Title: WWE 2K23
Developer: Visual Concepts
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox X/S, PS4, PS5, PC (reviewed on)
Release Date: March 14, 2023
We can give WWE a lot of lip service for being a mega titan that makes shady or unfavorable decisions, but you can never say that they are lazy in making a video game. The last two years have been huge overhauls. WWE 2K23 is the second entry in the It Hits Different era, keeping the same gameplay elements and modes that made WWE 2K22 a success.
The question on my mind is: Will the WWE 2K23 game be a step sideways or a step forward? If we are to expect a yearly release on a WWE game, will they get stale? Let us use WWE 2K23 as a test subject.
The most obvious change is the update to the roster and arenas. The game on my Steam account takes up 70gb and there is no mystery why. WWE 2K23 is chock loaded with wrestlers, arenas, assets, music, and footage to easily fill you with over 100 hours of gameplay. New wrestlers have debuted like Cody Rhodes, Bron Brekker, Bruno Sammartino, Cora Jade, Kurt Angle, Molly Holly, Queen Zelina, Noam Dar, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Nikki Bella, Lita, Ezekiel, Joe Gacy. I could go on, but you get the idea. NXT has a new Wargames match type which let’s 6-8 wrestlers brawl in a double caged ring. The create a wrestler mode is crammed with assets and options where any wrestler, arena, or gimmick can be made.
The graphical prowess on WWE 2K23 is roughly the same as WWE 2K22. The characters are bright and colorful, the arenas look vast, and if you squint it can feel like you are playing television footage. I did notice some “graphical ugliness” that effects all wrestling games. The hair models can look like strands of tissue paper. In a wargames match, a table was clipping through the canvas of the ring. I laughed out loud in a match with Carmella. Her lips looked unnaturally huge when she was doing her victory taunt. She looked like she had a horrible collagen accident. The ability to make your created wrestling character look as realistic as the game models is improving, but you can definitely tell that your CAW looks more cartoony than the licensed wrestlers. These things did not ruin my play through and most of them can be fixed with a patch.
Game modes in WWE 2K23 are the same as WWE 2K22. MyRise mode is a career mode for your CAW, Showcase mode takes you through the iconic matches of John Cena, MyGM mode puts you in the role of a booker, MyFaction mode is a card collecting online game, and MyUniverse mode let’s you play a calendar year of WWE matches. Here was my take on them.
Showcase Mode: John Cena gives a great narration of his career in WWE. The focus on this mode is to look at the wrestlers who have faced him (and thus taught him a lesson about never giving up). The John Cena footage is long and my patience for hearing him monologue before every match wore thin. Each historical match puts you in the role of John Cena’s opponent. Your wrestler has to complete certain objectives to relive the match. The excitement was real and I liked that the matches flipped between game footage and real show footage. While this puts you in the heart of iconic matches, it can be frustrating. For reasons unknown, I couldn’t get Rob Van Dam to do his flippin’ corkscrew leg drop objective or his top rope moonsault even though I tried it several times. Some specific moves do not come out right even if you are following instructions verbatim. All you can do is keep on repeating it until your character decides it is the right time. The game expects you to complete most or all of the objectives or you are not able to unlock new wrestlers or arenas. I understand why someone would pay for the DLC that unlocks everything.
MyGM Mode: I was not looking forward to General Manager mode at first in WWE 2K23 because I had such a hard time in 2K22. I was surprised that this one felt easier and more rewarding. You feel like a wrestling tactician, picking who will fight who and orchestrating your own show. There were still times when you try to set up a show that you think is perfect and for no discernible reason the game decides that your performance stunk. I was left scratching my head, “how could I have made that show any better?” Luckily, you can change the difficulty and I honestly think the most fun can be had on easy mode.
MyRise Mode: I played the Legacy storyline of MyRise. You play as the niece of wrestling legend, Justine. She is retired, but she works alongside you to help you become a hall of famer. There are some light RPG elements as your character is expected to strengthen their attributes and find missions by checking your social media or getting into conversations backstage. I found it hilarious that every diva you talk to backstage hates your guts for one reason or another. The arch villain/misunderstood final boss is Molly Holly. I wasn’t aware that she had such a huge role developing the divas, but in this game she shines more than Stephanie McMahon.
MyUniverse Mode: This has always been a staple of WWE games since the early 2010s. You get full control of the current roster in Raw, Smackdown, and NXT. I didn’t find much reasons to monkey around with this mode because I had no interest in playing a month of televised wrestling matches. The one match I did play was a mixed gender tag match between Dakota Kai, Jey Uso, Rey Misterio, and Carmella. Includes lots of customization and tweaking to any match.
MyFaction mode: The server was closed for this review.
There are a lot of spinning gears and mechanics in the fight system of WWE 2K23. You have light and heavy attacks, strong grapples, combo grapples, reversals, rope moves, signature moves, and various position moves. I was delighted that my wrestler could do so many different things in the ring and I couldn’t exhaust them in one match. As a button basher, the game was still easy to pick up and play. One thing I didn’t understand was the idea behind reversals. In some cases it was very easy to pull off reversals when you were prompted. In other cases the CPU could hammer on you for long stretches and not a single reversal attempt was present. I had no idea if there was something I needed to do to make the reversal opportunity pop up or if it was all randomized. It’s not a big deal if you are owning your opponent from bell to bell. This game offers light difficulty which is a huge plus for beginners. I also appreciate that kicking out of pin attempts and escaping submissions was a cinch and not some horrible mini-game (looking at you 2K16).
The vastness of every WWE 2K game is more than any human can bear. You could get lost in the single player modes, CAW modes, and simulation modes. WWE 2K23 is still the industry standard for creating your own fantasy wrestling business and putting it on YouTube. This is a solid entry into the wrestling world and 2K is amazing at delivering content feasts. There are some single player modes that I am going to skip just because I don’t need that kind of stress in my life, but rest assured, there is a whole lot of meat on this bone.
WWE 2K23 (PC): 8/10
The gameplay rewards you with lots of variety, while the graphics are still top-notch. WWE fans will feel like the wrestling lords have blessed them with tons of content. The single-player modes are easy to dominate (if you want them to be) but not all of them are worth sticking around for. The hustle and grind of Showcase mode might be a turnoff to some.
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.