WWE 2K22 Review
Extra Features: Local (2-4) and Online (2-8) Multiplayer/Co-op, Leaderboards, Add-On Content
2K Games has been very quiet, in terms of WWE, ever since the release of WWE 2K20, as if their thunder had been stolen. Last year they released WWE 2K Battlegrounds and they announced that there would be no WWE 2K21 because of complications. 2K recently released WWE 2K22 and it certainly has a lot to live up to after the disaster that was 2K20. The tagline for 2K22 is “It hits different” and it certainly knocks 2K20 out of the water in just about every single way. 2K22 is a return to grace and basically the best WWE 2K game thus far, thereby regaining that stolen thunder! WWE 2K19 was my previous favorite WWE 2K game. It’s hard to say that 2K22 is better than 2K19 in every way, but it certainly has more going for it when compared to 2K19. Once again 2K22 is developed by Visual Concepts.
The game has greatly updated visuals when compared to 2K20. Everything is so sharp and clear in this release. Wrestlers have smooth and high-res textures all over them. This certainly makes character creation look a lot better. Some of the arenas have some really nice lighting effects and overall visuals as well. Just like in other 2K WWE games, it’s still noticeable that some wrestlers have way more time spent on the way they look. Some of them have some extremely high-res textures that you won’t find in character creation while others look like they were simply made in the character creation. Compare Johnny Gargano to Goldberg and you’ll see what I mean. Animations are also a lot better and more fluid in this release.
The controls have been completely overhauled for the most part. There is now a light attack and heavy attack button along with a grab button. You must grab your opponent then press in a direction along with the light or heavy attack button to perform a grab. The right thumbstick is still used for transitions, the Y button is still the counter button. Paybacks, Finishers, Signatures, and Submissions are mapped to holding the RT button and pressing one of the face buttons. The game also has combos that you do with Light, Heavy and Grab buttons. These combos can be countered if the defender presses the same button that the attacker uses. The overall control change is fantastic – this setup makes it so much easier to play compared to previous years!
Reversals were always a big part of the gameplay in WWE games and this time there is no limit to how many reversals you can do. There is no reversal meter anymore. The blue meter bars (below your health bar) are for signatures and other moves (such as waking up quicker). Wrestlers can still hold multiple bars of the finisher meter. There is also little use to stamina this time. The stamina bar will only appear as a circular meter when grabbing and carrying your opponent. Your health bar is covered with green and the green bar is taken down from attacks first then the red bar behind it is depleted next. The red bar is your true health and once it falls, it will not replenish unlike the green bar. I’m kind of indifferent to the reversal change (I’ll get to that later in this review), but the stamina change is definitely a plus.
This year, MyRise replaces MyPlayer. MyRise offers a separate storyline for both a male and a female created superstar. From the beginning, you get to choose your usual fighting type along with an occupation. The occupation chosen seems to change the dialogue during the story mode a bit. With each gender, you start out in the Performance Center then get drafted into NXT, Smackdown or RAW. The HUD area allows you to interact with NPCs that offer missions that lead to battles. You get to choose an alignment of either face (good) or heel (bad) and this will affect the missions you get and the dialogue during the story mode.
MyRise has both main missions and side mission. There are many unlockable arenas and custom parts unlocked through MyRise. The majority of missions are your standard matches against a superstar where you must pin your opponent to complete the mission. There are a few objective-based missions here and there but the mode is not completely controlled by objective-based gameplay like 2K19 and 2K20 were. Some missions are received through text messaging or direct messages (DM’s) through social media. I like the use of a social media look for text dialogue rather than having to read superstar’s unvoiced word bubbles in prior games. Speaking of which, all characters that you speak to in MyRise all have voices. Main missions will often lead you through multiple matches with cutscenes in between. There seems to be no continuous story like there was in previous games. Much of the story is self-contained in each mission. After you complete the main missions in a brand (shortly after gaining the championship title usually), you can choose to be traded off to another brand. You can go to Smackdown before Raw or Raw before NXT if you want.
One disappointing part with MyRise is that there seems to be no endgame to it. Once you finish all missions, there is no big payoff of an ending or anything – you just get to keep playing certain missions over and over or you can switch brands then go for the title in that brand once again. Whenever you switch brands, you relinquish your title, so you must constantly regain it if you switch often. The overall mode (for just male) took me around 25 hours, so you’re looking at around 50 hours of gameplay for both male and female, which is quite impressive.
There is also the usual Showcase mode. This time it tells the story of Rey Mysterio Jr. The Showcase plays out much like it did in previous games. You have tons of cutscenes and objective-based matches to go through while the superstar tells his story. This time, the cutscenes and the actual gameplay flow seamlessly together, which is quite nice. For instance, Rey might perform a diving kick off the top ropes in a live action cutscene and it will transition to the same move in gameplay while you take control once again. It does all of this quite well and makes the matches more engaging.
Universe mode is still included. You can play the usual fully customizeable mode or you can play a new superstar mode. The superstar mode gives you the option to pick one superstar and then customize options around that superstar while you play as him/her. That superstar’s matches will appear every week and you’ll only get to engage in whatever show that superstar is currently on and only get to play that one match. I found the new superstar mode a lot better than the usual universe option since I’m not all that big on full customization of shows because it is too time consuming.
MyGM is a new mode that has a similar setup to Universe except you control the manager of the brand you choose. MyGM is all about strategy. You start out with a certain budget and have to make decisions that will raise your profit higher than the opposing brand. You can completely buy some superstars permanently and some can only be bought for a certain number of weeks and then you’ll have to pay them again. Legend wrestlers cost way more, but they come off as worth it because of their popularity. Most matches are simulated and some can be played (only Main Event from what I remember). You are in charge of setting up matches by pitting certain styles against others. For instance, you want to put Cruiser against Giants, Bruisers against Fighters and so on to get the most out of each match. You have to pay attention to the needs of each wrestler as they communicate with you or suffer from a lack of motivation that will lead to negativity in the weeks that follow. Along with other superstars, you can buy unknown superstars for a bargain price and shape them into a popular character – this one of the most fun parts of the mode. You can literally have a janitor become a popular player on your roster!
The main downfall of MyGM is that there isn’t much reason to play it outside of the first playthrough. The first playthrough will give you some unlockables once the mode is beaten, but there is no incentive to continue playing. It needs some sort of unlockables tied only to the MyGM mode to keep me coming back to it. The mode is decent, but it gets stale rather fast. I feel it could have more options to its gameplay overall. It’s a promising mode, but it needs more to it.
MyFaction is another single player mode. This gives you wrestler cards that give you access to wrestlers so that you can take your team through towers full of opponents. Each card has a certain number rating that shows the power of that wrestler. Opponents can be fought on all three difficulties in order to gain rewards. You can unlock and buy other cards to add more more superstars to your team. I found this mode to be an overall good mode for controlling the established superstars. It’s a good break from the usual customized character modes and one that gives reason to play the established superstars. Sure, you can’t pick your favorite superstar from the start (most likely), but it’s fun to try to find your favorites (or maybe new favorites) on your journey through the mode.
Last but not least, the character creation is still a sight to behold like in prior games. With the update in visuals, created characters look even better this time. You can still upload photos to use for your created wrestler or whatever other creation you choose. Creations can be uploaded and downloaded from the creation menu. All customizable options return from prior games in 2K22 except for Entrance Creations. You can no longer splice together parts of an entrance and work them together with others. It’s a bummer, but I have a feeling they took it out from all the bugs that it caused in 2K20. The sheer number of options that you have in other categories really makes up for the small loss. The only flaw with created characters is that the models look rough around the eye and mouth area.
The game still has online modes for up to eight total players. It’s quite amazing how this game can fit so many superstars in the ring along with a ref. You can have matches of 4v4 in online or CPU battles if you choose to do so. The 8 player matches are SUPER chaotic, but still a lot of fun. Character creations are still downloadable from the Community Creations menu along with Images, Arenas, Championships, Shows, Move Sets and MITB briefcases. You can literally customize your own full show from just about every angle if you want to.
The soundtrack to the game is your usual licensed music soundtrack. This soundtrack is a mix of old and new and seems very thrown together. I honestly can’t stand most of the music choices this year. Even though 2K22 rules over 2K20 with an iron first, the game still has problems with random bugs. The bugs are much rarer this time however. I got a few random crashes and sometimes some weird AI behavior. I don’t know if it’s just the way that I play or not, but the referee often got in the way a bunch during matches.
Sometimes the ref would block my superstar from a pin, sometimes the ref would get stuck behind a superstar when rushing over to count a pin and so on. The overall roster for 2K22 seems weak compared to 2K19 and 2K20. There are many superstars on the character select, but a good chunk of them are Legends that are no longer wrestling anymore and there are many versions of some superstars (especially the Undertaker).
Now let’s get back to reversals. The Reversals not having a limit is a double edge sword. Sure, it sucked having to watch your superstar get pummeled when you were out of reversal bars in previous games. Think of it this way though – when they had a limit, you had a defense against people that were really good at performing them and also a defense against a CPU that does them nearly every time. Now, you have no defense against extremely good reversal play! That said, fighting the CPU on Legend mode (highest difficulty) is an exercise in frustration that doesn’t have much strategy to it now. The old meta was to make a really good player or CPU waste all their reversal bars, but now what do you do?
I also feel that it’s ridiculously hard to get an opponent to where you can pin them at times. A finisher is not the end all of when you can finally pin anymore. Directly after a finisher (or sometimes even multiple finishers) I sometimes have superstars that will break out of a pin, which causes many eyebrow raises (especially after two). It seems like it takes a lot more effort this time to fully exhaust a superstar and this is VERY obvious when it comes to 6+ superstar matches when nearly everyone rushes directly after me once I pin an opponent, even after I have nearly depleted all their health gauges. Get used to some VERY long battles, especially when in you’re in a 4v4 tag match.
For those wondering about differences between the Xbox Series and Xbox One version, I did try out the Xbox One X version a bit. This game was played mainly on Xbox Series S. The versions are nearly identical except for a few differences. The loading time seems just a bit longer on Xbox One X. Visuals are also a bit lower resolution on Xbox One. One very noticeable difference that I found is a slight drop in framerate when the camera zooms in close for certain grapples. With Xbox Series, everything runs smooth during gameplay when grapples occur, but on Xbox One, there is a noticeable framerate drop during some grapple sequences.
WWE 2K22 might have problems here and there, but it certainly is no 2K20. The game far outdoes its predecessor. It doesn’t fully beat WWE 2K19 in every way, but it’s definitely the WWE that I’ll be playing from now on. It’s actually super hard to go back to the old controls after playing 2K22. The controls are honestly the best improvement in the game for me. If they can give us even better visuals, tweak the gameplay here and there and liven up some of the modes a bit more, the next game will be truly spectacular. 2K has definitely returned to grace with the release of 2K22 and its basically the best WWE game so far.
+ The updated controls make the gameplay way better!
+ Visuals are updated greatly from 2K20 and animations are more fluid
+ Many single player modes to keep you busy
+ Overall custom creation (for nearly everything) is out of control in this game
- Hit detection can still be off at times
- A few random bugs here and there (MUCH less than 2k20 however)
- Entrance Creation (splicing entrances) is gone
- MyGM is overall lackluster
- Overall weak roster
Final Rating: 85% - WWE 2K22 hits different and it might just bruise your face if you give it that same evil eye that you gave 2K20 since its far better.
Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.