WWE 2K22 Review: A Step in the Right Direction - Gamer Journalist
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WWE 2K22 Review: A Step in the Right Direction

A firsthand look at WWE 2K22, the soft reboot of the WWE 2K series from Visual Concepts and 2K Sports
WWE 2K22 Review

WWE 2K20 was a disaster. The game was so bad that it forced 2K and developer Visual Concepts back to the drawing board. As a result, WWE 2K21 was skipped, new staff were hired, and a new gameplay engine was built. This is how we got WWE 2K22 and I’m glad that we did.

WWE 2K22 Review

The tagline used in the marketing of WWE 2K22 is “It Hits Different.” Since playing the game, I now understand what it truly means. During the game’s two-year development cycle, the team at Visual Concepts built a brand new game engine from the ground up. As a result, gameplay animations are a lot smoother than previous games.

Accompanying this new engine is a brand-new control scheme. Many people, myself included, were a bit apprehensive towards the new controls because it just sounded weird, but after playing the game for about four days now, it hits different. I mean that as a positive and a negative. On the one hand, combos are definitely not as bad as I thought they would be due to how smooth and seamless they are thanks to the new engine, but on the other hand, the reversal system is lacking.

WWE 2K22 Review - Screenshot

Now instead of just reversing everything with an onscreen button prompt, there are also reversals called combo breakers. To perform one you have to guess which attack your opponent will do next. If Damian Priest is doing a light strike combo on you, you can press square before his next attack to interrupt and reverse it. These breakers are hard to pull off sometimes because you can’t exactly tell whether someone’s strike is a light or heavy one.

Regular reversals have issues as well. Every match, I’m hit with multiple grapple moves back to back without a reversal prompt appearing on screen. I’ve read that this may be a glitch and if it is, it does make me hopeful that it is fixed in a future patch. The combo breaker system is part of a running problem with the game where everything now has to be a little more complicated than it was in previous games.

Many fans have voiced their displeasure at how grapples work. Instead of just being able to press circle (or B if you’re on Xbox) and move the left stick to irish whip, you now have to press circle to grapple, then press circle and move the left stick to irish whip. This is also how you perform all grapple moves in the game. Having to lock up with someone just to do an irish whip makes the game feel clunky.

WWE 2K22 Review - Screenshot 2

Despite these issues, I’ve been able to enjoy myself especially when playing the game’s story mode titled MyRise. MyRise puts you in the shoes of one of WWE’s newest recruits. You start at the WWE Performance Center and then work your way up to either Raw, Smackdown, or NXT. This year includes a male and female campaign with unique storylines and interactions within each.

A great foundation for the games moving forward

There are so many cool storylines and interactions you can have with the WWE roster. You’ll constantly run into wrestlers backstage or over social media, and these interactions can lead to storylines that feature arenas or creation suite items as completion rewards. I didn’t do every storyline but I’m definitely going to go back and do multiple playthroughs to complete them which is exactly what the developers want I’m sure.

When I wasn’t playing MyRise, I spent my time with Universe Mode which lets you control and simulate your own version of WWE. This is my favorite mode each year but it is disappointing how little has been improved in 2K22. Rivalries are still just people wrestling each other every week with the same cutscenes, and there’s no option to hold PPVs on any day but Sunday. There is now a feature called superstar mode where you control one WWE superstar and play as them in Universe. This is similar to the classic season mode featured in older WWE games. It’s a cool addition but Universe mode needs more than this.

The same could be said about MyGM. For a decade, fans have been begging for GM mode to return to the WWE games. It’s finally back in 2K22 and it’s honestly the worst version of the mode. You play as a general manager of either Raw, Smackdown, NXT, or NXT UK. You’ll have to hire or fire wrestlers, book matches, and compete with rival shows. There are several problems with MyGM. There are only two titles for each show: a men’s world title and one for the women. There are no tag team titles or intercontinental titles present and the match card can only have three matches.

WWE 2K22 Review - Screenshot 3

Every new WWE game seems to advertise that an old feature like MyGM is back only for this new version to be the most lackluster, barebones version in existence. I expect all of these complaints to be addressed in the next game so they advertise how much better it is than last year.

Speaking of disappointing, I’ll mention Showcase mode. This mode lets you relive the greatest career moments of cover star Rey Mysterio. I’ve never been a big fan of Showcase mode because why would I want to recreate matches when I could just watch them? Like MyGM, this feels like the worst one I’ve experienced.

There’s zero match commentary and there are these transitions where the game will play a cutscene recreating a match and then transition to actual footage of the match, making the mode feel pointless. It’s also missing the biggest matches of Mysterio’s career. What makes things worse is that if you want to unlock his son Dominik, you’ll have to play the entire mode and complete all objectives. This isn’t exactly easy as the A.I. will constantly reverse you to the point where you’ll want to Batista Bomb your console.

WWE 2K22 Review - Screenshot 4

While I’m never touching Showcase again, I still play WWE 2K22 everyday just like I’ve done with every WWE game since Smackdown vs. Raw 2007. It has a few missteps and problems but I feel like this is a great foundation for games moving forward should WWE choose to continue working with 2K.

Score

7 / 10

"Pretty Good"

WWE 2K22 releases on March 11, 2022, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

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