After taking a year following the busted release of WWE 2K20, 2K’s WWE video game franchise made its triumphant return with WWE 2K22, capturing the title of the best wrestling video game out. The studio hopes to defend its title with WWE 2K23, and we must say this game keeps the same energy as its predecessor.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Tweak it a little. That was Visual Concepts’ approach to WWE 2K23, following the very well-received WWE 2K22. Annual gaming franchises usually fall into the trap of just becoming repetitive games that studios throw a shiny coat of paint on because developers are working with a short development cycle.
Visual Concepts is a studio that knows what it takes to deliver quality annual sports video games because of NBA 2K and PGA 2K. The same applies to the WWE 2K, but is this year’s iteration better than the WWE 2K22?
It’s All About The Subtle Updates
When you boot up WWE 2K23, your first inclination is it looks the same as last year’s game. But there are some welcomed updates. First, you have to love that Mr. UpUpDownDown, himself, Austin Creed, aka Xavier Woods, is leading the tutorial section in this year’s game. It makes all the sense in the world, as he is a huge gamer and a huge step up from last year’s instructor Drew Gulak.
We wouldn’t be mad if they decided to give Creed the job permanently.
The controls also remain the same, which is good, but a new minigame makes you use analog sticks to help you get out of pin situations. I experimented with it for a while before eventually resorting to the original offering that have you mashing the x button as much as possible.
It’s like when NBA 2K developers introduce a new shot meter, and nobody cares for it.
This year developers went ham on the details, taking the game’s realism to another level and delivering an authentic WWE experience. Players will notice nice touches like Undertaker’s eyes rolling into the back of his head, wrestlers crawling to corners or rolling out of the ring after taking massive punishment, and much more.
The roster also expands, and the addition of War Games gives WWE 2K23 enough of a new feel to separate itself from the previous game.
How About Those Game Modes?
Like last year, there are plenty of modes for you to get lost in. Returning is Showcase Mode. Last year Rey Mysterio Jr. was the focus of the mode. This year it’s John Cena, easily one of the greatest wrestlers to set foot in a WWE ring. This year’s showcase moves differently. Instead of you playing as Cena, you play as his opponents as it highlights the wrestler/movie star’s most significant losses in his career, an interesting but great decision on the Visual Concepts team’s part.
MyFaction, WWE 2K’s version of NBA 2K’s MyTeam, is back and is still the game’s weak point. Not much has changed, the ranking system is still a letdown, and the multiplayer functionality doesn’t do much to help it improve.
MyGM continues to be a dream mode for anyone who wants to sit in Vince McMahon’s chair and put together a WWE Pay Per View, Raw or SmackDown telecast, and House Show.
The seasons have been extended this year, and you will be spending a lot of time drafting wrestlers, creating rivalries, and booking shows while going up against other general managers, which adds more excitement to the mode.
MyRise Gets Some New Fresh Features
MyRise also returns and boast some improvements. Now there are two separate campaigns, The Lock and The Legacy. In The Lock, your goal is to become the next big thing in the WWE while dealing with wrestling issues like taking away their personas that fans knew them for.
The Legacy will you put in the shoes of a fictional female wrestler trying to live up to a WWE legend named Justine who also happens to be your aunt.
Both add a refreshing spin on the MyRise game mode that still suffers from bad voice acting and shocking load times, even on the PS5.
WWE 2K23 has the distinct advantage of being the only wrestling game out till AEW Fight Forever reportedly hits shelves on March 31.
Even if that happens, I still think WWE 2K23 is the BEST wrestling video game out because it delivers on so many fronts. Presentation is on point, it has very strong roster that will see more wrestlers added throughout the year, the controls are tight and the game is just F U N.
When Visual Concepts made the decision to take year a off following the disastrous release of WWE 2K20, it made the right one because not only did the next the next two game hit differently, they came back stronger.
But, there is still the threat of stagnation looming. With being the only good wrestling game out, complacency can become a thing, so we hope AEW Fight Forever can offer its fans a good game to keep the developers at Visual Concepts on their toes so they can keep giving us these fire WWE 2K games.
Photo: Visual Concepts / WWE 2K23
*WWE 2K23 review key provided by 2K games.*