WWE 2K22 is a good game. If you enjoyed WWE 2K19 as much as I did (yeah, 19.. not 2K20.. ugh), then there’s no doubt that you’re going to pour many hours, days and months into the latest WWE video game. 2K22 is also the first true wrasslin’ title on current gen consoles — a wondrous revelation that’s, at many times, bafflingly problematic.
With that out of the way, let’s break down and whiskey score each performance area and game mode this year, shall we?
PRINCE [Mostly] PRETTY
No shocking the critical system here, especially since WWE 2K finally receives its proper NextGen aesthetic: we talkin’ graphics, marks. The game is largely fabulous to the naked eye, as most — specifically WWE’s biggest superstars — look downright perfect. And other than the vastly improved lighting, arena environments do appear unchanged from prior generations, though. While I haven’t bothered doing any tech research with Xbox One X & PlayStation 4 Pro visuals compared to that on Xbox Series S/X and PS5 consoles, WWE 2K22 looks overall delightful via my Series X on a full 4K/HDR 60″ Sony LED.
With special lighting effects, superstar entrances are worth spending the few minutes to take in, and wrestlers are further expressive in their introductions and pack more in-match charisma than ever before. Some WWE Legends, female superstars and current mid-carders are a mixed bag, as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Ric Flair, Carmella, Mandy Rose, MVP, Roddy Strong, etc. are harder to look at than Bastion Booger unless you want a laugh. But no amount of realistic sweat and blood drips can save the hair. Despite improved animations for hair flow and natural sway, the textures are absolutely the worst I’ve seen thus far on any PS5 or Xbox Series game. How Visual Concepts couldn’t figure out how to improve upon the stringy hair pixels and some super plastic female skin in two years is truly mystifying.
Even the top-notch Community Creators have expressed their frustration with managing the hair options (or severe lack thereof). These peeps are doing their best with what’s given for mops, so definitely don’t skip out on dishing your fav CAW master an upvote. They’ll be thrilled to know that championship titles won’t clip through any of their hardworking attire designs, however.
The actual wrestling moves, holds, submission locks and strikes have generally looked profound in this series. There’s a reason why hardly anyone discusses them: much like WWE 2K22‘s sister hoops title, there’s no game of its nature that can hold up to how the game moves, performs and animates the actual art of pro wrestling. 2K even threw in a surplus of new indie-rific movesets too, either courtesy of prior NXT stalwarts or from talents all over the world. Most of the ahe actual wrestling in the game in, indeed, “awesome”.
Interacting with weapons and environments is another matter, and no better than a real chair-shot to the head. Press LB/L1 to grab a chair towards the bottom half part of the ring and your superstar may be grabbing the ropes out of frustration instead. Get a bunch of pals together or mix it up in a multi-person tornado rules match and watch the bugs begin. Thank the Monday Night Messiah that there are no reported game-breaking glitches of 2K wrestling past yet; hell, I’ve yet to witness any shapeshifting/non-Fiend mat-morphing. But do expect some strange teleportation and stalling (during Showcase mode, JBL just decided to stand there and get counted out then face a man less than half his size on Judgement Day!). Though despite these occasional amateurish frustrations, 2K thankfully opted for a decent size can of Raid to spray away most of the pain.
Visuals = 4/5
Animations = 3.75/5
LIGHTS, CAMERA, SAXTON
It’s a WWE 2K game and “you know what that means” — more Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton! Thankfully, they’re at least acceptable in this year’s edition. In fact, the best commentary in the game comes when you’re not playing the game at all. Choose a 2-player 1-on-1 match and let the controllers sit. And sit. And sit. And it’s a DAMN(!) shame the commentary isn’t this wonderful when you’re actually participating in the match. That said, this daunted trio does call the action far more accurate move-to-move than any previous edition.
My biggest gripe? NBA 2K22 has eight announcers in their game; WWE 2K22 has three–the same damn three ever year. Budget issues are a safe bet, but getting the accurate broadcast teams in next year (Pat McAfee to SD! Jimmy Smith to Raw! Vic and Wade on NXT! Good Ol’ JR, Tony Schiavone and Excalibur.. oh.. dammit, wrong game!). 2K22 also offers up a much needed menu presentation overhaul. The clarity and simplification is greatly appreciated, and it’s easier to navigate through through modes, creations/downloads, online tools and options than ever before.
Camera work is the most important (and perhaps underrated) improvement in 2K22. Gone are the flash-cuts 2K so desperately and questionably tried to emulate in previous entries from typically dizzying WWE broadcasts, as the hard cam now follows you whenever you leave the ring and roam around the outside. The zooming in of a high-impact move also feels natural, and the camera will also cut into split-screen if opponents create a bit of distance, especially in backstage brawls. Sadly, the backstage matches are vertically expanded in size only, awesome for a top balcony plunge or two, but contained in a far tighter width than the multi-location locker-room areas of 2K19. There are less interactive environments, too.
Presentation = 3.5/5
ARCADE ELITE WRESTLING
What happens in the squared circle is the most polarizing element this year, as almost the same number of players appear to enjoy the arcade button-mashing blitz of 2K22 as those who prefer the more technical/sim min-games of the past. I happen to like the changes, and have grown to enjoy the new gameplay over a week’s span. It definitely pushes the pace of the 1-on-1 match, and allows casuals to jump into a 4-player plus mode without hesitation. Don’t worry; you don’t need to learn complex, chaining commands. Think X, X, A, B, or X, A, X, A, etc. Minus a few special moves, it’s almost identical gameplay for any one of the nearly 200 WWE, NXT, WCW, ECW and AEW (*chuckles*) wrestlers on the roster.
One element that just hasn’t hit me yet is the defense. I keep pressing Y to counter (actually, I kept press RT/R1.. the old counter button), when there are also blocks and dodges. Blocks and dodges in a wrasslin game? Yeah, that’s gonna take a while to get used to. At least this year you can counter these combos if you tap the same button as your opponent. That mini-game of “smash the right button” is an intriguing one in itself (“C-c-c-combo breakerrrr!!”) and prevents a Tugboat load of spams.
Collision is vastly cleaned-up, despite groggy irish whips that can no longer be executed on the run. I also bump into my opponent off the ropes far more than hit a move. But the hottest game-changer for me? Pins! Oh, pinning and getting pinned in previous iterations has been awful. Now you just smash the A button to your hearts content to kick out, just like you should. It can become a heart-wrenching exercise if your opponent is crafty with the cradles and small package reversals. Zack Sabre Jr. would surely be in his element.
Gameplay = 3.75/5
JERICHO APPRECIATION SOCIETY
Oh, what a fun ride this week has been. It began with many players — nearly led by yours truly — not knowing whether Community Creations this year would be CrossGen. CrossPlat confirmed, yes, but could Xbox Series/PlayStation 5 users download creations from those their older Xbox One/PS4 editions? We didn’t know because “Dre Forgot About Dre”. Longtime WWE 2K Create-A-Wrestler (CAW) creator Dre41 didn’t initially link his 2K Account, and players were let down when they couldn’t find the (still on-da-One) YouTuber’s esteemed creations. Once linked, it was a go, and many AEW fans had their wish: Dre41’s wonderful Jade Cargill, mighty Hangman Page, iconic Sting, and more dreamy CAWs were about to hit our downloads.
Thus, the best news ever was confirmed in the flesh: CAWs are both cross-platform and cross-gen this year! Whooooooooooooo.
Then, the CAW GOAT of all CAW GOATS Defract “brought the walls down” with arguably the finest CAW to date, Judas himself — Chris Jericho. And lest we not forget longtime CAWmunity bossman WhatsTheStatus, holding it down for all the diehards needing their WWE roster updates and updated appearances. It’s only been a week, but I’m pretty satisfied with the low number of high quality CAWs downloaded already thanks to these stalwarts and more (Zaddik, Iconic2K, FriedCaws, GekoDoesCaws, AzorthiousCaws, Jena_Sting, RizarJay also deserve the love).
So, problem time. Only 100 CAWs, 1000 logo/image limit. Still. It’s been 2-years, 2K. You’re also working on next-gen consoles with cloud-based saves and storage, extremely faster processing speeds, etc. etc. Why the limitations? You had a year off and nearly 10 other WWE 2K/THQ games of this nature to build upon. We once had 250 CAWs on a previous generation. What? And while 100 can be something to deal with for now (unless you’re a complete wrestling nut like me who wants to download 20+ Joshi superstars and still have room for The Batman, Power Rangers, and The Gobbledy Gooker), the 1000 logo/image is just the worst. I have around 20 CAWs and already 200 logos downloaded.
So, ain’t “No Chance In Hell” I’ll be able to hit 100 anyway. These restrictions, after years of making this an annual game, on these powerful new consoles is just horseshit. If it’s a restriction from WWE, I might have empathy for that barrier. But let’s be transparent. Why the limitations? Also, not being able to create Advanced Entrances for CAWs this year — including entrance videos — is a disaster, with no multiple motions, lightning or pyro. This sounds more like QC issue with all the B.S. Visual Concepts had with 2K20. That I get.
At least we’re able to add renders to CAWs this year and that’s been an absolute game changer. Match-up screens can now show googled images of your CAWs, which mesh in well (if you can manage to upload the right size) with other in-game superstars. You can also add render images to in-game superstars alternate attire. Very neat. Creators can also create arenas, championships and edit existing ones, to boot. Thus, funky hair and weirdo body morphing options aside, Community Creations seems to be in solid shape. Even when the servers act sus, they’re at least not total trash like most of the previous WWE titles. Now get to expanding on those limitations, 2K!!!
Creation Suite = 4.25/5
SEAN CROW vs. REY MYSTERIO
Thank the wrestling gods for MyRise. I’m in love with this mode. At first I was scared that MyCareer dude would, again, look more like Jimmy Jacobs (or more or less anyone from Wrestling Empire) than yours truly, but this year we pulled it off. Despite the generic character voice (at least give us some options, damn it), I present to you.. the O.G. G.I. Joe.. Seeeeeeeaaaaaan Crowwwwwww.
Too sweet! 🤘🤘
MyRise is the GOAT. Interactions with the WWE Performance Center’s Road Dogg and HBK are a blast, and these two dudes initially throw everything at you on your rise to stardom, from mysterious legends of the past (both real and fantasy) to back against the wall scenarios against top stars of each brand. When you eventually graduate to any of the three brands, there are plenty of juicy angles, cutscenes (far better and numerous than Universe mode!), hot rivalries, fun GM interactions, faction opportunities, backstabbery, etc. Imagine something called solid booking! Amazing.
While the writing is often piss-poor and many of the voiceovers (even from WWE Superstars) are deeply uninspired, at least they exist. The only text you’ll read is through social media, and those tweet convos ain’t usually too bad. You have a choice on how to go about each scenario, like a white meat babyface or dick heel, and you can choose to beef when given a chance. Since it’s pretty much saving my experience with WWE 2K22 so far, my only major beef with MyRise is the inability to use our created character in other modes as well as upload them into the Creation Suite. It took me a few hours to create Sean Crow and now dude is done when MyRise career is done. Thanks…
I actually dig 2K Showcase a lot–this year and most of the Showcases from every other year. Rey Mysterio‘s story is also long overdue. It’s an intriguingly expansive, storied career, so kudos to 2K for getting Rey onboard to tell his story–literally. Gone is the reimaging or reuse of historical commentary, and, instead, Rey has the full director’s take. The presentation is the best part of Showcase mode, as 2K pulls off a seamlessly creative mesh of gameplay and real life footage. While there are glaring omissions on Mysterio’s journey, it’s hard to fault 2K if WWE said no to Chavo (SmackDown‘s “I Quit” match), Kurt Angle (WrestleMania 22 triple threat with Randy Orton), and a Royal Rumble 2006 win that would show of a bunch of folks no longer employed by the company.
Having to unlock stuff to download certain community creations isn’t the best thing either. It can be a pain to pull off every situational move just to reach each objective, especially with no chance to save these checkpoints mid-match. That said, as someone who occasionally misses watching old stuff on the WWE Network, the doc-style narration is a treat, and Showcase serves as a fun tutorial for the new gameplay controls.
MyRISE = 4.5/5
2K Showcase = 3.75/5
Full transparency: I’ve yet to start MyGM or MyFACTION mode and I don’t think I ever will. There’s enough out there to know these new modes are not for me. The only stuff that ever intrigued me about a GM mode in any sports game is doing the draft, and watching cutscenes between players and player personnel (math? No thanks; there’s a reason I don’t “fantasy”). Through livestreams and early reviews, the MyGM consensus appears to be a bare-bones bust. Again, there are restrictions galore. And if math is what you want, math is what you get: 1.) 15/25/50 weeks of playtime, 2.) 3 matches per week, 3.) 2 world champions per brand, 4.) 2 match types– single and tag, 5.) 0 mid-card or tag team titles, and 6.) 0 trades with opposing brands. Someone get Michael “IRS/Wallstreet” Rotunda on the line.
Following your first season of MyGM, you have to do it all over it again, which.. now that I think about it.. isn’t all that off from WWE IRL. Either way, my temptations to do it for the draft not withstanding, I think I’m good on a half-assed general manager mode. Visual Concepts should at least consider merging MyGM with MyUniverse for next year. The proverbial cherry on top? There are zero promo presentations (like, everyone’s fav part of pro wrestling in the first place!), and no option to create your own brands. Brrrrrro.
This is 2K’s way of sneaking microtransactions into the game without much of un uproar. Anyone who knows anything about Madden Ultimate Team or NBA 2K MyTeam knows what this is about. Collect wrestler cards (and not the cool kind that come with an ice cream bar), assemble a Faction, go through daily/weekly challenges, and use mods to (Virtual Currency is MF here) to boost your squad through the grind. Yeah. IDK. Maybe if there was an option to focus on WWE/WWF legends, I’d be down.
Worse, this is strictly an offline mode. Isn’t battling against virtual pals and 11-year old trolls from Missouri the whole point of a MyTeam? Then again, we understand the scare. It just doesn’t feel like a complete mode, and initially sounded like a “build your Degeneration-X/nWo mode”, which clearly this is not. Pass.
This side of MyRise, MyUniverse is still going to be my thing despite zero changes or updates from the last several games. Actually, promos have been nixed. With scripted dialogue worse than that from WWE “creative”, and a severe lack of voiceover promos from talent (despite countless interview “promos” from NBA players and coaches in the other 2K… SMH), I’m not really sad about this omission. If they’re not going to pour the money into it and do it right, might as well not even have promos at all.
For those unaware, MyUniverse is the chance to create and play out your dream wrestling fantasy. Whether that’s ditching WWE altogether for your own created promotions such as AEW and New Japan, or posing McMahon’s Galaxy up against “The Forbidden Door” of everyone else out there in the pro wrestling world, Universe can be a blast and the biggest reason for my slight infatuation with the annual wrestling title. Imagine creating match-ups like Roman vs. Omega or Sasha vs. Jade in a WWE vs. The World scenario, which’ll sure beat the piss out of whatever the hell that WCW Invasion was ever supposed to be. Either way, this is the only mode that acts as a full playground for all of our CAWs, created brand shows, championships, rivalries, and more.
But for Visual Concepts to hardly acknowledge the much heralded mode — this side of a Superstar lock-in addition — is flat-out sad. No draft, no new cutscenes, and only one-on-one and tag-team rivalries (I’ve already observed the same “stomp opponent after match” thing from Roman and Rollins in the same week…). If your match table is set to anything but these two types of matches, such as triple threats, 6 or 8-man tags, or battle royals, don’t expect any cutscenes to happen. Ever. I’m still going to mess with MyUniverse, because that’s all we have, and I’m just gonna have to enjoy playing the game more than itching and hoping for the “countless hours of cutscenes” 2K promised to us so many years ago.
MyGM = 2/5
MyFACTION = 1.75/5
MyUNIVERSE = 3.25/5
This has to be the longest video game review I’ve ever written. Because I care, 2K. BECAUSE I CARE. And, this year, I know you guys care too. WWE 2K22 is the comeback wrestler of the year, the career once thought dead due to game-breaking bugs/glitches, downright devastating server issues, and a little thing called COVID-19. So, while these two years have given us plenty of expectations — both high and low — it’s easy to feel fairly satisfied with its return.
I don’t love every mode; I don’t love even the thought of playing some of the modes; and 2K/VC did nothing to advance my favorite mode. But at least there’s a lot to consume and a great return base for future installments. Even for the $120 nWo 4-Life Edition, most players should be satisfied with the content, graphics, and quality control. The game did crash on me a bunch during modes and menu selections, but no data was lost even during the infamous scary updates that warn you about your save data. Some changes in Universe were lost, but nothing major. After 2K20, I’ll take it, even with appalling load times on new consoles where load times are barely a thing.
Sure, the third biggest request to 2K from fans was more match types — I Quit, Lumberjack, Special Referee, uh, War Games! — and we didn’t get any of them. We did get a pretty remarkable (if not entirely dated) Thunderdome experience with 2K devs gracing the arena’s endless video screens– a virtual launch party of sorts for a title that certainly hits adequate. And maybe we should be grateful that, this year, it at least hits that.
Overall = 3.5/5 Whiskeys.
WWE 2K22 now available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.