WWE 2K23 is the latest instalment in the WWE wrestling game franchise from Developers Visual Concepts and Published by 2K Games & 2K Sports. It has been another year and another WWE game has been released, but how does this one fare against the previous titles that left a somewhat bland taste for new and old wrestling game fans? As some wrestling enthusiasts may remember the 2K wrestling franchise had dipped since greats like Smackdown: Know Your Role and Smackdown: Here comes the Pain, to name a few. This review is our experience with this new contribution to the wrestling game category, and we will answer the question: does it redeem the franchise?
WWE 2K23: Deluxe Edition, Then, Now, Forever, Together.
Have you been a long-time WWE 2K fan? Did you play the original titles on old-generation consoles? Are you hoping for this title to be a redemption for the franchise? Let us know in the comments.
As we all know, wrestling has been a huge part of many people’s lives. It has provided hours of entertainment, passion and excitement. So it makes sense for a Video game to being made for everyone to capture these feelings again and again. Enter WWE 2K23, For those that are unaware, these games branch off from traditional fighting games like Tekken, Soul Calibur and Street Fighter, with characters created after the actual wrestlers of that period (usually based on contractual obligations with the talent).
The controls usually in these games can be a bit confusing at first but you can get a tutorial at the beginning to introduce you to the controls and how to reverse moves and grapple. Once you have learned the controls though and play your first couple of matches it’s straightforward and so much fun to play. The actual gameplay in the matches is well crafted. There is a meter in the top right of the screen that will display stars from 1 to 5. The stars will fill when you play through the match and fulfil certain criteria. This could be from breaking out of a pin just before 3 or slamming an opponent through the announcer’s table. The more dramatic and insane you make the fight the higher the star rate.
We Need A Table!
The only little dip in the game was sometimes the Referee’s AI is a little dumb at points, not that it was awful or anything. Some would even think it was funny. There was a match we were trying out and after the pin was broken before the Referee got to 3, the crowd went wild even the referee stood up and she ran back and forth in the ring. Obviously being the AI trying to move out of the way but didn’t know where to go. Again, funny, but not game-breaking.
There are many Game modes available for WWE 2K23. We have Showcase Mode, War Games, MyRise Mode, MyFaction Mode, and MyGM Mode to name a few.
Showcase Mode is a look back at John Cena’s long career in WWE, showing some intense and huge matches. The match will have you complete the criteria and it will then show a cutscene that was designed from the original match that aired on TV, there is a transition too from Game to live and vice versa which was a brilliant feature and kicked in a huge amount of nostalgia for some of us older fans.
War Games is a great new match debuting on WWE 2K23, for anyone that doesn’t know, it’s a match that features, 2 rings, 1 big cage and teams of either 3v3 or 4v4. The match begins with 2 superstars in the ring while the other team members are in separate cages waiting. At regular intervals, alternating members of each team will be let out from their cage and enter the match. When all of the team’s members are in the match the WarGames will officially begin, the winner is determined by pinfall, submission or throwing your opponent off the cage. This match was a definite favourite.
MyRise Mode is your classic story mode that features an original character with a pre-determined back story. You can pick from 2 back stories which will determine which type of superstar you will be, women’s or men’s division.
MyFaction Mode is an interesting one, it works as a deck builder game. You can open booster packs which give you random superstars that you then use to wrestle in events. In these events, you face either a CPU opponent or you can select a quick match which faces you against another player in the world. There are some minor issues with this being the balancing with regards to your superstar could have a rating of 67 for example and you could end up facing someone with a superstar that has a 93 rating. You can evolve some cards to increase their rating if you fulfil specific challenges which is a neat feature.
MyGM Mode is a highly regarded feature. In a nutshell, you run your own show. You have your roster and can set up rivalries and match cards and watch as your masterpiece unfolds and the stories open up.
So far the modes are solid, they play well and each has its unique flavour for players who want different experiences.
We were fortunate enough to have access to the Deluxe edition of the game. This gives you access to the WWE 2K23 Base Game, Season Pass (This will include all 5 DLCs that are planned and some additional points for the different modes in the game and also unlocks the legends that are locked behind in-game currency), Pre-Order Bonus Pack (Some cards for the MyFaction mode and some booster packs), and 3-Day Early Access.
Graphics & Audio
We had the opportunity to try WWE 2K23 on PS5, which looked fantastic. The amount of time that has gone into the superstars’ detail is a breath of fresh air. Improving vastly from previous instalments of the franchise. Tiny details when in the matches were brilliant, you could notice things like specific foot placement, and character faces when they’re wrestling. It was great to see.
Something else worth mentioning is that there were no framerate issues. It seems the developers took the enhanced power of the current generation of consoles and utilised it to make the matches run smoothly. Even the detail on the crowds watching was great. They even included an arena which features screens with fans on a webcam (this was the workaround that WWE had to implement during the Covid Pandemic), this was pulled off brilliantly and with few graphical or frame issues.
The textures of the ring and other elements in the arena were beautiful to look at and helped us feel like we were watching an episode of RAW or Smackdown. Even the graphics when setting a table on fire was nice to look at.
Insert Glass Smashing Noise Here
The Sounds on the game were positive. The entrance music was great and this time round the game didn’t drown out the music with the crowd chanting and cheering. When the fireworks were going off on stage the sounds used were much more realistic compared to previous titles. During matches, you would get to listen to commentators Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton. With their usual banter during the match, giving interesting facts on the superstars and commenting on what is happening in the ring. Rven their reactions to “Holy S**t” moments were believable, overall very immersive.
The Soundtrack for the game was specially selected by John Cena himself. This was great to listen to when picking your matchup, mode and characters. If you aren’t a fan of the songs you could change this in the settings and deselect them to play. Even having the Superstar entrance music play instead.
If you are playing on your own, with friends, or random people online you could get lost for hours enjoying WWE 2K23. If you’re a WWE enthusiast you could watch the entrances every time adding to the immersion of watching it on TV.
WWE 2K23 is most definitely a redeeming title for this franchise most thought would be dead and buried. With some DLC on the way featuring some fan-favourite superstars with their own move sets and entrances. As always with games and multiple DLC there is a Season Pass available which will help to save a few £’s in the long run. WWE 2K23: Deluxe Edition includes this, plus some extras for the MyFaction game mode. So overall worth the price going forward.
Through every single moment playing WWE 2K23, I enjoyed it and will do for many, many more months to come.
I award WWE 2K23: Deluxe Edition with the Thumb Culture Platinum Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.