WWE 2K23 Review – Tightening Some Holds – Game Informer

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WWE 2K23 doesn’t break the mold from last year’s big re-debut, instead offering small improvements and additions to elements that work. The action feels similar but a bit more polished, the modes have more features, and are a more solid package all around. Although there are still some kinks to be worked out, 2K23 stands out as a respectable follow-up.

Controls wise, 2K23 is similar to the revised setup of the previous game, but it’s a bit smoother. However, issues of legacy remain, such as how difficult it seems to pick up the weapon. I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with having to hit multiple reversal buttons due to the often annoying guessing game of guessing which inputs your opponent might hit. I would prefer a single, universal counter as counting the time alone is difficult enough by itself. In a nice touch of easiness, you can now choose whether you need to mash buttons to avoid pinfalls or have the “stop the needle” minigame from WWE 2K games past.

WarGames stands out as the big new match type, and it faithfully replicates the fun and chaos of the real-life version. Beyond that, the usual offerings are back just as you remember them, though a more robust tutorial does a better job of onboarding or refreshing players to the various nuances of combat. The roster this time around is impressively deep, looks good, and is mostly up to date. I didn’t encounter any significant technical glitches – always a good sign for this series. Overall, the gameplay hasn’t changed much, so if you enjoyed 2K22, you’ll be straight into 2K23. If you haven’t, it’s unlikely this entry will change your mind.

The documentary-style Showcase mode has a fun twist, letting you follow cover star John Cena’s career through his biggest defeats. It’s a meatier offering than last year’s Rey Mysterio showcase, as you’ll see Cena defeat a wide assortment of his biggest rivals, from Edge to The Rock to Brock Lesnar. The general framework remains unchanged; You can complete objectives such as performing certain moves to unlock additional goodies such as era-specific versions of wrestlers. It may sound like work, but the rewards are usually worth the effort, especially if you’re a diehard member of the military.

I enjoyed Cena’s narrations where he praises his opponents while discussing what he learned from these defeats, though I miss hearing the theme comment in real-life video footage during mid-match transitions . Viewing these clips in relative silence reduces their effectiveness. The normal music that plays during these matches is downright bad, and it’s even worse that you can’t turn it off within the mode itself. Still, Showcase offers a decently fun trip down memory lane and ends on a delightfully goofy and unexpected twist that makes it almost worth watching in full.

I’ve had a better time than last year with MyRise, which offers two different story campaigns, one of which lets you play in a female roster for the first time. Either as a newly signed indie darling or a second-generation prospect, both stories offer completely different choice-driven narratives that range from the silly to the raunchy, with humorous inside jokes for smart-up fans. (such as Executive VP Shawn Michaels’ claim that WWE has a “fantastic track record” of repackaging Superstars under a new gimmick). While the adventure unfolds similarly — chat with superstars backstage to engage in main and sidequests while choosing fights on your social media feed — MyRise is a stronger package this year.

MyGM continues to be a fun time sink that offers new match types and other options to help you build your chosen brand. Additional GMs (including Xavier Woods and Tyler Breeze for UpUpDownDown fans), modifiers that change the course of a season, as well as the option to compete against more players are nice bonuses. I’ve never been a big fan of the sandbox-style Universe mode, and although it now offers expanded narrative control to advance a superstar’s career, it’s not enough to hold my interest for very long. Not there. MyFaction, in which you collect, build and customize superstar teams through a trading card game format, is nearly identical but includes competitive online play. Like everything else, the small changes strengthen their respective approaches in a way that should please their existing fans but may not be enough to attract new ones.

Creating a superstar is a dependable treat, and the increased customization options and large number of superstar save slots enhance it. Photographic face-mapping is a nice touch that’s hard to work with, letting you recreate existing wrestlers with more accuracy than ever before. It’s easy enough to upload or download custom images to the online database; I enjoy creating my own Superstars, but I find it even better viewing and downloading thousands of creations from the community. Creating custom arenas (which can now be used online), logins, videos and championships aren’t clearly different from before, but remain enjoyable avenues to flex my creativity.

As of writing, online play is, unfortunately, a bit of a disaster. During the game’s initial launch for Icon and Deluxe Edition players, I never played a match where my opponent(s) wasn’t immediately disconnected and replaced by the AI. Very disappointing without any interruptions. Things haven’t improved much since launch, so I hope it gets fixed soon.

WWE 2K23’s more incremental bells and whistles mean it’s technically an overall stronger package than 2K22. However, unlike last year, it doesn’t benefit from the rose-tinted excitement of having a big wrestling sim playing again after a year-long absence. The similarities to its predecessor mean that 2K23 feels more formulaic than Special, but it still continues the overall positive trajectory of the series. Just like watching a returning veteran perform his biggest hits night after night, the novelty has worn off, but I’m still happy to have them back — for now.

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