After the buggy disaster that was WWE 2K20, every one who caught a glipse of the train wreck knew that 2K absolutely had to deliver with 2K22, especially given that they took almost an extra year and a half to work on it, so the pressure was on like never before. There is so much to get through so getting right to the point, 2K has addressed the vast majority of the issues that plauged it’s previous entry and has delivered a fantastic wrestling simulation title for it’s fans. It’s not all perfect, there are a few things that irk me and some of the modes still need some work, but overall the game is so much fun to play wether that be alone or with friends.
BETWEEN THE ROPES
The biggest improvement you’ll see is in the famous squared circle itself. The gameplay feels smoother than ever and the controls have been revamped. At first I thought it felt a bit convoluted but once the muscle memory sets in I found myself having extremely smooth, fast paced matches. The system is essentially based around combos. I reviewed the title on Playstation 5 so by using a combination of Square (light attack), X (heavy attack) + O (grapple) you can pull off a chain of strikes and manoeuvres that blend in really well. When you grapple you can also pull off light and heavy grapples through different button inputs. All of this provides a huge variety in moves and that’s just when your opponent is standing in front you. I won’t cover every new input around the ring because we’d be here all day but trust me when I say I’ve found this to be the most comprehensive and intuitive experience I’ve ever had in a WWE game. There have been some bugs and small glitches but that’s to be expected from a game with so many moving parts. It’s well within it’s threshold for bugs especially compared once more to 2K19 which felt like there was a bug every game you played.
Of course there are a huge variety of match types to play through, ranging from the classic one on one, to 8 man battle royales, TLC matches, the Elimination Chamber, Royal Rumble’s and so many more. I’d still love to see the inclusion of classics like Inferno and Buried Alive matches but I can’t really complain at the variety we do have. A cool little addition is seeing weapons used in matches slowly start to break with each hit, it’s a small touch but one that helps so much in the moment.
JUST A SEXY BOY
Honestly, there isn’t too much to say here but visually, this is easily the best looking wrestling game that has ever existed. The jump to next gen shows clearly and some of the superstar’s models are just incredible. Entrances are especially impressive using a mixture of the jump in visual fidelity and new camera angles to really amp up the cinematic feel. My favourite entrances come via Drew McIntyre, Damian Priest and Rhea Ripley. It feels like a huge upgrade to any previous title and does truly feel next gen.
Speaking of the wrestlers, there are SO many of them, with the roster boasting over 220 superstars, Add on DLC characters coming in the future too and you’re drowning in choices for who to use. Funnily enough this does include a lot of wrestlers no longer with the company, with the likes of Jeff Hardy, Karrion Kross, The Iconics, Ember Moon, Kieth Lee, Isiah Swerve Scott and many, many more having been released by WWE over the course of the last year. You even have left over animations from some wrestlers who were removed last minute, like Adam Cole and Alaister/Malakai Black. I personally am pleased to still have these wrestlers and assets available because it adds to creating this wider wrestling world.
Then there is the soundtrack, put together by 2K and Machine Gun Kelly, that absolutely takes me back to previous WWE titles. A mixture of rock and rap, it’s the best soundtrack I’ve heard in a WWE title for many years.
FEED ME MODES
Every fancied yourself a fantasy booker? Well 2K22 has seen the return of MyGM mode and after going through several seasons I can say it is probably one of my favourite things about the game. You can play through it as one of Adam Pearce, Sonya Deville, William Regal, Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon or a created superstar. Once in, it’s up to you to book your dream shows and out do your “rival” show in the ratings. You can play through the matches or simulate them and I’ve generally found it to follow common sense on what a good match is however there is a formula you can follow for almost guarenteed success. A good example is to match up a super heavyweight against a cruiserweight, they are considered to have good match chemistry and therefore can have a high match rating. MyGM proved to be loads of fun and a mode I ended up back on several times after finishing my seasons.
Then you have MyRise where you create your own superstar and go through what feels like a limitless number of stories. I’ve spent a good amount of time in the mode doing each rivalry and quest to make it to Wrestlemania and win the big one, several times. It’s a really solid mode with some fun storylines to follow, even if it’s still a bit cheesy at points. What’s really cool is that this is the first year you can play a solo female story as well! While it’s crazy it’s not been in before! Better late than never eh?
MyUniverse, while not exactly new to the franchise, does feel a bit like a mish mash of MyGM and MyRise. You can choose to either control one superstar, exisitng or created, and play out their path through the WWE calendar or the entire roster and run your own, well… Universe! To be honest, from the time I spent with it, it felt a bit flat and souless. MyGM and MyRise feel like much better alternatives in my opinion, however if you look at YouTube, you’ll see plenty of MyUniverse playthroughs so it still clearly has it’s audience.
But we’re not done yet! Then there is MyFaction, the card based mode where you earn points to help you build the perfect faction. Think FIFA’s Ultimate Team. It’s probably the mode I was least attracted to and the mode I spent the least amount of time in. Any mode that pushes you towards using real money to purchase virtual currency is one I tend to stay away from. It is a single player mode, so 2K have been keen to express there is no real advantage to purchasing in game currency other than to speed things up for yourself. The mode just feels out dated compared to the rest where things are either in your control or follow stories that require nothing by participation to get the best experience.
Last but not least, in this plethora or modes, is Showcase, the mode that takes you through the career of a legend. This year we get one of the greatest to ever do it, and without a doubt the greatest luchador ever, the iconic, Rey Mysterio. On a personal level, I grew up idolising this man, so I was incredibly excited to relive his greatest hits. The mode blends gameplay, in game cinematics and real life footage to create these hybrid matches. Add on narration and thoughts from the man himself and it’s been a blast playing through the whole showcase.
WWE 2K22 continues to be a creators dream with a huge suite of tools to help create your own customer characters or even existing sports entertainers and professional wrestlers *wink wink*. Of course the tools extend far past just wrestlers, you can build arenas, title belts, entrance videos, move sets and more.
The quality of the creations for the most part is at the higest level as well. Wrestlers can have face scans imported into the game for extra realism (this isn’t new but I still love the feature), and you can import a ton of images for tattos, attires etc. One specific let down for me though are the options for hair which seem to be exactly the same as they were in 2K20! They feel lifeless, bland and dated, especially compared to the hair on existing superstars which has been dramatically improved. It’s also a shame to see Advanced Entrance creations removed as we are stuck assigning existing entrances to created superstars.
The Community Creations section of the game is a pretty incredible place. 2K have enabled cross platform creation sharing, meaning you could have made the best Matt Hardy creation on Xbox and share it to players on Steam and Playstation. This is amazing when you realise just how many incredibly talented creators there are out there. I had a pretty damn convincing CM Punk, Bryan Danielson and Jon Moxley in my game with in the first week with new models being added every day. The search function allows you to easily find the best creations out there too.
One pretty interesting thing we’re seeing in the Community Creations is the inclusion of hidden/locked characters we didn’t know were previously available. A current day Shawn Michaels, short hair and all, is available to download if you have unlocked certain parts in the game from different modes. Then the likes of Cory Graves, usually on commentary and unplayable, and Scarlett, who is usually a manager, are also available to download and use in the game. It’s a cool thing I’m not sure we’re meant to be able to do but we’ll enjoy it nontheless!