It has been so damn long since I played a wrestling game. This is because the last time I played one I found it so clunky and uncomfortable to play. Getting any kind of rhythm was so hard, and after being frustrated with controls I decided I would rather do something I enjoyed. So when WWE 2K22 announced it was overhauling their gameplay this year, I thought it might be finally my time to rise.
You can finally be a pro wrestler without the head injuries
For me the make or break of this game was going to be the gameplay. They have simplified the hell out of this game, but it will take a bit to get the hang of it. The buttons have been simplified to a light attack, heavy attack, grab and block/reversal. These are key to the fighting, and knowing these four buttons will let you fumble through a fight or two.
This simplicity of entry is absolutely crucial because I wouldn’t have fumbled through my first couple of hours if I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. After an hour or so of fumbling, you notice that the AI is doing cool stuff and this is where you will get the hang of using the shoulder buttons. These do things like running, grabbing the ropes or objects, and climbing. These combined with your basic attack buttons is when a fight gets awesome.
This might be running so you can do a grab that slams your opponent into the mat, grabbing the ropes so you can do a backflip onto your grounded opponent, or hitting that sweet frog splash from the turnbuckle. It took me a few hours but man when it clicks, you feel like a badass.
It’s easier when they don’t fight back as hard.
Once you feel like The Rock it is time to crank up the difficulty. First you crank the game up to medium and you hold your own, then you crank it up to hard and get your ass kicked. Well I got my ass kicked anyway. This is because there is a real knack to countering and hitting your moves at the right time. Countering involves guessing what your opponent presses in time, and if it is the right button you counter it. It shows you a triangle or square at times, but that can be such a split second you don’t have time to register it.
When the difficulty is cranked up then the game gets a lot better at countering, and spends less time on the ground waiting for you to hit them with an aerial move. They on the other hand can hit you at the exact right time.
The other annoyance I have is sometimes the moves miss. Given it is in a 3D ring there is a nack to going in the right direction to hit a move, and the game can be forgiving. But sometimes for no reason you do a flip and sail straight past them into the mat injuring yourself. This isn’t so bad on the lower difficulties because the AI misses as often as you do, and it is kinda funny when you both go for an attack, both miss, and both slam into the mat. On the harder difficulties the AI makes a lot less mistakes.
Enough modes that kept me fighting
One area that WWE 2K22 is not lacking is the mode department. The first is pretty heavily involved in our cover star Rey Mysterio. The Showcase mode has Ray quickly introduce fights that were important in his career, and then you take part in the fights. The idea here is to do the major actions that took place in the fights which pop up as an option in the top left.
You can also ignore that, and win the fights. I would always start trying to follow it properly, then get into the fight and do it my way. If you actually follow the steps then it will help introduce you to how to fight. I did not. Some people never learn.
Then there is the MyRISE mode which is the career. Here you create your character, and start in the development center. After you do well there you get the chance to go on to one of the WWE rosters where you take part in a bunch of stories, fight for championships, etc. It is a cool mode that decides if you are a heel or face based on your choices, and opens up pathways as you act. This mode gets addictive fast, and I enjoy it.
Well until I ran out of contracts
Then there is MyFaction which is where you collect cards providing superstars and customisations. You will use these cards to take part in fights and unlock prizes. I like this mode except for the microtransaction feel to it. You earn currency which you can use to buy card packs. So far totally normal and OK. Your card has a limited number of contracts and when they run out you need to buy more. If you don’t then you won’t be taking this card into battle.
Every time I did this I felt like I was taking a step away from that sweet pack of cards to take a couple steps forward later, and can see how you would be tempted to drop more coins. If this wasn’t as egregious this mode would be more awesome. Because of the microtransactions and stuff it needs to connect to the server every time you start this mode, and it takes an age to load. Not the nuggets deal, but again a bit of a pain.
The MyGM mode surprised me. This has you doing a simulation of running a brand, with the hopes of getting to Wrestlemania with your brand being stronger than your competitors. You pay for things like the venue, the lighting etc, and pay to bring in superstars. Matches with extras like a TLS match cost more and even superstars cutting promos costs money. I was going to tease the mode, until I lost three hours without noticing it. The mode has enough complexity to be engaging, but not so much that it will put you off if a manager sim isn’t your jam.
Then there is Universe and exhibition modes which let you grab a superstar and get stuck into fights. They are fine, nothing more than extra fights.
One big good looking show
Aesthetically the game looks pretty good. It’s far from realistic, but given the number of people that are digitally recreated in game, it is a pretty mean feat how decent they look. The varied stages are pretty cool, especially in the career mode. That is until you hit the big shows then almost every RAW fight looks the same. There is a lot of voice acting in the game which definitely adds to the experience.
If, like me, you have been putting off playing a WWE game because of that steep learning curve, then this one may well be worth a look. I can honestly say I am enjoying my time with this game so much more than I was expecting.