The turbulent and tumultuous times of 2K20 look to be a distant memory as our time with WWE 2K22 has proved to be a fairly successful one. In spite of some issues, the WWE once again has a wrestling game it can be proud of.
It’s hard to forget just how catastrophic the release of WWE 2K20 was. Glitches, bugs, awful character models, and shocking graphics only began to scratch the surface of its problems.
However, the slate has been wiped clean, and WWE 2K22 has proven to be more of a blessing than a curse. An improved combat system, returning game modes, and a stellar-looking product are all good signs that the series is back on track.
WWE 2K22 – Key details
- Price: $59.99 / £49.99
- Developer: Visual Concepts
- Release date: March 8, 2022
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X & PC
WWE 2K22 trailer
A multitude of modes
You should never get bored with WWE 2K22 as there’s tons of stuff to do, although it’s not always fleshed out, fantastical content like you’d hope for.
This year’s Showcase mode centers around the world’s most famous luchador — Rey Mysterio. Anyone who knows Rey’s career will find a lot to appreciate here and enjoy seeing him in his usual, dazzling array of flashy costumes he used in each match.
But, it also feels quite lacking, as lots of Rey’s solid early-career work is missing and some of his later entries feel a bit unnecessary — no offense Gran Metalik. Still, it’s great getting to hear plenty of words from the great man himself as he dissects his own matches and offers some insight into the inner workings of these encounters.
One of the most talked-about changes to WWE 2K22 is the long-awaited return of GM Mode after an astonishing 13-year absence. Rebranded as MyGM, we will say that there’s a lot of hands-on control and enjoyment to be had.
Like in past iterations, players need to become a General Manager of one of the brands, use a staggering budget wisely to fill out their roster, book high-quality TV shows, and PPVs, and ultimately prevail as the dominant product in the company. It feels like the completely immersive pro wrestling sim it’s advertised as. But, some questionable missteps make the mode feel undercooked and make us question its potential longevity.
You’re limited to booking one-on-one and tag matches, and you can count on one hand the number of stipulation matches that are available. Worse still, the only title belts available are the world titles for men and women, no secondary ones. These are just some of the poorly executed elements that hurt its overall depth and make the thought of a second MyGM mode season a chore.
That isn’t to say you won’t have fun, as having control over every show’s production and bringing back icons is a thrill, but we do have to question the existence of the reoccurring Universe mode now. Given that it shares similar elements in terms of creativity and the ability to play out matches and build rivalries, like MyGM, perhaps it’s time to amalgamate the two moving forward?
Also, time will tell how successful the other new mode is this year in MyFACTION. 2K’s answer to Ultimate Team, players must open packs, play matches to earn more currency, and create their own DX, nWo, or whatever your poison. The sight of microtransactions is unwelcome, but thankfully the mode is single-player only, and there is something oddly warm and bubbly about spending hours building up a strong faction that could rival any elite group in pro wrestling today.
Throw in a deep and well-executed MyRISE career mode this year, online multiplayer, exhibition matches, and there’s many an hour to be spent in the world of pro wrestling laying the smackdown.
Thanks to a complete overhaul and reinvention of its core principles, WWE 2K22’s gameplay is up there in terms of the best it’s ever been, and certainly ‘hits different.’
Every wrestler genuinely feels like a true reflection of their real self. Every idiosyncrasy from a character’s height, weight, strength, and type of wrestler they are will be translated in battle.
Grapples and Combo attacks all feel nicely integrated and, for the most part, don’t feel like contrived animations lumped together in a phony-looking manner.
It’s still not all perfect though. The new Reversal system is basically a game of rock, paper, scissors unless you’re willing to sacrifice a chunk of your ability meter. Between Light, Heavy, and Grab attacks, players need to basically guess which attack is coming and press the matching button to regain control of the match.
Still, it’s not the worst system in the world, and we commend developers Visual Concepts for going back to the drawing board and inserting a dynamic ebb and flow you’d get in a real match.
I honestly never once got bored with the gameplay and reveled in just how many ways there are to dish out a “slobber knocker” or two. It’s easily the most complete way to enjoy a WWE game and incorporating the environment around you only heightens the limitless potential.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
Let me just say this, pre-match and post-match production is on another level. The seamless flow of an entrance interspersed with classic Kevin Dunn camera cuts made me happy to sit back, open up a Steveweiser, and drink it in, man.
The way the light bounces off of the sweat-ridden physiques of Vince McMahon’s meaty superstars, the constant, participatory cheers and boos of the WWE Universe, and the usual hit-and-miss commentary has welcomed back the feeling of presenting a satisfying live broadcast.
It’s a shame then that some of the nuisances of yesteryear pop their unwelcome heads up from time to time. Referees still do the same, robotic, slow count, the commentary still isn’t contextual as I used Brock Lesnar during one match and commentary clearly said I had Paul Heyman at my side when I didn’t.
I also experienced several unfortunate run-ins with clipping in the ropes and getting stuck, a couple of times my character completely stopped responding to my controller inputs, and I found WWE 2K22’s load times to be the longest of any PS5 title I’ve played to date.
Greatly improved character models managed to offset a lot of this negativity though as it was genuinely terrifying how lifelike some of the game’s biggest stars now look. Does everyone look like a carbon copy of themself? Nope, but WWE 2K22 is so far removed from the horrors of 2K20 it’s untrue, the signs from 2K22 are highly promising.
This score feels harsh as the gameplay is spectacular, but there are simply one too many niggles to consider this a true WWE legend. For everything included in the game, there’s always something else that could have been improved to be more cohesive.
I am absolutely not complaining about the level of content here, though. MyGM’s half-baked design is still fun the first time around, and MyRISE is definitely one of the better career modes in years, so you get enough bang for your buck.
Throw in the wonderfully fluid new combat system and top-notch presentational qualities, and it feels like the franchise is back on track — and on the cusp of something special.
Reviewed on PlayStation 5