WWE 2K22 Review

Richard Walker

If WWE 2K20 proved one thing, it was that the series was in dire need of a refresh. Under developer Yuke's long tenure, WWE games had a good run, but, when NBA 2K studio Visual Concepts took over, its first attempt at reinventing the franchise was hampered by a litany of bugs that rendered it almost unplayable. It was a mess that enforced a more than two-year hiatus (partially filled by WWE 2K Battlegrounds), and WWE 2K22 is the result of an extended development cycle. In short, it's pretty much make or break for 2K's WWE series. The good news? This is the best a WWE game has been in quite some time - clearly, 2K and Visual Concepts are more than aware how high the stakes are for this one.

Rey Mysterio's 2K Showcase is very good.

WWE2K22 starts you off with an optional tutorial delivered by SmackDown cruiserweight Drew Gulak, and what immediately hits you about the game is just how straightforward and uncomplicated its combat system is. There's no needlessly fiddly submission system to get to grips with, fewer over-designed mini-games popping up in the middle of a bout, and the window for counters doesn't open and close shut within the blink of an eye. Crucially, reversals feel far more natural, better enabling you to replicate the back and forth of a wrestling match, in an accessible, unfussy way. Right out of the gate, you can see that WWE 2K22 has already cleared one major hurdle.

Then, you're presented with a main menu brimming with modes and options, encompassing practically everything you could possibly want from a WWE game. MyFaction mode channels NBA 2K's MyTeam, with card-collecting and challenges to complete, as you set about building a dream team of Superstars to take on all-comers, whether it's offline AI opponents or online rivals in 4v4 Faction Wars or a Weekly Tower. You could quite easily while away all of your time in MyFaction and not feel shortchanged, but there's the story-driven MyRise to consider, too, enabling you to take a custom Superstar from a lowly rookie to WWE stardom, grappling among the elite.

MyRise is a proper, full-featured story mode, taking you from training to turning pro via the WWE Performance Center, before entering the WWE under a brand of your choice, whether it's Raw, SmackDown, or NXT. You can choose to work your way through the Men's or Women's Division, making various choices along the way that not only determine your standing within the WWE, but your status as a face or heel. Achieving victory unlocks points to pour into improving your wrestler's attributes, as well as more fans all rooting for you to succeed. It's a rewarding journey worth embarking upon, although it might be hard to resist the pull of other modes.

Perhaps chief among these is the returning Showcase, which this time around charts cover star Rey Mysterio's WWE career, from his debut in 1996, covering key moments like a burgeoning rivalry with Eddie Guerrero, to showdowns with big-hitters like The Undertaker and Batista. It's remarkably well presented, with voice-over and archive footage from Mysterio's illustrious 20-year career, which seamlessly transitions from live action to gameplay at pivotal junctures. It's also a welcome reminder of just how influential the masked luchador legend was during his time in the ring, and how he helped popularise lucha libre wrestling, as part of the world's biggest sports entertainment brand.

Fleshing things out is the MyGM mode, enabling you to inhabit the role of manager of either the SmackDown, Raw, NXT, or NXT UK brands, choosing an existing GM or one of your own making to lead through a WWE season. It's a pretty deep and involving affair, seeing you draft a stable of Superstars in order to compete with a rival brand and their GM, building match cards for each week in a bid to gain the highest possible ratings and accumulate fan numbers, while keeping your coffers flowing with cash. Meanwhile, your Superstars need to be kept fighting fit and happy, meaning you'll need to rest them at the right time and fulfil any needs or requests they might have.

It's a movie star match-up!

MyGM is superb stuff, even if you choose to simulate every match rather than taking direct control – the process of coming up with the best possible match-ups, with run-ins to heighten the drama, spectacular pyrotechnics, as big an arena as you can afford, promos, and advertising campaigns to build the hype proving almost endlessly engaging. Finally, the Universe Mode offers a different path through a WWE career, be it as a single Superstar or progressing through a sequence of customisable shows in the sandbox Universe Classic Mode. And, of course, there are standard one-off matches of all types to play solo against AI or with friends online or locally offline. Factor in the usual suite of expansive customisation tools – albeit with a few slightly ropey-looking default face options and items – and WWE 2K22 is about as complete a wrestling game as you could hope for.

Given 2K's recent poor fortunes with its WWE series, it's great to see WWE 2K22 back on fighting form, proving that there's plenty of life left in the grappler yet. Though its selection of features and modes offer the most comprehensive and all-encompassing wrestling experience in ages, it's the overhauled gameplay that finally returns the series to its former glory. Not since the heady days of WWE Smackdown! Just Bring It or Here Comes the Pain has a WWE game been so eminently playable and just plain fun, free of muddled gameplay systems and extraneous mechanics. WWE 2K22 is a welcome return to form and no mistake.

WWE 2K22

After the disastrous launch of WWE 2K20, 2K and Visual Concepts really faced something of a turning point, an uphill struggle, and after a lengthy hiatus, WWE 2K22 emerges as the best entry in the series for years. As per the game's tagline, it really does 'hit different'.

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A soundtrack that covers several types of rock and a bit of hip-hop, yet somehow manages to be enormously repetitive, the same few tunes seemingly on a loop. Commentary is decent enough, but during drawn out matches, some lines can start to repeat.


While the physics can sometimes be a mite wonky, WWE 2K22 has clearly benefitted from the extra development time, its rebuilt engine resulting in a game that looks about as near as damn it to the real thing. Presentation is polished, too, with decent character models and arenas that recreate the atmosphere of a main event.


A marked improvement over WWE 2K20, and the best the series has been in quite some time. And while there are minor annoyances (the mini-game for grabbing the Money in the Bank briefcase is silly), overall, WWE 2K22 manages to be intuitive without compromising anything.


Every mode you could care to think of crammed into one generous package, and none of it feels at all redundant. What's here is well presented, too, especially the 2K Showcase, MyFaction, and MyGM modes, all of which provide genuinely entertaining and engaging experiences. Granted, a lot of Superstars in 2K22 have now left the WWE, rendering the roster out of date, which is a bit of a shame.


Not the most inspired list, nonetheless it does serve to encourage you to give everything that WWE 2K22 has to offer a go, whether it's completing objectives in MyFaction, milestones in MyRise, or challenges in 2K Showcase. A decent list with a good spread.

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