After a lot of troubles with WWE 2K20, the team behind the WWE 2K series has come back with a very well-made, but still flawed, a new version of the series with WWE 2K22. However, while things look good on the surface, WWE 2K22 comes off as “too little, too late”. With rumors of WWE looking to go with developer/publisher EA Games if WWE 2K22 doesn’t do well, there is a lot on the line with this newest entry into the wrestling game legacy. Does the game hold up to the pressure? Or will it tap out and leave 2K Sports to submit the rights away to EA?
Name: WWE 2K22: nWo 4-Life Edition Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S Developer: Visual Concepts Publisher: 2K Sports Game Type: Sports Mode(s): Single-player, multiplayer, online multiplayer Release Date: March 8 (Deluxe/nWo 4-Life) / March 11 (Standard)
Wrestling with the Real Thing or Action Figures? (Graphics)
WWE 2K22 is one of those games where the realistic and the cartoony mix into some sort of weird combination that works and doesn’t work at the same time. WWE 2K22 is one of the better-looking sports games out there given that the 2K scanning technology is some of the best around, so when you see the wrestlers, you know that they are the wrestlers themselves. However, at the same time, there has been some altering of the wrestlers that makes them have this way beyond a realistic look that borders on being cartoon-like, with a shine that is worse than the amount of baby oil that Macho Man Randy Savage would wear in the 1980s. This gives WWE 2K22 a high but unrealistic quality that brings you into the wrestling world and makes you know that you are playing a video game at the same time.
One place that still needs improvement in WWE 2K22 is the amount of time given to the female wrestlers in the game. While it is not too noticeable during gameplay, it becomes apparent during the female MyRise career mode that the female models suffer from the same “done in create-a-wrestler” look that has plagued them in past iterations, complete with this effect on the eyes that makes all the females, both scanned and created, look like they have been partaking in illegal white powder before their scanning sessions.
While WWE 2K22 is a vast improvement upon WWE 2K20, which was a complete graphical nightmare, at the same time there are still some graphical bugs in the system that are still holdovers from WWE 2K20 like the hair physics and clipping that should have been fixed a long time ago. Thankfully, WWE 2K22 doesn’t suffer from all the terrible bugs and glitches that plagued WWE 2K20, but at the end of it all, there should have been a bit more testing before release.
Overall, graphically, WWE 2K22 is going to stand out as a great-looking game, especially at 4K on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. However, it’s still far from perfect, but there is hope that 2K Sports will put out a couple of patches that’ll smooth out the final few issues with things like hair physics, rope glitches, and clipping issues.
Paying Your Dues… Again (Gameplay)
General Gameplay in WWE 2K22 has had a complete overhaul. Gone are the annoying and complex simulation controls, with a new faster pace control style taking its place with a focus on combos and streamlining the overall experience. Yes, this will mean that you might need to jump back into the WWE 2K22 tutorial mode once again (I actually recommend it as it is done a lot better this time around with everything being explained), but it is worth it. WWE 2K22 will see you very quickly busting out moves and reversals with lightning speed and accuracy… Even if the AI can get very spammy with its own moves at times.
WWE 2K22 is pretty much like all the other wrestling games in the series, with all the pomp and flash that comes with a WWE product. Thankfully, WWE 2K22 uses a few of the more modern arena types that had been affected by the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns which saw the company have to resort to large horrible plexiglass barricades and remote LED monitors to display a crowd. WWE 2K22 makes sure to keep the proper live-action feel of the shows by having a fully integrated crowd represented in most areas, from the modern RAW and Smackdown to some of the classic WWE arenas and even some returning WCW ones too.
When in the ring, you feel like you are watching a proper WWE product, with all the logos and even some of the sponsors represented in the matches. You’ll notice in MyGM mode that you have more control over how to show looks as well, a great touch for the mode. But during the action, you’ll notice that the reversal meters are gone, and instead, you are working with an actual health bar, a signature bar, and a finisher bar. So, of course, when the opponent’s health is at zero, you know you’ll have a high chance of winning the match. Another thing to mention in WWE 2K22 is that the kick-out and submission systems have changed for the better: With the horrible chase minigame for submissions removed in place of some good old button-mashing, kick-outs no longer being done with lag-induced timing, but button mashing too, so you actually have a chance in WWE 2K22 to keep the matches going.
However, WWE 2K22 is not with its gameplay issues too. While everything looks to have been given a lot more care and polish than other entries, you can still do things that will break the game. While I haven’t been able to replicate these glitches myself, I did watch a stream by newLEGACYinc on Twitch where they were able to break physics a few times. Once they did it by hitting the title belt used in a ladder match so hard it disappeared from the game (Might have been hiding with Sting in the rafters), and another situation whereby doing a crossbody off a ladder onto someone standing on the top rope, you could cause them to take the move and then float slowly down to the ground without any problems. Then there were more thathave beenclipped too.
I Respect You Booker-Man (Modes)
WWE 2K22 does boast a lot of fan-favorite match types and game modes, however, it seems that not everything is as good as it should be. In general, most of the match types are variations of the same match modifiers like TLC, Hell in a Cell, Extreme Rules, etc. No matter if you choose one on one, two on two, etc; you’ll find that the match types you can pick from are all the same thing, just with more or fewer people involved. This is something that makes WWE 2K22 look good on paper, but at the end of the day, when you’re only going to use half the modes anyway, you wonder why there is this artificial inflation of the matches at all.
Showcase Mode is your first highlighted mode in WWE 2K22, since the focus of the cover was on Rey Mysterio, this is the mode that he is featured in… Kinda. The problem I have with Showcase mode is that while it is very well done, with Rey telling you a story of each match and giving personal insight into each one, while you seamlessly transition from gameplay to actual footage from the match, completing match objectives as you go; the problem comes with the focus of the mode. You start the Showcase mode with the amazing 5-Star classic that was Rey Mysterio Jr vs Eddie Guerrero from WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 (One of the many classic Rey vs Eddie matches in WCW), the rest of the showcase focuses on WWE matches that Rey had against top tier WWE Superstars like Shawn Michaels, JBL, Kane, and Undertaker; to more modern matches against Samoa Joe, Gran Metalik, and the team of Seth Rollins and Murphy. Rey Mysterio spent a huge amount of his career in WCW having some of the best Lucha Libre matches to be shown to US and international audiences at a time when watching AAA or other Lucha promotions wasn’t a thing. I feel that skipping Rey’s WCW career is a huge insult to the man and his legacy. Also, a big FU to WWE 2K22 for locking content behind this mode that cannot be unlocked via the WWE 2K22 Supercharge add-on that was included in my copy of the game.
Another insult in WWE 2K22 is the GM Mode. This mode was the highest request by fans when they were asked about what features they wanted in WWE 2K22. What we got is a really slimmed down, limited timed, ultimately boring version of the mode. In MyGM, you draft a roster based on the budget you are given, then face off against one other GM and a show you put them on and battle it out to see who can do the best. The default time frame in MyGM is 15 weeks or 3 months that build to Wrestlemania. Over time you’ll unlock production help, effects for shows, advertising methods, and arenas to do your shows in while making sure you balance your roster, keep their morale up, do favors to keep people happy, and a million other things all at once that ultimately means nothing in the long run. There isn’t much done here to create a story, instead, the whole mode comes off as WWE 2K22: Accounting version instead of a full simulator mode that people expected.
Universe mode is pretty much the same thing that you’ve seen in other WWE 2K games. This is your sandbox mode where you control the action, shows, champions, and everything else that MyGM should have been. Given that this mode exists, I can see why MyGM got next to nothing in terms of depth when it comes to how things come across. Honestly, WWE 2K22 could have just added a budget to Universe mode and everything would be closer to what fans expected from MyGM instead of what we got.
MyRise on the other hand is a really good and promising mode. As someone who really got annoyed with the deep simulation and stat crap of WWE 2K19 and WWE 2K20, to see WWE 2K22 keep things simple with this version of the career mode is a huge improvement. This time your stats are only in 8 sections, with points being used to increase them… and that’s it. There are no unlocking moves, costume parts, entrances, etc, through annoying pack mechanics that limit your creativity. WWE 2K22 throws you right into a male or female-specific storyline that sees you go from Performance Center trainee to WWE Champion involving multiple WWE Superstars. I don’t want to spoil the mode because it’s one of those good things that I would recommend you experience yourself rather than reading it in a review.
Then finally there is the Creation Suite, the cornerstone of WWE games for decades. Once again, WWE 2K22 is a huge improvement over WWE 2K20, with a lot of what you do actually working and displaying correctly. As usual, you can create a male or female superstar, make an Arena, show, championship belt, and a couple of other things through this mode, and yes, you can still use custom images… Right down to the superstar photo that shows up during the match-up screen. The only downside to the mode is that some things will cause long load times, giving you time to go grab a quick drink when waiting for your character to load. A big personal bonus is that FINALLY, they have the name “Carl” listed in the spoken names section, meaning that for the first time I can actually create myself with my own name… Though I’ll probably use a ring name anyway, it’s still good to hear it in there.
Same Matches Week After Week (Replayability)
WWE 2K22 is a huge game… kind of. While there looks to be a lot to do on the surface, a lot of the modes are “one and done” modes where you will play them once and then never bother with them again. MyRise, MyGM, and Showcase modes suffer from this idea but are also some of the most fun you’ll get out of WWE 2K22 in the long run. The lack of match types that feel fresh and replayable are not all there since everything tends to repeat with the only difference being the number of people involved.
You might notice that there are two things I haven’t talked about in WWE 2K22 yet: MyFaction and the Online play. Well, the problem there is that, at least on the Xbox version, there is a glitch that resets the EULA, Terms and Conditions, and other things you NEED to agree to in order to access online content. You might get lucky and access something for a few minutes before the glitch happens and you’re booted out. This glitch affects both the MyFaction mode and all online play. However, I have seen some online gameplay and watched videos on the MyFaction mode… and neither are good.
Online gameplay is still a mess in WWE 2K22, with the servers either being glitchy, too laggy, or just unavailable for play. When you get a match, you have to spend at least 2 minutes either moving around in a circle or just waiting for the servers to sync everyone together before gameplay can begin. If someone drops out from a match, either the match will end if you’re doing a one on one match type, or if you have more than one person in the match, it’ll crash completely. It’s a huge shame that WWE 2K22 still has these types of server issues after doing this series for 10 years.
MyFaction on the other hand is a completely horrible beast. This is the WWE Ultimate Teams of WWE 2K22. In this mode, you spend time collecting cards to build a stable of people that you manage and try to create the best stable ever. Basically, this is WWE Supercard in just about every way except that you actually play matches to earn currency to buy more packs with… or you could just buy the VC needed for a price on the WWE 2K22 Shop and get packs that way. MyFaction is everything I hate about the current state of gaming: A mode thrown into a game that has been designed as “games as a service” to drain your wallet of money after you’ve just spent money on the game (And with the WWE 2K22: nWo 4-Life Edition costing close to AU$200, I get really angry seeing this shit in WWE 2K22). There is no way in hell I’ll be playing this mode as I do not agree with these types of practices in video games.
The final thing to talk about in WWE 2K22 is the roster. There are 171 wrestlers on the roster (Not including costume variants for Rey Mysterio & others that are unlocked through the Showcase mode or managers but does include nWo & Undertaker variants) with DLC included, which appears great on paper, but then we remove people who have been released before WWE 2K22 was released into the world and we lose around 30+ wrestlers. This makes WWE 2K22 one of the most outdated games in the history of the franchise upon release of the game.
Better than the Real Thing (Closing)
To be honest, WWE 2K22 is a decent game. The change in mechanics and controls has helped turn the series back from an ultra-complex simulation game to more of the arcade-style roots that made the WWE Smackdown vs RAW series so much fun. At the same time though, WWE 2K22 is still needing more time in playtesting, bug detection and elimination, and overall more time in the proverbial oven before releasing the game into the world. The developers at 2K Sports said that they were listening to the fans and what they wanted in WWE 2K22, but the product comes off as a half-arsed fixing of WWE 2K20. WWE 2K22 is still worth the pick-up, but only if you are willing to drop over $100 for either the Deluxe edition or the nWo 4-Life Edition as those are the more complete products. If you’re planning on picking up the standard edition of WWE 2K22, it’ll be best to wait till second-hand copies start hitting eBay or your local games store, or wait till WWE 2K22 goes on sale for at least half price. WWE 2K22 is a great wrestling game for the moment and an improvement over the real-life offering… At least till we see what AEW produces.
Review Disclosure Statement: WWE 2K22: nWo-4-Life Edition was provided to us by 2K Sports for review purposes. For more information on how we conduct and handle reviews here, please visit our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info. Thank you.
WWE 2K22 is one of those games that, as a wrestling fan, I don’t mind playing a few times over before using it as a WCW/ECW/AEW simulator game till something else comes along. The MyRise career mode looks to be a highlight of an otherwise limited video game. Now only if WWE could do something about their real-life product (and not fire half the roster before a game release) that can compare to some of the bookings you can do in WWE 2K22 and maybe they might have a chance to return to dominance… Till then, bring on the AEW video game!
A lot of the issues from WWE 2K20 are gone
MyRise shows promise
Showcase mode feels more involved
The transitions between real footage and gameplay in Showcase mode