Reviews

WWE 2K22 review - A revolution spoiled by disappointing modes

Featured

7.0

Review

WWE 2K22

Developer

Visual Concepts

Publisher

2K

Reviewed On

PS5

Genres

Sports

MSRP

$69.99

Review copy provided by the publisher

March 9, 2022

Our WWE 2K22 review discusses how it’s a solid foundation for the series’ future while also a disappointment because of Universe and MyGM.

This is the next instalment in the mainline series from 2K and Visual concepts. Yuke’s are now fully gone and 2K21 was avoided so the developers could rebuild the game’s engine and combat.

The end result is an enjoyable and polished plate but with missing ingredients that will leave fans frustrated.

WWE 2K22 review – entrances and graphics

The most notable difference between WWE 2K22 and the disastrous 2K20 is the graphics and entrances. Every wrestler was whacked by the ugly stick in 2K20, but now most of them look photo-realistic and move like charismatic entertainers instead of stiff animatronics.

Roman Reigns arguably has the best entrance with wise man Paul Heyman, but almost everyone looks superb. Long hair sways and hangs onto shoulders realistically, and there are life-like expressions from Sami Zayn rolling his eyes to Seth Rollins prancing to the ring.

The only unfortunate aspect is that the skin on some legends and some of the female wrestlers looks plastic. Most of the women look great, but Mandy Rose and Trish Stratus are pretty unflattering compared to their real-life counterparts.

Another big difference is that the camera follows wrestlers as they make their way to the ring. This provides a presentation almost on par with WWE television, and fans will be thrilled to hear that belts do not clip through clothes such as on Edge’s jacket.

What a manoeuvre

Visual Concepts completely rebuilt combat and it’s the perfect balance between arcade and simulation. It feels strange at first because muscle memory will have you vexing inputs from 2K19, but it’s fast and smooth once you become familiar with the controls.

Combos sound daunting, but this is not Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter. Most wrestlers have the same combos available just with different moves at the end of them, and it’s easy to bluff your way through combinations by smashing light and heavy strikes.

The only issue with the gameplay changes is irish whips. You now have to enter a grapple before you can push an opponent in a specific direction. This means you can no longer pull off running irish whips into the ropes or turnbuckles. It slows down the gameplay and moving in a specific direction is way too cumbersome.

“Every wrestler was whacked by the ugly stick in 2K20, but now most of them look photo-realistic”

There are also no more reversal limits. This is a godsend for many fans, but you will need to play with the sliders if you want a challenge as it’s far too easy to reverse even on legend difficulty.

Returning fans from prior games will notice major changes with the camera. You cannot change the default camera at all, but you probably won’t have the desire to revert back to older games as the new direction is brilliant. The camera follows you when leaving the ring, it cuts to close-ups for specific moves so they feel really powerful, and it doesn’t make the ring feel small even in multi-man matches like a Royal Rumble.

Unfortunately, while the gameplay is excellent, the commentary is still terrible. Hopefully, we get NFL legend Pat McAfee in future instalments, but for now, we have to put up with the world’s most boring trio: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton.

MyGM and Universe Mode

MyGM and Universe Mode are the two most disappointing aspects of this WWE 2K22 review.

It’s hardly worth talking about Universe Mode as zero improvements have been made. There’s still no draft, there are no new cut-scenes, and there are still the same bugs such as an invisible wrestler coming to the ring to confront a champion. There’s still only one-on-one and tag team rivalries, and every programme is the same as 2K20. Oh, and promos are completely gone so more has been removed than added. Yes, there’s Superstar Mode, but this doesn’t change anything apart from removing your power as the booker. And that’s the point of Universe Mode.

“Visual Concepts completely rebuilt combat and it’s the perfect balance between arcade and simulation”

Then there’s MyGM. It’s important to note that the returning General Manager mode is fun even against the AI when set to hard. The financial restraints and draft pools force you to be creative, and the viewership figures and all other logistics are a dream for us nerds. However, it’s way too bare bones.

You can only do a maximum of 50 weeks which is really short if you simulate most matches. MyGM has no mid-card or tag team belts, you cannot trade wrestlers with the opposing brand, and there are too few matches per show. Again, there’s only one-on-one and tag team rivalries, and you cannot play if you book an interference.

Showcase, MyFaction, and MyRise

Showcase is a mode that you either love or hate. Speaking personally, it feels pointless as you can just watch most of the matches on the WWE Network. The presentation is bizarre as generic music plays throughout the matches and this makes it difficult to hear Rey Mysterio’s scripted narration. Visual Concepts’ selection of matches is also baffling as there’s no I Quit Match with Chavo Guerro, there’s no Royal Rumble 2006 victory, and there’s no WrestleMania 22 triple threat against Kurt Angle and Randy Orton.

It makes sense that not every monumental match could be included because some wrestlers are no longer with the E. However, this is why Showcase shouldn’t be a mode as there’s no creative freedom and it’s very limiting. It would be better if the resources and time went into other content.

MyRise is this year’s career and it’s the best mode in the game. Some of the writing still reads like Tommy Wiseau’s The Room and it doesn’t help that the voice work from wrestlers is nowhere near as energetic or captivating as their television promos.

Still, despite the imperfect presentation, it’s a million times better than the story of dumb and dumber in 2K20. From joining the Monday Night Messiah’s cult to battling for the Universal title against Edge and Adam Pearce, the mode really is a hoot. And we definitely recommend a heel playthrough as it is way more enjoyable than acting as a boy scout babyface that would bore even the squeaky clean John Cena.

“MyGM has no mid-card or tag team belts… and there’s too few matches per show”

Finally, there’s MyFaction. This is an entirely new mode from Visual Concepts and many will compare it to MyTeam for NBA 2K22. People who enjoy challenges, as well as collecting cards and building teams, will really enjoy this mode. It’s bizarre that there’s no competitive multiplayer, but this removes any pay-to-win element. Microtransactions are included, but the game doesn’t push you towards spending real-life money, unlike FIFA and NBA.

Missing features and no new match types

Aside from the disappointment of MyGM and Universe, it’s also frustrating that there’s no new match types.

There’s no War Games despite its annual presence for NXT and we still don’t have a special guest referee. 2K asked for fan feedback following the disastrous 2K20 and the third most requested feature was the return of missing match types. Fans who bothered providing feedback may feel ignored as the only feature listened to was the return of General Manager mode. Yes, there’s a completely new backstage area to brawl in, but it’s not a new match type and it’s very bare.

And, away from the lack of new match types, there’s also a massive feature missing: advanced entrances. This is very disappointing because its omission was relayed to fans just days before the game’s launch and via a content creator on social media. As well as that, it ruins the entrances of CAWs as we cannot assign multiple motions nor can we add different pyro and lighting.

The future

Despite its frustrating shortcomings, WWE 2K22 is a solid foundation for the series’ future. Entrances are spectacular and the combat is nearly flawless, so what needs improving next time is replayable modes like MyGM and Universe.

MyFaction would also benefit from a PvP multiplayer component and a mode like Road to WrestleMania would be more enjoyable than the Showcase history channel. If most of these components can be fully realised, then wrestling fans will finally have another video game to look as fondly upon as the SmackDown vs Raws and Here Comes The Pain.

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