Wrestling was a huge part of my childhood growing up. From begging my parents to subscribe to cable television just so I could watch WWF and WCW to collecting cards, figures and even replica belts. This love of the popular entertainment form quickly extended to video game format as I wanted to mirror the lives of some of my personal icons such as Bret “The Hitman” Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Then my love quickly depleted as the Attitude era terminated and the atmosphere in the ring became less hardcore. Wrestling game themselves though have always been fun to play with or without friends and often mixes in nostalgia with legends of the game amongst new superstars. It’s been almost two and a half years without a true simulated wrestling game with the 2K branding, let’s find out if it’s worth your hard-earned cash.
We haven’t seen a game in the series since way back in October 2019 and whilst it pains me to bring up WWE2K20, it is worth noting that the last instalment was a dreadful outing. Hampered by bugs, graphical glitches and frustrating changes for long term fans, it was back to the drawing board and a much-needed break for the development team. 29 months later, we have the arrival of WWE2K22 and a shot at redeeming the trust of hardcore fans of the usual annual releases. The two-year hiatus has done wonders for this year’s edition, bringing a more refined and polished experience. You’ll still find some bugs and hiccups along the way with some questionable collision detection, but the overhaul of striking and grappling makes your time in the ring a much more enjoyable endurance.
A Meaty Package
There is a huge amount of content in WWE2K22 that will tick off most wrestling fans’ needs. Perhaps the most notable change here is the reintroduction of the MyGM mode which has been absent since Smackdown vs. Raw 2008. Here you’ll be choosing a manager and hitting the road to put together shows for your fans. The career mode returns under the new name of MyRISE. MyFACTION is born as a totally new mode which is very reminiscent of the Ultimate Team modes in EA Sports games or NBA 2K’s MyTEAM. This is the only portion of the game where you’ll see monetisation elements, although the most dedicated players could use this area to grind what they want instead of spending more cash. Universe mode is possibly where most will want to spend their time, giving you the flexibility to control entire rosters, shows with the added mix of being able to use a superstar this time as well as your own custom character. Lastly, there are the usual online multiplayer options and a fabulous superstar showcase surrounding the career of Rey Mysterio. I’ll take a look at these of course in more detail as we get through this review.
MyGM – Be The Boss
Before you start anything in WWE2K22 you’ll be given the option to play through a short tutorial with Drew Gulak. You can skip this if you wish, but I’d advise taking ten minutes to learn the new control scheme and how combos and finishers are used. I’ll start with the mode I tried first with MyGM, after a fourteen-year absence I was keen to see how in-depth this adventure was. Before you commence your journey as a GM, you’ll need to choose from Adam Pearce, Sonya Deville, William Regal, Shane Mcmahon, Stephanie Mcmahon or your custom superstar. The next step is choosing the brand you’d like to represent from RAW, Smackdown, NXT or NXT UK.
The premise here is to control the way the programming of your brand plays out against a rival GM and their shows. Whilst it isn’t possible to create a brand of your own, you’ll be able to do this in the Universe mode. Despite there being four choices here, only two brands will go head to head during the length of your playthrough, which was a little disappointing. You can, however, choose your rival and their brand and the length of the season as 15, 25 or 50 weeks with the end result always being the Wrestlemania event.
Control your revenue and engagement
So essentially, you’re the boss. You’ll be in charge of hiring your initial lineup of superstars and controlling the revenue aspects of events and hiring extra wrestlers. For example, you may want to draft in some WWE Legends in future such as The Rock or X-Pac. You have to be mindful of their wages and contract length as you’ll only be able to recruit these for short periods of time then either let them go or negotiate a new contract. Whilst this all sounds super in-depth so far, there are some alarmingly obvious features missing here. You can only have one WWE Champion and one Women’s Champion, there are no mid-card titles or tag team titles which seems a bit odd since you can book tag team matches.
Each week you’ll plan each event with which wrestlers you want to pit against each other with a main event at the end. In between matches you’ll be able to have one of your roster promote themselves in the ring, call a rival out or conduct some advertising for extra revenue for your bank. Build rivalries to enhance each show’s popularity and try and keep the morale of your staff high. There are some extra options to play with such as paying for larger venues, starting from a school hall to huge arenas. You can also opt for better pyrotechnics and a better social media presence. All of this comes at a cost but will gain you the upper hand. When the event is finished you’ll receive a breakdown of costs, profits and how much revenue you have generated along with the rise in the fanbase.
Enjoyable but requires more depth
MyGM is rather short on the fifteen-week run I played through and sadly there is no option of an unlimited option. It requires many more options to make it less repetitive during longer runs though. Whilst you can simulate everything or play whatever matches you choose, you can only choose match variations of hell in the cell or tables for instance on one on ones or tag team matches. There are no triple threat or fatal four-way choices. Strangely putting popular wrestlers against each other isn’t advantageous in this experience at all. You’d think placing Stone Cold vs The Rock in the same match would have the audience roaring, but with a strange class system implemented here, you’re advised to put someone like Kane vs a cruiserweight. The foundations in MyGM are laid but it really requires a big push of more match types to create more excitement and the flexibility to allow the most popular wrestlers to draw in fans.
Rey Mysterio’s Superstar Showcase
Perhaps the most impressive portion of the game for me was Rey Mysterio’s showcase. Here you’ll get to divulge in the best moments of his career in a plethora of matches. There are twelve here in total starting in 1997 all the way through to 2020. The story sucks you in immediately as Rey will be talking in real-life cutscenes reliving the memories before you play them out. The first event was a nostalgic dip into the WCW days with Halloween Havoc. I don’t know how the development team managed it, but the way they designed each event and backdrop is outstanding to the point I really felt as if I had gone back across the last two decades and popped a videotape into a machine. It’s a shame we can’t see these stories spread across all the major wrestlers in history as the showcase of Rey culminates into a hallucinatory stroll through wrestling history.
MyFACTION – WWE’s Version of Ultimate Team
I’ll start off by stating that MyFACTION isn’t online whatsoever which completely baffled me since it screams microtransactions. As you start this mode you’ll be given a choice of three starter packs, RAW, Smackdown or NXT. These packs contain some wrestlers and cosmetics to get you started, a mixture of male and female combatants. Beyond this point the grind is real, there are several different playstyles where you can participate against AI wrestlers. Proving grounds sends your faction into battle with the potential of big rewards. Here you’ll be sending all of your wrestlers in to fight on a selection of difficulties, the higher the level, the better the reward. Faction wars has you wrestling in 4 vs 4 matches with the opportunity to gain cards and more. I fought five matches during this mode and ended up with a 68 rated Big Boss Man card. Last but not least is Towers, think of this as a weekly challenge area, complete the task in front of you and reap the rewards. Evolution cards are something you need to look out for as you can increase the value and strength of these over time.
Other Modes & Goodies
The last two sections of the game are MyRISE and Universe. MyRISE has you create a custom character to start your wrestling life. You are inducted into a training school with Shawn Michaels and Road Dogg and must climb your way to the top with decision making storylines. Universe mode has similarities to MyGM without the management aspect. You’ll be able to craft your own matches, cards and events without suffering the wrath of not being able to place the biggest stars in the ring against each other.
Creation suite is the cherry on the cake. Here you’ll be able to create pretty much anything and upload it to the servers for all to enjoy. Wrestlers, belts, arenas, events, entrances, you name it, you can create it. Equally, you can spend hours sifting through others’ creations, old arenas from events gone by, wrestlers that did make the final game. Clever creators have even crafted old WCW, ECW and even most recent AEW belts, events and arenas. I was instantly blown away by how this area could extend and blend into the game if the rest starts to become stale.
Graphics & Sound
You can instantly tell that the break between games has been beneficial to the development of WWE2K22. For the most part, the visuals are outstanding and every single superstar has been replicated in fine detail. Menus are crisp and super simple to navigate and understandable. Ring entrances are fantastically orchestrated alongside the aura of the arenas. Crowd design and reaction is spot on and you really get a sense of them being there, cheering every slam against the map.
Audio is brilliant with a great soundtrack during the menus with bands like Motorhead, Royal Blood and Wu-Tang Clan. Getting tired of the same tracks ringing through? Simply change to ring entrance music in the settings to access endless iconic tunes that are unique to some of the superstars you know and love. Sound effects are superb with each move landing on the mat with the crash sound we are so used to. Some of the voice acting in scenes across the game are particularly cheesy, but then isn’t all of the scripted narrative on TV?
WWE2K22 is quite possibly the most complete wrestling game we have seen in many years. Surprisingly I piled in over 30 hours over the course of three or four days and I still want to go and experience everything I haven’t seen. With a roster of over 160 wrestlers and 29 on the way as DLC, you’ll never run out of options on who to choose. Then there is the superb creation suite which is already proving to present endless recreations of wrestlers that didn’t make it to the final game. Whilst I do feel the MyGM mode needed a lot more, there are so many other modes to wade through. If you shunned the WWE2K series after the last game, they have pulled it out of the bag and delivered on this occasion. For fans of wrestling past and present, WWE2K22 is a title you’ll want to take home.
- The most complete wrestling game in years
- Creation suite adds endless customisation options
- Huge variance in modes adds hours of play
- MYGM mode could do with much more depth
- No online multiplayer in MYFACTION
- Some bugs and glitches present