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WWE 2k23 Review (Xbox Series X)

March 24, 2023 | Posted by Stewart Lange
WWE 2K23 - Drew McIntyre Roman Reigns cage Image Credit: 2K Games
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WWE 2k23 Review (Xbox Series X)  

Last year, WWE 2K22 re-launched the wrestling series after the 2K20 disaster and was met to reasonable acclaim from fans and critics alike, receiving an 8 out of 10 from yours truly (click on my name at the top of the article to read my thoughts). A revamped engine, control scheme tweaks and a graphics overhaul made it a much shinier experience than before and finally felt like a realised next/current gen wrestling release. As with most sports sims, though, we can’t expect huge progress every year and like FIFA or Madden, WWE 2K23 definitely suffers from the “just a roster update” illness that plagues these types of annual releases.

That’s not to say it’s bad at all, by any means. There wasn’t a massive amount of need to do much more graphically than a little tidy up on some character models and movements and these have absolutely been done with a high level of care and attention. There’s not the same level of noticable clipping of hair and clothing as I found there to be last year. The crowd motion and the overall presentation is the best it’s ever been, with the minute to minute gameplay flowing really nicely as well. It’s not night and day from last year but it is a little bit shinier and more polished and that’s all I feel like we’re likely to get throughout this generation of wrestling games. Along with the graphical polish comes the inevitable roster update with it, with the usual mixture of NXT, current and legendary superstars taking up spots. Thankfully, there are a lot of wrestlers that had been saved for DLC last year included within the game, such as the NWO, RVD and Logan Paul, however there are a couple of big missing names, most notably Bray Wyatt however he has been confirmed for an upcoming expansion, although the announced DLC lists really leave a lot to be desired when it comes to justifying my decision to lump in on the season pass edition of the game.

Image Credit: 2K Games

Any roster shortfalls can be made up for by the ever impressive create a wrestler mode and the always impressive community creations. There’s not much reinventing of the wheel to be done here but the create an entrance mode does have a more expansive list of familiar movements, allowing your Kenny Omega or CM Punk creations to have a little bit more flair and realism to them- or you can download from the number of fan-made creations already online within the first 24 hours of release which all look better than anything I could come up with between now and next years version of the game anyway. This year you can add these creations into the returning MyUniverse mode so you can fulfill all your WWE/AEW/NJPW invasion fantasies, like having only midcard stars make the jump and and have them buried by Roman Reigns. The MyGM mode and Showcase also return, with the Showcase mode having you take control of pivotal moments in the career of John Cena, although I couldn’t see the appeal. Awful jokes aside, this year there’s a nice twist, as it actually has you take on Cena as some of his opponents, giving you the chance to Never Give Up (registered trademark) as the man now known as Peacemaker.

The roster can be unlocked with virtual currency, which is earned by playing and having exciting matches but is unlocked most quickly by the MyFaction mode, a card battle game like Ultimate Team which this year is playable online. This does give it a slightly more important feel when compared to last year. This whole unlocking can be negated with the deluxe edition and the supercharger it provides, which I will say feels slightly cheap and took a large element of the whole reason to play away from me. With the whole roster available from the first button press of the game, I did struggle to motivate to play for fun, rather than the purpose of unlocking. It did give me the most options when it came to the MyGM and Universe modes, though. I’ll never get bored of putting Jake the Snake and Macho Man in an epic midcard battle for the ages while you position what the game sees as actual draws in the main even slots.

The biggest gameplay addition comes with the long awaited addition of War Games, which can be played now as a 3 vs 3 or a 4 vs 4. There aren’t too many pairings of superstars that make sense and sadly William Regal isn’t here to announce the match either, but you can choose either the Survivor Series or NXT arenas for the event and the cages are positioned behind the cage so you can get a good view of everything around. Unfortunately, the match itself becomes a mess once the action intensifies and heats up. As the rings fill up, the camera zooms out too far to really be able to tell who you’re targetting or worse, who is targetting you. My first experience with War Games became a button mashing exercise, with my aim to be to not be pinned while my team mates did the pro-active match winning. The chaos was certainly present but it didn’t lead to a fun match. Not to be deterred, I tried again but this time I found myself in a 3 on 1 beatdown in one ring while my “team” conducted a mugging of their own in the other side, with none of them once deciding to come to my aid. Technically and visually it’s very impressive but it needs to be refined somehow.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
If you have last years game, there's not enough different here to justify a full new purchase for my liking, aside from the War Games mode which I didn't get along with at all. It's still a fantastic wrestling game and the same score I gave 2k22 seems only fair given there hasn't been a huge amount changed and it's likely to remain the benchmark for wrestling games, despite Fight Forever seemingly on the near horizon.

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WWE 2K23, Stewart Lange