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WWE 2K22 (Xbox Series S) Review

March 16, 2022 | Posted by Stewart Lange
Rey Mysterio WWE 2K22, WWE 2K23 Image Credit: 2K Games
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WWE 2K22 (Xbox Series S) Review  

After the disastrous release of WWE 2K20, which quickly found it’s way into the video game hall of shame with countless glitches, bugs and general instability making it the worst release of the year, 2K games decided to take a year off so they could take a step back, take a deep breath and get to work on a new WWE game to restore the fans faith in their product. It’s now finally time to see if this has been worth the wait.

With a large marketing focus on the “new enhanced gameplay” and a fully rebuilt gaming engine, my first impression of the game was, admittedly, to question where these things are being hidden because my first match was fairly identical to my last 2K match. It’s certainly a lot brighter, but after playing a few matches in the exhibition mode I was feeling slightly underwhelmed. At this point I was appreciating the polish and the fact I had completed a few matches without glitches, but is that really all that has been accomplished in 2 years of development? I decided to dig a little deeper to find out. At least on the surface, everything you’d want from a WWE game seems to be in place. The Universe mode is back from previous instalments, while GM mode makes a long awaited return to the series. I decided to skip these for now and jump into the tutorial mode to see what had really changed.

The tutorial mode is taken by Coach Gulak, which had me reaching for my phone to check if this was the first glaring example of releases ageing the game prematurely, but as it turns out Drew Gulak (at time of writing) is still a WWE employee and I had confused him with Tony Nese. This wouldn’t be the first time I’d have to do the same thing for others, because it would seem that of the base roster, there are already over 30 releases, some of whom have already been competing in high profile matches for other promotions around the weekend of the games release, bay-bay. It must have been tough on the developers, seeing their game outdated so quickly and before it even releases, but I guess contracts are contracts and given the fact that the community creations are normally alive and well, guys like Keith Lee, John Morrison and well, Braun Strowman become accessible from pretty much day one anyway. It’s hard to hold this against the game as it’s not in their control whatsoever, but it does feel a bit strange scrolling through the roster screen.

The aforementioned create a wrestler mode is alive and well and while it’s still possible to create superstars, arenas, championships and more, they really didn’t need to reinvent the wheel here. It’s always been the one thing the series has done consistently well, including enough copyright friendly options to create your favourite AEW or maybe CYN performers with a high degree of accuracy. If so inclined, you can also take a created wrestler to the MyRise mode, which allows you to take your character from the development centre through to the main event of Wrestlemania. It’s really, really stupid at points, but quite delightfully so- there was never a point that I took it too seriously and some of the side quests and options are legitimately surprising and held me oddly captivated. I never thought I’d be kept from Elden Ring because an attack on Kane backstage while he visited Raw would escalate to a Hell in a Cell match with the Undertaker. It’s the best kind of nonsense and I recommend this mode above any others.

Image Credit: 2K Games

The one I’d recommend the least would be the Showcase mode, which this year focuses on the career of Rey Mysterio, who I have to admit has never really been a favourite of mine. It didn’t hold my investment and while I appreciated the inclusion of real match footage in the middle of fulfilling the objectives, so many of Rey’s signature moves are a fiddle to pull off and I found myself on the wrong side of a pin fall more often than I could face repeating. This remains an issue with the 2k series, as they have made some positive changes like a button-mash to escape a pinfall and a new reversal system which sees you predict the next button press rather than rely on a timing counter, but some old problems remain. A lot of running signature moves, or apron based attacks are near impossible to perform organically. When you need to beat someone up, stand them upright, exit the ring, get to the right position and then hope they’re still drunkenly standing waiting on you, it becomes more of a predictable spot than you’d see in a Young Bucks match. I’d much rather take a button press and a short animation to enjoy the move playing out while giving your fingers a couple of seconds respite, but that’s more my own personal preference than a major criticism.

The MyGM mode is a welcome return and really should fully replace Universe, as booking your own brand, including signing the roster, assigning the matches and making sure your brand comes out on top was surprisingly addictive. It isn’t as in depth as EWR or other full on booking sims due to the roster limitations but it was much better than I expected it to be while setting out. The other new game mode we have is MyFaction and I hate to say it but I thought we were maybe going to skip on something that feels so fuelled by microtransactions. While you can get by using the in-game currency, this is just like the Ultimate Team feature in the EA games, where you win random cards. I’m not sure if it’s meant to feel like an extension of the Supercard mobile game, but I really didn’t feel obligated to hang around it long enough to find out.

WWE 2K22 doesn’t reinvent the wheel like I think many expected it to, but it is a very safe return to form for the series. Sadly, that form is not giving us the best wrestling games of all time, but it’s very playable, looks really nice for the most part- the crowds feel a little off but I’m really impressed with the rendering of the Thunderdome- but most importantly, it’s not broken. For a sports series to take a step back, reassess and come back with what everyone wanted from them all along, it’s a success. The first WWE game in 3 years that works, which alone is worth the wait.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
No notable bugs or glitches already puts this ahead of 2k20, but this really is a very competent, albeit safe, wrestling game. The graphics and gameplay are solid and while there's a few things I'm not personally a fan of with the control scheme, this finally feels like a fitting wrestling game for the millions...... and millions of people who've been waiting years since the last one.

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WWE 2K22, Stewart Lange