Developed By: Visual Concepts
Published By: 2K Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox One & Series S/X, PC
Reviewed On: PS5
Review Code Provided 2K Games
It has been two years since WWE2K20 came out as one of the worst-reviewed games of all time. It quickly gained a cult following from wrestling and non-wrestling fans alike due to how the hilarious and game-breaking bugs resulted in endless memes and funny video compilations. Personally, as a pro wrestling fan who grew up on the Attitude Era and endless hours of the Smackdown games, it felt kind of soul-crushing that the game just felt the culmination of years of missteps and failure to innovate. It was too complicated, too bloated, and ended up too broken.
Thanks to 2K Games, I was given the opportunity to jump into this year’s entry and I really was gritting my teeth for just more disappointment. I am glad to say that WWE2K22 feels like a rightful bounce back that just manages to steer the series back on track but doesn’t really push the series further than it should have.
Graphics & Music
Graphically the game looks and plays great. Some of the character models like The Rock, Edge, and Rey Mysterio looks and feel eerily close to their real-life counterparts but it does go through the same track record of having other less popular wrestlers not looking as great. Obviously, more care must go into the more popular and established wrestlers and I’m thankful at least even the wrestlers with the least attention paid to them still look quite good with this new engine. When it comes to the graphics the highlight is most definitely during the entrances where the wrestlers, arenas and the crowd is in full display and is quite a spectacle, especially for wrestling fans.
When it comes to the sound design it was a bit of a hit-or-miss experience. The soundtrack is quite good with inclusions such as Royal Blood’s Typhoon but at the same time wears its welcome out almost at lightspeed due to how limited it is. This is the most apparent in the MyGM mode where you will spend the bulk of your time in menus only to have the same repetitive songs play over and over almost to maddening levels. When it comes to voice acting it was damn solid, especially in the MyRISE mode where wrestlers such as Road Dogg, and Shawn Michaels with your created character perform enthusiastically enough for it to be enjoyable and not robotic. Sound effects during the wrestling itself are clear and impactful with the only awkward moments being the wrestlers grunting. There are moments where the grunting can be weirdly distracting probably due to a combination of awkward silences but it’s still not that bad.
The commentary work has also been largely solid when it comes to calling the matches themselves. For me at least if it’s effective enough to not be distracting it is getting the job done and they succeeded here.
Presentation & Gameplay
I really like how much the UI has improved dramatically from the last iteration. It’s simple, clean, and responsive enough to get the player to whichever mode they want to jump into without it being overly designed. It’s not perfect however as there are some menu options even on the PS5 that still requires loading to get into mostly related to online options like the community creations and etc. I am glad that at least they opted to go with a very clean and light feel for it.
When it comes to the gameplay, I really like almost all the changes that they have done with the controls. It feels like a perfect balance between the simulation and arcade aspects of the gameplay which I appreciated so much more. Previous entries chose to go more and more into simulation aspects and to be honest it just felt not as fun as it should have been so I’m glad they rectified it here.
The Showcase mode makes a welcome return and the improvements with the controls made the experience so much more accommodating for me. This year we get to walk down memory lane with Rey Mysterio from when he blew up in popularity in WCW to cementing his legacy in WWE and him being able to wrestle with his son Dominik. I especially loved how much attention was paid to the late great Eddie Guerrero and exploring how much of an influence he had in Rey Mysterio’s career. It wasn’t too extensive, but it was done right.
The career mode (MyRISE) returns this time also offering both male and female paths starting out at the Performance Center to being one of the greatest champions in NXT, RAW Or Smackdown. I do think that there was an improvement in the presentation of this mode and as I mentioned earlier the voice acting did go a long way in making it more enjoyable. However, it wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked it to be and that is due to obvious console generational limitations and design philosophies.
On one hand, I liked how there are multiple side quests that have been included and expanded upon using social media in-game but then the biggest problem or annoyance for me was the loading screens. There are just way too many of them and even on the PS5, it felt like I was stuck in loading screens way too often sometimes longer than the actual connective sequence.
The new (or returning) MyGM Mode is a nice inclusion but ultimately feels very barebones as even choosing the longest-running campaign (50 weeks) felt somewhat banal after a while as once you figure it out it just feels very trivial and repetitive. Also, why does the Tag Titles not exist in the MyGM mode? Did I miss something?
Then there is the MyFACTION mode where like in the other 2K series is centered around digital card collection, also almost like FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode. Collect cards and grow your wrestling stable my climbing towers and getting better cards. I thought it was an interesting mode until I learnt that there are certain variations of wrestlers that are locked exclusively in that mode and that kind of sucks because the roster in WWE2K22 is just plain weird considering circumstances surrounding WWE and their releasing of wrestlers in the past two years.
I would say there are several wrestlers that are no longer with the company but are still listed on the roster as playable characters and that feels jarring to me as it feels like they had to leave them in, or the roster is going to look thin. DLC will help on that front, but I don’t know if anyone is looking forward to wrestling as Logan Paul.
What I Liked
- Gameplay – Perfect balance between simulation and arcade makes it a more accessible and less complicated experience.
- Graphics – The game does look fantastic and some wrestlers look truly amazing.
What I Wished Was Better
- Storytelling – Weirdly enough almost echoing the actual WWE product now a lot of the storytelling even in-universe mode just feels very forced rather than developed over time but I mean no one plays these games for the story do they?
- Bugs & Unresponsive Inputs – There is a significant reduction compared to the last entry but there are still some floating around. Some of the control inputs also don’t work at random times forcing me to mash the button confusingly.
Can You Dig It?
I think that WWE2K22 is a very good comeback for the developers. Taking that extra year to polish the game really did work wonders as to how the final game turned out and this entry could be one of their strongest in years. For me personally, it does seem as well that the formula needs to be developed more compared to FIFA and the like, the storytelling aspect really is tied to wrestling in a very close way and a game like this still kind of sticking to design philosophies that have been around almost too long feels like playing it safe. That being safe I still enjoyed my time with WWE2K22 very much and for wrestling fans of the series it is worth jumping into as playing with friends is fun. I personally hope that when the next series comes around, we will really see a major shift in how wrestling games can evolve.