WWE 2K22 (PC) Review
WWE 2K22 corrects the previous game's flaws, but is that enough?
WHAT IS GOOD?
- Better Visual Presentation
- Improved Commentary
- Fast-paced Gameplay
- Engaging MyRise Mode
WHAT IS BAD?
- Universe Mode needs a Reboot
- AI Tuning could be Better
- MyGM mode could be improved
- Locked at 60FPS (PC)
- Noticeable Glitches Still Present
My earliest memories of a WWE game are from playing 'Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain' in video game parlors in 2002-03. The first time I spent significant time on a WWE game was about a half-decade later, when I purchased 'Smackdown Vs Raw 2008' for my PSP platform. I spent a large portion of my college years on a PS2/Xbox 360 playing all of the WWE games from 2009 to 2012. WWE 2K15 on Xbox One was the first WWE game I purchased. WWE 2K18 was the last WWE game I played on my PC. It's a nice epiphany to realize that I've played WWE games on practically every type of gaming setup accessible. It's also worth noting that there have been three or four completely different naming methods for WWE games over the years.
The naming scheme has remained similar since 2K took over as publisher for WWE brand games in 2013, but another major change occurred in 2018 when co-developer Yuke finally left and Visual Concepts took over development. As a result, as you may know, WWE 2K20 was one of the franchise's worst-received games, with IGN labelling it a "buggy mess."
Following this, 2K missed the 2K21 update entirely, instead of taking a two-year sabbatical and releasing WWE 2K22. It is the first WWE game accessible on the next-generation PS5 and Xbox Series S/X consoles, as well as the most anticipated WWE game in recent years. I've spent the last 20 days playing this game, and I can't tell you how many times it made me want to rip my hair out. Nonetheless, I can't stop playing it, and I don't see myself stopping for at least the next few months. Why is this the case, and should you buy it? Here is our complete evaluation.
WWE 2K22 PC: Pricing and System Requirements
I played WWE 2 K22 on PC, which I obtained through Steam. The Standard version was initially priced at Rs 3,299, but it is now selling for around Rs 2,500 on Steam. I played the Deluxe version of the game, which has access to certain additional DLCs, including all of the new characters. My gaming laptop is an Alienware X17 (11th Gen Core i7 + Nvidia RTX 3070) with an Xbox-compatible wired controller. Here is a list of the game's minimal system requirements as listed on Steam:
The possibility to unlock higher FPS gameplay is one odd omission from the PC edition. My screen has a refresh rate of 360Hz, which allows me to play WWE 2K18 at up to 180FPS. However, WWE 2K22 is currently locked at 60FPS gameplay, which dips to 30FPS during cutscenes. I'm hopeful that a future patch will address this issue.
WWE 2 K22 Review: Hits Different Visually, For Sure
Let's start with the things that do hit differently. Starting with the graphics, the visual presentation of the game is a notable improvement over previous titles. The character models of superstars appear more solid,' the venues appear more resembling TV than ever before, and the new lighting enhancements really add to the realism. This is particularly noticeable during the entrances, as the celebrities look and move as naturally as they can in a video game.
The in-ring presentation is also improved, with superstars appearing larger and the automatic camera cuts operating fluidly throughout. The use of motion blur and camera angle shifts during special times enhances the overall experience.
Another thing that has clearly improved is the game's physics. Superstars' motions no longer feel like lightweight dolls, and most aerial moves now feel much more devastating than before. Even weapon physics feels enhanced, with steel chairs feeling much more genuine, weapons being realistically damaged with every strike, and tables not disappearing immediately after being destroyed.
Finally, the commentary feels much more authentic, with Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Bryan Saxton's banter being better related to the in-ring action and some contextual commentary segments on the in-ring superstars and their history against each other.
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WWE 2K22 Review: Gameplay Overhaul Hits Different AF
The revamped controls are the most noticeable difference between WWE 2 K22 and previous installments. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or playing a WWE game for the first time, the all-new button layout will need a learning curve, albeit a short one. Most things have been reduced to the point that even a total newcomer can feel at ease within the first few minutes. Other aspects, such as signatures and finishers now being multi-button affairs, and 2-3 various reversal possibilities, remain unduly complicated.
The fighting mechanisms have also been updated. There is now a three-button attack system in place, with many permutations and combinations of the buttons resulting in various attack combos. It's akin to what we've seen in fighting games like Tekken and Mortal Kombat, and it works surprisingly well in a WWE scenario. The gameplay feels a lot faster-paced, the superstars feel much faster between movements, and the new combo system's broad number of choices means that even an inexperienced button-masher can easily surprise even the most painstakingly seasoned gamers at times.
Don't frown just yet, if you're a seasoned gamer reading this. While the game is clearly attempting to make new players feel at home as quickly as possible, long-time fans of the franchise will appreciate the removal of clunky grapple chain games, unnecessary complications of the stamina bar and multi-layered health meters, and almost all (I say almost, yes) of the strange bugs and problems found in WWE 2K20.
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Speaking of things that have been deleted, there is no longer a limit to reversals, which can be a good or a negative thing depending on how you prefer your WWE bouts. I personally enjoy the opportunity to perform seemingly endless reversals, but it may be annoying when you're playing against a strong opponent and the outcome of the match is determined by who misses their reversal first.
WWE 2K22 Review: New Game Modes, But Nothing Too Different
This year saw a lot of focus on the return of "MyGM" mode, which was last seen on SvR 2008. It's essentially a management simulation mode in which you take over as the General Manager of one of the WWE shows and try to outperform an AI or another player in terms of delivering higher ratings, managing the budget, drafting superstars, and putting on the best show possible. Because there is no actual in-ring gameplay here, this mode is only for the most die-hard fans, and I suspect many casual players will pass it up.
Then there's the Universe mode, which has been a mainstay of WWE games for years. Take over the WWE Universe, customize shows, book PPVs, and play matches; essentially, a never-ending sandbox simulation for WWE fans. The majority of it feels very similar to previous iterations, with a few new cutscenes thrown in here and there. One significant change is the ability to manually announce MITB cash-ins at the start of a show or even during a match. Personally, I had been hoping for this to happen for a long time. Another new feature is the ability to edit match cards while a show is in progress, which makes the experience even more dynamic.
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However, not everything is perfect, and some of the franchise's long-standing issues can still be found here and there. Despite having a huge roster of 160+ superstars available, Universe Mode still feels stagnant at times, with the same set of 20-30 superstars being put in matches over and over. Rivalries keep repeating the same pattern, and the inconsequential nature of this mode takes away some of the fun.
I'd like to see a more dynamic Universe mode, perhaps a hybrid of the MyGM and Universe modes. As a GM, you can book and plan shows, as well as play those matches yourself, with the results and ratings of the matches having some effect on the game's progress.
This year, 2K Showcase mode returns with a closer look at Rey Mysterio's career. You get to relive some of his biggest victories while also getting some really insightful bites from Mysterio himself about himself and his friendship with Eddie Guerrero. I really liked how the game seamlessly transitioned from in-game cutscenes to real-life footage of some of Mysterio's most iconic moments.
The career mode returns as "My Rise," this time with the ability to create your own superstar and guide them through the WWE journey. There are a plethora of storyline options here spanning various brands, and depending on your choices, your journey may look completely different than someone else's. There are nearly as many options and routes available for the female superstar storyline as there are for the male superstar storyline.
Again, a fantastic gameplay experience enhanced by real-life superstars such as HBK, Seth Rollins, and Mr. McMahon himself doing voice-overs for their avatars and proper TV-style twists and turns. The matches themselves can feel repetitive at times, especially since you'll be forced to fight in normal 1v1 matches 95 percent of the time. It would have been nice to see an occasional Steel Cage/No DQ match or some other outlandish stipulation.
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Finally, there's a My Faction mode, which is 2K's version of EA's FUT Team mode in FIFA games. Spend money, collect player cards, form a team, and compete against other players online. I've never tried it in a FIFA game, and I haven't tried it here. Not to mention that you can always go online and play a match against other players or create your own lobby to play with friends.
WWE 2K22 Review: Problems That Hit Not-So-Different
While WWE 2K22 has made significant improvements, it still suffers from some of the same issues that have plagued WWE games since their inception. The targeting system remains hit-or-miss, especially when there are more than four superstars in the ring. Tag team matches continue to function strangely in that if you begin the match as the superstar on the apron, you will be locked out of any in-ring action because your control will always be on the tagged-out superstar unless you manually change the controller settings. In that case, you'll have to switch controllers manually every time you make a tag in order to keep control of the in-ring superstar.
Because the maximum number of in-ring superstars is still limited to 8, you can't play a traditional 5v5 Survivor Series match. There are still three match types: Extreme Rules, No Holds Barred, and No DQ, all of which do the same thing. The ringside Hell in Cell gameplay has become much more restricted, but they did finally add weapons to HIAC, so I'm not complaining.
The most bizarre aspect, however, is the game's AI's general inconsistency. This is especially noticeable in matches with four or more superstars, with the AI sometimes simply standing still for minutes or going completely berserk while stuck in a huddle trying to beat the same opponent.
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I played the game with the AI set to the second hardest difficulty level, and for the most part, the AI doesn't act like it's trying to hurt my player, until it goes on a reversal streak, reversing anything and everything. It's frustrating, and I'm not just saying that because the AI put me through a table I made.
WWE 2K22 Review: Conclusion and Verdict
WWE 2K22 is the best-looking WWE game yet, and I'm sure it'll look even better on next-generation consoles. The new gameplay mechanics are faster and will undoubtedly help new players pick up this game simply for fighting fun. Whether you prefer a fun arcade-style fighting game experience or a serious WWE simulation, this game has something for everyone and should keep you entertained for the rest of the year.
Having said that, it's still not a complete rebuild, with some of the franchise's quirks still present. The AI tuning still needs work, the targeting system can ruin a well-set-up match for you, and there is a slew of bugs and glitches. While the slew of bugs that accompanied 2K20 have been addressed, the game can still throw more-than-occasional curveballs, such as superstars becoming entangled in each other or other objects, cutscenes that are completely opposite to what happened in the match that followed, Steel cages disappearing in the middle of a match, and so on.
Furthermore, no new match types or crazy things you can do in the game have been added. And 90s kids will be disappointed to learn that many familiar faces, such as a playable HBK, JBL, Christain, Lita, and others, are no longer on the game's roster. To be fair, they did include a slew of other iconic stars from the past.
Overall, this game is a huge step up from WWE 2K20, but that's also because 2K20 was a huge step backward in terms of how the series had been progressing over the years. In any case, I'd like to think of WWE 2K22 as the start of a new era in WWE games, and we all know how first-gen products only get better in subsequent iterations, so fingers crossed for 2K23.
If you're going to buy WWE 2K22, I'd recommend getting the standard edition because the Deluxe Edition, which costs nearly twice as much, doesn't seem justified unless you plan on playing MyFaction mode a lot or just want to see Hulk Hogan in a different costume. For what it's worth, if you're looking for a casual WWE game, you can still get 80-90 percent of the same experience from an older WWE game, such as 2K18 or 2K19, which are now much cheaper. Finally, WWE 2 K22 is a good step in the right direction for the franchise, one that corrects the mistakes of the previous game, but it is still not the perfect WWE game right now.