Following the disaster that was WWE 2K20, which drew the attention of gamers far and wide—including those that wouldn’t normally have any interest in a wrestling game—due to it’s often hilarious glitches, one question I’ve been asked multiple times since the game’s release has been ‘Is WWE 2K22 a good game?’
For those of you who want a quick answer; Yes. I’d go as far as to say 2K22 is a great game, especially in comparison to what we were given previously.
However, having played it extensively for almost a fortnight now, I have picked up on a few relatively small things that stop it short of being “one of the best WWE games ever made”, as some have claimed.
Although I’ve spent considerable time trying out most of the game modes, a fortnight certainly isn’t long enough to see everything this game has to offer, but here are my first impressions.
WWE 2K22 looks fantastic in general, a real step up from WWE 2K20.
It’s worth noting that I have been playing it on a PS5 though, and haven’t seen the PS4 version in action. Given the jump in console generation, it’s to be expected the graphics would have improved. But even having said that, it still looks better than I expected it would, considering how WWE games have been off the pace in terms of cutting edge graphics in the past.
Some character models leave a bit to be desired, and although I can’t put my finger on exactly why, some of the arenas feel small and unpolished. Raw and Smackdown look a bit like a house show when you see the opening animation play, and not the spectacle we are used to on TV.
Overall though, there has definitely been a big leap forward in graphics, and it’s even easier to become immersed in the gameplay because of it.
Audio is a bit of a mixed bag.
There is a fantastic range of entrance music available, and all themes can be selected to use as menu music, which is great if you’re getting sick of hearing the 15 or so “normal” tracks looping over and over in menu screens.
This is important, as a lot of the game modes will see the player navigating menus for extended periods of time.
It seems like all the commentary has been re-done—something that was long overdue—and there have been special lines of audio recorded for specific sets of opponents.
For example, when The Miz faces Dolph Ziggler, Corey Graves might talk about Ziggler’s music and how it starts with the words ‘I’m here to show the world’. Then he will go on about how The Miz is there to set a good example to his daughter, rather than showing off globally.
I’m sure it’s something players will get sick of hearing, but it’s a nice touch and I’m looking forward to seeing what other pairings elicit this kind of unique dialogue.
My biggest criticism about the audio is that during some Superstars entrances, the volume of the entrance music is FAR too quiet.
It takes away from the ‘big entrance’ feel, and is especially noticeable when your chosen Superstar reaches the bottom of the ramp, where members of the crowd shout things that are WAY louder than the music.
Hopefully this is something that can be patched, because other than that everything in 2K22 sounds pretty good.
Before I get to the game modes, I want to touch on the actual gameplay itself, as it has been massively overhauled.
Players now have a weak attack, strong attack, grapple attack and block on the 4 face buttons of the controller, with the shoulder buttons being used to run, dodge and to apply a modifier to another action. Things like performing Signature and Finisher moves, ensuring a Submission hold is used rather than a power move, and to pick up or drag someone when in a grapple.
Stamina bars and limited reversals have been scrapped in 2K22, which on a personal level I prefer. It does mean matches between two more skilled players can end up in a never-ending reversal chain though, or with one player constantly spamming an attack with no detriment to stamina.
To counter that somewhat the reversal system has had an overhaul too, with a split-second guessing game being implemented to reverse certain grapples. If you press the same face button as your opponent when a grapple is attempted, it SHOULD trigger a reversal, if you get the timing right.
Most of the other mechanics stay the same (Submissions and Pinfalls are now button mashing affairs, but can be reverted back to the timing skill games in the options menu, if preferred) which brings a feeling of familiarity for long-time players, even though some of the fundamentals are now different.
Does it work? For the most part it does. Collision detection can sometimes be a bit off, and ground-based grapples seem to get reversed about 98% of the time, but other than that I’d consider it much improved.
With that covered off, let’s get to the good stuff; 2K22’s game modes.
In addition to the Exhibition Mode, which is self-explanatory, there are another five gameplay options to choose from…
WWE 2K22 Showcase Mode
Showcase is a mode I haven’t been keen on over the years.
Yes it can be cool to play through someone’s career, or big moments in WWE history, but I found it to be quite disjointed, almost like a glorified ‘painting by numbers’ exercise to hit all the clear conditions.
The life and times of Rey Mysterio wasn’t something that got me excited either, which is why I’m surprised at just how much I enjoyed Showcase in WWE 2K22.
The step up in graphical quality has allowed the developers the ability to near-seamlessly transition into actual footage of the matches, and then back out again, rather than the ‘key spots’ being cut scenes using the game’s character models; it works surprisingly well.
Here’s a video of the first match: Rey Mysterio Vs. Eddie Guererro at Halloween Havoc 1997, so you can see for yourself (if WWE haven’t blocked it in your country due to copyright claims on the real-life footage.)
All the key moments are narrated by Mysterio, and the commentary has been replaced by dramatic music, which makes it feel like a cool little Rey Mysterio documentary with some interactive parts thrown in.
A fun way to unlock some goodies and enjoy some of Rey’s best matches.
WWE 2K22 Universe Mode
For the most part Universe mode is unchanged from it’s previous incarnations, in fact if it wasn’t for one big difference I’d go as far as to say it hasn’t been touched.