Title: WWE 2K22
Developer: Visual Concepts
Platforms: PS5 (reviewed on), PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Release Date: March 10, 2022
Reviewing WWE 2K22 is impossible without first addressing some massive stories.
It is not a controversial opinion to say that WWE 2K games have not been good, nor have they been received well by fans. Every iteration of the series was lazier and less interesting to fans, who made their resentment known more and more, culminating in the cancellation of WWE 2K21. In its place, 2K released WWE Battlegrounds, a game that was not just a bad wrestling game, but a terrible video game in general. This began to strain the relationship between the WWE and 2K.
Then 2020 and 2021 saw WWE release almost 100 wrestlers, many of which were top stars and big parts of the WWE system. Stories began popping up around this time that this routine frustrated the development team behind WWE 2K22 because it required them to erase wrestlers they had put hard work into creating from their game almost twice a month. Not every released wrestler was able to be removed from the game, however, with the cutoff date appearing to be around September.
The relationship between WWE and 2K appears to officially be ending after this title releases, with WWE already approaching EA Sports about producing their next release.
WWE games also tend to be a celebration of wrestling history, with many of wrestling’s legends showing up on the roster. That is not the case in 2K22 and likely has to do with AEW and the many, many legends that have made their appearances on their programs over the last twelve months.
This is, by far, the best a WWE 2K game has ever played, and although that may not be a high bar to clear, it does not make this game any less impressive. The controls and system utilized for WWE 2K22 feel like the perfection of the WWE 2K system, which is a deeply flawed system but can still make for an enjoyable game when handled properly.
The biggest change made to the gameplay is that combat has been reworked to function more like a fighting game. There may not be health meters, but there is a stamina bar that doubles as a health/consciousness meter. When it is depleted, the player is “stunned” and cannot rise or reverse a move for a short period of time. The more bodily injury the player takes, the less room the stamina bar has for replenishing, eventually culminating in the bar being just mere centimeters long after a long match.
The game even introduces combos, which when followed, allow the player to whip out impressive maneuvers against their opponent. This is a much better system than the previous system, which simply just had the player grapple their opponent and then hit A while holding a specific position. The combos feel more earned, the moves flow better together, and it makes for more exciting matches.
My GM Mode
One of the biggest stories going into WWE 2K22 was “My GM Mode” which was a fan-favorite game mode that had been utilized in the older WWE games. Fans had been asking for it for years, and finally, with their final WWE production, 2K promised that the game mode would return.
It returned in name only, with nothing else resembling the original concept.
My GM mode has the player pick a WWE brand: Raw, Smackdown, NXT, and NXT UK. Then the game asks the player to pick a GM, with five total options, all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. To clarify, these are not notable general managers in WWE history or real-life backstage authority figures. The absence of Vince McMahon, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Teddy Long, Eric Bischoff, Booker T, or even Drave Maverick is inexcusable, especially when Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville represent 50% of the available choices.
Then, the player is matched up against an opposing GM, who has their own brand and own drafted wrestlers, and the two go head to head for a limited number of weeks to determine who can build a bigger fan base. Each brand is only allowed one title, three matches per week, and very limited options in ways to change up your show and gain an advantage over your opponent.
This mode is so limited and such a disaster that it is unlikely that fans ever ask for this mode to return again.
There are several other factors that contribute to my final number score. The soundtrack for this title is offputting and out of place, even for someone who largely enjoys most of the songs on the track. The UI is atrociously bad, likely one of the worst in the series, which is saying something. Having Michael Cole and Corey Graves on commentary for every match is annoying, partially because Michael Cole and Corey Graves are, in fact, annoying, but also largely because there are several other amazing commentators on WWE’s payroll that should’ve gotten an opportunity here. The MyFaction mode is bad, with all of the negative qualities of the micro-transaction-heavy “MyTeam” clones and not many of the redeeming factors.
However, this is not a game about UI, a soundtrack, or specific modes, even if many of those are bad. It is a game about wrestling and, as a big wrestling fan, I loved that experience. F5ing Eric Bischoff off the top of Hell in a Cell. Swanton Bombing my way out of the ring, through a table. Making my interpretation of myself as a wrestler and winning the Royal Rumble and pave my own way to Wrestlemania. It was fun to see again, and for the first time in a few years, it was fun to play as well.
WWE 2K22 (PS5) Score: 6.5
It may be a few years too late, but WWE 2k22 improves on the series in almost every way. The combat system being changed and made more reminiscent of a fighting game makes the matches faster and more exciting.
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.