Following the sheer debacle that was WWE 2K20 (it still stings to think about), 2K Sports had a world of work ahead of it with WWE 2K22. Not only did it have to win back the fans it turned off with its poorly lacking wrestling endeavor, but it had to prove to WWE itself that it was still worthy of being its champion, instead of the team at EA. Now the real question is: did it do the job?
Surprisingly, yes. Despite some hiccups within its modes and a roster that seems to be seriously outdated, WWE 2K22 returns with a vengeance. It puts a chokehold on a new gameplay system that’s fun, along with a presentation that puts aside the glitches (and the bad looking wrestlers) in favor of something far more authentic. The end result isn’t perfect, but it’s a return to form that’s the equivalent of any good comeback story.
Keep It Simple, Sonya
Whereas WWE 2K20 kept things out of touch with a broken gameplay system, WWE 2K22 is laser focused. Instead of overcomplicating things, it relies on combos, counters, power moves, specials that are easy to activate, and even out-of-the-ring shenanigans that all feel great. It’s as if Visual Concepts actually listened to the fans and gave them exactly what they wanted.
If you need a refresher, not to worry. At the start of the game, Drew Gulak walks you through each step of the control system, from the strikes to the counters to executing some really cool running moves. The AI is nicely dialed in as well, and you can make them as easy and difficult as you want to.
It’s a shocker how natural WWE 2K22 feels, a nice balance of simulation and arcade in one neat little system. It does have its slip-ups every now and then, but at least they’re not a common occurrence. You know, like in WWE 2K20.
Looks So Good, You’d Think You’re Staring At Cena
Along with gameplay that brings success, WWE 2K22 also benefits from a strong presentation. Part of that is due to the visuals, with wrestlers that actually look like – gasp! – wrestlers. Not to mention the arenas coming to life just like their real counterparts, and entrances so authentic, you’d swear you were setting up your own PPV. (More on that below.)
As for the audio, it’s not bad. The music themes for each wrestler are present, and the sound effects are authentic, right down to the closest turnbuckle slam. That said, the commentary with Michael Cole and Corey Graves does get tiresome at times. It would’ve been nice to mix things up with guest announcers, such as Wade Barrett. Fans won’t mind though.
If one thing comes up short in the presentation department, it’s with the oddball wrestler selection. There are over 160 stars in the main game, and most of them offer a wonderful mix of classic superstars and current ones. That said, several have since left the company, making the roster seriously outdated. Keith Lee, Tegan Nox, William Regal, Samoa Joe…they’re all here for some reason. It’s a strange thing to see, but better too many than not enough, right? (Don’t forget Create-a-Wrestler too, in case you feel like creating someone like, say, Dean Ambrose again for the roster.)
WWE 2K22 Grapples With a Gaggle of Modes
Where WWE 2K22 comes packed is with its modes. Along with the ability to select from a variety of quick matches, there are a lot of in-depth ones here.
Perhaps the highlight is Showcase, which takes a close look at the career of Rey Mysterio. While it would’ve been nice to have additional superstars (like, say, Shawn Michaels?), this is an excellent choice. The way his interview clips intertwine with the action is a thing of beauty.
MyRise also lets you create the legacy of your dreams, starting in the Performance Center and then going through NXT 2.0, and eventually to the main roster. There are moments that are a bit odd, like only Vince McMahon can pen. That said, there’s still some fun stuff here, though the mode comes to a close way too soon.
MyGM isn’t bad either, giving you the chance to direct your own WWE show however you see fit. This is much better, with a lot more creative control to show what you can do. I do wish there were more General Manager types, but, overall, its variety is still good fun.
Universe Mode is pretty good, but don’t be surprised if you spend more time with MyFaction. It offers more ingenious tools when it comes to creating a faction from cards you unlock through the game. (Fortunately, microtransactions are out the window in favor of good ol’ fashioned earning – thanks, 2K.) With the variety of challenges thrown your way, you’ll be busy for a while.
Overall, the modes are good, but don’t be surprised if you spend most of your time in quick matches. After all, The Rock isn’t going to wrestle Triple H all by himself, right? (For that matter, Kevin Owens could use a Wrestlemania challenger.)
It’s a New Day, Yes It Is
There are little hitches that keep WWE 2K22 from championship status, like some modes coming up short and that weird roster. That said, though, there’s more than enough to make up for it. The gameplay is incredible compared to previous games, and well balanced to boot. The presentation looks good too, though the audio needs a little slight work. We also have to give a shout-out to Showcase, because Rey Mysterio definitely deserves the love.
This does paint a promising future for the WWE 2K brand, which we hopes stays with 2K. It’s definitely living up to the hype again, and hopefully we’ll see more down the road outside of the upcoming DLC. Guess we’ll have to see. In the meantime, enjoy that headlock!
VIBE Score: 8/10
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