Step behind the mask and re-live pivotal moments from @reymysterio‘s Legendary 20-year WWE career in 2K Showcase mode, and head over to MyRISE mode to tackle TWO unique storylines (Men’s Division and Women’s Division)! #ItHitsDifferent with more ways to play in #WWE2K22! pic.twitter.com/sm20dvUmRb
— #WWE2K22 (@WWEgames) March 2, 2022
After a two year hiatus following a troubled few years for the WWE 2K franchise, the big-hitting “Sports Entertainment” franchise is back, and it seems that the break has more than paid off. In truth, it’s been quite a few years since I really enjoyed a WWE video game. From the top of my head, the last batch I really enjoyed was probably during the latter stages of the PS3 and Xbox 360 era.
To compare notes and how the series has spiralled over the years in my opinion, I’ll give you a quick rundown of my previous review scores. WWE 2K14 (PS3/Xbox 360) scored a very respectable 8.5. WWE 2K15 was the first game to release on PS4 and Xbox One (as well as the previous-gen) and that too was a slightly lower 7.9. WWE 2K16 climbed back up to 8.5, WWE 2K18 scored an 8.0 (I never released 2K17), and I gave WWE 2K19 an 8.5. So far, so good. However, WWE 2K20 hit a real low point, becoming one of my lowest scores ever with a pitiful 4.0!
I don’t believe for one second that my low ranking review had any kind of impact, but it did seem to reflect much of the widespread opinions surrounding WWE 2K20. To be fair to 2K20, long-standing developers Yukes were in the process of leaving and Visual Concepts were in the process of taking over. It was a big hot mess for the franchise which ultimately resulted in the needed two-year break.
Thankfully, I can report that while not perfect, the two-year break has most certainly paid off. WWE 2K22 feels as close to the real-life counterpart as I can ever remember. This year’s instalment is probably the best that this series has ever achieved, the balance between arcade fun with a hint of simulation. WWE 2K22 has been designed with every kind of gamer in mind. If you wanted to button mash combos, the controls are that easy to pick up, the game will still make you look good.
However, for those that have more of an inkling of how to play the game with strategy, you can excel further than your opponent. Reversals have always played a big part in this series, and they still do here. But things have changed a little in 2K22. The limited reversal stock has now been removed. Essentially you can perform a well-timed counter whenever you want, as long as your wrestler isn’t staggered, in which case you’ll need them to come round after a few seconds or so. You can now even block in 2K22, similar to other fighting games as well as being able to dodge moves opening up an opportunity to counter.
One of the issues that I’ve had with WWE 2K20, was how the controls changed almost for the sake of it, without really enhancing the game. However, without going too much into detail, the control change in 2K22 actually makes sense because it not only caters for the ease of various playstyles but also accommodates the redesigned engine.
Speaking of the re-designed engine, interactions with environments such as tables, ladders and chairs feel more fluid. Weapons also now break dynamically, which adds a subtle detail of immersion, even if it is a small detail. In previous games, some interactive high-spots would trigger a cutscene, however now, it all happens in-game with the flow of the action. This makes match-types such as Extreme Rules much more chaotic, and fun.
In terms of visuals, WWE 2K22 is easily the best looking game in years. In fact, it’s the best looking WWE game ever. Though to be fair, it’s expected in this new generation. Not all the WWE Superstars and Legends look perfect, for example, Big Boss Man and Jake the Snake Roberts look a bit off. But the vast majority of wrestlers look fantastic and when paired with the improved camera angles and lighting, it offers an excellent representation of what we see on the TV. In total there are over 160 wrestlers in WWE 2K22.
While it seems about 20% have left WWE due to “budget cuts” that could be seen as a negative. But personally, not for me. The way I look at it, it now means that I can still have my dream match of Karrion Kross vs Stone Cold Steve Austin. Oh, hell yeah! On the flip side, there are many current WWE Superstars missing, though nowadays it’s difficult to keep up with the constant change of the industry. However, some will be added via DLC at a later stage and let’s not forget that we have excellent community creations, which even has some fantastic AEW creations as well as arenas, shows and more.
WWE 2K22 is also packed with so many match types and modes, this release could easily keep you busy for a good couple of years if you wanted it to. The Showcase mode is all about one of the greatest Lucha Libre wrestlers of all time, Rey Mysterio. Detailing the highs (and some lows) of his amazing career from WCW to the present days of WWE. You not only get to play some legendary matches involving the late, great Eddie Guerrero, as well as the Undertaker, but Rey Mysterio also offers his insight into the Showcase matches. Furthermore, by completing bonus objectives, you will also unlock additional wrestlers and arenas.
Drafting your Superstar Roster + planning an entertaining and SPECTACULAR show will be a major key to succeeding as a GM in #WWE2K22.
— #WWE2K22 (@WWEgames) February 19, 2022
Elsewhere we have the MyFaction mode, which will have you building your dream faction and go against some of the greatest factions of the industry. However, while much of the content can be earned in-game, there is also a focus on microtransactions currency and packs, which is always a put off for me. During my time playing MyFaction, it felt like its purpose to exist was to tempt the player into spending more real-world money. Though you can play it without spending more money, it simply wasn’t for me.
That being said, along with the Showcase mode, it’s the other modes of WWE 2K22 that I find much more worthy of my time. Firstly, MyRISE is the create-a-wrestler campaign telling a tale of rags to riches. Climbing your way through the ranks as a WWE upstart to a Superstar headlining Wrestlemania cementing your place as a WWE Legend! MyRise allows you to switch brands between Raw, Smackdown and NXT, turn face or heel with branching storylines. MyRise has a surprising amount of depth and even has unique storylines for both male and female characters.
WWE Universe mode is pretty much similar to the Universe modes in previous releases. You essentially manage each brand as you see fit. In Universe mode, you can play as any wrestler, change any match type and set up any rivalries. I’ve always seen it as a more involving way to casually play exhibition matches once I am done with the game’s other modes. However, in WWE 2K22 you not only have the free reign found in previous games, but you can also play Superstar Mode controlling a Superstar of your choice with evolving storylines and matches. For me personally, I couldn’t wait to select Stone Cold Steve Austin, offering a “What If?” take on the modern era.
The jewel in the WWE 2K22 crown for me is the returning MyGM mode, which we last saw in Smackdown vs Raw in 2008. This mode was fun and deep 15 years ago, but it’s something else today. When I first started MyGM, I thought it would be a throwaway mode. However, I found myself indulgent with that “one more match” indulgent. In MyGM you pick your manager from Robert Pierce, Stephanie or Shane McMahon, or my personal choice, Willian Regal. You can also use your created manager if you wish.
Once your manager has been chosen, you pick your brand from Raw, Smackdown, NXT or NXT UK. I chose NXT UK and Stephanie McMahon was my rival managing Raw. You pick your Superstars from main eventers to midcarders. Pick your matches, arenas, entice rivalries, manage Superstar morale, contacts, and much more. You even have to ensure that you remain within budget. At the end of each weekly show, your stats are then compared to your rival brand in your own version of the Monday Night Wars. I can honestly say that this is my favourite mode in WWE 2K22, and I can’t wait to jump back in to continue my rivalry with Stephanie McMahon.
To conclude, after the abomination that was WWE 2K20, I was very dubious going into 2K22. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that I assumed I would be thrown into an uphill battle for me to enjoy 2K22. Thankfully I can honestly say that within 10 to 20 minutes, I could see how much hard work Visual Concepts have put into this game to write the wrongs of two years ago. If you were angered by 2K20, now is the time to come back. WWE 2K22 is more than over with the fans, this is easily the best wrestling game in nearly 10 years.