We can all be honest here. WWE 2K22 is in a very hard position. After the abysmal launch of WWE 2K20, the game has a lot to fix and make right. By that I mean, a lot. 2K20 had shown that you couldn’t just churn out the same old game with minimal effort and it’ll be a cash cow. Look at FIFA for instance – even that went down in a burning pile of flames.
The on-going pandemic meant that the yearly releases of WWE-branded games had to be halted. No more October/November releases. Instead, 2K22 was delayed until March of this year. That’s almost six months more of development time (plus an entire year on-top of that), so the expectations this year were extremely high. This isn’t about the game itself, but the marketing for this year’s game is the exact opposite of what you’d hope they would’ve done. 2K20’s gameplay was an absolute mess, so the logical decision would be to show that the gameplay works this year. Nooooope. It’s a day-by-day roster reveal. Yeah. That doesn’t seem too promising.
Of course, we all know it’s bad to pre-order games these days. I pretty much don’t do it myself – but with WWE 2K22’s three-day Early Access, I felt like pre-ordering was a good idea so that I could collect my thoughts on the game and then publish this review by the time the full game is out. In the words of Rikishi, “I did it for The Rock”, except substitute “The Rock” for “the fans”.
To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised at the game when I first played it.
The gameplay is much different, it’s no longer hugely simulation based, but centred around strategic counters combos to wear down your opponent. No more just spamming buttons to get your finisher; you need to be clever or the AI will counter you – as I found out when I first played. The AI is much smarter than before and will be able to predict your moves if you don’t change things up and keep them on your toes. A lot of people compared it to games like Street Fighter or Tekken and I can see why – there’s intricate ways to dodge, block, perform specific moves and usage of combos to deal lots of damage. I think the core gameplay change is good and definitely an interesting decision and not too much of a change that it ruins the game because you don’t have to use combos but it gives the player freedom on how they approach matches.
One of the biggest selling points this year was the return of GM mode, now dubbed “myGM”. Lots of people were concerned that you could only book the main men’s and women’s championships, but I wasn’t bothered by that too much because my management skills are atrocious. The mode is fun, but it relies too much on the old GM mode belief that you must do gimmick matches to get good ratings. I hate this; I want gimmick matches or special stipulations to be used sparingly and not crammed into every match on the show just to beat the competition. Being forced to make everything gimmicked to progress is upsetting, taking into account that you’re meant to have relative freedom to book shows how you’d book them. Of course, you can book shows with no gimmick matches at all, like I did, but you can’t get above two stars and the match quality doesn’t matter. Streamlining the mode like this to play it in a specific way really hurt the mode for me, because I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of it.
This year’s showcase mode is featured around cover star Rey Mysterio – playing through matches from his legendary career – kind of.
Some of the matches in this showcase more are completely insignificant and feel like completely random inclusions: vs Gran Metalik on Raw, vs Samoa Joe on Raw, vs Batista on SmackDown. As people rightfully pointed out, you could’ve had Rey Mysterio vs Kurt Angle vs Randy Orton at WrestleMania 22, or the custody of Dominik match against Eddie at SummerSlam. Yet, we’re left with these matches on random shows that don’t have any meaning to his career in the long-run and doesn’t do his legendary career in wrestling justice. This is even more puzzling when you consider one of the pre-order bonuses was Rey from Starrcade 1996, with the arena included; no Jushin Liger for obvious reasons, but it makes you wonder why they didn’t add more of his matches from WCW instead.
It’s easily the weakest showcase mode so far regarding match choices, however the cutscenes that are used are fantastic, it blends real footage with in-game cutscenes perfectly and makes you feel like you’re in the matches themselves. The unlockables are great too, a wide variety of attires, wrestlers and arenas to unlock from three different decades of Mysterio’s career. In most WWE games, the showcase is the highlight of all modes – but this year had a lackluster attempt to do justice to the legendary career and ultimately falls short of the expected high quality that showcase mode has been associated with over the years.
This year, WWE 2K22 introduced a new gamemode known as MyFaction. If you’ve played FIFA Ultimate Team, you’ll know where this is going.
I love this idea and this concept. It feels like the natural progression of the 2K Towers mode and re-uses it as part of a single-player collection mode. As you progress you’ll unlock better cards depending on how many times you do matches or how well you complete their objectives. It’s not perfect and has superstars locked behind the mode which is lame (MyRise does this too, for some mindboggling reason) but the overall concept and execution is there. It’s not bad and it’s not good. It’s just… there.
MyRise: the career mode. There’s a lot to learn from the last two year’s games and even ones before that. It’s more like a mixture of season mode and universe (though, universe mode does have and option this year to play as one wrestler) but one of the coolest parts of 2K19 and 2K20’s career modes was the interactions and unique things that could be done. Thankfully, they’ve stripped away the super science-fiction elements that the previous game had while also making the story of doing things your own way prevalent. There’s locations to visit, a lot of optional stories and matches that determine whether you’re face or heel. You can choose your brand and what titles to go for. MyRise feels like it’s what 2K20’s career mode should’ve been. It’s a perfect blend of 2K17’s title chase freedom, 2K19’s storytelling and the addition of much more interactions and possibilities. Personally, MyRise was the best part of the game. The best mode with hours of fun, intriguing gameplay and unlockable content.
WWE 2K22 was the re-invention that players were looking for. New gameplay, returning modes and a hefty (but severely outdated) roster.
It’s better than last year’s game, but not better than 2K19. Cross-platform creations means it’s longevity will be increased and the DLC looks very promising. If you’re looking for a change from the formula of games from 2K15 onwards, this game might be good for you – however, it’s the first game on a new console generation so don’t expect a huge variety of gamemodes, but the ones that are there provide enough gameplay and content to satisfy your needs long enough to hold out for the next game’s release and is overall a fun experience and a good start to rebuild 2K’s reputation after 2K20. Let’s just hope it lasts.