We had all hoped for a significant change for the better after Visual Concepts took a year off to repair the damage that was WWE 2K20. And for the most part, that’s what we got. This year, 2K looks to take it a step further and put WWE 2K23 in the upper echelon of sports video gaming. And for the most part, it has. Or it’s at least getting very close. Here is our SGO review of WWE 2K23.
In Ring ACTION
While [WWE]2K22 basically re-invented the gameplay engine, WWE 2K23 builds upon that with refinements and quality-of-life updates. Nothing is re-invented again, and that’s fine, considering 2K22’s gameplay was already good. Some of the improvements to mention would be the ability to pull off some moves a little easier. These are certain dives, with somewhat better collision detection, although this still seems to be an issue at times. This year, you can have two Paybacks. So, for example, your character can have both resiliency and move thief. This just brings a small but meaningful change to the flow of matches.
There is also a new stamina system in place. You can no longer run around without penalty. Eventually, you will get tired and need time to recover. This comes into play in the normal course of a match as well, so it’s not just to keep you from spamming the run button. Another new meaningful change is the pin meter. Now, when you are pinned, a horizontal meter moves back and forth, and you have to press up on the right stick while the cursor is in the green section of the meter to successfully kick out. As you lose health throughout the match, it becomes harder to do so. You can also simply press the A or X button, depending on which system you are playing on. But don’t worry. If you are a button masher, that system is still available.
Specials and finishers are done basically the same way as in 2K22. This is by holding down the right trigger on Xbox, or the Right Bumper on a PlayStation controller, plus X or O for your special, and Y or Triangle for your finisher. I feel like the system worked well last year, and there was no need to change it in this year’s game. As said, nothing gameplay-wise will blow you away if you played the game last year, but some refinements here and there, and some improvements to AI make the overall experience better.
One of the most substantial parts of the game this year is the presentation. From the solid commentary to the glitz and glamor of a WWE event, the presentation is there this year. The themes blare, the lighting is improved, and the sounds in and out of the ring make you feel like you are watching a televised event. 2K nailed the aspect of the game this year.
Returning for another year is the popular Showcase mode. However, this year’s mode has a new twist. While it’s all about WWE superstar John Cena, you actually play as his opponents. You play through some of the biggest matches of his career. While trying to take down Cena with the likes of RVD, The Undertaker, Kurt Angle, and Batista. There are 14 matches in total. Cena himself narrates as you go, and the mode is fun. Showcase mode is full of unlockables, but sometimes it can be tedious. It’s a long mode and takes some trial and error to get every unlockable and complete all objectives. So be prepared for a time sink here.
Game modes are one of the strongest parts of the game this year. You have multiple meat and potatoes modes such as GM Mode, My Rise, and Universe mode. This year, My Rise shines again with two separate modes within a mode, one being called the Legacy and one being called the Lock. The former, has you as a second-generation female superstar trying to follow in the footsteps of your Hall of Fame multiple-time Women’s Champion aunt, and the latter is The Lock, where you are a well-traveled superstar who’s had success all over the globe. Your choices make all the difference, as storylines can branch to other storylines. I won’t spoil any of the modes, I suggest this is one you need to play through by yourself.
This year, GM Mode amps it up a notch in many ways. Not only can you play multiple seasons, but there is more to manage in general. Although, the core of the mode remains mostly the same. One thing I don’t like, which carries over from last year, is the matchup system. Such as it being best to match up giants with cruiserweights, fighters with bruisers, and so forth. I feel this limits your ability to put on good matches.
You also have to not only closely watch your finances by spending your money wisely but also manage your wrestlers as they will come to you with ideas and requests. If you don’t honor them, it could mean they will leave your brand. Speaking of brands. Each GM you can choose from brings their own unique powers or power cards, so to speak. These can be things like giving you a monetary advantage or injury status advantages. You will also receive commissioner goals from Triple H. These can be things such as making sure a certain superstar is in a match this week, or the other way around.
This year’s mode is much deeper, yet it keeps a familiar tone from last year. And this isn’t a bad thing. The goal, in the end, is to win the rating war by having more fans at the end of the 25-week season. As you go, you can sign free agents or legends to give you boosts to parts of the mode. This year’s GM mode is a significant improvement. And is closer to what we have wanted for a while.
Universe mode is a living, breathing WWE sandbox-style game mode with two options. Play through as a single superstar, or take control of everything. You can edit any show, edit championships, rosters, and pretty much everything else you can think of. In my playtime with the mode, I took control of everything and tested out the new features, such as the new rivalry actions. These are actions you can set up to increase rivalry intensity by certain levels. You can do things such as attack your opponent before or after the match. Even so much as selecting to try to injure them. Each action has a 50/50 chance of happening for each person in the match. Unfortunately, the number of new cut scenes seems to be lacking again this year. While not devoid of new cutscenes and content, it just feels like there should be more. I feel like, once again, this year, it’s the most lacking all the modes, but there is still plenty of fun to be had.
My Faction is a card-collecting game much like Madden Ultimate Team and MLB The Show’s Diamond Dynasty. These modes tend to be polarizing, and either you like them, or you don’t. You start with low-level cards, play matches to increase levels, and customize logos, nameplates, and wallpaper. You have a manager who brings different resources to help you win. Games consist of weekly towers, proving grounds and faction wars.
You can also quick play online this year. Which is the newest part of the mode. This should add to the popularity of the mode.
To round out this year’s offering from 2K, the creation suite returns bigger and better than ever. With hundreds of new creative options for wrestlers. This mode can literally not disappoint. The only issue I can take with it is, once again only have 100 slots available for created wrestlers. And if there are any wrestlers left out, or if you want wrestlers from other companies, well the amazing creators have your back. Add in create an arena and all the other creations returning, and also the return of advanced create an entrance, the creation suite is second to none.
The couple matches I was able to get into went smoothly with no issues. Every day there are new challenges to be had as well.
The big thing this year is War Games. And man, is it fun. I won’t get into the in’s and out’s of the rules, but It comes highly recommended from me. As far as everything else, nothing else has been added and nothing taken away.
All-in-all, WWE 2K23 is a souped-up version of 22. With only a few things new things added to it. From gameplay to modes, and match types. Finally an up-to-date roster with mostly up-to-date themes and attires. It’s a worthy successor to last year and worth the upgrade.
While WWE 2K23 is a minor upgrade from its predecessor, there is enough here to satisfy returning players and introduce new ones.