WWE 2K22’s lengthy street to launch stands as a redemption story as dramatic as any of the TV storylines. The collection took a number of years off to regroup following the trainwreck that was 2019’s 2K20, and the time away allowed it to be taught some helpful new holds. Although it doesn’t catapult the franchise to daring new heights, a revamped gameplay engine and a renewed deal with approachability make it probably the most entertaining – and most of all, playable – WWE recreation in a while.
The brand new engine strips away a number of the difficult mechanics that made the earlier 2K video games a chore to play. As a substitute, it adopts a extra arcade-style method. 2K22 will not be the second coming of the beloved Smackdown collection, however the simplified grappling feels extra intuitive and permits for faster-paced matches. Grappling is condensed to gentle and heavy strikes mapped to 2 buttons, which I discovered simpler to recollect and execute. Melee combos reward huge hits by chaining easy inputs, giving button-mashers a viable type of offense. Talking of which, I like that pins and submissions ditch the annoying “cease the needle” minigames and return to the extra enjoyable depth of slamming buttons to interrupt free.
To scale back the continuous countering that always happens between superior gamers, a brand new counter known as Breaker forces you to foretell incoming strikes by urgent the identical button you suppose your opponent will. Breakers solely apply to strikes and grapple-based assaults; a common reversal nonetheless exists for every little thing else, however I’ve combined emotions this new addition. The ingredient of likelihood means I absorbed strings of offense for guessing the improper enter no matter my reversal timing which pissed off me at instances. However, it permits each gamers to really carry out strikes on one another as a substitute of solely discovering low-cost methods of interrupting extended counter-fests. Plus, regardless that I usually took a beating, I hardly ever misplaced. The extra expert participant will nonetheless win the day no matter what number of powerbombs they eat on the way in which to victory. Breakers aren’t the proper answer, however I lean extra in favor of them.
2K22 feels simpler to play general however executing sure maneuvers nonetheless feels convoluted. The command variations between numerous springboard and apron assaults may very well be easier, for instance. A pleasant tutorial in the beginning of the sport walks gamers by means of the fundamentals, however I want it went additional since I nonetheless needed to search for essential mechanics like positioning opponents or getting into/exiting the ring. Selecting up objects can nonetheless really feel unresponsive, and a few actions retain the sluggish, over-animated really feel the 2K video games have suffered from for years.
By and huge, 2K22 appears to be like nice. Character fashions seem largely correct to their real-world counterparts, smoother animations replicate superstar-specific nuances, and improved cinematography and lighting make everybody look higher than ever. I particularly love the era-specific lighting for historic arenas, like Halloween Havoc ’97. The roster is horrifically outdated because of the inclusion of quite a few superstars who departed WWE in 2021, however this works in 2K22’s favor. Names like Jeff Hardy, Keith Lee, and Ember Moon might now carry out elsewhere, however getting to make use of them anyway beats having a extra realistically skinny roster.
Better of all, I didn’t encounter any catastrophic glitches. Smaller hiccups can nonetheless happen just like the occasional spaghetti rope or a personality getting snagged or warped on geometry, however these fall into the innocent (and humorous) camp. They didn’t occur usually sufficient to spoil the expertise. On-line play is a unique story. As of publishing, the servers really feel unstable; queuing up for a match usually greets you with connection error messages or notifying you a room is full when spots seem open. Matches also can really feel laggy and jittery. This can hopefully be improved shortly, however gamers might need to keep away from on-line play till issues stabilize.
2K22 has no scarcity of modes, probably the most outstanding of which is Showcase. This interactive documentary lets gamers comply with the legendary profession of canopy star Rey Mysterio by taking part in a number of 12 matches. Earlier Showcases did an ideal job overlaying their respective matters, however 2K22’s falls wanting the mark. Though the presentation rocks per common – the mid-match transitions to precise footage of the struggle you’re taking part in is notably rad – many of the chosen bouts made me scratch my head.
The extensive 1997-2005 stretch of Rey’s profession solely focuses on Eddie Guerrero, wherein you wrestle him twice, and one in every of them is the mode’s sole WCW providing. Rey’s WrestleMania 22 World Title win is absent since Kurt Angle isn’t within the recreation. Massive feuds in opposition to the likes of Chavo Guerrero, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, and Cody Rhodes don’t make the lower both as a result of listed names working for rival organizations. They’re changed by much less memorable bouts, resembling Mysterio’s SummerSlam 2009 Intercontinental Title protection in opposition to Dolph Ziggler or a random Uncooked match in opposition to Gran Metalik. I don’t count on Showcase to hit each milestone of Rey’s profession, however this appears like an abridged abstract of his run that plucked out many of the actually nice stuff.
Following Rey’s profession might have been underwhelming, however I had a greater time constructing the legacy of my very own famous person in MyRise. Making a wrestler from scratch, together with selecting their background RPG-style, had me engaged in my star’s destiny from the get-go and the mode is pleasantly dense. From coaching within the Efficiency Heart to NXT to the principle roster, I loved guiding my boastful Hollywood transplant to the highest of the corporate by means of choice-driven situations, a lot of that are delightfully tacky. I gained a match to drive my opponent to wrestle in a hen swimsuit for a month and picked fights with huge stars on social media to goad them into the ring. Is the writing usually silly and/or campy? Sure, however the identical is often true of the true product. Not less than this made me chuckle as a substitute of facepalming.
Easy sidequests, resembling beating up MVP for imposing a costume code, will be tackled at your leisure to realize further stat factors, however I largely loved how seemingly mundane tales spiral into big angles. I select to make a reputation for myself by assaulting a visiting Mayor Kane backstage which exploded right into a multi-match aspect story that concluded in a Hell in a Cell match in opposition to The Undertaker. Varied story paths exist relying in your selections and face/heel alignment, which presents a pleasant ingredient of replayability. I don’t know if I’m compelled sufficient to make one other full run, however MyRise had me desirous about what titles to chase and the shenanigans I’d instigate after I was away from the mode. I at all times itched to get again to it.
The Creation Suite isn’t considerably higher than what’s been supplied earlier than, however it stays a enjoyable time sink. I misplaced hours making superstars, championships, arenas, titantron movies, and extra. Universe Mode supplies extra choices for taking part in Vince McMahon as you e book exhibits, matches, rivalries, and extra. Now you can comply with a person profession as nicely, however Universe is about making your personal enjoyable and doesn’t provide sufficient tangible rewards to maintain my curiosity for lengthy. Universe Mode feels particularly flat in comparison with MyGM, which supplies you direct management of a single model together with drafting superstars, reserving exhibits, and appeasing personalities to win a scores battle in opposition to rival manufacturers. This vacation spot glad the fantasy booker in me. I had a good time creating high quality rivalries and contests by strategically matching famous person in-ring types and managing my funds to placed on killer exhibits. MyGM presents a granular stage of knowledge however presents common steerage that saved me on monitor and knowledgeable my choices. Like MyRise, MyGM unexpectedly hooked me and sometimes had me pondering outdoors of the sport about methods to construct to the following present, what expertise to signal subsequent, and methods to sabotage my competitor.
MyFaction is one other new vacation spot that appears like a separate recreation in itself. Followers of WWE cellular video games like Supercard might really feel proper at dwelling as you purchase card packs (utilizing actual and in-game forex) to assemble a “faction” of the very best playing cards based mostly on their stats and different perks. You’ll battle different factions, however the fight unfolds within the ring moderately than as a pure TCG. There’s not rather more to it than that. There are numerous every day, weekly, and tower challenges, however it boils all the way down to taking part in matches, filling achievement bars, and shopping for playing cards. Packs are fairly priced, and also you’ll earn sufficient forex to purchase a pack by taking part in a small batch of matches, however you’ll at all times go farther utilizing your pockets as per the norm with these things. MyFaction provides the satisfaction of watching meters replenish whereas taking part in random matches, however it’s not my favourite mode and is value ignoring if the cardboard side doesn’t communicate to you.
Is 2K22 the following No Mercy or Right here Comes the Ache? No, however it’s a considerably improved comeback that’s extra enjoyable to play than WWE video games have felt in ages. Plus, the sheer quantity of modes, all of that are at the least respectable, means there’s one thing fulfilling to gnaw on outdoors of random exhibition matches or on-line play. There’s nonetheless work to be achieved, however like a retired veteran returning to placed on a surprisingly stable match, WWE 2K22 manages to shake off the ring rust and carry out higher than the naysayers anticipated.