When it comes to sports and simulation games, graphics, player accuracy, and gameplay are three of the most important factors to players; when you look at most sports games, the biggest positives or complaints come from these three factors. In 2019, 2K and Visual Concepts released WWE 2K20 which many considered the worst WWE game to date. With poor game mechanics and buggy visuals, many avoid the game completely. Two years later, WWE, 2K, and Visual Concepts released WWE 2K22. Despite the game having some issues, many felt it was Visual concepts getting back on track. Now with a new WWE game out, does WWE 2K23 build upon the success of WWE 2K22 or do fans need to look elsewhere for their wrestling entertainment?
With WrestleMania 39 now in the record books, we break down the good and bad of WWE 2K23. WWE 2K23 brings back the core game modes quickplay, WWE Showcase, My Universe, My GM, My Faction, and My Rise. Additionally, the creation menu has received an overhaul by combining some categories while adding a new option. Players can now create custom images to use for their WWE Universe. The game’s online options have become revamped to become less intrusive; meanwhile, the settings menu has been revamped to make life easier for players. Now let’s dive into the different game modes and what has changed.
In quickplay, players can design their independent dream matches. Quickplay features thirteen different categories. Each category features a variety of match types that players can play in. The primary match types are Normal, Falls Count Anywhere, Backstage Brawl, Extreme Rules, Ladder, Table, TLC, Hell in a Cell, Steel Cage, Iron Man, Last Man Standing, No Holds Barred, Submission, Mix Gender Tag, Tornado Tag, Battle Royal, Elimination Chamber, Handicap Tag, Wargames, Royal Rumble, Tournament, and Custom Match types.
The game features a minimum of thirty-eight arenas. Players can use custom superstars, WWE Superstars, and WWE Legends to fight in a variety of matches with the player able to edit the match rules, match speed, and if a title is on the line. If you are looking for a quick match to play or want to simulate a match before an upcoming PPV then Quickplay is the way to go.
WWE 2K23 Showcase mode focuses on some of John Cena’s toughest losses during his career. Players will take control of John Cena’s toughest opponents with the goal of taking down super Cena. Each match has specific parameters that the player must complete in order to progress the story. If Cena wins a different ending will play out. In some matches, once all the goals are hit will just complete the match without the player’s input.
Although it is nice to relive some of Cena’s greatest defeats, the game taking over to finish the match takes away some of the satisfaction. The blend of game and real-life moments isn’t balanced with some matches being more footage than actual gameplay. Completing the showcase mode does unlock a variety of content that is not available even though ordering WWE 2K23 Collector’s Edition.
The WWE 2K23 My Universe is similar to WWE 2K22. Players can choose between Superstar Mode or Classic Mode. With Superstar mode, players can choose any WWE Superstar or custom character to play as. Players can alternate between Classic or superstar mode once they have selected superstar mode. The curation menu returns with players able to choose what path they want to take. Additionally, rivalries, cash-ins, injuries, and crowd reaction changes can be adjusted.
In Superstar Mode, the player will have to fight their own battles against different WWE Superstars. In superstar mode, the game tracks the player’s win-loss record, rivalries, and title reigns. Unless you chose a path early on, the game will throw you against a superstar to potentially start a rivalry. After a match, players can choose to break out of the celebration and attack their opponent further.
With Classic mode, the player can design the matches for Raw, Smackdown, and NXT. Like My GM, players can choose the matches they want each superstar to fight in based on each show’s roster. Some of these matches can be wild and produce some very weird combinations.
My GM Mode
Out of all the game modes, My GM Mode probably has the biggest update allowing for four local players to face off against each other. Players can choose between eight different general managers or one custom superstar manager each with their own unique abilities. Players can choose between five shows including WCW, Raw, Smackdown, NXT, and NXT 2.0. Additionally, they can set the AI’s difficulty, shows difficulty, budget, draft order, shake-ups, eligible superstars, and if there’s an auto draft.
Unlike WWE 2K22, My GM mode is broken up into seasons with the winner being decided based on which GM enters the WWE Hall of Fame first. The winning GM must earn 10 Hall of Fame Trophies to enter the H.O.F. Once entered, players can choose to continue playing or retire the save. Each week the commissioner gives each GM a goal to achieve; achieving the goal earns players a boost to weekly ratings and free power cards.
Players can choose to have the AI book their show, however, it will not book the promo sessions for each week. As long as a match does not have interference involved, the player can choose to play the match and decide the victor. This can help continue rivalries or put the title on a different superstar.
Oddly, My GM mode limits the match types the player can choose from; even weirder is the fact that the game has you assign a men’s and women’s championship to a superstar but doesn’t have you assign a tag team championship or mid-card championship.
My Faction mode returns in WWE 2K23 and does not feel like it has changed. Players can enter locker codes found online or in WWE game modes. Each tower still consists of a variety of matches that the player will need to have their faction fight in. Superstar cards are still ranked by typing with each card offering positive and negative attributes. Managers can impact each faction’s stats and playstyle.
Players can get packs by completing towers or buying them using virtual currency. Players can also earn cards by completing live event challenges; unlike towers, live events have a limited window to be completed. If you are looking for specific matches and need a sense of direction, My Faction can be a good game mode to play, just don’t pay to win.
WWE 2K23 My Rise returns with two unique stories. In the Men’s story titled “The Lock” the player starts out as an indie star who has already made a name for himself but is finally coming to WWE. In Legacy’s story, the superstar plays as the niece of a former WWE Woman’s champion and Legend looking to make a name for herself.
Each story has individual story chapters to complete but within each chapter, there are different side missions to complete. Additionally, players can complete challenge matches to boost their superstar’s stats. Unlike WWE 2K22, the player only has one area hub; this makes it so all conversations are in one area rather than having to rotate between zones and look for people.
Players can choose to import created superstars to play as in either story, however, each story is gender-based. Players can also export their My Rise characters to the main roster; porting the character to the main roster has commentators make reference to stuff that happened in My Rise.
WWE 2K23‘s overall gameplay has improved compared to WWE 2K22 but the game still has a good bit of faults. The characters don’t interact properly; characters can still pass through enemies when trying to interact with another one. Visual Concepts stated that WWE 2K23 would feature more responsive interactions with each wrestler but it does not feel like much has changed. Wrestler interactions with weapons are also flawed. Nothing like swinging at the air when a character is right in front of you dazed.
WWE 2K23 offers a variety of game modes and matches for players to enjoy; the only thing you will have to fight against other than your opponent is the game’s detection system. On numerous occasions, we missed a grapple and just grabbed at thin air or spun weirdly. Grabbing weapons from underneath the ring is fairly easy, but picking an item back up when there are multiple opponents around can be a challenge. The game is not always sure what to prioritize.
Visual Concepts still has not figured out how to make authentic hair. Yes, hair does not go in as many crazy directions as before, but most interactions with superstars with longer hair get some odd movements and pass through. Some WWE stars look drastically better than others. Honestly, it looks like Visual Concepts put more effort into the men than the woman. Hair still easily clips through outfits in weird ways. The hair looks like it was done in paint and the character props also look bad. Queen Zelina’s hair is probably one of the worst in the game.
The lighting has improved but there are still some issues when it comes to light colors on a dark background. The camera doesn’t always focus properly and gives weird angles to focus on the action. So when simulating a match, you can very easily miss a moment.
The game does feature subtitles and tips to help a player. Players can turn off blood if they desire.
WWE 2K23’s controls leave a bit to be desired. The game features no secondary controller layout. This year, a new pin mini-game was introduced. Instead of the button-mashing mini-game, a new timed mini-game is available; in this timed mini-game, the player must kick out by hitting the green box.
Requesting to tag in or tagging with your partner when you aren’t the legal player is a massive headache. The only time tagging works effectively is when you are the legal participant. Otherwise, tagging in is at the AI’s discretion. You can still interfere in the match but have to wait it out. The game’s reversal system is also very aggravating. Depending on the AI’s difficulty, reversing a move comes down to muscle memory or knowing when a move is reversible. The reversal timing system can be rather frustrating.
When you don’t play My Rise, the commentary within the game is pretty basic. Yes, occasionally the commentators will reference past rivalries and outcomes, but only with the right matchups. Sadly, the commentary team options do not feature all commentary team members. Each weapon has a generic noise.
The game’s soundtrack features a variety of music genres. For players who do not like certain types of music, these songs can be turned off; there oddly is still no skip song option like in prior games. The game does feature a creator mode that will mute songs when players are streaming. Players can change what songs are playable by using the jukebox option.
WWE 2K23 offers players a good amount of replay value. Between its varying game mode, match types, and updating challenges, there is always something for players to do. Disappointingly, players cannot play MY GM mode or My Universe online with others. If you want a game to pick up and play, it’s very easy to create a match. The game does have room for improvement but has improved in some manners since last year.
If you are a WWE fan who enjoys video games, WWE 2K23 can be a fun game for you. The game features a variety of game modes and match types allowing players to have their choice of fights to enjoy. The game does limit what you can do in each game mode and the more expensive versions of the game give players an advantage.
Visual Concepts does need to work on each wrestler’s character models, with some superstars looking better than others; longer hair, especially women’s hair in the game has awful character interactions. The lack of alternate controls and a small window for reversals can be off-putting to many, with players having to memorize move breakout times.
When it comes to replayability, it ultimately comes down to the player’s choices. My Rise offers a variety of paths the player can take, changing the story.
If you are a WWE fan, you can enjoy this game. If you are looking just for a wrestling game, it would be better to buy it when it is on sale, especially since AEW Fight Forever releases soon.
A review code was given to us to review WWE 2K23 on the Xbox Series X.