Hey, hey, hey! It’s WrestleMania time, and I’m here to give you the lowdown on WWE 2K23!
I gotta tell you guys, I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. The drama, the athleticism, the brawls, the feuds, the history, the larger-than-life personalities… it’s all my jam! From Ric Flair begging the nWo to spare his son to cheering on Daniel Bryan when he finally clinched the championship and bowing down to Roman Reigns for living up to his potential, I’ve seen it all.
But let’s get down to brass tacks, people! Is WWE 2K23 worth your time and money? Did it improve on the previous games in the series, or is it a dud?
Well, I’m happy to report that WWE 2K23 is a serious contender! It’s like the game series went through its own Face Turn! The improvements from the previous games are clear, and it’s a promising sign for the future of the franchise.
The gameplay in WWE 2K23 didn’t see any major improvements. It still uses arcade-style gameplay with weak, and strong hits, defense/counter, and captures. The improvements made are more like buffs and nerfs. Breaking combos and grabs are a bit harder, counters have better reaction time, and abilities like Instant Recovery can be used multiple times in battle with the help of the signature attack meter. The game has also added some new special attacks like “Comeback Move,” which stuns the opponent and tips the balance in your favor. But overall, it’s almost the same game as the previous year.
One thing I was happy to see is the return of some wrestlers I missed in WWE 2K22. Later, I’ll talk about the character creation mechanism and the excellent online features, but let me just say, downloading a Cody Rhodes model, seeing the pyro, the complete model, and hearing Kingdom playing in the background gave me chills. Plus, the return of wrestlers like Kurt Angle and Zelina Vega elevates the roster.
Enter The Cage
Since its return through NXT, I can’t remember seeing a single match that wasn’t just insane in this dangerous double cage. I’m happy to announce that in WWE 2K23 as well, the War Games cage is the highlight of the game. Whether 3 vs. 3 or 4 vs. 4, the chaos in this cage is crazy and freaking fun. One thing that could be improved is the behavior of NPCs that the players don’t control.
Sometimes, NPCs will take down tables I put in the arena or they will prevent me from moving between the arenas. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s a shame that it happens without making any sense. And let me just say, if I’m playing alone, waiting for my turn in a 4v4 battle isn’t that interesting. I know the cage entry is random, but I want to be able to enter first.
Rise to the top!
All of the other modes from last year are also here, but almost all of them received upgrades that make them better than last year’s modes. Let’s start with the MyRise mode, which received the biggest improvement. Last year’s mode followed the story of a single wrestler on their way to the top, where we can choose different nodes that lead to different battles. While the story mode itself was welcome, last year’s performance of MyRise was lacking, mainly in the dubbing and story department. In 2K23, the MyRise mode gets a very welcome change with meaningful stories drawn from situations familiar to any wrestling fan. It’s a great improvement that breaks some kayfabe.
The Showcase mode that follows a legendary wrestler through milestones in his career is back, and unfortunately, this year’s mod focusing on John Cena is weirder and less fun than last year’s. While the fights chosen are good, such as Cena’s battle against The Rock at WrestleMania, his first fight against Kurt Angle, and the fight against Edge that marked the first use of the Money in the Bank briefcase, there are a few issues with the Showcase. Firstly, there is no narration, leaving us with completely generic background music. Secondly, Cena does not speak during the fights, so there’s no commentary or sound effects apart from the crowd and punches. Compared to Rey Mysterio’s mod from last year, WWE 2K23 is much less interesting.
Another disappointment is the MyFaction mode or MyF for short. This is the WWE 2K equivalent of FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode, where you create your team and get wrestlers and a manager with unlockable cards. While the concept is understandable, it feels like it’s designed to extract more money from players.
On the other hand, there are plenty of positive changes in the game, such as the improved MyRise with two main stories: The Lock and The Legend, both of which are built in a great way. The MyGM has also received a significant change, allowing players to experience long-term storytelling and tactics over multiple years/seasons. The Creation mode has also been upgraded, allowing players to create their wrestlers, arenas, shows, and logos, and even download them from the Internet. In particular, the War Games stands out as being chaotic and fantastic, and the highlight of the game. The only downside is that sometimes the computer-controlled characters don’t interact properly with objects in the arena.
If you happen to buy the Icon version of WWE 2K and get all those extra packs with wrestlers and abilities, don’t be fooled. At some point, the game is gonna play dirty and force you to choose between shelling out more cash for expensive cards or just giving up and going back to the good ol’ MyUniverse mode, or even playing with your friends in Wargames (which is always a blast). Now, I’m not here to judge if you’re the kind of person who’s willing to drop major cash on virtual cards, but I’m not a fan.
But let’s get to the bottom line here, folks. WWE 2K23 might just be the game that gives the series the push it needs. It’s got some incremental improvements, and it’s more polished and fun than its predecessors. Sure, there are still some annoying micro-purchases and minor bugs, but hey, compared to the dumpster fire that was 2K20, this is a big win. And let’s not forget about Cody Rhodes – that man alone is worth the price of admission. So, here’s to a happy WrestleMania, and lets all hope that Cody unifies the belts and brings back the Winged Eagle belt. Hell yeah!