WWE 2K23 Review

WWE 2K20 was disastrous enough that WWE entertained the idea of partnering with another company for future video games, and so the decision was made to give the developers extra time to make it. WWE 2K22 is as good as it gets and gets the franchise back on track. WWE 2K22 was the reinvention the series desperately needed, but it wasn’t clear if it was. WWE 2K23 could keep the momentum going strong once it returns to its annual release schedule.

WWE 2K23 isn’t a complete reinvention in the way WWE 2K22 was, but instead takes what was established in last year’s installment and improves upon it. Basically, every game mode and feature from WWE 2K22 is back in WWE 2K23 but expanded with more options. The result is a deeper, more content-rich wrestling game that is the series’ best in years.

This is easily seen in the returning MyGM mode, a clear step up from last year’s bare bones iteration. Aspiring general managers have more options in terms of what kind of matches they can book, and this time around there are actually mid-card titles. Additionally, WWE 2K23 has expanded MyGM to allow for four players, with one of the brand options being none other than WCW, but the integration of WCW leaves something to be desired.

This awesome WWE 2K23 MyGM allows players to play WCW as Eric Bischoff, but it doesn’t feel like a real WCW. Instead of the iconic WCW pay-per-view, players need to book WWE premium live events. Instead of the real WCW Women’s Championship, the game uses a tweaked version of the old WWE Women’s Championship with WCW license plates pasted over it. The Big Gold Belt, also known as the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, is not even used as the promotion’s world title, as it was at the height of its popularity. It’s a bit disappointing, but it’s still nice to see WCW as one of the brands players can choose from during MyGM sessions.

Having Raw, SmackDown, NXT, NXT 2.0 and WCW for 4-player multiplayer sessions is great, but the downside is that WWE 2K23 MyGM doesn’t have online capabilities, so those who want to play with friends should organize a local multiplayer session. Getting through a MyGM season will take a lot of time, especially with four people, but it’s so much fun that the hours fly by.

The biggest issue with WWE 2K22, in MyGM’s opinion, was that it ended after a single season. This oversight has been addressed in WWE 2K23 allows players to redesign their roster at the end of each season. Since players have new targets to shoot for to help keep things a little more interesting, it will take multiple seasons for them to earn enough Hall of Fame trophies to finally “win” the MyGM mode.

WWE 2K23 MyGM mode is a big step forward from last year’s version of the mode, but it’s still lacking in key areas. While it’s nice to have challenges to complete, Triple H still asks players to make ridiculous booking decisions that make no sense, but refusing to make them penalizes the player. Someone who has to book a Hell in a Cell match on a random episode of Raw two weeks later with no real rivalry established can’t effectively act as a legitimate WWE general manager.

Future iterations of MyGM may be better to throw out those awkward questions from Triple H, and there may be other improvements that can be made to recapture the magic of General Manager mode for subsequent entries. SmackDown vs Raw games too. It would have been better to have WWE TV follow a full calendar year, like older versions of the mode from Backlash to WrestleMania, instead of what’s currently there, which apparently consists of random PLEs. MyGM also sorely misses the fun custom brand versus brand events like the Royal Rumble. In SmackDown vs Raw 2008, fans looked forward to these events in General Manager mode as they offered unique match types where each brand could choose their own representative. It was always fun and a shame to see which wrestler from which brand would win the Royal Rumble match. WWE 2K23 MyGM doesn’t offer anything similar.

Of course, some WWE 2K23 players will be completely uninterested in a management simulation and will want to focus more on the in-ring action. Luckily for them, WWE 2K23 has no shortage of options when it comes to fighting in the squared circle with Showcase, Universe, MyRise, online multiplayer and much more.

This year’s Showcase is a unique twist on the fan favorite mode. Typically, WWE 2K Showcase modes allow players to relive a particular wrestler’s most memorable victories, but WWE 2K23 Showcase actually highlights their failures. In this year’s iteration of Showcase, players put themselves in the shoes of some of John Cena’s biggest rivals, recreating the legendary wrestler’s biggest losses throughout his career.

WWE 2K23 Seamlessly transition from in-game action to live action footage as players complete specific objectives to recreate the most memorable moments from each match. By allowing players to take on the role of Cena’s opponents instead of Cena himself, there’s much more variety than in years past as players take control of everyone from ECW legend Rob Van Dam to today’s biggest star Roman Reigns. The objectives serve as a great way to learn the ins and outs of the game, giving players a better understanding of the controls and everything they can do in the ring.

WWE 2K23’s John Cena Showcase is one of the best iterations of the mode thanks to wrestler players playing it like nothing else, but there are a few issues to consider. While completely out of the developers’ control, there are some glaring omissions in the John Cena Showcase matches, where celebrity matches against AEW wrestlers CM Punk and Bryan Danielson are completely absent from the roster. Players may also find the censored referee faces in live-action footage distracting.

Once players are done reliving John Cena’s biggest losses, they can move on to MyRise. MyRise has always been an acquired taste and this year is no different. WWE 2K23 MyRise still represents a huge improvement over what came before. The voice acting still leaves a lot to be desired, but the cutscenes and dialog aren’t nearly as creepy and do a better job of getting players into the action rather than boring them with overly long cutscenes.

This year there are two MyRise storylines for players to choose from, one focusing on a female wrestler and the other on a male wrestler. Players are free to create a character from scratch in the mode itself or take characters they’ve already created, a much appreciated quality of life feature that was missing from last year’s game. In MyRise, players can make important decisions that change the course of the story, encouraging players to go back and see how things might change if they take different paths.

Upgrade WWE 2K23 offers many optional activities that players can also participate in, often rewarding them with attribute points that they can use to upgrade their wrestlers. They can safely ignore the optional content and progress through the main storyline if they wish, and while they will miss out on some XP, players are unlikely to feel like they are at a huge disadvantage.

One thing about MyRise that the mode cannot do is in-match objectives. These objectives are fine for Showcase mode, but they bog MyRise down by restricting the player’s freedom and dictating how the game is played.

Those who want more freedom can of course stick to Universe mode or play random matches against friends or AI-controlled opponents. The actual wrestling WWE 2K23 looks a lot like last year, which is great because WWE 2K22 accomplish that. Instead of reinventing the wheel, WWE 2K23 makes slight tweaks to improve the in-ring experience, like switching to a new kick-out scheme where players tap to the right bar at the right time. The small kicking mini-game may seem like a minor change, but it helps create exciting moments where players manage to kick out at the last possible second.

All the usual match types are available in WWE 2K23, with the big new addition being WarGames. Originating in the NWA and perhaps best known for its use in World Championship Wrestling, WarGames is a unique match type where two rings are surrounded by a cage. The match begins with two wrestlers from opposing teams facing off, and every few minutes, one by one, another wrestler joins the fray. The team with the advantage has many chances to outnumber their opponents, and those who show up can even add weapons to the mix.

WarGames matches can only end when all wrestlers have entered the match, at which point it ends by pinfall or submission. WarGames translates wonderfully to the video game space and should make for a great gimmick match genre that players will use often, along with Hell in a Cell and Elimination Chamber.

In addition to WarGames and the aforementioned game modes, players can also spend time in or utilize the microtransaction-filled MyFaction mode. WWE 2K23’s expanded creation tools. The community has come a long way since WWE 2K22’s creation options, and it’s likely WWE 2K23 will be no different. While there are DLC wrestlers to look forward to in WWE 2K23, the community creations should be more than enough to keep players engaged with the game long term. If WWE 2K22 is any indication of what to expect in WWE 2K23, fans will be able to download almost any fictional character they can think of as a wrestler, along with custom belts, arenas and more.

Even if we ignore the upcoming community creations, WWE 2K23 has so much content that fans should be able to play for hours without even scratching the surface of everything the game has to offer. Whereas WWE 2K22 was a rebuilding year for the franchise, WWE 2K23 is all about building on that foundation, giving players more bang for their buck and taking things a step further. Of course there’s still plenty of room for improvement, but WWE 2K23 is easily one of the best WWE games of the last decade.

WWE 2K23 launches on March 17 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X. Today Technology was given a PS5 code for this review.

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