Developer – Visual Concepts
Publisher – 2K Games
Platform(s) – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5 (reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC
Release Date – March 8, 2022
Disclaimer: Review Copy was kindly Provided for this Review
The state of the WWE 2K franchise took a bit of a hit in its last installment. Safe to say that WWE 2K20 wasn’t a good look for the brand in general. Whether it was the multitude of bugs at release or a ton of other things, 2K20 simply wasn’t well-received by many. As a result of the global pandemic, the WWE 2K franchise took a bit of a break for a few years, which I feel was sorely needed.
I think a big problem with previous installments was that the dev team may have not had enough time to implement the changes many have wanted. Before WWE 2K22, 2K had released WWE games yearly since WWE 2K14. There’s no way a one-year development cycle is enough to radically change it up and as a result, I feel the WWE 2K games have felt a bit stagnant for a few years now.
I’m a big wrestling fan and have been for over a decade at this point. I’ve played and supported these games over the years with the desire that I’ll play an installment that feels like a shift to what I and many others have wanted. I can comfortably say that this is the shift I wanted and it’s easily the best WWE 2K game in many years.
WWE 2K22 doesn’t completely revamp the mechanics from older games but 2K has definitely enhanced it. The best way to explain is that it feels the same but different at the same time. 2K has added a bunch of new systems from lighting, character models, and how the game controls overall.
One thing that has never looked poor in WWE 2K games is the graphics, WWE 2K22 looks amazing in this regard. For my first match, I did a quick match as Stone Cold vs an AI in Seth Rollins. I was actually taken aback by how beautiful the game looks when watching the entrances, it’s seriously stunning. Whatever upgrades or changes 2K made to the engine to elevate the lighting and character models works in spades.
WWE 2K22 utilizes a brand new control system, I highly recommend you go through the wildly entertaining tutorial featuring Drew Gulak. If you don’t play the tutorial you’ll likely be confused as this installment has an intricate control scheme. Some may not like control scheme changes but it didn’t bother me as I understand certain aspects need to evolve in order to improve.
Most WWE 2K games have a showcase mode attached to them. For those who aren’t familiar, Showcase mode is typically based on real-life wrestling matches and segments that you play. For example, WWE 2K14 had the 30 Years of WrestleMania Mode that had you play select matches from WrestleMania 1 to WrestleMania 29. WWE 2K16 featured a Stone Cold Steve Austin Showcase Mode with a collection of some of the most important matches in Stone Cold’s career that you had to play through.
WWE 2K22 features a Showcase Mode for the cover star of the game, Rey Mysterio. I consider myself a big fan of Mysterio and I very much enjoyed my time playing through important matches in his career. One aspect I loved is that when you played through the matches, real-life footage of the actual match would be spliced in. One criticism I have is I feel they missed a ton of key important matches in his career such as his Royal Rumble 2006 win or his first world title win at WrestleMania 22.
WWE 2K Universe Mode is always similar to its previous franchise installments and 2K22 is no different in that regard. There’s never much innovation when it comes to Universe Mode. I wouldn’t mind if Universe Mode as a whole got a complete overhaul and maybe even added some online capabilities. MyFaction as a mode is not for me personally but I can imagine there are a good number of people who enjoy it.
MyRise is a revamped version of the Career Mode we would see in WWE 2K15-WWE 2K20. This was a much-needed change as many including me felt the past Career Modes felt too repetitive and run of the mill after a while. You can truly tell the devs put a ton of effort into making sure this mode felt expansive and always had you doing something fresh. Dialogue is way improved this time around and is a lot less cringe, which was a notable problem previously. My advice to 2K is to stick with this template from now on and improve on it substantially with maybe even more story branches.
Lastly, we move on to the highly requested MyGM mode. If you’re a fan of the SmackDown vs Raw games from over a decade ago, you definitely know how beloved this mode was. It’s been one of the most requested modes for a long time now and only in this installment is it making its return. Modes like this making a return after all this time show me that the feedback given has truly been listened to. The foundation that’s been laid for this current iteration of MyGM has tons of potential. One nitpick I have is one I named with Universe Mode a bit earlier, I wish MyGM has a fully implemented online element.
The amount of content in WWE 2K22 is much more substantial portion than in previous years. Yes, more content isn’t always a good thing but in the case of WWE 2K22, I believe it is a good thing because the majority of the content itself feels nice and intriguing to actually play. Whether you’re playing as Rey Mysterio in Showcase Mode or creating a Wrestler, Arena, or Move-Set, I found myself enjoying my time.
My wrestling fandom runs hand in hand with these games. After my extended time with WWE 2K22, I can safely say I am more excited to see what 2K brings to the table with WWE 2K23.
Rating - 9/10
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