Make no mistake about it: WWE 2K22 saved the franchise last year. While WWE 2K23 was never going to be a drastic reinvention, it pushes the series forward in all the right places. Think of it like toning the muscles for extra definition and a glistening glow. More importantly, it harks back to the glory days of WWE SmackDown vs. Raw – and it features the future G.O.A.T, LA Knight – yeah!
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New stories, who dis?
Visual Concepts and 2K Sports learned all the right lessons from last year. While the overall feedback toward the game was positive, there were a few niggles and criticisms about what could be improved. That’s exactly what happens in WWE 2K23 as every mode feels meatier than before, except for MyFaction which still comes across as the most random addition. It’s understandable why it’s included since card games are extremely popular in mobile gaming; however, it still feels out of place here and like it should be a separate video game altogether.
The two biggest upgrades come in the shape of MyGM and MyRise modes. The former now allows for up to four players to manage their own shows– including the addition of the WCW brand – and compete for Hall of Fame glory. There is greater detail in this mode, as there are more options for the booking of the shows. While it’s still tough to balance the demands of the roster and finding the right formula for matches (seriously, how can fans be disappointed by a bout between Gunther and Cody Rhodes?), there’s a sense that there’s more method to this madness than before.
Arguably, MyRise is the best mode of WWE 2K23, and no one saw it coming. Instead of the generic rookie to icon storyline of the past, the mode is now split into two stories: The Legacy and The Lock. The former is exclusive for the women’s roster and follows a next generation superstar as she tries to prove she is more than her famous relative. The Lock, though, might be one of the smartest and meta additions yet, as it follows a created male superstar who receives a questionable gimmick. However, the choice is if he becomes a company man and accepts his fate, or tries to get over on his own. Surprisingly, both of these storylines feature twists and turns that keep the player on the edge of their seat.
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Showcasing John Cena
The twist in WWE 2K23‘s Showcase mode is how it flips the tables. While it’s all about John Cena’s legendary career, this follows his biggest losses – not wins. This means the player is in control of Cena’s opponents as they dish out the punishment on the multi-time champion. Honestly, there’s a sense of glee in recreating the infamous bout between Cena and Rob Van Dam at ECW One Night Stand in 2006, as the crowd cheers on RVD and buries Cena under a chorus of boos.
Despite the lack of commentary for this mode, the developers have managed to capture the look and atmosphere of the era intertwined with the clips from the actual matches. That said, some of the objectives, such as “irish whip your opponent” or “perform a taunt,” do come across as silly and could have been replaced with more challenging moves or combos.
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Subtly is the name of the game
While there is no major overhaul from last year’s game — apart from an updated roster and the addition of the bonkers-button-mashing WarGames match type — the graphics have received a lick of new paint here. Again, it isn’t like it’s a leap from Comic Sans to Times New Roman or anything, but it’s evident there have been updates made to the appearance of the arenas and performers. Unfortunately, the developers have still not cracked the code in terms of the hair, as the ‘dos are flatter than Baron Corbin’s character right now.
In terms of gameplay, Visual Concepts has kept what worked from before and tweaked the system for WWE 2K23. There are subtle changes, such as how it’s easier to execute suicide dives on players outside of the ring and the logic of moves. For example, if a smaller player tries to bodyslam a giant now, a different move will be executed in its place – so, don’t expect to see Rey Mysterio picking up Omos here.
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Overall thoughts of WWE 2K23
WWE 2K20 was a massive learning curve for everyone. Instead of trying to revolutionise the video game every year and possibly breaking it, the team has put the fun factor at the heart of it all once again. WWE 2K23 isn’t a difficult game to pick up. It’s the sort of title that a novice or veteran of the series can get into and enjoy from the start, which makes a huge difference. Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the Universe mode, crafting the journey of a wrestler – or multiple wrestlers – and absorbing yourself in the wild and wacky world of pro wrestling. WWE 2K23, we acknowledge you.
- The improvements of MyGM
- MyRise is fantastic
- LA Knight, yeah!
- MyFaction still feels pointless
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