WWE 2K22 Review – IGN


It’s amazing how much a year can make.

2K Games and Visual Concepts, the developers of WWE 2K20 made a smart decision to cancel the show in an effort to refocus the series and reset it. And it’s a good thing, too, because the resulting WWE 2K22 is by far the most polished and freshest take on the franchise since it began way back in 2013. To be clear, that isn’t to say that it is entirely free of bugs, awkward collision detection, server disconnects, and a few other longstanding problems, most of them are under control now and it’s evident that the team truly took many major points of feedback to heart. The action is faster, the controls are less convoluted at the ground level, the wrestlers (mostly) all look fantastic, and there are no confounding lootboxes ruining the career mode’s progression. A total overhaul of the strike/grapple is also what WWE 2K needs.

It’s clear that one of the key focuses for WWE 2K22 was to simplify what has become, over years upon years of iterations, just an overwhelming amount of systems governing the fundamental wrestling mechanics. There’s no more stamina meter, no more multi-tiered lifebars, no more reversal stocks, no more chain wrestling minigames, no more rest hold minigames, and every character is down to just one special payback ability.

That might sound like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but really, it’s a trimming of fat that’s paid off. WWE 2K22’s wrestling feels much faster, more arcadey, and is more pick-up-and-play friendly for newcomers than ever. They’re almost all universally great changes, and whatever’s lost in the “Pro Wrestling Simulation” department is more than made up in the “This is Fun To Play” department.

WWE 2K22’s WWE Wrestling feels faster and is easier to pick up-and-play than ever.

The moments that bring back the magic of professional wrestling are always present. Fans of WWE will certainly get the most out of the gameplay, especially with how closely each superstar’s moveset mimics their actual repertoire of maneuvers and techniques, but even those unfamiliar with pro wrestling should find a lot to like about the fast-paced, high-flying action and the sheer variety of cool moves to behold.

Camera angles are better and do a better job of framing action inside and outside the ring. There are also better wrestler models and Byron Saxton’s commentary is far better. Best of all, there’s now one gigantic backstage area for falls count anywhere matches and backstage brawls, complete with cars to smash each other into, high platforms to toss your opponent off of, and plenty of weapons and tables strewn all around.

The one change that I’m a little torn on is the removal of reversal stocks, which gave each wrestler a limited number of reversals that would refill over time. They were created in 2K16 to prevent matches between experienced players from becoming a competition for who gets the most critical reversal. It can certainly be fun to trade reversals early on in a match, but it doesn’t feel like the timing window on them ever gets any tighter as the fight goes on, which makes actually ending a match against a skilled opponent exhausting because you can basically trade finisher reversals back and forth forever. However, I realize that there are arguments in favor and against reversal stock. I wish there was at minimum an option to toggle them on or off to allow people to play their way.

C-C-C-Combo Breaker

The other big change to the fundamentals of WWE 2K22’s wrestling is the overhaul of the strike/grapple system, which is much more combo focused than in previous years and also borrows a few mechanics from more traditional fighting games. WWE 2K22’s combo system uses three buttons for light, heavy, and grab, and have a progression that allows you to continue a string by pressing a button of equal or higher strength, with a maximum of four button presses in any combo. To end a combo, press the highest strength button and grab. This will activate the specific move tied to the combo string.

It is crucial to understand this because the combo cannot be reversed after it has been hit. You must then predict the button that the attacker will press next, and match them before they attack to break the combo. If you guess wrong, you’re locked out and are gonna eat the rest of the combo. But if you can get into your opponent’s head and predict their moves it’s fantastically rewarding – and an extremely good motivation to avoid falling into a pattern yourself. It’s essentially like a mini version of Killer Instinct’s combo breaker system, minus, you know, the announcer yelling C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER. It’s amazing to see some fighting game philosophy made it into a WWE game.

It’s amazingly rewarding to be able to see into the heads of your opponent and predict their moves.

Another fighting game influence on WWE 2K22’s wrasslin’ action is a segmented special meter that you can use for a variety of offensive and defensive techniques. Spend one bar, and you’ll be able to immediately get up from the mat as though wrestling was fake or something. Spend two bars, and you’ll be able to use your character’s equipped one-time-use Payback special move; these range from a low blow, to stealing your opponent’s finisher to use against them, to the ability to spit poison mist in your opponent’s eyes. Just make sure the ref doesn’t see it. If you fill it up, your Signature move can be executed. This will give you an instant finisher charge, which you can use for your best move. Although Signatures and paybacks have been part of the series for some time, it is now a very welcome addition to be able to use some of that same resource on a defensive move that helps you get out of bad situations.

MyCareer 2.0

The main features of WWE 2K22 from a single-player perspective are the career and showcase modes. However, the highlight mode has seen the most drastic changes. MyCareer is now known as MyRise and allows you to chart your own course through the WWE. There’s a great degree of freedom here: You could start off in Smackdown as a crowd favorite, get wrapped up in a number of storylines, suddenly decide to turn heel, get traded over to Raw, and open up a whole selection of new storylines that weren’t available to you before. There are also a number of smaller choices that you can make that affect what wrestlers you become friendly with, which ones you make your rivals, and what match types you’d prefer to throw down in.

MyRise is a far better alternative to previous WWE 2K career modes. With three brands, each with their own roster and titles to pursue, unique storylines depending on whether you’re a heel or face, and two completely different campaigns depending on whether you’re a male or female created character, MyRise will keep you busy for a long time if your goal is to see everything and collect every title. Best of all, there’s no awful progression system standing in the way of you customizing your character however you want! It’s super easy to boost your stats and customize your look, entrance, and moveset without having to unlock anything that you don’t already have access to outside of the mode.

The WWE’s bombastic flavor is missing in the actual story content.

That said, the actual story content lacks the WWE’s bombastic flavor. Most of the dialogue is delivered via unvoiced social media posts and text messages, there are far fewer promos and cutscenes than we’ve seen in previous years, and while there are a few amusing storylines – like Riddle getting in trouble with Goldberg for the disparaging social media posts that he Actually made in real life – there’s nothing truly stands out. There’s no crazy Samoa Joe with a bionic arm or Bray Wyatt dragging you to the Wyatt compound. Just very ordinary wrestling tropes that you’ve probably seen a thousand times if you’ve been a fan of WWE in the past few decades. While there are a few WWE Superstars to lend their voice to the story, most performances feel uninvested. It’s also clear that some of the voice-over recording happened during quarantine, because the audio quality is all over the place.

WWE 2K22

So while the execution doesn’t meet the ambition, MyRise’s focus on meaningful choices and the sheer amount of content within are definite steps in the right direction.

The Showcase Mode has remained largely unchanged over previous years. still can’t save checkpoints mid-match (yes, I will continue complaining about this in every WWE 2K review until the end of time). This emotional documentary highlights Rey Mysterio’s legendary career and explores his relationship to Eddie Guerrero. What’s really cool about Showcase, though, is how it transitions between the WWE 2K’s game engine and actual footage of the matches during the big moments, all while Mysterio provides a running commentary and offers interesting insight into each match.

General Management

As always, WWE 2K22 is overflowing with content, and that can’t be understated. There’s the customizable sandbox that is Universe Mode; the roster of more than 160 characters; to the insane insanely in-depth creative tools that let you create wrestlers, belts, arenas, movelists, and more; and the brand-new MyFaction mode, which is a microtransaction-laden minefield, but it’s at least a quarantined-off microtransaction laden minefield.

The MyGM mode is the best addition, making its way back to the world wrestling video games for first time since Smackdown 2008 vs Raw 2008. This management simulator puts you in charge of either Raw, Smackdown, NXT or both. It’s a lot of fun to use and makes it a lot more enjoyable. Over a period of 15 weeks, you compete against the AI or another player. You both must manage logistics and schedule shows while managing a budget. There’s a lot to consider: You ideally want faces to go against heels, your opening and closing matches to be stronger than your mid-card matches, your biggest draws to stay healthy for big Pay-Per-Views, and that’s just scratching the surface. It’s a super-niche mode, and truthfully, I don’t know if any of my friends would ever want to do a round with me, but even just going up against the AI has been a fun diversion.


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