m quite good at fighting games, so you can imagine my surprise when I was able to apply proper fighting game fundamentals to matches that I played. I should have expected it, really – Battle for the Grid was pretty good.
It’s difficult to do fighting games well on mobile, though. You just doesn’t get the precision that veterans would be used to from playing stick or even a pad. Thankfully, the controls are simple. You swipe left or right to move your character back and forth – spacing is important as it always is in fighting games – and then tap on abilities once they become available to use. Easy.
Each move has a range and speed, meaning throwing your moves out at the wrong time can result in whiffing and getting a return slap. Abilities are not set in stone and made up by a battle deck which you can fully customise for each wrestler. There are three types of ability cards: Counter cards that put your wrestler in a defensive position and instantly counter an incoming melee attack, Strike cards that perform said melee attacks and Grapple cards which, as you can probably guess, perform grapples.
There’s a rock, paper, scissors element to the system as well which generally see one type of card beat one type of attack but fall prey to another. Counter cards work against Strike cards, but do nothing against Grapple cards. Grapple cards are easily interrupted by Strike cards, and so on. It’s a simple yet effective system where you can learn to bait your opponent into one move and then counter with another. On quite a few occasions, I’ve been able to dash in and quickly dash backwards, tricking my opponent into using a Strike move. I’d wait for the animation to nearly be over and then retaliate with a Strike move of my own.
Each card has a cost to use during the match. You have a bar at the bottom of the screen that fills up over time from zero to to ten and this is your pool of energy points to play with. The Flying Clothesline, for instance, costs three points of energy to use so if you are maxed at ten energy, your bar will go from ten to seven and then slowly keep refilling. You need to avoid spamming moves willy-nilly and be savvy during your assaults. If you aren’t, there might be occasions where you use all your abilities and then stand there for a moment or two while your opponent is free to beat down on you.
You can also chain attacks together if timed right, making a slip up by your opponent fatal, especially if you have a Hype move banked and ready to use. The Hype meter builds up over the course of the match as you get hit and deal damage, giving you access to a wrestler’s finisher once full.
At time of writing, there are a total of thirteen wrestlers in the game to unlock with three more listed as ‘coming soon’. You start off with the ever popular Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and proceed to unlock more wrestlers through winning matches and moving up to the next league. It’s a slightly annoying way of handing characters out, as a wrestler like The Fiend is only available to unlock when you hit league VII, and that can take a while. Then again, it’s a mobile game model and the progression path is generally a given. I just feel sorry for fans of The Undertaker who will not be able to play with the phenom straight away. For now, you can unlock Adam Cole, AJ Styles, Drew McIntyre, Finn Balor, Otis, The Rock, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston, Roman Reigns, Seth Rolins, Shinsuke Nakamura, The Fiend and The Undertaker.
One thing to note here is the lack of female wrestlers right now. It’s definitely an odd choice not to include them considering how big the women’s division is.
Winning battles nets you different rarity boxes that contain battle cards and tokens to unlock and level up characters/moves. If I get ten Gut Kick cards in a box, I can use that to take the move from level three to level four increasing the move’s damage, for instance. Character tokens also work in the same way, leveling up a character’s stats and abilities as you go.
Stats are further increased as you play by using the Talent Level bonuses that you unlock, giving say, an increase to damage by 5% when you hit level three. Unfortunately, there’s no way to check what bonuses you have at this time which is slightly frustrating.
Sadly, there is only once mode to play right now, which is just labeled as ‘Battle’, meaning if you’re looking for variety in modes, you will be a little disappointed. It’s early doors for this game, and Undefeated is bound to get updates adding news modes into the mix. Right now, it’s severely lacking a practice mode, because if you want to try a new wrestler out, you are forced to go into the online ranking mode. If you lose, you also lose league progression, which is not fair when you just want to try a new character out.
Once you hit a high enough talent level, you can also join a Faction. Factions right now only seem to serve one purpose and that’s for requesting and donating character tokens and battle cards. It feels very strange that it was included this early on in the game’s life considering there’s not much you can really do with it right now.
Of course, it would be remiss of me not to talk about the microtransaction element of Undefeated. Gold is the purchasable currency of choice which can in turn be spent on things like buying more Battle Bucks, the rank up currency for wrestlers and cards. Gold can also be used to unlock boxes that are gained through battles quicker. I can see how this might be tempting as some of the higher rarity boxes can take up to six hours to unlock. It’s not a deal breaker to me, and certainly not the most insidious use of microtransactions. You can still play the game and there’s no major advantage of spending money at the moment.