As a lifelong fan of professional wrestling, to say I was heartbroken with the dumpster fire that was WWE 2K20 would be an understatement. 2K owned up to its shortcoming and vowed to come back with a polished content-filled wrestling game the wrestling game community deserves. In order to achieve this goal, 2K said an additional year of development time would be needed.
During this extra year, 2K reached out to the community asking what new features and modes they would like to see included. This open line of communication was refreshing and put some much-needed faith that 2K would make good on their promise. Thankfully, 2K did not disappoint. WWE 2K22 is packed to the brim with features and modes, many of which the community has been requesting for years.
The presentation and overall look from the arenas to the wrestler models are hands down the best we’ve seen in a WWE game. From the Thunderdome’s virtual wall of fans (all of which are the developers of WWE 2K22) to the wrestler’s entrances, there is no denying that the key was to pay close attention to the little details. For example, I had set up a 1v1 with Elias. The post-match started with Elias in the ring sitting on a stool with his guitar and not only dished out a full promo but also played a full song trashing the crowd. This was classic Elias and a pleasant surprise to see added to the game.
The hair physics was always an issue in the past either being too stiff like Bianca Belair’s long hair braid or constantly moving while the wrestler was standing still. These are all problems of the past and nonexistent in WWE 2K22. I played a few matches as old school black & purple Undertaker for the sole purpose to see his long hair swing around during the match. Taker from this time period would thrust his head forward when throwing a punch so his hair would also fly toward his opponent and the same would apply in reverse when taking a punch. All this is present with smooth animations that make the hair flow look natural. Again, it’s the attention to detail that I’m looking for and finding in all areas of the presentation.
When it comes to the match types, there’s a massive amount to choose from including multiple variants. Want to do a 6-man tag? Want to make it a tornado match or battle in an Elimination Chamber? Having this number of options adds to the replayability. All the other specialty match types are also present such as TLC, Royal Rumble, Hell in the Cell, Steel cage, or battle it out in the returning backstage brawl which includes an assortment of fun things to interact with. However, all these match types wouldn’t mean much if the gameplay fell flat or didn’t work at all like 2K20.
It’s with a great sigh of relief to say ALL these match types work as expected. I did 10, 20, and 30-man rumbles and encountered no issues. In the multiple hours I’ve already put in, I only encountered a handful of odd character behaviors. One time while running toward the ropes, my wrestler got stuck in a continuous run that was eventually stopped when my opponent hit me. I also encountered a few collisions detection miscues, but nothing was game-breaking and no crashing occurred.
The one area that needs to be addressed is the commentary. Multiple times Michael Cole will call the incorrect move performed in the ring. For example, I was Keith Lee (yes, he along with many recently released wrestlers are in the game) and performed a sit-down powerbomb just to hear Cole scream “WHAT A TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER!”. A couple of times Cole would call out something random such as “why is he interfering in the match” meanwhile there was no interference or run-ins. Again, not game-breaking but something I hope can be corrected in a future patch.
Besides the matches, we have the following modes:
Rey Mysterio showcase mode – For long-time pro wrestling fans, this mode has always been a must-play. They are fun nostalgia trips in which the showcase wrestlers narrate their journey to the top while the player completes objectives that actually took place in those matches to progress. There are sprinkles of real footage mixed in with smooth transitions back to playing. Another plus for playing this mode is unlocking new wrestlers, alternate versions of Rey Mysterio, and other goodies.
Universe – This has always been my favorite for the simple fact that it follows the WWE calendar and evolves as you play. New feuds and alliances develop in real-time, injuries can occur and besides RAW, SMACKDOWN, and NXT, you can also add your own promotions with their own stage design and roster. You can also import all your created and downloaded wrestlers to any show and adjust who they are feuding with or who are their allies.
My GM – This was highly requested by the community since the last time a GM mode was in a WWE game was back in Smackdown vs RAW 2008. If you ever played franchise mode in Madden or Football Manager, then you know what to expect. You choose a GM and go through the WWE draft process to build up your roster. The goal is to produce the best matches and generate the highest ratings to beat out the other WWE shows. You will have to deal with contract disputes, injuries and sign new talent.
I will be honest. I am not generally a fan of these types of modes but definitely respect those who find enjoyment in micromanaging every aspect of a show. Now, this mode currently only supports local co-op which caused some controversy since in earlier talks with developers they had said that online play would be possible, and who knows, maybe it will be in a future update.
MYFACTION – So full disclosure. I play an unhealthy amount of FIFA, particularly FIFA Ultimate Team. With that said, I was extremely excited to hear about this new mode which is pretty much FUT but with wrestlers. The goal is simple. You start off with a deck of cards, each is a wrestler with his or her card rating in the top right corner of the card. There are different challenges to complete with particular bonus objectives. Completing and winning these matches will earn you new card packs and MYFACTION currency to purchase higher-level card packs.
As I mentioned, I love playing FUT. However, I do not spend real-world money to purchase packs. The same will apply here. Yes, there is an option to purchase more MYFACTION currency with real money but it is not required. Also, MYFACTION shows you the probability of obtaining a particular wrestler or rarity items in packs. I am well aware of the disputes over microtransactions and loot boxes. I just want to emphasize that you do not have to spend real money in order to enjoy this mode.
MYRISE – You create a wrestler and work your way from the indies to the top of the WWE main roster. To avoid spoilers, I’ll just say it’s pretty lengthy and provides some fun twists and turns as you level up your CAW and hopefully become a living legend.
If you are tired of beating down the AI on legend difficulty and what to show off your skills to the world, then hop online. Pretty much every match type in the game is also available in multiplayer mode. There is a quick play option to just jump in a match, a lobby for those trying to set up a TLC or Elimination Chamber, etc. You can also track your record along with your friends on the leaderboards.
I played a few matches and had encountered no issues. The only issue that I did encounter was actually connecting to the multiplayer server. Occasionally, I was receiving an “error connecting to server” message but after closing and quickly retrying, I would jump on the server and be ready to play or create a match.
So once you boot up WWE 2K22, you’ll be greeted with 3 long license agreement forms that you must agree to. I’m pretty sure one of them has to deal with the community creations area. Here you will find player-created superstars, arenas, title belts, images, and more.
To no one’s surprise, many of the created superstars are wrestlers from other promotions or those who have been recently released. You’re allowed up to 100 CAW slots so if there is a particular wrestler you are looking for, there is a 99.9% chance that you will find that superstar. Last I checked, there were over 300 pages of created wrestlers. Each section is sorted by recent, most downloaded, and highest rated.
WWE 2K22 is a solid pro wrestling game that is full of features and customization options that will keep you playing hours upon hours. Of course, there are little hiccups here & there, but none are game-breaking and will hopefully be ironed out in future patches. 2K did a great job listening to the WWE gaming community and implementing many of the top requested features.
I’m sure this line of communication will remain open for the entirety of this release and in doing so, WWE 2K22 will continue to evolve and improve. So if you had doubts and rightfully so, rest assured that WWE 2K22 is worth your time and money.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of WWE 2K22 for the Xbox Series X provided by 2K Sports.