Skipping WWE 2K21 has paid dividends for Visuals Concepts and 2K – WWE 2K22 might just be the best in the series yet.
It’s no secret that WWE 2K20 was a bit of a disaster. Beyond the fact that it failed to innovate or improve the core experience in any way, it was crippled with a plethora of horrendous – though often humorous – bugs and glitches. But after a year’s absence, the WWE 2K series is back with a vengeance. WWE 2K22 isn’t perfect, but it’s one hell of a step in the right direction.
It’s all about the in-ring action, which feels faster-paced and more unpredictable than ever before. The tried-and-tested mechanics remain pretty much the same, with players able to make use of both light and heavy attacks, and reversals being pivotal to gain the upper hand when on the receiving end of a beatdown. But now it all feels more dynamic. Players can attempt to break combos mid-flow, for example, and there are one or two other new tricks available to make matches more exciting. It feels familiar but reinvigorated.
Even better, everything’s simply more polished. You might still see the odd attack that awkwardly doesn’t hit its mark, or an animation that doesn’t look quite right due to character positioning, but we’ve seen nothing here that anywhere resembles the awfulness of WWE 2K20. There truly is a night-and-day difference, allowing you to simply get on with wrestling your opponent.
In terms of modes, WWE 2K22 has a decent offering. MyGM returns after a long hiatus, allowing you to play the role of manager rather than fighter. After selecting your general manager – and brand – you’ll need to draft the best wrestlers, book exciting matches, and outperform your rival to emerge victorious. With a range of power cards that you can use to get the upper hand, it’s a fun addition that complements the rest of the experience well.
For those who want to create a wrestler and lead them to stardom, MyRISE is essentially an improved MyCAREER. There are multiple choices to make, lots of storylines to discover and play through, and of course, plenty of wrestling matches to be won. Whether you become a hero or a villain is up to you, though you’ll need to develop your character well to truly become a legend. What’s particularly notable about MyRISE is that it offers a separate story for male and female superstars. Needless to say, it’s a meaty mode that will consume plenty of your time.
Universe mode also makes a return, allowing you to either follow one WWE superstar through the brands of your choosing, or play in the classic sandbox mode. And there’s now a new MyFACTION mode. Requiring a 2K account to play, MyFACTION is your typical card-based offering, challenging you to create the ultimate faction. You’ll be given some cards to start with, and you’ll need to put together the best deck of superstars, general manager and cosmetics if you want to rule the roost. Surprisingly it’s single-player focused, and there are a huge number of events for you to play through and challenges to complete. New cards can be purchased with the MyFACTION points and tokens that you earn. Or can be bought with VC, of course.
Rounding out WWE 2K22‘s selection of modes is 2K Showcase, which places Rey Mysterio at front and centre. Recounting events from his legendary career, you’ll be guided by the Superstar himself as you step into the ring and do battle. With numerous objectives to complete in each match, you’ll be particularly impressed with how the gameplay seamlessly transitions to archive footage and then back again, making it feel like you really are recreating past events. It’s neat. There’s just one caveat: there aren’t all that many matches to play through. Still, if you want to unlock everything they have to offer, you might find yourself playing through them multiple times to complete all of the objectives available.
Ultimately though, even if you ignore all of the main modes, the refreshed combat means it’s simply fun to head into a quick match against the CPU or another player locally or online. Nearly every match type you can think of is available here, as well as a huge range of male and female WWE Superstars. There are plenty of legends from yesteryear to unlock, too. We just couldn’t wait to take control of The Bad Guy, Razor Ramon, and there are other characters here that you might have a certain affinity for, such as Papa Shango or Diesel.
We’ve been playing WWE 2K22 on PS5 for review, and while its visuals haven’t wowed us, it is a pleasant game to look at. Character models are only really let down by their hair, and in terms of presentation everything is slick and colourful. The most important thing is that performance is solid, allowing you to get on with pummelling your opponent without any hiccups. And loading times are pretty quick. There doesn’t seem to be any DualSense support though. Or if there is, we haven’t noticed it.
A year off has truly been beneficial to the WWE 2K franchise – WWE 2K22 is by far the best entry in the series yet. It’s been a long time since a WWE 2K game has had us so keen to jump into one match after another, and that’s largely thanks to the numerous gameplay improvements that have been made. Add in a welcome layer of polish and a selection of modes that have all bases covered, and you have a winner. There’s still a little room for improvement, but if you’re a wrestling fan, consider this a must-have.
WWE 2K22 Review – GameSpew’s Score