What do you do after staging one of the biggest comebacks in wrestling history? If you're THQ and the WWE, you train even harder. After WWE '12 reinvented the franchise with a new name (not an original one, certainly, but an improvement over SmackDown vs. Raw), a new engine and a new attitude, developer Yuke's isn't shying away from shaking up the system to produce results with WWE '13.
The biggest change: the elimination of the Road to Wrestlemania mode. Over the last four years, WWE games have presented single-player campaigns focused on current, top stars. While fans enjoyed it, the original content felt limited, restricting you to a single not-particularly-recognisable superstar for hours on end. It's been replaced with Attitude Era Mode, which presents the most memorable matches and moments of the late '90s.
From Hall of Famers like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, and tainted boxing legend Mike Tyson, to lower-impact characters like X-Pac and Ken Shamrock, you'll get to experience WWE's apex with the superstars responsible for elevating its popularity (many of whom haven't been in a WWE game in years).
While the mode may be trading familiarity for the original storylines present in Road to Wrestlemania, creative director Cory Ledesma promises that Attitude Era will provide plenty of classic and original content, as the mode takes roughly twelve hours to complete (40 per cent longer than WWE '12's campaigns combined, number fans) while showcasing over 20 custom-produced video packages.
The focus on creating memorable matches is reflected in the updated engine and creation suite, with the Predator Engine that debuted in WWE '12 being tweaked to incorporate 'OMG Moments'. Whether it's catching a midair opponent and transitioning into a finishing move or breaking parts of the arena (including tables, barricades, and the ring itself), you'll have far more moves at your disposal to devastate and impress.
And in regards to your surroundings, the create-an-arena mode introduced in WWE '12 has undergone an upgrade: you can now change stage options and use alternate arena types. Bring on the cozy confines of Monday Night Raw's early days and the current-day, outdoor stadiums of Wrestlemania.
Questions still remain: will the focus on the Attitude Era preclude involvement from modern-day talent like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan? What about classic superstars like Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan? Will the WWE Universe mode receive enough attention given the radical evolution of the single-player campaign? The answers can't come soon enough.