WWE 2K22 Review: A Much Needed Repackaged Gimmick

Well removed from possibly the worst wrestling game launched, WWE 2K22 released March 11, 2022 aiming to reclaim the title as the flagship wrestling game. This year’s game launched following a little over a year’s worth of additional development time. With the longer development, 2K added new features, games modes, and revamped what felt like the weakest control scheme in WWE 2K20. After spending several hours in the game, covering MyRISE, the Creation Suite Suite, and more, I can honestly say the game is a much need step in the right direction. Of course, I’ll break all that down for you in our WWE 2K22 review.

WWE 2K22 Review: Gameplay, game modes, & more!

This year’s review may seem a bit different from many expect from an SGO review. Rather than focusing on the usually factors that make up our review, I poured playtime into the selling points of WWE 2K22. That is to say, I focused my attention on the factors said to make WWE 2K22 worth buying after the launch of its predecessor.

Visual overhauls, audio, and graphic enhancements

2K20 comparisons aside, 2K22 released with overhauls visual and lighting systems built from the ground up. This includes new physics to better handle hair and collision. In terms of physics, its hard to say its a step from some of the series past titles. It’s more of a return to form with potential to greatly improve in the future. As for the visuals themselves, 2K22 runs a solid 1080p at 60 fps, at least on PC. Superstar models are leaps above what they have been in the past few years. The new body types are great for diversifying the various wrestler builds, and there are tons of comparison images that show just how well 2K22 improves the over look of WWE superstars.

(Credit: VGC)

As seen in the comparison of Edge from 2K20 (left) to 2K22 (right), the improvements are easily identifiable. This is not just for some superstars either. Just about every superstar scanned for WWE 2K22 benefits from the visual overhaul of this year’s game. That said, there are some notable decreases in quality worth mentioning. For some superstars, especially created via the Creation Suite, hair textures are lacking. Not missing, but rather appearing as lumps of clay or flat layers of paper with hair painted onto them. Its noticeable on stars like Shotzi Blackheart, but completely missable on others. However, the physics on them have returned to decent form.

The new Lighting affects many parts of the game, bringing the match presentation closer to WWE TV. This helps greatly in terms of immersion and drawing attention away from particular bad heads of hair. My favorite thing has to be the new camera angles and effects. Several entrances have been reanimated and feature camera angles and shake akin to someone holding and walking without a camera rig. And last, but not least, sound effects have been improved across the board. This includes collisions and audio character feedback when taking or dishing out offense. Again, a nice touch in terms of presentation.

MyGM ands MyRISE

MyRISE is the game’s story/career mode, whereas MyGM takes the place of the General Manager Mode from the early Smackdown vs RAW series. MyRISE replaces MyCareer and focuses on the player’s journey from one of four backgrounds as they rise to stardom within the WWE. Depending on choices made, you can shoot for RAW, NXT, or Smackdown as well as be shuffled around. As players progress, storylines open up in a variety ways. A few I encountered so far include Twitter exchanges and backstage altercations.

MyRISE also exists independently of WWE TV programming in terms of story. Some set pieces exist, like William Regal being the GM of NXT. However, for the most part players will be stepping into a WWE Universe specifically written for their MyRISE. Historical points still exist, like Sasha Banks being a terrible friend onscreen. Voice acting is hit or miss. Mostly depends on who is doing it. My suggestion is enable subtitles and read/skip scenes to speed things along. Additionally, MyRISE features men and women divisions with unique stories for replayability. It’s a fantastic piece of fanfiction worth devoting time to, so long as you do not take it too seriously.

MyGM could have waited

Despite the header, MyGM isn’t bad. As I expressed after the Ringside Report and following the details here, I feel MyGM isn’t exactly what the community had been looking for. There appears to be a difference in what the community wanted and what the developers thought we wanted. MyGM enters the series as barebones as it gets. Lynell Jinks said it best.

“MyGM mode is meant to be won.”

If you were looking for a WWE management-sim mode with resources, contracts, and endless seasons, this is not it. Again, it’s not bad. Simply different. The lack of tag divisions and secondary championship certain hurts the mode for solo players. Universe Mode is still going to be the go to mode for those who want to run shows and put on stellar cards. In my opinion, MyGM should have been something used to kickstart a true franchise like mode similar to Fire Promoter in Fire Pro Wrestling, or the popular Franchise modes in EA Sports titles. I could dive more into, but in all the mode is good for at least one solo run, a good stream for Twitch, and one or two games against a buddy, albeit locally. Other than that, I would push it onto the side things that may not have exactly been worth the resources.

Gameplay, the absolute best

There’s a lot to cover in WWE 2K22, but nothing more so than the gameplay itself. If there is any reason for the recent string of positive reviews for the game, its the gameplay. As veterans will find out, about 50% of the gameplay has changed and flipped on its head. While walking, running, taunting, and traversing the ring stays about pretty much the same, dealing offense and going on defense has changed drastically. The most notable change is the new combo system. See, combos are not simply added on top what was there prior but rather replaces and revamps medium grapples, strong strikes, and basic moves altogether.

In short, combos end with basic strikes, strong strikes, and what used to be light to medium grapples. Depending on how you set these up, one can almost double the allotment of available moves in their arsenal. This greatly diversifies movesets and lets longer matches show the depth of one’s character. Players still have access to non-combo grapples, but only in light and heavy form. Of course, this changes the overall control scheme as well. I highly recommend going through the brief tutorial led by Drew Gulak. WWE 2K22 certainly has a learning curve but is well worth the effort in mastery.

Going on defense

My favorite thing about the changes to gameplay is the ability to play defensively. For what feels like the first time in WWE video game history, defense is more than just countering with the press of a button. Players can both dodge and block. Like any good defense, they require timing. Furthermore, thanks to the new combo system, basic counters have been changed too. Initiating a grapple is more contextual in appear rather than locking up in a generic front facelock. Due to this, most counters will need to be done when you predict what the opponent plans to do next. So, this year there is less initial counters and more mid move counters. Overall, this creates very fluid and organic wrestling sequences.

In the same vein, players can counter the first hit of the combo or mid-combo. Mid-combo counters require you to guess what button the opponent uses next, adding a layer of luck and strategy. Honestly, its better experienced than read about.

The Verdict

What’s written here scratches the surface of the game, and does not do the gameplay justice. WWE 2K22 is not the perfect game by any means. however, it does bring a truly new innovation in gameplay. One that does not feel haphazard and finally pushes the overall feel of in-ring action closer to real life. This is the game 2K should have led with since the beginning. This game lays to rest any worry that the WWE 2K series will die without Yuke’s.

Despite some graphic mishaps, a lackluster debut for MyGM and some feature exclusions like Advanced Entrances due to technical issues, WWE 2K22 returns the series to form better than before. The graphics are stunning and the redesigned engine shows off what Visual Concepts can really do with enough time. Should the series continue in this trajectory, fans will truly benefit.

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