2K has been using the WWE license to create wrestling experiences since 2013 and WWE 2K22 follows the same suit. For the most part, each year has built on the last. Each successive game in the franchise has built on previous ideas and concepts, while introducing new ways to play, better features, and more.
As with many sports games, however, the WWE games from 2K began to slide, highlighted by the disappointing release of 2K20, one of the worst performing and rated games in the entire franchise. The development team wisely took a year off, forgoing a 2K21 release, to focus on the 2K22 build. Was taking a year off all the franchise needed to get back on track? Or is this yet another wrestling game sure to disappoint long time fans. Let’s head into the ring and find out.
WWE 2K22 Details
Platform(s): PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4 and Xbox One
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Developer(s): Visual Concepts
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Avoiding a disaster by hitting the reset button
Taking a year off to fine-tune the latest WWE 2K22 was the best decision developers Visual Concepts could have done. WWE 2K20 was not the game wrestling fans wanted. It was marred with bugs and poor execution.
It is always hard to come back from a defeat, and using the extra year has mostly paid off for WWE 2K22, the latest game in this almost decade old franchise. While there are still issues to contend with, it doesn’t take long to realize that 2K22 is a much more polished, much more detailed experience than its predecessor.
Overhauled for accessibility
If there is one thing that sports video games do wrong year after year, it is the tendency to make gameplay mechanics more and more complicated. With new ideas being added, over the past half-decade the WWE franchise has included so many new maneuvers and combos. While great for long time fans of the franchise, it is a big barrier to those just trying to get involved.
As younger generations begin to embrace wrestling and all that goes along with it, getting into the WWE 2K series of games has been a daunting process. Long time fans are going to be dismayed, but those looking for a more arcadey, accessible experience are in for a real treat.
I’m not sure the WWE franchise has been this accessible since its early days. The stamina bar is gone, fighters are limited to one special payback, some of the in-fight minigames have been stripped away, and so much more. For some, stripping the game down to the studs might come as a disappointment, and I do wish the game included more options to allow some of these mechanics to remain. As a casual fan myself, these were all welcomed changes.
Plenty of offline content
WWE 2K22 comes with a somewhat beefy single player campaign via My Career and the Showcase modes. It’s perfect for those not looking to take their wrestling careers online to fight other real world opponents. Career mode has been given a fairly hefty overhaul, making it much more unpredictable than the fairly linear career modes of past games. This gives the entire experience a bit more realism, something very lacking in most sports career modes across the entire genre.
The customization of your character is great, with a host of options available right away, not requiring you to play different modes to unlock. Building my character was pretty awesome, and having it grow throughout the story was a nice touch. Picking and choosing allies and rivals gave me the feeling my decisions and comments actually mattered.
And, watching different storylines play out depending on the situation was also a lot of fun. In fact, I went with a second playable character to see how different my experience could be, and I’m happy to say there is some variety here.
A generally good looking game for the most part
In general, WWE 2K22 looks pretty good. Arenas are detailed, fans are better than expected, and most of the characters look great. There are a few high profile wrestlers that just don’t look right. It really makes you wonder how some models went so wrong while most are so right.
Additionally, there are some issues with the audio quality. I noticed this the most during the career mode. The massive changes in audio quality depending on which character is talking points to a game made during a global pandemic. It seems as if a lot of the game’s dialogue was recorded outside of a typical studio setting.
WWE 2K22 is a big step up over WWE 2K20 but might be too stripped down for long time fans
If the goal for WWE 2K22 was to hit the reset button on the franchise, the development team did so, and did it well. While long time fans might find the stripped down wrestling experience too simple, the reality is that how much fun you have with the new, more accessible mechanics will outweigh the few things you might be missing.
While the new My Faction mode is an epic disappointment, you cannot blame 2K for trying to find something that works in the microtransaction space. With wrestling being such a singular experience for the most part, it’s hard to replicate this popular mode that is such a highlight in other sports titles. Overall, a few presentation issues keeps WWE 2K22 from being an outstanding experience, but for the average wrestling fan, this is still an excellent wrestling package.
+ So much customization
+ My GM mode is an excellent addition
+ More accessible will mean more fun for average players
– A few performance and presentation issues
– My Faction falls flat
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF WWE 2K22
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5