WWE 2K22 is a better game than WWE 2K20. There, that's the headline. For a variety of reasons 2K20 was released in such a disastrous state that we called it "a comedy horror title" in our review at the time. Surely taking stock of just how much the WWE license is worth to them, 2K and beleaguered developer Visual Concepts made the brave decision to skip WWE 2K21 entirely, before going on to push 2K22's release back several months. The result is a title that's a welcome return to form, boasting significant gameplay tweaks and practically bursting at the seams with content – almost to a fault. So what's new?
A lot of WWE 2K22’s pre-release marketing has touted its “redesigned engine”, and they weren’t lying. Admittedly the bar set by WWE 2K20 was so low the police would be called if it had somehow sunken lower, but we’re pleased to say everything actually works now! Menus are sleeker and faster, a new lighting engine and wrestler models bring to life the best looking entrances and grappling action we’ve seen from this series to date, and eyeballs, haircuts, and assorted limbs all stay where they’re supposed to with very few visual bugs in sight. We did experience a couple of crashes, and our custom wrestler’s cheeks had a habit of clipping through his mask during MyRise cutscenes, but there’s absolutely no doubt that 2K22 has massively upped its game.
Speaking of which, WWE 2K22 tries really hard to be more accessible. There are a smorgasbord of modes on offer – arguably too many – and Coach Gulak (active WWE Superstar Drew Gulak) is on hand to walk you through all the changes, including the game’s new controls. Complex combinations of triggers, right stick flicks, and face buttons are out, and fighting game-style combos are in. Square and Cross cause you to perform light and heavy attacks respectively, with Circle being grapple. Hit Square four times and you’ll pull off a light combo, hitting Square three times and finishing with Circle will hit a different combo, and so on. All available combos are viewable at any time in the pause menu, effectively allowing newcomers – see: button mashers – to get in on the action relatively easily.
Advanced manoeuvres are of course, also achievable. From a grappling position you can hit Square or Cross to land a light or heavy move, and pressing Circle again will Irish Whip (throw) your victim in a certain direction. You can also combine shoulder buttons and face buttons to attempt springboard, signature, and finishing moves, and for the first time ever, you can even dodge.
In a bold addition to 2K22’s controls revamp, not only will Triangle allow you to counter offence when prompted, but holding it will block incoming strikes, and R1 will cause you to dodge or roll to one side. You can even try to guess which combo your opponent is going for and head them off by pressing that button first, “breaking” their combo and regaining control. It’s a nice idea, but in the heat of the moment we found it far more effective to simply await a reversal prompt, relegating these additions’ importance. Thankfully, however, there have been welcome changes made to the previously challenging submission and pin kick-out minigames, although the former seems almost too easy at times.
MyRise is WWE 2K22’s take on what was previously called MyCareer, allowing you to experience a Male or Female career in WWE. You’ll start by creating your very own superstar, selecting an athletic background, and beginning your journey to fame and fortune at the WWE Performance Centre. While it kicks you off with a scaled back customiser so you can get stuck right into the action, it wasn’t long before we were able to see the improvements made to the creation suite.
And that is to say, they’ve done away with loot packs. A huge barrier to creating the superstar/abomination of your dreams in previous games was the baffling decision to lock away the majority of the game’s customisable content (clothing, hairstyles, beards, moves, entrances, and entrance music) behind in-game currency and loot packs. Mercifully, that decision has now been reversed. While some items are rewards for completing certain objectives in specific modes, the otherwise excellent creation suite from WWE 2K20 has finally been unleashed. Except, you know, without beards causing the game to crash.
Adonis/Monster in tow, you’ll undertake Stories by interacting with the various people you encounter around the locations available to you, and social media plays a huge part in this. Bringing up your social media feed will show posts from other superstars, and if you choose to engage, you’ll soon be heading to the ring to settle the score. The quality of these Stories are massively inconsistent however. Some feature cutscenes and run for four or five matches, while others might task you with beating up a wrestler who badmouthed someone’s podcast with the result being an apology post on social media. Even the choice to play as a Face/Heel (good guy/villain) can be altered at will via a DM with your general manager.
Making these Stories even harder to stick out is the excessive loading times. Across the board, WWE 2K22 seems to load fairly fast, but with MyRise predominantly featuring custom performers, the gameplay flow is frequently as follows: check social media, accept a Story, load for 15 seconds, have a match of low consequence, load for a further 15 seconds, and then do another. The bigger Stories in which you challenge for championships are naturally far more engaging, but so much discourse takes place on social media it can feel tedious at times.
Another issue is taking on the same faces over and over again. The three brands of NXT, SmackDown, and RAW are all available, and you’ll be flitting between them as MyRise progresses, but with performers split evenly between them it won’t be long before you’re getting tired of hearing Raul Mendoza’s entrance music, and he’s still with the company! You see, WWE released a record number of superstars from their contracts during the course of WWE 2K22’s lengthy development, and around 30 of the games’ sizable roster are no longer actively competing. This is all to say that there are moments of brilliance in MyRise, but it feels a lot more like a promising foundation to be iterated on in further releases, than it does a fully realised career mode.
The flagship Showcase mode makes a return this year, featuring the career of cover star and legendary luchador Rey Mysterio. As with previous incarnations of Showcase mode, several of Rey’s most important matches, and one or two questionable ones, are recreated in-engine. You’ll receive prompts in the corner of the screen to perform specific spots and moves, in keeping with the match it’s based on, with in-game cutscenes periodically taking over and seamlessly transitioning into real footage of those matches. It’s a simple concept, and the objectives can occasionally be a bit obtuse, but presentation is everything here, and Visual Concepts has nailed it.
The entire thing is presented as a playable documentary, with a talking head of Rey himself describing his career in depth. Indeed, during the matches themselves, Rey narrates proceedings at key moments, with commentary removed and a cinematic soundtrack added for effect. The result is a fantastic, if a bit short, journey through a storied pro wrestling career. The production values here are far higher than in any other mode, and it’s well worth experiencing for that reason alone.
A new addition to WWE 2K22 is MyFaction. When we first heard about this, we thought it might be a story-driven experience where you’d put together your own team of superstars to challenge the might of legendary factions such as DX or nWo. We’re sure you can appreciate our dismay, however, when we discovered MyFaction is, in fact, a card game. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a card game, and EA has leveraged its FIFA Ultimate Team mode to great effect with fans flocking to it every year. It’s patently clear in this case, though, that 2K want a slice of that pie.
You’ll begin with some free card packs and can purchase more using in-game or premium currency, with the quality of cards ranging from Bronze to Diamond. Assigning four male superstars, four female superstars, and a manager to your line up, you can compete in various matches and challenges to earn additional cards, currency, and other rewards. It also comes with all the bells and whistles of your standard card game fare, with daily login bonuses, cosmetic cards, and powerups. We’re sure this will find its audience, but to us MyFaction felt completely out of place, like a mobile game that had gone astray. It may be prominently featured on the main menu, but we’d be surprised if most players ever give it a second look.
Now it’s time to talk about MyGM – see what we meant about the game being a tad overstuffed? This fan favourite mode hasn’t been seen since WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008, but it might not be the return to glory most players have been clamouring for. Selecting a General Manager and Brand, you are in charge of running the show. From drafting your desired superstars and keeping them happy, to booking the matches, promos, and run-ins to co-ordinating the size of your venue, experience of the backstage crew, and more, with your ultimate goal being to win the ratings war, hit commissioner goals, and stay under budget.
But herein lies the problem: unlike previous GM modes, you don’t quite have the same level of control and your run isn’t indefinite. Instead, you’ll play against the AI or a human opponent for a set time period, with a winner selected upon your run’s conclusion. The minutia of day-to-day management is still quite engaging, with options to sign some truly absurd fictitious free agents being a personal highlight, but we think it would have made far more sense to roll MyGM into MyUniverse, in which you’re essentially a god.
Here you are in total control. You might not answer emails, worry about ratings, or sign the hottest superstars, but you do control the programming. All of it. You can create entire shows from scratch, fully customising them with their own logos, arenas, and versus cards, which is all wonderfully assisted by the creation suite. You can even choose to play through it as a single superstar, turning it into an almost proxy MyRise. Both MyGM and the long-running MyUniverse have their benefits and drawbacks, and we truly hope Visual Concepts can find a way to marry the two without losing the merits of either.
WWE 2K22 is the return to form the WWE 2K series has desperately needed. Skipping 2K21 and delaying the release by five months may have caused the roster to be largely outdated, but the game is stable, plays great, and is practically bursting at the seams with content. An excellent Rey Mysterio Showcase really bolsters the experience, and every other mode (perhaps with the exception of MyFaction) sets a strong foundation for WWE games to come.
From what other sites are saying it's a return to form and the best one in years..
Outdated roster shouldn't that be a plus as loads of them aren't with the WWE anymore, would hate too we the size of the roster with out legends and all those who left got fired
Seen a few sites say rey mysterio mode is by far the worst single player content. Shallow and super short but it's supposed to unlock some wrestlers
I really want this game but I will wait for a sale, because if you remember 2K19 and 2K20 those games were on sale within a month or two.
Good job by Visual Concepts and 2K for bringing this series back to form, now I'm just curious what the AEW Game will look like.
Can I be Gangrel?
Interestingly however, talk is that WWE are actively shopping around for a new dev, with the likes of EA approached, so 2K may not get the opportunity to build on this
@QBGaming12 "I'm just curious what the AEW Game will look like."
Yeah definitely I'm curious how well the WWF no mercy guys can translate that old school gameplay to modern times and AEW has the roster to pull it off.
As for WWE 2K22 it will be dirt cheap in a few months just like NBA2K every year, I paid $7 for NBA 2K21 the same year it came out. I don't know how people can pay full price every year for these annual games.
Very much looking forward to a wrestling game which works and isn’t from 2018.
Also just realised who wrote the review! Nice to see Barbara Pis given the 2K22 treatment 😂
I'll never understand how this is considered a sport.
I used to have to watch this crap with my boy on Sunday mornings on Sky and I hated it.
Mind you, Rey Mysterio was worth a watch.
Happy to see a return to form after I managed to somehow platinum the last game.
Just seen Logan Paul is going to be DLC for this and couldnt be happier. I will happily buy this game to deliver endless RKOs, Stunners, Curb Stomps, Spears, Spirit Bombs, Superman Punches, Styles Clashes, and F5s to one of the most unpleasant people on the planet. I would call him something else but the site wouldn't appreciate me dropping C bombs lol
Not great news is it finally getting the games on track but if EA get the rights I'm not filled with confidence
@hypnotoad To be fair, F1’s a sport and that had a hand-picked winner specifically designed to boost Netflix views. So it’s not any worse than that.
Expect many of us will be doing the same , horrible excuse for a human being!
That would be nice.
I want a remaster of Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain!
I played the crap out of that game on PS2 back in the day.
@TheRedComet @PlayStationGamer3919 There’s too many barriers to remaster those games. Chris Benoit being one glaring issue.
Oh, @Confused_Dude. You said "hit square" when you could have easily said "push square". So disappointed ...
@nessisonett used to love watching him wrestle as a pre teen. I always used to think he had the biggest neck muscles in the world. Will go in to nothing post wrestling.
Nice to know that this turned out much better than 2K20. Could be the game to get back on track
@TheRedComet I loved Ultimo Dragon on that one i and i would love to play it again i loved the gameplay and the roster with that one.
You’re right on that.
They could pull a Nintendo and make him a fictional character, like they did with Mike Tyson when they changed him to Mr. Dream.
Could call him “Mr. Wrestling” and give him all of Benoit’s moves. But different skin tone, face textures, and remove his name.
It’s my favorite wrestling game of all time, bar none.
I grew out of wrestling not long after HCTP released. So it was sort of the end of an era for me. Thus all the nostalgic feelings I guess.
@nessisonett I can't stand F1 either mate.
It's football and cricket for me and nuffink else matters.
I quite like watching snowboarding though.
@hypnotoad Then why bother commenting on a page about wrestling then 😂
@nessisonett Because I had to watch it with my son for years.
Then he grew up and realised it was a loada w*nk as well.
@hypnotoad understand the debate on whether its a sport or not but interested to know when you were watching it. Mid 80s and right through the 90s it was great but the quality dropped massively when they moved into the family friendly era in the 2000s. I think your age would be important too as watching it for the first time in, say in your 40s, is never going to have the same impact as growing up with it as kid
Mechanics reminds me of the old 64/PS1 games. Not for everyone but I definitely preferred the arcade style.
@Deljo Early 2,000's
@nessisonett I think you really need to not get that wound up about other people's opinions really.
@hypnotoad To be fair I consider it a stunts show with occasional bits of comedy rather than an actual sport. It is pretty impressive what moves those guys can pull off sometimes though. Not that I’m a huge fan but it’s fine as long as you don’t pretend it’s something it’s not
@Voltan I've just treated meself to an Xbox Series S so I don't care that much really mate.
@hypnotoad 😀 good point
Going to get this. I didn't think 2k20 was that bad. Haven't had any bugs
Pleasantly surprised might pick this up In a sale.
Shame there’s no Daniel Bryan as he’s my favourite pro wrestler, but they’ve got like 30 released wrestlers on there.
Also some of the ratings are bizarre Elias is 75 & Mr McMahon is a 76…. .
Professional wrestling is really an unappreciated artform, the skill & craft it takes to pull off the things they do every week, live in front of thousands in person & millions on TV, with little margin for error is impressive to me. A lot of people don't like it simply because they either don't get it or they got fooled into thinking it was real as children & now resent it. It's complete gaga fun. It's not serious, it's like if superheroes existed in real life. I enjoy it for what it is, which is some very talented & capable athletes doing ridiculously fun & athletic & daredevilish things to entertain me. I love it & have no shame in that. People are coming around to it nowadays when they open up to the idea of liking something that's so nerdy to admit you enjoy. It's really simply just fun if you let go of these notions of it being "fake." You don't ***** talk a movie or TV show for being fake, so I never understood the reasoning for holding it against professional wrestling.
I've been playing this for the past two days & it's absolutely bonkers fun. It's better than 2K19 easily, the best thing they did was introduce combos & trash the whole 3 reversal limit. It's so much more fun to play & feels more like a real match. Super fun multiplayer & GM mode is fun but has some weird flaws. The best wrestling games ever made are still WCW/NWO Revenge & No Mercy...AEW hired a bunch of people who worked on those for their game, so I'm super hopeful it's good. This game though is my favorite WWE game on modern platforms & will be a great local multiplayer game for my roommates & I. Highly recommended!
Since when is having a lot of modes to pick from a bad thing? You like a mode: you play it, you don't like a mode: you don't play it. I really don't see the problem. To be honest, they should bring back Road to Wrestlemania too.
@Lup I can see the argument that maybe if the developer had dedicated more resources to two or three of the modes then it could have improved all of them further, and those extra modes may not be missed anyway.
@get2sammyb Okay, I can see that. But most of the modes were in the older games. The only new ones are GM and Faction, and GM was a fan request.
But yeah, in a different wording, I get it. Thanks!
@GalacticBreakdown but it’s fake though ? they’re talented actors and it’s a creative form of entertainment. i don’t keep up with wrestling but is WWE really the pro-league for wrestling ?
i wouldn’t be surprised though , since the NFL is rigged at times and classified as “entertainment “
Can we just bring back Smackdown vs Raw?
@nomither6 by fake, I mean it's not a legitimate competitive contest. The outcomes are predetermined. The physicality & such is real and done in a trained/disciplined way so they don't injure each other too badly.
It is in the sense that in WWE, it's the highest paid league. There are other companies particularly in Japan but also elsewhere with more experienced, more disciplined, & higher level talent than in WWE but when it comes to getting paid the most for your work, WWE is the top earning company.
@TheRedComet Yeah i hate the real thing with all the fake Injustice. 🤪
But i loved that game Yukes is the master.
@GalacticBreakdown oh , gotcha 👍
Said exactly the same, and I like both.
I like that it's like a cross between pantomime theatre, sports and a soap opera. Won't deny some of the stuff is total dross, but absolutely loved CM Punk and MJF on AEW.
As a non-USA resident, we don't have much with this show wrestling. It's not aired on TV over here or anything. But i always liked the look of it.
Is this easy to pick up and play with a friend when you never played a game like this before?
Will button mashing do?
shows how long I haven't watched WWE when random celebrities are now DLC for a WWE game.
(Although I remember when Fred Durst was in one of the games in the past)
@nessisonett I have no interest in F1 at all, but please explain this? Who is the handpicked winner for Netflix? I don't get it? What did I miss?
Man I’d love a build like that featuring actual characters; of yesteryear. Er… century. Yestercentury 😟
I love resling I would love to play this game
@Rob_230 What a match made in heaven.... WWE games vs the Frostbite engine!!😱😂
Think the last WWE game i touched was 2k13? (PS3) Mostly due to a wrestlemania moments mode having classic matches/characters I grew up with as a kid!
If the rights did change hands,guess this might become a physical collectors item if it enters the digital black hole!
Maybe not the most technically accurate game, but still have a soft spot for the WWE Wrestlefest arcade game!👍
I haven’t watched wresting for ages, but I’m tempted to give this a go. Looks great fun.
@davesmith01 clearly your parents are big wrestling fans though 😀
They still have those crappy table physics where the table just explodes into pieces when someone goes through them.
Do people still watch this US steroid pumping garbage?. Seriously?. Stunt men doing moves and faking actions. Only America can make something like this into a success and that's not a good thing..but, that's my thoughts about the real thing.
Wrestling games though can be good, very good. I have played some good ones. From Arcade to consoles....Not played a modern wrestling game since No Mercy on the N64....
@hypnotoad It's considered sports entertainment. It's just athletic live theater.
I don't think anyone really calls it a "sport".
@Mezzer I don't see what's wrong with liking wrestling. I would rather watch it than watch a boring ass game of baseball or soccer. But everyone likes different things, and wrestling is quite popular even now days. I'll never really understand why some people hold such deep hatred for it.
I'm also pretty sure after the whole steroid scandal, it hasn't been a thing in years. A lot of the wrestlers now days are much smaller compared to the 80's & 90s, other than a certain wrestlers like Brock Lesnar.
Still playing WWE2K14, so I'm good till 2033.
Thank Goodness I've only played this at a friend's house and didn't waste money on this Garbage!
2K really needs to give up the license to the wwe Games. The Last good/Fun Wrestling Game I've played was WWF No Mercy on Nintendo 64!
Also, I'm looking forward to the upcoming AEW Wrestling Game!
@QBGaming12 I'm Buying the AEW Game on Day 1.
Each to their own but I find it staggering that there is a market for these games. Obviously I’m not the target audience but how are these games fun? Grapple-fests which to me, seem like watered-down unfun fighting games, when there are so many amazing and complex fighting games out there.
Do people like wrestling games outside of America? I’d be interested in the numbers here.
@MysticFartRipper There’s nothing wrong with liking wrestling games but what’s the appeal of watching WWF style stuff? It’s theatre with admittedly talented athletes, but theatre all the same. Every outcome is predetermined. I guess I don’t get it.
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