WWE 2K22 first impressions & deep dive

WWE 2K22 released today and after playing for 10 hours, JP is here to give you his first impressions to help you decide whether to Pass or Purchase for those that are on the fence!

WWE 2K22 first impressions & deep dive

Hello ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages. It’s JP here to run you through my initial thoughts on the new title from 2K and help you decide whether it’s worth buying. After 2K20, I think it’s fair to say the bar is set so low it’s almost impossible to stoop below it, but after 2 and a half years of development, how good is this game? After ten hours of gameplay spread across a variety of modes and features, I can supply some of that much needed information to you. Let’s get straight into it!

Initial loading and menus

We’ll start with the first thing you see when you load up the game, the menus. This will be a fairly short section as there’s not much to talk about, but worth mentioning nevertheless. The menus look fantastic and are very easy to navigate. When loading up each mode you will be greeted with a lovely 3D animation to take you into the mode, unique to each. This is very simple, but these things add up.

Core Gameplay and Graphics

This is the main section people will want to know more about, as if the gameplay itself is no good, all the modes are practically useless. Before the gameplay however, let’s take a little look at the graphics. 

Wow, just wow. From playing the next gen version of PS5, I can say with confidence this is the best looking game the franchise has seen by a long way. This was to be expected with the next gen consoles, but seeing the graphics in the flesh is truly unbelievable. The entrances look fantastic and again, it’s a small thing but it makes a massive difference. Above is a comparison of the models from 2K20 to 2K22 and all I can say is what an improvement.

There are obvious exceptions as there are many models that could use some work, namely Charlotte Flair because Jesus, that’s not great is it? Another thing to mention is hair physics are significantly improved which was a very welcome change as we know how the last title went in that department. 

Moving onto gameplay next and the first thing you’ll notice is the new camera angle. Opinions on this may vary from person to person but I for one really like it, however, it’s not without its flaws. Certain reversal prompts get blocked from view at certain angles and this is frustrating to say the least. However, as a whole, it’s a significant improvement from the angle we’ve had in previous years, as we have many new angles for animations of moves. 

The gameplay itself is a major overhaul. When I heard the selling line “it hits different”, I was sceptical to say the least. After many hours with hands-on playing experience I can say, it does certainly hit differently. There are a few animations that are the same as 2K20, but the majority of them are brand new and fresh that helps matches run much smoother. The gameplay in general is much faster, keeping players engaged rather than boring them with slow, boring and long animations. 

Next, we mention the many defence options added. I still find myself using normal reversals 90% of the time and find little use for the new block and dodge mechanic but I know as I play the game more and more, these will become much more useful and I’ll find myself using all the options available to me. The breaker system however, I’m currently not a fan of. Normal reversals can still be used if failing the breakers which is helpful but at the moment these breakers are hard to distinguish when and in which situations you have to use them, which isn’t helpful. However, as previously stated, I’ve only played 10 hours so my opinion may drastically change with time. The last thing to mention is the reversal window is much shorter and more unpredictable which was much needed as it was too easy to reverse in previous titles to the point where every move would be reversed when playing a good opponent. This requires much more skill which is much appreciated.  

Combos… well. I’m not a fan. They have made this too complicated. It’s cool to know by pressing specific buttons you’ll do the exact move you want and it won’t come down to chance like previous years. They are much smoother and help the realism of the game too. However, it’s overwhelming the amount of buttons that need to be pressed and to remember which buttons to press for which move is practically impossible until you’ve played the game so much you know them off by heart. There is a combo list in the pause menu which is much appreciated and helpful, but I don’t want to have to pause the game every time I want to know how to do a specific move. 

Controls

With a whole new control system coming into play, it’s certainly a massive change that’s for sure, one that will take a while to get used to for veteran players. My advice is to take the tutorial offered when first loading the game as this massively helps come to terms with the new control system. It’s much more friendly for new players and those returning to the series after some time away. This was probably for the best and it works well, it will just take some getting used to. That’s all to mention for this really, it’s something that can only be experienced and developed an opinion on after playing the game hands on. 

Showcase & Universe mode

Onto modes now and there’s not much to say in terms of these two so I’ve combined them into one heading.

In terms of the showcase, you either love it or hate it. It’s the same idea as previous titles so you know whether you want to invest your time into it without having to play then deciding you don’t like it. The matches included are brilliant and reminiscent of the biggest matches of Rey’s career in WWE, bar the exception of a few that are absent. One awesome new addition to this mode I must admit is the seamless transition from gameplay to real life action and vice-versa. After certain objectives, you’ll be greeted with a cutscene that starts to take place with in-game footage then at a certain point it will switch perfectly to real life footage carrying on the cutscene without interruption. Rey voices over these important parts and I love that. 

In terms of Universe mode don’t waste your time. It’s the same as previous years, so if you enjoy that it will be good news. The ‘new’ addition of the superstar mode is just normal universe but following just one superstar. Sounds cool right? Well, you can’t simulate ANY matches in the superstar portion of the mode. All matches have to be gone into and played. Not worth the time in my opinion. 

MY GM

Here we go, the long awaited return of the mode everyone asked for. My thoughts are that it’s a good foundation to build on in future titles. If you were expecting the mode to be in amazing depth, you WILL be dissapointed but if you’re like me and didn’t expect much, it’s good to see back in any capacity. This doesn’t mean it isn’t a good mode as there are some excellent features. For example, the draft is brilliant and you can choose which superstars you want in the GM mode before loading into it, so a full AEW roster may be possible through custom creations. Also, the ranking system keeps you hooked throughout and gives you a set point to work towards, that being Wrestlemania.

However let's address the elephant in the room, it seems like a bit of a demo. Only being able to choose between a singles and tag team match is disappointing, with no triple threats, fatal four ways excetra. Also, only the main world titles and women’s titles are included, no mid cards, tag team titles or anything, as well as only having the option between five match types, normal, tables, extreme rules, TLC and Hell in a Cell. This makes the mode fairly copy and paste week-by-week with the exception of a few changes, so the amount of time you can play this mode without becoming bored is limited. This isn’t to say it’s not worth revisiting however, as maybe doing a bit at a time before having a break on another mode or waiting until the day after to come back is a viable option. Definitely not fulfilling enough to play as a main mode however. 

My Rise 

YES YES YES! They’ve hit the nail on the head with this one. A separate career for both the male's side and female's side means this is a mode you can spend days on end with and not get bored or have no sense of direction as to what to do next. Both careers come in at around 50 hours and of course the matches added to that mean it will be a significant amount of time and a great length for the career to make it continue for a long time. 

The main thing that makes this mode amazing is the branching storylines. Certain decisions you will make will shape the rest of the story and this makes everyone’s stories unique, making the mode replayable as many times as you want and the storyline will change massively based on certain decisions varying. At the beginning you can choose your wrestler’s background, including options such as an actor, MMA and Indie. This choice will affect how certain characters interact with you and the storylines that will take place again emphasising how replayable this mode is. You can join either NXT, Raw or Smackdown and change brands whenever you want or feel you’ve achieved all you can, or perhaps the choices you make will lead you from one brand to another. As well as the WWE, indie promotions in regions such as Mexico and Japan are also included, so not all your time will be spent in the WWE. Whether you are a heel or babyface varies on the decisions you make, so it won’t just ask which you’d rather be with and stick with that, your choices will affect that. There will be many chances for a turn from babyface to heel or vice-versa to unlock more possibilities and discover new storylines. This is the mode I will be spending most time in and can’t wait to get fully stuck in the storyline.

One gripe I do have is the graphics seem a step down from the rest of the game as the emotionless look on the wrestler’s faces when speaking does negate some emotional scenes that would benefit from more expressions. However, this is a minor issue I have and it doesn’t bother me considering how good the rest of the mode is, but it’s something that could be improved to make it even better.  

My Faction

This mode is brilliant. As a massive fan of NBA my team in the NBA 2K series, I've been longing for a mode like that in this franchise and we finally have it. The things that usually make this mode so fun in other titles however is the competitive multiplayer aspect involved, unfortunately, the WWE 2K series only has offline single player which may be a deal breaker for many players before even jumping into the mode but believe me, it’s worth a go as I’ve had a lot of fun in my short time playing. The lack of online is a massive disappointment, and it’s something they will certainly look to implement in future titles, perhaps as early as 2K23, but for this year we have to make do with offline. 

This is a mode that will stay fresh all year with the addition of new cards regularly and it will be a mode that primarily is a grind that’s rewarded with great cards, packs and much more. At the beginning there may seem few cards, but there will be more and more added week by week to the point there’ll be more than you can keep up with. This mode rewards players for grinding the gameplay, which is something we have not seen, to my recollection, in previous years besides perhaps certain unlockables. Don’t write this off too early folks! 

Creation suite

The creation suite is another feature many people love using and spending a lot of time using and experimenting with. The addition of new body types really make the creation of realistic looking CAW’s (create a wrestler) much more possible, especially those that have a physique like Yokozuna, as these new models allow body types like this to be achieved. The title creation and MITB designers are very similar with minor improvements that make them that much better looking, so if you enjoyed this in previous titles, you’ll enjoy it even more this year. 

Unfortunately, there are no advanced entrances anymore which is a massive shame as this was a great detail to make your CAW that much more realistic. However, there seems to be a good reason for this as it was said to be causing many bugs, so in that case, I’d rather it not be included. 

No new match types

I will say this year after year, WE NEED NEW MATCH TYPES. ALL I ASK IS FOR SPECIAL GUEST REFEREE TO RETURN AND I’LL STOP COMPLAINING AND DIE HAPPY! The amount of fun I had in this match type with friends was immeasurable and I’d love to see it return. It’s not just that however, as there are no new match types, and considering that’s a massive request that was broadcast by the WWE 2K devs themselves, you’d have thought there would have been a few new ones. Nope, not the one. Not even War Games… Come on 2K!!!

Overall thoughts: Pass or Purchase

Verdict- Purchase

This year’s gameplay is a good enough reason to get the game itself as this game is genuinely a lot of fun to play matches on and for previous titles, that couldn’t be said. Many people stuck to menus as the core gameplay was so bad but that’s not the case this year. As always, this game isn’t perfect and there are certain things I find disappointing as I’ve pointed out many times in this article. However, there is something for everyone in this, if you’re a showcase fan, this year’s edition is brilliant. Creation suite fan? Some great additions that make it even better and easier to make exactly what you were envisioning. My Rise itself is a mode worth buying the game for, with over 100 hours including both the men and women’s stories and due to it’s replayability every career will be different so you’ll never have the same one twice. My Faction is a mode people are definitely overlooking and may be worth spending some time in to see if you enjoy it. My GM is a massive disappointment compared to what people were expecting, but it’s still definitely a good mode worth playing and the depth in some of the other modes certainly makes up for that and more. A massive thing to mention is the significant lack of major bugs that are in the game. I have seen very few in my own and many others experiences with the game. Every game is inevitably going to have bugs, but they’re very rare and compared to WWE 2K20, they seem insignificant. 

I hope this article helped you decide whether you want to buy the game or not, I’ve massively enjoyed the game up to now so I’m hoping that continues as this is a game I can see myself playing all year round, not compared to 2K20 that I put down after a couple of weeks. If you want to see more WWE 2K22 articles let us know and I’ll be sure to bring some to you! That’s all from me, thanks for reading and I'll catch you next time!