Developer Visual Concepts took a year off after WWE 2K20’s disaster to rethink their approach. Last year’s WWE 2K22 was an improvement. And now the comeback is complete, with the best wrestling game ever.
The game feels more complete than fans have experienced in a long time, with smoother action, deeper story modes, and an overall more immersive experience.
After last year’s great strides, WWE 2K23 makes enough tweaks to emulate the real thing without reinventing the wheel.
The game’s developers deserve full credit for making every wrestler behave like their real-life counterparts, whether it’s the new kick-out mini-game or the new Fire Pro Wrestling slider selection.
In the ring and backstage areas, reversals and interactions flow seamlessly, giving you more options for moves.
A few longer hairstyles still look a bit strange and we saw a wrestler‘s arm pass through their opponent like a ghost on one occasion.
WarGames is this year’s big addition, and Visual Concepts has absolutely nailed its gaming debut.
With two wrestlers starting the match and other opponents joining every few minutes from their own cages in the crowd, the match is set in two rings surrounded by a huge steel cage.
The developers have been open about how the bout required an entirely rethink of how the game worked, to enable the two rings approach, and they have done a great job of recreating the drama, including the incoming stars being able to pick up weapons before entering the cage from ringside.
Tables, chairs, and more bodies only add to the drama of these matches, just like their real-life counterparts.
Showcase has been given a twist this year, as you are tasked with defeating John Cena in a number of his historic losses.
Although the blurring of referees during live action footage and the lack of commentary can be a bit distracting, it keeps things fresh with plenty of variety.
It’s terrific to see Cena appear on screen to explain the historical significance of each bout, and play such scenarios as Rob Van Dam at ECW One Night Stand 2006 or Kurt Angle in Cena’s 2002 debut.
Two distinct storylines will be explored in MyRise this year: one for a female wrestler with family history in the business, and another for a rising male star hailed as a ‘lock’ for success.
Side quests offer more attribute points to upgrade your wrestler, and add depth to an entertaining mode you can lose hours playing.
With more general managers to choose from and the ability to play through multiple seasons with fresh objectives, MyGM has seen major updates.
While the game is not perfect, there are some tasks that don’t make much sense, like putting on a Hell In A Cell match during a random episode of Raw.
The deeper mode is still a major step up from last year, so full credit should go to the team.
The addition of ‘rivalry actions’ before and after matches in Universe mode makes things more exciting, while Sandbox mode gives you total control over the show.