WWE 2K22 reaped the benefit of a longer development cycle, getting the series back on track. And now WWE 2K23 is here to further build on it.
While much of what’s on offer in WWE 2K23 is very similar to last year’s release, this is an impressive upgrade overall. From the visuals to available modes, pretty much everything has been tweaked in some way. And so whether you’re a long-time wrestling fan, eager to jump into the latest release, or a newcomer to the world of sports entertainment, you’re bound to have a good time and find plenty to sink your teeth into.
If you’re playing on a new console such as the PS5, the first thing that is likely to strike you about WWE 2K23 is how good it looks. There’s a marked improvement over last year’s release, with character models being more lifelike than ever. Hair, in particular, has received some much-needed attention. Though presentation overall is very much a strong point of WWE 2K23. From the in-ring action to the game’s menus, everything looks and sounds great, and is authentic.
What’s more important, though, is the gameplay, and that’s been given some care, too. Everything feels tighter and more fluid, making matches more enjoyable than ever. The systems haven’t been changed much, if at all, but everything has been polished up and the result is that this is the most accessible and fun WWE game yet. But there is one major new addition: the option of a timed pin minigame. You can still hammer buttons to kick out of a pin if you wish, but the option to press a button when a meter moves into a zone will be welcomed by some.
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As ever, customisation plays a big role in WWE 2K23. Head into the options menu, and you can change everything from the game’s difficulty to the likelihood of an opponent reversing one of your attacks. You can also create your own wrestlers, deciding everything from their fighting style to their ring entrance. And there are even modes that let you put together your own schedules and more.
The series’ story mode, MyRise, returns, and this year there’s not one but two stories to delve into. In The Lock, you’re a superstar making their WWE debut. But hyped up as the next big thing, there’s a lot of pressure on your shoulders to meet expectations. Then there’s The Legacy, which posits you as the niece or nephew of a legendary WWE superstar and Hall of Famer. Can you follow in their footsteps with your head held high?
Whichever you choose, there are lots of fights to be had, and it’s great fun creating a character and leading them to success. Whether you focus on just doing what’s necessary is up to you, but it pays to tackle sub-stories and optional challenge fights, especially if you want to become a powerhouse. And thanks to multiple paths through each story, there’s lots of scope for multiple playthroughs.
Showcase mode this year is all about John Cena. Once again it allows you to jump into a number of iconic matches from the wrestler’s career, and while winning is good, doing so while completing a string of objectives is better. Perform the right moves when required, and not only will you unlock a variety of rewards, but you’ll also seamlessly see live video mixed in with the gameplay. The twist here though, is that you’re not playing as John Cena, but as other wrestlers fighting against him.
Other modes such as MyFaction, MyGM and Universe all return as well, with new additions to make them a little more exciting. In MyFaction, for example, you can now take the action online, which will no doubt please those who also have like-minded friends who enjoy devoting time to the card-based mode. And MyGM not only has more general managers for you to choose from, but also more match types, show options, and more.
Finally, WWE 2K23 features the debut of WarGames, allowing for chaotic 3v3 or 4v4 matches where two rings sit side-by-side while being surrounded by a metal cage. Needless to say, there’s a hell of a lot of fun to be had here, but the format requires the camera to pull back at times which can make spotting the prompts for reversals and suchlike that bit more difficult. Still, it’s a neat addition that is sure to excite at least some fans.
As wrestling games go, there’s little to fault about WWE 2K23. There’s still room for a touch of polish and tweaking of mechanics, and perhaps some actions and features remain a little convoluted. On the whole, though, a WWE 2K game has never looked or played better. And with all the usual modes making a return with some solid tweaks and additions, this is a must-have for any wrestling fan.