Grapple gaming fans have had to wait well over 2 years to get their hands on a new WWE2K game. With WWE 2K20 being such a bug-riddled mess, the developers bucked the annual release schedule - opting to take their time and get things right. The result? WWE 2K22.
Did their plan work? Is 2K22 a good game? Let’s find out!
The Superstar Look
Right off the bat, it’s fair to say WWE 2K22 looks amazing. At least on the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
From the initial splash screen and the menu, things look crisp, bright, and engaging. This carries through into most aspects of the game.
For the most part, Superstars look true to their real-life counterparts (though there are a few exceptions, The Usos don’t look great for example). The ring, the backstage areas, title belts etc all look great. The Thunderdome arena in particular is meticulously recreated, and it all looks very polished.
Some of the other arenas don’t look quite as good. Raw and Smackdown look and feel a bit small, but that’s only really noticeable during entrances and is quickly forgotten once the action begins.
Overall, a real improvement in an area that WWE games have often received criticism for. Though how much of that is down to the more powerful hardware is difficult to say.
Hit the Music
Audio is definitely more of a mixed bag.
The biggest negative is that some Superstars' entrance music is quiet, and not just a little quiet. Roman Reigns' music, for example, is so quiet it’s actually difficult to hear it kick in when his entrance begins.
It doesn’t seem to be a problem across the whole roster, so perhaps it is down to specific audio files. But it’s very noticeable when it happens and takes away from the immersion that the game does so well to create.
2K22’s range of music is to its credit though. There are hundreds of tracks to use as entrance music or just background music for menus etc. A real positive when menu navigation plays such a large part in certain game modes, but more on that later.
The commentary has had a much-needed overhaul too. The announce teams are closer to what you’d see on Raw and Smackdown (sorry Pat McAfee fans, he didn’t make the cut). A plethora of new lines freshens things up.
In addition, they have implemented ‘dynamic commentary’. This means when certain Superstars square off there will be unique audio to accompany the match that players won’t hear (and wouldn’t make sense) in any other bout.
It’s All About the Game… and How You Play It
The gameplay has had a significant overhaul since 2K20. There are no more reversal limits and stamina bars. This moves things away from the ‘simulator’ style of previous games and gives a slightly more arcade-like feel to matches.
This does mean that players are able to spam the same attacks over and over again. However, they've also replaced the reversal mechanic, and the new system makes it difficult to rely on the same move over and over again. Not only that, but sometimes the player who gets countered will take significant damage. So keeping the opponent guessing means there is less chance they will figure out a pattern and know how to reverse incoming attacks easily.
There are still a couple of persistent problems. The collision can sometimes be wayward, especially in multi-person bouts, and certain moves seem to get reversed far more than they should. But overall the gameplay is easy to pick up for beginners, and surprisingly familiar to returning players despite the changes.
Play Your Way
WWE 2K22 has a total of 6 different game modes. You have Exhibition, Universe and Showcase modes returning from last year, joined by three new offerings in the form of MyGM, MyFaction, MyRise.
Exhibition is exactly what you’d expect it to be; put together any match available in the game and play through it alone or with friends. Not much else to say about this one, it’s a good place to start to check out the extensive roster, get to grips with the controls etc.
For those not familiar with the series, Universe Mode is the sandbox for WWE 2K games, giving the player ultimate control over all aspects of WWE.
Players can set up shows and Premium Live Events, draft rosters, choose Championships, create rivalries, handpick winners, and everything in-between.
There isn’t really an end-game in this mode, but for anyone wanting to play in ‘God Mode’ and run their own promotion exactly as they see fit, this is the place to be.
WWE 2K22 adds a new way to play Universe mode too, allowing gamers the chance to choose a member of the roster and focus on their career rather than the whole company.
It’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t seem well implemented. The player's decisions are often completely ignored, and cut scenes/storylines seem to begin and end randomly, with little consequence.
Showcase mode often divides opinion, mostly because it often focuses on just one Superstar and has previously been little more than a ‘paint by numbers’ experience full of QTEs.
2K20’s Showcase went some way to resolving this, but WWE 2K22 has taken those improvements and elevated Showcase to a whole new level.
Focusing on Rey Mysterio, it throws players into various high points in the masked Mexican’s storied career. They're given a series of tasks to complete, which they can rush through or take their time with depending on personal preference.
The visuals in this mode are stunning. Superstar models look fantastic, as do the retro arenas, rings, and crowds. The whole thing is in a kind of documentary format. Dramatic music plays behind the bouts and Rey Mysterio commentates on certain spots in the match, which often cut seamlessly to actual footage and then back again when it’s time for the player to resume control.
It doesn’t take long to work through everything the mode has to offer, but it’s clear to see how much care and attention went into what is there.
MyRise is an open-ended story mode, letting players create their own Superstar, build up their stats, and work their way to the top of the company.
Starting in WWE’s Performance Centre, players must earn their spot on either Raw, Smackdown or NXT and hunt down the title belts. There's a whole range of storylines to play through as they go.
It’s fun to a point, but it’s often the case that the player's decisions don’t actually amount to a whole lot. Once a particular story comes to a conclusion it quickly gets forgotten.
A good starting point, and hopefully something that we will see developed more in future iterations of the game.
MyFaction is WWE 2K22’s version of FIFA Ultimate Team.
Players put together groups of Superstars and use them to play through online ladders. They earn packs of cards which contain more Superstars, boosts, and cosmetics.
It IS possible to play MyFaction without spending a penny on microtransactions. But players aren’t going to be able to unlock some of the better rewards this way unless they dedicate a LOT of hours to grinding for currency.
A fun mode for collectors, but one that could become an expensive hobby for those who get hooked.
Ever since General Manager Mode bowed out of the WWE games franchise in 2008 fans have been demanding its return, and 2K finally listened.
Sadly, for those that loved the original GM mode, what 2K came up with here just doesn’t cut the mustard.
The game should have been a simple extension to Universe Mode. Just add budgets, a draft, trading etc. Instead, they built from the ground up with bizarre restrictions applied at every turn.
Firstly, the mode can only run for a single year at most. Meaning there is no scope for a second draft or any reason to keep your Superstars happy or healthy post WrestleMania.
The problems don’t stop there though. Players have 4 brands to choose from. There is no option to create a new one, there’s no option to customise titles, mid-card titles don’t exist (and Tag titles didn’t either until a recent patch). There is also no option to create tag teams or factions. And that’s just a handful of the limitations that didn’t need to be there.
Most annoyingly though is that, when the initial roster draft takes place, certain Superstars are just randomly missing and unavailable to draft.
Want to have The Bloodline on Raw? Then you’d better hope Roman Reigns and The Usos are all there in the initial draft. This issue continues throughout the whole game too, with the ‘talent pool’ available changing each week at random.
Despite all of the negatives, there IS a lot of fun to be had here. Managing budgets, creating and building rivalries, taking no-name developmental talent and turning them into the brand's top Superstar makes MyGM a nice change from what other 2K22 modes have to offer.
It’s a shame 2K22 tried to re-invent the wheel here because 2008’s GM Mode did a lot of things better. However, they have already shown the mode can improve with a recent patch that added Tag Titles and a few other changes. So GM Mode’s potential may have promise yet.
The Bottom Line…
Overall WWE 2K22 is a HUGE improvement over 2K20, and a great game in its own right.
In addition to everything mentioned above, the game also has a HUGE creation suite. Players have the ability to customise Superstars, title belts, arenas, videos, shows, and more.
Yes, it has flaws. There are still a few glitches in there that range from comical to game-breaking. Thankfully their occurrences are few and far between, rather than being the near-constant presence they were a few years ago.
Fun on its own or with friends, there’s a lot to keep players coming back for more. And with multiple DLC packages planned and patches/updates coming out surprisingly regularly, WWE 2K22 is one of the best WWE games released for quite a while.