WWE 2K22 Review: Is It Worth It? Rebounding from the Regression of WWE 2K20

After a maligned WWE 2K20, WWE 2K22 returns after an extended layoff. Is it worth your money this time around?

WWE 2K22 drops for PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and Xbox One on March 11. After a widely panned and maligned edition of WWE 2K with WWE 2K20, 2K sports and Visual Concepts decided to skip 2K21 to place more focus on improving the series after the regression to the bug-riddled 2K20. In a nice bit of timing, this also allowed them to focus on using the current generation systems to improve.

The game, with its hiatus and promise of improvement, has been highly anticipated among gamers and pro wrestling fans alike. Read below for Outsider Gaming’s review of WWE 2K22.

The PS5 version (nWo 4-Life edition) of the game was played for this review.

Our take on WWE 2K22

The PSA that greets you as you start the game; take heed!

So, did they improve from 2K20? The short answer is yes. After all, it’s not hard to improve on a game with a Metascore of 43 on Metacritic.com, a 30 from PlayStation Official Magazine UK, and a 20 from GameSpot. Still, the low floor isn’t all that goes into the improvements in 2K22.

The gameplay is much more smooth and realistic compared to 2K20. The reversal timing window is quick, sometimes too much so, but it also feels more realistic. The crispness of combos and the new Combo Breakers system adds even more to the realism, resembling what you might see every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday night on WWE programming.

As will be discussed in more detail below, the graphics really make use of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. This pairs well with the smoother gameplay as the movements, attacks, and bumps actually look like they hit with no lag.

There is also a large roster of wrestlers to chose from in WWE 2K22. Each wrestler is grouped into one of five types – Bruiser, Giant, Specialist, Fighter, and Cruiserweight – and correlated ratings and move-sets. There are a number of legends you can play as, including variations of the Showcase featured wrestler in Rey Mysterio and The Undertaker, adding a dose of historical fantasy booking. Since WWE hasn’t done it yet, why don’t you book the top wrestler in the company, Roman Reigns, against his cousin, The Rock?

This year’s Showcase with Mysterio is fantastic. Not only does it start you off with his classic match against the late Eddie Guerrero from Halloween Havoc ’97, but there are many memorable matches and added legends that you can unlock through Showcase. Most impressive is the seamless transition in matches from match to cutscene (which have sublime graphics) to historical footage of the match you’re wrestling, all with Mysterio narrating over. It’s just a nice touch and really helps you feel like you’re there, wrestling the match as Mysterio – in the case of his early days, Rey Mysterio, Jr.

Robert Roode making his entrance in a NXT TakeOver arena.

Now, there are also some negative things about the game. Some of the environmental interactions strain imagination, like a running clothesline destroying the ringside barrier even though no one went through the barrier. A few of the weapons, particularly the larger ones like tables and ladders, could use better graphics on the interaction between wrestler and object, but things like the kendo stick and its shattering are nice. Some of the facials during dialogue seem stiff, as if only the mouth moves, losing some emotion in these scenes.

Others niggling thoughts are mode-specific. In MyGM, it seems almost regardless of the wrestlers, as long as their styles are complimentary and it’s a gimmick match (Tables, Extreme Rules, etc.), then those matches on your rival’s shows will draw a far higher match rating than when you do the same, even with “better” wrestlers. The graphics in the MyRise cutscenes actually pale in comparison to the graphics in other modes, particularly Showcase.

However, the biggest negative is that while there is a large roster of wrestlers, a big swath are no longer in WWE after being released during the quarterly budget cuts during the still ongoing COVID situation. Some even appeared on AEW’s (All Elite Wrestling) – WWE’s direct competitor – most recent pay-per-view Revolution on March 6, including Keith Lee and William Regal, the latter a choice for MyGM. The releases were many and often enough that there were tweets queued up along the lines of, “WWE 2K22 developers after seeing the releases,” followed by a gif of an angry reaction as soon as the releases were announced.

It’s just a bit of cognitive dissonance to wrestle a match with, say, Lee vs. Braun Strowman or Mia Yim (or Reckoning) vs. Ember Moon. If you’re a casual wrestling fan, maybe it doesn’t matter, but for more dedicated fans, some might even feel weird just playing as the released wrestlers who have found homes in other promotions.

Still, the positives far outweigh the admittedly nitpicky negatives. This is especially so coming off of the debacle of 2K20.

Fun Rating (9.0/10)

The main game modes, which doesn’t even include Creations or Online play.

WWE 2K22 receives this fun rating for one main reason: there is just so much to do that you can play for hours on end and not get bored, depending on your preferred mode(s). Each mode will receive a more detailed explanation further below.

You can just lose yourself in the Creations suite. There are ten different categories of creations to choose from. The Creations suite has long been a fan favorite of the series as gamers spend hours creating and uploading their favorite wrestlers from other promotions, yesteryear, or different variations of wrestlers in the game. It’s always fun going through the community creations and seeing Kazuchika Okada or other prominent wrestlers from around the world available for download.

Sure, sometimes the gameplay can get frustrating, especially on higher difficulties when seemingly every one of your moves is reversed and you can’t reverse anything. Still, with so much to do and the depth in every mode, there’s little argument against the game being fun.

Is WWE 2K22 better than WWE 2K20?

Meeting your trainers in MyRise, “Road Dogg” Jesse James and “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels.

Yes, yes, many times yes. While some crashes have been identified, none happened during review gameplay and there have been no obvious or visible bugs or glitches. Those facts by themselves make 2K22 better than 2K20.

However, where 2K22 shines is in the aforementioned depth to gameplay modes and slight tweaks they’ve made to more familiar modes to keep things fresh for veterans of the series. The added Combo Breakers system is a great touch. The vast array of moves for selection in move-sets can seem overwhelming at the sheer number and variations, but it helps you truly create your ideal wrestler.

Everything is just stepped up from 2K20, and that’s to be expected. Not only was there a hiatus with the focus of making 2K22 a great game, but they also had the power of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S to work with; it should be better.

WWE 2K22 graphics compared (PS5 vs Xbox Series X)

Simply put, on the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, the graphics are great. They don’t look as cartoonish as 2K20, and the texturing makes the wrestlers look more realistic. It’s not at the levels of Horizon Forbidden West or Rainbow Six Extraction, but it’s still a vast improvement over 2K20.

However, as previously mentioned, there are ebbs and flows to this. The pictured Mysterio pose came after the tutorial and is emblematic of the graphics you’ll see during matches. On the lower end, the dialogue scenes in MyRise, particularly the rendering of your created wrestler, are a bit jarring. On the higher end, extra focus seems to have been placed on Showcase as the matches and cutscenes are even better than normal matches.

The menus are clean and easily readable. The mode-specific layouts are simple enough to become familiar with, and there is just a crispness to the menus. Further, the transitions between modes, particularly with the PS5 and a a top-of-the-line TV, run smooth and the framerate shines.

As for between the previous generation (PS4 and Xbox One) against the current generation, the above video shows that 2K Sports and Visual Concepts placed a good amount of focus into the previous generation as well. There are a lot of similarities between the character models, but some (as they should) appear better on the current generation. If you have a PS4 or Xbox one (or both), then at least you know the graphics weren’t overlooked in favor of their more powerful successors.

A non-graphics related note that is obvious from the video is the disparity in load times. With the power of the current generation systems, there is hardly any load time. However, on the previous generation, the load time is far greater.

WWE 2K22 graphics vs. WWE 2K20 graphics

As you can see in the video above, the graphics are vastly improved from 2K20 to 2K22. Again, this should be the case! Not only did they have an extended hiatus to improve the game, but the developers also had the power of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.

Still, it’s not just in how the graphics look, but how they function in motion and most importantly, during wrestling matches. The strikes are seamless and crisp, not too fast yet not too slow. While facial reactions still need work, the bodies of the wrestlers are better at resembling the physiques of their real counterparts while not making them look like cartoonish caricatures. The menus and associated mode-specific boxes are sleek, easy to read, and easy to comprehend.

So, yes, 2K22’s graphics are far better than 2K20’s, even if you play on the previous generation PS4 and Xbox One systems.

WWE 2K22 gameplay

Xavier Woods’ UpUpDownDown channel playing a Hell in a Cell match featuring Shayna Baszler, Ricochet, and Shelton Benjamin, among others.

To be blunt, gameplay is actually rather fun once you get the timing on reversals and Combo Breakers. With the smoothness of action, it makes each strike in that combo look like they’re flowing between one another. Sure, the window for reversals is small, but it brings a sense of urgency and skill needed to play, though it’s not something that will prevent others from playing.

The plethora of matches to choose from adds even more fun to the gameplay. Some of the mechanics, such as the ladder match mini-game, seem like they could be better, but they also might be the best compromise.

There are also trophies related to matches such as winning the Royal Rumble match as the first or second entrant, eliminating 14 people in the Rumble match, and beating Roman Reigns on Legend difficulty. The smoother gameplay makes going for these trophies more appealing than the buggy and glitchy 2K20.

What game modes are available in WWE 2K22?

WWE 2K22 has these modes available: Play Now, Showcase, MyGM, MyRise, MyFaction, Universe, Online, and Creations. For the purposes of this section, the last two will not be discussed.

Play Now is simple enough: you can play literally any type of match. These can be you against the computer or against another person (or people) locally with another controller or controllers. This is a great place to familiarize yourself with the gameplay mechanics, controls, and wrestlers.

Showcase takes you on a journey through Rey Mysterio’s career. It begins with Halloween Havoc ’97 and continues through the events of 2020. As previously mentioned, this is where everything coalesces for probably the best (for lack of a better term) showcase of the improvements made to 2K22. The graphics and storytelling are fantastic, the added touch of Mysterio narrating his career and matches.

In MyGM, you take control of either Raw, Smackdown, NXT, or NXT UK. You can choose as your GM Adam Pearce, William Regal, Sonya Deville, Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, or a created wrestler. Each has their own unique perk, but aside from that, the choice matters little. You also get to choose your rival show and GM. The goal is to end the season with more viewers than your rival’s show. It’s set so you can go for a short-term play (15 weeks) or long-term play (50 weeks) and a few others between the two. The ability to choose a GM and their specific Power Card adds a unique factor that was not present in its predecessor.

MyRise is MyCareer, and you can choose to play as a man or woman. MyRise makes it simple to access your attribute boosts, move-set, entrance, and more. It tells a simple and good enough story of making your way up through the Performance Center, then through NXT, Raw, and Smackdown. Living vicariously through MyRise is sure to bring hours of fun to many gamers.

MyFaction is there for all the collectors out there. Laid out like MyTeam in NBA 2K, you collect cards and complete challenges to gain more. There are evolution cards, as well as legends. There are weekly tower challenges, plus Proving Grounds and Faction Wars.

Universe mode is the less competitive version of MyGM and a staple of WWE 2K games. This year, they’ve added a Superstar Mode to Universe where you play through Universe mode as that one wrestler (Superstar in WWE parlance). You can still play Universe in Classic mode where you book everything as you would see fit. This way, you can be GM without the game telling you your booking sucks!

Again. there’s just so much you can do in WWE 2K22! Also, for the trophy hunters, there are trophies associated with every mode, including playing Universe mode with a Superstar Mode.

How long does it take to beat WWE 2K22?

Free agents in MyGM, including random people who appear to be enhancement talent (jobbers).

The answer is very dependent on what mode(s) you play. If you play all of them and you’re looking at popping that platinum trophy or all of the achievements, then you’re looking at tens of hours of play depending on your skill in matches and how well you can game the MyGM system. If your focus is only on one of the modes, then around ten hours is probably the average, though MyRise and MyFaction will probably take far longer than a short season of MyGM or a Superstar focus run in Universe.

For Showcase, depending on the difficulty level and your skill level, between ten and 20 hours is a good estimate. The matches and objectives will get progressively more difficult, and unlocking the secret match by completing all objectives may take playing some matches multiple times.

If all you care about is playing matches in Play Now, then there is no time limit on beating the game. However, if you try to play each match at least once, ten hours is a good estimate.

Is WWE 2K22 multiplayer?

Yes, WWE 2K22 is multiplayer both locally and online. Whether you have friends who want to come over and play – like with the UpUpDownDown video – or you want to play your friends or other gamers in more distant places, the features are available.

WWE 2K22’s online features

Aside from multiplayer, there is also the Creations suite. Users can create and upload any of the ten categories of creations they’ve made for others to rate and download for use in their games. This includes wrestlers, arenas, championships, and more.

For online matches, you can hit the lobbies and matchup with people or click on Tonight’s Match to play a specific match with set wrestlers against another player. You can also hit quick play to matchup with someone in an unranked setting.

Are there microtransactions and loot boxes in WWE 2K22?

Since this review was played and written before the full release, there has been little access to the shop in WWE 2K22. However, based on previous editions and NBA 2K, it’s safe to assume that Virtual Currency (VC) will be available for purchase though it was not available during review. MyFaction packs are available through VC or Tokens earned by playing MyFaction.

You can purchase Superstars, Arenas, and Championships in the store. There are a large number of wrestlers (all legends) and historical championships to purchase, so while not necessary, they may hit some nostalgia points from some gamers.

As for loot boxes, that remains to be seen. If any, it’s a safe bet that they’ll be themed with holidays and large WWE events like WrestleMania.

What special editions of WWE 2K22 can you purchase?

A Scott Hall (nWo) card in MyFaction for having the nWo 4-Life edition.

Aside from the standard edition and cross-gen bundle, which both include the Undertaker Immortal Pack, but ’96 Rey Mysterio pack for current generation only, there are two other editions.

The Deluxe Edition includes both aforementioned packs as well as the Season Pass and three-day early access if pre-ordered. The nWo 4-Life Edition includes all of the aforementioned and the nWo 4-Life Digital Bonus Pack, which included the Scott Hall card for MyFaction pictured.

WWE 2K22 file size

With the nWo 4-Life Edition installed, WWE 2K22 is 52.45 GB on the PS5. For comparison, Horizon Forbidden West is 88.21 GB and Gran Turismo 7 a whopping 107.6 GB.

WWE 2K22: Is it worth it?

Yes. 2K Sports and Visual Concepts really put action to their words on hearing the complaints from fans and improving the game. Bringing back MyGM was hailed by many gamers and it has proven to be just as challenging yet fun as its predecessor GM Mode. The vast array of match types available in addition to the depth of the modes means you’ll be playing WWE 2K22 for hours.

Some may fidget at the price on the current generation consoles, particularly if you’re purchasing one of the two high-end editions. The Season Pass showed that there is still a multitude of content to be released for 2K22, giving you even more for your money.

So while 2K20 may have left a sour taste in pretty much everyone’s mouths, 2K22 rebounded to be worth the cost and time investment. With so much to do, the improvements to gameplay and graphics, the added modes and slight tweaks, and the promise of much more content to come, WWE 2K22 should be a game that lends you hours and hours of entertainment.

Rate Our Content: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 4.40 out of 5)