So, you think you’re untouchable? Find out if you are in our WWE 2k23 review!
The phenomenon of wrestling is insanely wide-spreading; it’s a sport, a drama, a comedy, and most of all, entertainment to its core. Gamers may have some massive nostalgia for early consoles and their iterations of WWE games – it could be the nu-metal blasting Smackdown vs. Raw titles, or perhaps the Royal Rumble arcade machine.
The franchise started taking after 2K’s sports iterations with WWE 2k14, and recent ones have fully-adapted to an online focus. I’m baseall-sliding into this review not having bought a WWE game in a decade, but have still kept up with the weekly programming to date – here’s hoping it’s as appealing for newcomers as it is to the yearly investors of the franchise.
Even Drew McIntyre’s sword Angela gets some attention to detail in WWE 2K23’s flashy entrances.
If you’ve played one WWE 2k game, you’ve played them all – for better and for worse. The annual franchise model hasn’t faltered in 2K‘s other games, but WWE 2k needed a break after the laughing-stock that was WWE 2k20. Released in an utterly-broken state with Visual Concepts fully taking the reign for the first time (instead of tag-teaming the series with Yuke’s), the first year off took place and the series returned to form with WWE 2k22 garnering much better prose.
Now that Visual Concepts proverbially has the hang of things, will 2k23 steady out the series for good, or will it get wished the best on its future endeavors?
WWE 2K23 Review – Visuals
Watching a wrestling match can bring about a variety of emotions – the highs of Daniel Bryan’s Wrestlemania 30 triumph, the lows of a beloved star turning heel, there’s a certain immersion to the theatrics of WWE that keep viewers watching every week. In WWE games, though, fans’ imaginations can run wild – they can put together any match they want and put themselves in control of their favorites and their most-hated to deliver outcomes in their heads with strong immersion. I’m pleased to report that with WWE 2K23, this in-depth immersion is maintained in many facets.
Your Moment of Bliss: WWE 2K23’s presentation is a visual feast for wrestling fans far and wide.
Quickly throwing together a random one-on-one match to get into the swing of things, I put Robert Roode against Roman Reigns. Robert Roode’s “Glorious” theme song played, with the added touch of the crowd singing along so loudly that it drowned out the commentary of Michael Cole and Corey Graves. For a mid-card act to get that kind of reaction without fake crowd noise will serve to make fans of Roode ecstatic.
Meanwhile, Roman Reigns hasn’t been pinned in four years. As such, his superstar rating is an unprecedented 99 – nearly perfect and not replicated in other 2K games. The unbeatable face of the company is getting his due diligence in WWE 2k23.
Roman Reigns has a rating of 99 in WWE 2K23. This is appropriate to his unheard-of title reign.
When superstars make their way to the ring in WWE 2k23, pyro goes off in full force and the Titantron is perfectly-accurate to real-life WWE events – up to a few months ago. That’s the kicker with WWE games; gimmicks and face/heel-turns change on a whim and WWE 2K23 can only be so accurate. As such, expect to see Nikki A.S.H. instead of Nikki Cross, Doudrop instead of Piper Niven, so on and so forth.
This is nice in a time-capsule sense, but anyone keeping up with WWE in March of 2023 will see the game’s age upon release. Nevertheless, it’s a celebration of stars at certain points in their career and can’t be downplayed too hardly. Character models are a marvel down to the eyelids and ring gear maximizing the immersion that makes you feel like you just blew $60 on a pay-per-view.
WWE 2K23 Review – Audio
The soundtrack for WWE 2K23 is pitiful – John Cena shouldn’t have overSEEN this opportunity as we are given a paltry dozen of tracks that have no cohesion and only play within the menus of WWE 2K23. That means this hour-or-so of music will enter your ears on a regular basis if you choose to grind out the online options – and it’s probably songs you’ve heard a million times on the radio like “Sad But True” and “Take What You Want”.
That’s it – that’s the entire soundtrack. You’re going to hear these songs over, and over, and over again.
While the spread of songs isn’t necessarily bad, it’s so minimal that the game could have benefited from twice the amount of music to appease those that will be spending a lot of time in menus through MyGM and MyFaction modes.
That being said, the sound design during matches is more than worthy of praise. When watching an intro, you can hear the crowd pipe in at close-range as the camera follows the wrestler into the ring. The deafening roar of the crowd singing theme songs was enough to give me goosebumps on more than one occasion, especially considering how over Sami Zayn is in the current WWE mix.
I’m the Miz and I’m awesome in 4K on new-gen!
Bumps in the ring sound massive and you can feel the pain as you’ve failed your latest reversal as your wrestler gets planted on the mat. I have a fond memory of playing WWE 2K13 on a massive plasma I struggled to carry down the stairs where the sound mixing was so bad that every mat-slam created an earthquake of vibrations on the floor. If you’ve got headphones equipped with WWE 2K23, you’ll feel just like that.
WWE 2K23 Review – Gameplay
When you understand the formula of a WWE 2K game, you’ll know exactly what you’re up against. I haven’t touched the series in a decade so I was worse-for-wear – my jobber opponents handed my ass to me to start out. Once I got a hold of countering timing, dodging, and knowing when to vary attacks, though, it came back like muscle memory; wrestlers dropped like flies on easier difficulties and it all made sense.
That being said, this is a series that has little to no welcome to newcomers; no visual tutorial is present in WWE 2K23, as you’ll instead have to refer to a long-winded guide in an options menu to figure out how to wrestle with the best of them.
Oh it’s true, it’s damn true – WWE games all play the same.
Miss a reversal? Great, now you’re stuck watching the rest of your opponents’ combo before you get a chance to turn the tables again. It makes WWE 2K23 play out like a real WWE match, as it punishes you steeply for missing your timing. But time everything right after some practice, and you’ll know how to keep every match in your control.
This adjustment period for me was a hassle, but once it clicked, I was back in my ways making my wrestling dreams come true across the bevy of WWE 2K23‘s modes to have a blast in. What modes does WWE 2K23 offer as opposed to the tried-and-true career mode? Let’s swanton-dive in and see!
WWE 2K23 Review – Game Modes
The flagship mode with WWE 2K23 is its Showcase Mode – giving John Cena the spotlight and letting you see him in a more humbled, reflective light as he narrates the highlights of his career as you play his opponents in each match. Whether it’s taking the reigns of Kurt Angle in his debut or beating him down in the massively one-sided ECW One Night Stand showdown as Rob Van Dam, this is a thrill to experience even if you dread Big Match John and his Five Moves of Doom.
Past that, your single-player efforts as a wrestler can be achieved in WWE 2k23‘s MyRise – as you follow an original story, whether you choose the LOCK or LEGACY versions. This extension of content will keep dedicated players happy for tons of hours as Visual Concepts has come a long way from the so-bad-it’s-bad story WWE 2K20 had.
You can see him – a lot, in WWE 2K23’s stellar Showcase Mode.
MyGM and MyFaction
If you want the wrestling to take a backseat and would rather let your imagination run wild with some strategy, WWE 2K23‘s MyGM and MyFaction modes are for you. These two modes are meticulously well-made and crafted for you to be a hands-on manager or a stable leader to the fullest extent.
That being said, if you want to get ahead of your online compatriots in these modes, microtransactions are a must – this is a play-to-win environment and I’m not down with that and don’t have two words for ya. Regardless, there’s still plenty of fun to be had in WWE 2K23‘s single-player affairs and plenty of customization available for those wanting to book their own fantasy matches on a whim.
If you’re wanting to stay up-to-date with your WWE video gaming roster, are looking to delve into the two-decade career of John Cena with an autobiography flair, or just want to experience WWE on your own terms with no questions asked, WWE 2K23 can do all that and more.
If you’re a newcomer, though, get ready to take some L’s as you learn the ropes after you get Irish-Whipped for the hundredth time by your competent AI opponents. It’s a fun time any way you swing it, and nails its presentation and big picture on all facets. Visual Concepts has more than made up for the WWE 2K20 disappointment and WWE 2K23 is worth your time.
So, why should you play WWE 2K23?
- Magnificent simulation of WWE for any generation of fan
- Tough-but-fair gameplay that will have you cheering when you win a hard match
- Lifelike presentation and strong attention-to-detail for long-time fans
But why shouldn’t you play WWE 2K23?
- Unforgiving mechanics won’t let you wipe the floor with jobbers without a fight
- Stiff animations and jarring crowd still ruin the immersion now and then
- $70 may be too much for those that stick to single-player
A review code was kindly provided courtesy of 2K for the purpose of our WWE 2K23 review. You can find out more via the official WWE 2K23 website and join the Qualbert Discord to chat with us about the game!