What an amazing thing a year off for a game can be. Since the absolute disaster of WWE 2K20, there have been many murmurings about WWE taking their games elsewhere if WWE 2K22 was not a success. I am here to tell you today this game has traveled the path of redemption.
With WWE 2K22, you can get right into the action through the exhibition mode. Here there were a plethora of different match types, everything from a regular one-on-one, to Ladder Matches, all the way to Hell In A Cell. After a brief tutorial with Drew Gulak to teach the new controls and combo system, you can jump right into your first match. The selection of match types feels like 2K wanted to add as much variety as possible.
When it comes to the WWE 2K22’s gameplay there were not many issues. During the matches, everything flows smoothly except for a couple of awkward collisions. If not timed correctly when the opponent is coming off the ropes, you hit each other and it just looks odd. The controls are on point especially when it comes to reversals. I can’t tell you how many times my opponent and I went back and forth reversing each other’s moves with reversal after reversal. Weapon shots and situations where wrestlers fall on the weapons make more sense as well. There is no accidentally putting a wrestler through a table.
The biggest innovation is the introduction of the Combo Breaker system which makes the fast-paced action that much better. When opponents are beating you down and have you in a combo, you have to ability to try and predict which action is next in the combo and press the same button to break or reverse the combo. Allowing you to get one up on your opponents and hopefully take back the advantage. The controls were pretty simple to pick up and relearn and have been simplified from the previous installment. WWE 2K22 seems to want to attract new and returning players alike and bring them back into the action. This will provide longevity to the game’s life cycle.
WWE 2K22 has one of the best Showcase Modes you can experience. The Showcase Mode is by far the highlight and most impressive mode in the game by far. In it, you get to follow the twenty-plus year career of the Legendary masked luchador Rey Mysterio. Rey is a personal favorite of mine, so I might be partially biased in how much this mode resonated with me. During the course of 11 matches, you get to recreate some of Rey Mysterios’ key victories and one loss. Each one of these intense matches provides you with objectives it wants you to complete. Most of these objectives aren’t too difficult, with the exception of the match with Batista. These objectives try to push you to recreate some of the exact moments that happened in these matches. You get pushed to point of triggering flashbacks to actual archival footage from the matches.
The transitions from gameplay to footage were silky smooth. Despite it interrupting the gameplay, I found that I didn’t mind. I was able to find my flow again after the transition back to the match with relative ease. The documentary feel enhances the gameplay and helps new players to understand what goes into making an entertaining match. Rey explains why certain moves happen at particular times and conveys the emotion and excitement of the moment very effectively.
You can see the excitement on Rey’s face as he goes over what was happening. The final match featuring Dominik and Rey felt truly special in a way that previous career modes never really have due to their relationship as father and son. With all that said, this mode is less about challenging you from a gameplay perspective as it is drawing you into the world of WWE and the amazing stories that get told in wrestling matches.
Return Of My GM
The highly anticipated return of My GM mode turned out to be kind of a letdown. Many people will enjoy parts of it but overall it was kind of basic due to not much variety. During regular shows, you will need to manage three-match slots and two promo slots. Meanwhile, for big Pay Per Views, you get a couple more match and promo slots. Even when you select match types there are only a few options. You get to pick singles or tag team matches and then four-match concept types. That’s it. It is so barebones that it felt like I was doing something wrong or they just did not want to put too much focus here.
New to WWE 2K22’s GM Mode is skill power-up cards/abilities which add a unique dynamic. Cards let you interfere with a competing GM’s show, help your wrestler’s stamina, or reduce pricing costs. It is a good touch but did not do enough to alleviate the simplicity of the mode. You only get to play for a set amount of time and your run as GM is not indefinite. When your time as a GM is up, the winning GM is selected. Playing for fifteen weeks and reaching the end I was left with a feeling of “that’s it?” If you can get past the little variety and letdown of this mode, you might be able to enjoy small parts of it, but really it just feels undercooked.
When it comes to money-hungry modes WWE 2K22 has its own version of Ultimate Team. Personally, I have never really enjoyed these types of modes, so I will say I spent the least of my time here. You get to open packs of cards and select a group of wrestlers to make up your faction. There are daily objectives that you can use your superstars to earn you points which can help unlock more cards or upgrade ones you have. You also get access to a manager card which can provide different benefits based on how well they work with your superstars.
With this mode, we get the introduction of microtransactions to make it easier and buy packs. The superstars you have access to from the beginning are not the greatest, so if you are looking to go far quickly you will have to grind non-stop or spend that money. So far there are not many packs to choose from. The currency can be purchased in bundles ranging from $1.99 all the way up to $99.99. With the NWO 4-Life version, you receive packs as part of the purchase, but ultimately this mode is serving a collector-obsessed mentality that feels predatory. Not only that, but there are too few packs to even make this little bit feel fulfilling.
When it comes to the slightly improved My Rise mode, it serves as the career mode. Here you create a superstar and go from humble beginnings in the performance center to making your way to stealing the show on one of the main shows. The addition of making your own decisions and your choices affecting outcomes and people’s perceptions of you feels is great. From your first choice of telling on a security guard for letting you in the performance center early to even trying to celebrate WCW with One Night Nitro. There are a plethora of avenues you can travel and stories you can experience. All this is mostly delivered via in-game social media. Being able to respond to certain superstars and essentially pick a storyline to go into was a good feature that was well implemented and enjoyable.
Some superstars lend their voices to this mode to try and make the experience more immersive. Unfortunately, many of these performances seem slightly stale and were probably recorded during quarantine because of the differences in the sound quality. This is also the mode where I experienced awkward collision detection, including getting stuck in a barricade, and really long load times. These unfortunate issues could drive some people away, but overall the positives outweigh the negatives.
When playing through My Universe in WWE 2K22, it, like so many other aspects of the game, also feels basic. There were no major innovations made here from previous titles. This mode is pretty much playing through a match card with your superstar. The one thing I can say that was a good touch was if you win Money in the Bank, you can cash the briefcase in on the champion to try and get the championship. There are a few other things this mode allows you to do as well, but not much. Though just because it is basic doesn’t mean it is not quite enjoyable.
You pretty much just select a superstar and play through matches in hopes of capturing the championship. You don’t get to really guide your superstar a lot through the mode. Everything is set in place for the most part with only a few customization options. For example, picking your next match type, starting a tag team, or trying to get a match a Wrestlemania. There are a few other choices available as well.
WWE has made many decisions about its roster, notably the release of many of them. The roster is out of date, but ironically the out-of-date roster gives people a little more choice in terms of wrestler selection. An interesting feature here is that you can play as your favorite superstar for multiple seasons if you choose to do so rather than just ending and then having to restart as the superstar. This is similar to the older NBA 2K create a superstar model.
Adding these things to the standard sandbox concepts associated with WWE 2K22’s Universe mode was another good step in the right direction. Still, the mode could use some more innovations here to spice things up like video packages, actual storylines, or something like My Rise where you actually get to make important decisions. Overall though too many times matches seemed random and did not make a lot of sense why they were happening, they just seemed thrown together.
Creation Suite And Online Play
Just like every other WWE 2K game, the high-quality character creator goes beyond just customizing facial and body features and lets you craft your entrance, poses, move-sets, and finishers. You can find yourself getting lost for hours just creating your own favorite superstars. Also in this game, you can create your own championships, victories, arenas, shows, money in the bank, videos, and even custom matches. Entrances though are not nearly as in-depth as they once were, which is a letdown here.
When it comes to the online mode there seem to be a plethora of connections issues. Due to these disconnects, I did not get to experience much of the online play. The best thing most people will enjoy with the online features is the fact that you can share your creations across all platforms with this game. This is definitely one of the top features added to WWE 2K22.
Overall WWE 2K22 on my Series X seemed like a breath of fresh air, and it is well down the path to its former glory. My experience overall was a positive one even though we did experience some minor issues. I would prefer the roster to be correct and up-to-date. The bad thing is though if the outdated roster does get updated, the selection of superstars will go down. The Showcase by far was the absolute best part, especially with the documentary feel that Rey Mysterios’ narration provides. Even though some of the modes feel a bit stripped down over what they could be, they filled out the package enough to make it feel substantial.
This game is welcoming to all players new and old alike and will provide hours of great gameplay. WWE 2K22 seems to have a partial roadmap already and has even already announced some of its upcoming DLC. It will have many different people from Rob Van Dam, Ronda Rousey, Yokozuna, Stacy Keibler, to even Mr. T, Machine Gun Kelly, and some others. Even with the issues experienced here, I can say overall the game was good. The future for the 2K series after this release seems bright, and I am excited to see how they continue to redeem themselves.