WWE 2K22 will finally release on most major gaming platforms on March 11th (in North America), and it's been a long time coming. 2K Games were gracious enough to send Sportskeeda an early release of the title, and we wanted to share some of our early thoughts.
The last full-fledged WWE title, WWE 2K20, was released in October of 2019 - well over two years ago. The rocky development of that game led to a less than stellar release and caused 2K to shelve the release of WWE 2K21 in order to fix the situation.
Thankfully, it seems that the extra time has paid off, as WWE 2K22 feels like a real return to form (we'll have a full review of the game coming soon). We haven't examined every aspect of the title yet - multiplayer, for example, is tough to review when there aren't really any other players yet - but we've played it enough to point out a handful of things we like or don't like about it so far.
So, here are five early takeaways we have from WWE 2K22. We're going to look at five things gamers were concerned about going into the title. Please note that, for this article, the game was played on an Xbox Series S, though that really shouldn't have any bearing on these entries.
Disclaimer: 2K provided the game copy free of charge but otherwise did not compensate SK in any way for this piece.
#5. WWE 2K22's controls are better - but take getting used to
For the last couple of console generations, the control scheme for the WWE 2K games has been fairly consistent. So much so that even the slightest change to it can throw long-time players off. So, needless to say, the controls for WWE 2K22 are going to take some getting used to.
Once you do, however, and you'll find a much more immersive experience behind the controller.
One of the big changes to the way the game plays is in its use of combos. We're not talking Street Fighter-style attack chains. Nothing as complicated as that. However, WWE 2K22 gives players the opportunity to string together different moves and increase damage.
On the other hand, there are also more options for defense. Reversals are still incorporated into the gameplay, and, unlike previous entries, players aren't limited to how many they can perform. At least, not in an inventory sense. You can reverse as many times as you like without having to recharge - provided you can pull them off.
Move reversals require much more accurate timing to pull off this time around. It takes skill, but not so much that it's infuriating. Holding down the reversal button during an opponent's strike attack will perform a block, adding the opportunity to parry moves. This opens up opportunities to get in stronger attacks, adding more of an element of strategy to these games than ever before.
It's not the perfect control scheme by any means, but it's certainly a great foundation to build upon and a lot of fun to play.
#4. WWE 2K22's MyGM and MyFACTION modes are weird
"Weird" doesn't always mean "bad" - and it doesn't mean that here, either - but WWE 2K22's newest additions to the series are certainly different. At least, different from what fans have gotten used to over the last five to ten years or so.
MyGM is pretty much what it says on the tin: it's the return of the General Manager mode, last seen in a WWE game on PS2's WWE SmackDown: Here Comes the Pain all the way back in 2003.
This is great for the many, many fans of the mode - and not so great for those of us who have to write "Things we want to see in the next WWE game" features every year. That one was more or less our go-to entry every year, and now we have to think of something new.
The new mode allows players to select one of five different general managers (or a custom-created one) - Adam Pearce, Sonya Deville, William Regal, and Shane or Stephanie McMahon. Each general manager is assigned a show and a budget and goes head-to-head with another manager to see who can obtain ratings supremacy.
We could be here all day going into detail of the mode but suffice it to say there's a lot to do here. It doesn't come across as very polished, but there's so many different ways to play.
If your two favorite things are pro wrestling and micromanaging stuff, you'll be in hog heaven here. Even if it doesn't sound like your thing, you should give a whirl anyway. You might be surprised at how much fun you have.
MyFACTION is another weird addition, though it strongly resembles similar modes in other sports games - take Madden NFL's Ultimate Team mode, for example.
When we heard about this mode initially, we expected something more along the lines of one of the game's many "create-a" modes. Instead, it's more of a collectible card game, where players build decks of different superstars and complete different challenges.
If this sounds like a microtransaction/lootbox type of situation, well, congratulations, your heard right. Fortunately, it has two things going for it.
First, it's totally possible to get points to buy new cards simply by playing the rest of the game. Second, it's a totally separate feature from the other game modes, meaning you don't need to even look twice at it if you're not interested.
As with MyGM mode, WWE 2K22's MyFACTION mode is worth at least one spin around the block. Both modes involve the game's actual wrestling gameplay, meaning they aren't just glorified minigames.
#3. WWE 2K22's MyGM mode has some glorious jobbers
Firing up a new round of WWE 2K22's MyGM mode drops players right into the annual WWE draft. Starting with a handsome but, above all, limited budget, loading up your roster with big-name stars is pretty much an impossibility.
This is especially true if you want to improve the presentation of the shows you're booking. Otherwise, every show is going to be held in a high school gym.
Of course, you can't have a show without performers, and 2K has included a large roster of fictional, yet inexpensive, talent. These are listed in the "Free Agent" menu, along with any actual WWE Superstars that went undrafted. Some of these "jobbers", as we'll call them for simplicity's sake, are amazing.
Along with Chester and his trusty mop up above, we also feel the need to point out Brute Force. As far as we can tell, Mr. Force is an evil security guard who made his way to the world of sports entertainment. He's a fun callback to the "profession as a gimmick" characters from the 1980s and 90s.
Can't you just see Brute Force teaming with Duke "The Dumpster" Drose against Thurmann "Sparky" Plugg and T.L. Hopper at some house show in Dubuque, IA?
With the right amount of strategy and patience, it's possible to turn these "jobbers" into stars, except for Chester. That dude already is a star, as far as we're concerned.
#2. WWE 2K22's Universe Mode isn't all that different
When it comes to single-player experience in the WWE 2K games, Universe Mode is where the action has been. It allows players to customize their own versions of WWE, creating rosters and even their own shows.
While it's always been a "sandbox" of sorts, it's also been pretty vague as far as how to actually do anything.
This latest version does have a new feature - Superstar Mode. Essentially, it's the usual Universe Mode but has players follow one single Superstar throughout.
Aside from that, though, things are pretty much the same, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. There's a lot of flexibility still in this mode and if you're willing to put the time into it, there's a lot of fun to be had.
However, in order to really keep things organized, you really need a notebook. Otherwise, keeping track of what stars you have on what show is nearly impossible.
That's not to say that this old-school approach to keeping everything in order isn't a nice nostalgic throwback. However, it really shouldn't be necessary. Hopefully, in future editions, 2K will add the quality of life features that would make all of this way easier - and require a lot less ink.
#1. WWE 2K22 is simply a much better game
There's been plenty of drama behind the scenes regarding 2K Games' relationship with WWE following the disastrous release of WWE 2K20. Last year's "replacement" game, WWE 2K Battlegrounds, wasn't particularly well-received (which is unfortunate, as that goofy game was pretty fun), either.
So, stories and rumors have been making the rounds that WWE 2K22 is a bit of a "make-or-break" title for the publisher. There's even been whispers of WWE talking to EA as a potential game partner if this latest game isn't a success. Meanwhile, this "latest game" hasn't even been released yet.
What needs to be recognized, however, is that WWE 2K22 isn't just a much better game compared to 2K20 - it's one of the better games in the franchise. It's especially impressive considering everything it had going against it.
While 2K22 was in its most important stage of development during 2021, WWE released a staggering amount of talent from their roster. This led to 2K and Visual Concepts to have to decide who they were able to keep in the game, and who they had to remove.
2K Games release a well-made game, but they also took some risks too. WWE 2K22's MyFACTION mode is certainly going to split the fanbase with some sure to call it a cash-grab, while others will see it as a fun side option (also, a game that pulls in extra revenue is a game that gets regular support from its publisher.
MyGM brings back a mode that fans have been anxiously awaiting for years - but by adding it, they've opened themselves to criticism that it simply doesn't hold up to how it was (or, more likely, how fans remember it was) in the past.
We still have a lot of the game to go through before we're ready to submit a proper review. And from what we've played so far, it's not perfect - but it's also really good.
If WWE 2K22 turns out to be the last WWE game that 2K Games and Visual Concepts end up releasing, it's an effort that both should be extremely proud of.
WWE 2K22 releases in full on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and PC on March 11th.
Are you excited to get your hands on WWE 2K22? Which mode are you looking forward to playing most? Let us know in the comments section below.