Like other sports game franchises, the WWE 2K series has consistently put out a new game every year with minor changes and an updated roster. But then WWE 2K20 threw the franchise off the rails, earning scathing reviews from critics and getting labeled as one of the worst-reviewed wrestling video games ever made. The backlash to WWE 2K20 was so significant that 2K Sports decided to cancel the planned WWE 2K21 and allow the development team to focus their efforts on WWE 2K22 instead.

WWE 2K22 is a massive step forward compared to the disastrous WWE 2K20, so it seems the extra development time genuinely paid off. It feels like much more than a simple roster update, with new game modes, new controls, and a vastly improved visual presentation that blows all previous WWE video games out of the water.

WWE 2K22's new control scheme is simpler than what's come before, but anyone having trouble can get up to speed with the game's helpful, quick tutorial. On Xbox, the X button is for light strikes, while the A button is for heavy strikes, and B is used for grapples. Players can use different combinations to perform different moves, and these buttons are also used for counters. While Y is the main counter button, if players can properly guess and time their opponent's next attack by hitting the same button as they do, they have another chance to counter. The new controls help the game feel more fast-paced when compared to its predecessors, with the more complex moves made much easier to pull off thanks to on-screen prompts and by having less complicated button combinations.

WWE2K22-rey-mysterio1

The only real issue that WWE 2K22 players will run into with the new controls is when they're playing gimmick matches with weapons all over the ring. The left bumper is used to pick up weapons, but it also triggers wrestlers to grab the ropes and perform other actions. WWE 2K22 players will sometimes find it difficult to pick up objects in the ring, especially during Money in the Bank Ladder matches when there are six wrestlers and a bunch of ladders all taking up space at once.

Overall, though, the WWE 2K22 in-ring action is as solid and polished as it's ever been, and it looks fantastic. WWE 2K22 wrestlers look almost life-like, with an incredible level of detail and impressive animations. It's easily the best-looking WWE video game ever made, with a lot of the jank and goofy visual glitches that plagued past games nowhere to be seen in the new-gen versions.

The WWE 2K22 roster is rather expansive, with 163 wrestlers available to choose from in the base game and 168 in the more expensive nWo 4-Life Edition. There was some worry that the WWE 2K22 roster would suffer because of the real-world WWE talent cuts, but that's not the case. In fact, there are even some wrestlers in WWE 2K22 who are actively appearing on AEW, so between the modern stars and the playable legends, there are plenty of characters to choose from.

wwe 2k22 asuka

Players can take these wrestlers into exhibition matches and have a great time fighting the AI or playing with friends, with noticeable quality of life improvements. For example, players will notice in matches that allow them to put a lot of distance between themselves and their opponent that the game will switch to a split-screen perspective instead of trying to zoom the camera out far enough to capture all the action.

Besides exhibition matches, WWE 2K22 brings back options like Universe Mode, which allows players to experience years of WWE programming and storylines, directly participating in matches or simulating it all. There's the option to focus exclusively on the career of a single superstar this time around, which plays more like the classic career modes of older games, and that's much appreciated.

Meanwhile, MyRISE is a mode that lets players create their own wrestler and work their way up the WWE ladder, making decisions that influence the story along the way. MyRISE replaces the MyCareer mode from WWE 2K20, but unfortunately, it's just as insufferable with dorky dialogue and long, unskippable cut-scenes weighing it down. One's time in WWE 2K22 is much better spent in any of the other available game modes, even the relatively dull MyFACTION, which is essentially the WWE 2K22 take on Ultimate Team, complete with microtransactions.

wwe 2k22 randy savage

MyRISE itself may not be all that fun, but creating one's own wrestler is, thanks to WWE 2K22's incredible creation tools. The WWE video games have consistently provided comprehensive creation tools and WWE 2K22 is no different, allowing players total freedom in creating their own wrestler, designing their gear, and putting together their move-set. There's a dizzying number of moves to choose from, including some from the indies like the Package Piledriver that WWE star Kevin Owens used to do when he was known as Kevin Steen. Players can also create their own arenas, championships, entrances, and more, with enough options that the creative-minded will easily sink hours into these modes alone.

One of the most exciting new game modes in WWE 2K22 is the return of General Manager mode, now known as MyGM. General Manager mode hasn't been seen since WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008, and so it's great to see it finally make a comeback. And while MyGM is a solid foundation, there are some big drawbacks that will likely disappoint anyone picking up WWE 2K22 to play MyGM.

MyGM in WWE 2K22 is extremely limited compared to previous iterations of the mode. For those who may be unfamiliar with General Manager mode, it allows players to book their own WWE shows, setting up feuds, dealing with contract negotiations, and managing a budget as they build storylines to big pay-per-view events. The WWE 2K22 version of General Manager mode doesn't give fans many match options, with players only able to book variations of singles and tag team matches. Beyond that, WWE 2K22 MyGM players only have two titles to work with on their respective brands, whereas previous takes on the mode allowed for tag team and mid-card titles as well.

mygm smackdown card

Besides booking matches, players are also able to set up promos, giving wrestlers the chance to speak with the crowd to boost their popularity, which can in turn increase interest in their feuds and matches, resulting in higher TV ratings. It's fine to have promo slots on the weekly shows, but for some reason, there are three slots dedicated to promos on pay-per-views, which is strange since most real-life PPVs focus on actual wrestling matches. Add to these issues the fact that only two people can play a season of MyGM together despite there being four brands to choose from, and it's clear that WWE 2K22 is rather bare-bones compared to previous iterations.

WWE 2K22's MyGM may be lacking in features compared to previous versions, but that's not to say it's a complete waste of time. Those that enjoy fantasy booking wrestling shows will still find it to be entertaining, and there are some new bells and whistles that make it more involved from week to week. WWE 2K22 MyGM has players regularly communicating with their wrestlers as well as completing special objectives given out by Triple H, and while these objectives sometimes have players do things that are detrimental to the quality of their show (like having a pay-per-view with no champions, which doesn't make sense), they do enhance the mode overall.

Easily the biggest issue with the WWE 2K22 MyGM mode is that it doesn't let players play beyond one season. After completing a season of MyGM, WWE 2K22 players have to start from scratch with a brand-new draft, new champions, etc. This is a rather egregious oversight and really kneecaps MyGM. After players complete one season, they may not feel any desire to boot up another one, which is a shame because even with its drawbacks, MyGM is otherwise fun enough that it could have kept fans engaged for months.

wwe 2k22 showcase and myrise

And finally, there's the WWE 2K22 Showcase mode to consider, with this year's version of Showcase starring Rey Mysterio. Showcase takes players through the career highlights of Rey Mysterio, from his early WCW days all the way to more recent matches against modern WWE superstars. There are special objectives to complete, and the matches blend gameplay with real-life footage to great visual effect, though some may be bored by how scripted and linear it feels compared to the other game modes.

Anyone looking to the WWE 2K22 Showcase mode for pure entertainment will likely be disappointed, but it functions well as an extended tutorial. Each objective requires players to perform certain actions in the ring, and the hints provided will help players figure out how to perform the more complicated moves in the game. So Showcase is useful to help players get used to the new control scheme, plus it has some interesting unlockables to snag.

From Showcase to MyGM, WWE 2K22 is stuffed with content, and in terms of graphics and polish, it's a huge improvement over its predecessors. But the game has some notable drawbacks, especially with the botched MyGM, which could have been the crown jewel of WWE 2K22's game modes. The foundation is there for a future WWE game to provide a more fleshed-out MyGM experience, so hopefully, it isn't abandoned again.

WWE 2K22 launches March 11 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Game Rant was provided with an Xbox Series X code for this review.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5 (Very Good)
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