Listen Up, Slapnuts: WWE 2K22 Hands-On Game Review

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Greetings, one and all! WWE 2K22 drops tonight at midnight Eastern, but was available on Tuesday for those who pre-ordered. This review is my own writing and opinion on the game based on twenty hours of game play. This review will evolve, so if you want updates to modes, bugs/fixes and such, bookmark it. Again, these are my own opinions on the game. I'm not an expert reviewer, so bare with me as we go over all the details that we can, as concisely as we can. Nothing flashy here, folks--other aggregate sites have all the bells and whistles. Our chief concern is about the game playability after the 2K20 dumpster fire, and to discern if the game is worth purchasing at full price--and in my opinion, it is. (But if you wait 4-6 weeks, they tend to drop the price a few bucks).
The purpose of this review is to quickly touch on the features, graphics, game play and, most importantly, any game-breaking bugs. After the fustercluck that was 2K20 and its utter lack of support and unfinished product at launch, we here at RN thought we'd waste our money and possibly save you yours if its another 2K20. Please note that MyRise (career mode) will be reviewed in-depth after the game's official release, but it is expected to be a revamped, dual-division system in which you create and level a male and female Superstar through the ranks from Indies to main-eventing WrestleMania. The Creation Suite already has a plethora of well-done characters in the community downloads--including spot-on the Fiend, CM Punk, and other AEW stars--and will be fully reviewed this weekend. Mostly, looking for bugs.

WWE Universe Mode
  • Universe mode offers a classic Universe mode, a Superstar mode, and an original sandbox mode with complete freedom.
  • Superstar mode: follow and control one Superstar in Universe mode. If you're familiar with early 21st-century Madden games' franchise mode, it's similarly in-depth. You choose a Superstar and play their career from the early days to the Hall of Fame, all with the ability to completely shape the Universe to your whim.
  • Universe features the ability to edit rosters, show Superstar cards (more later), and shows as well. If you're familiar with the old Universe mode, this is quite similar--just improved.
WWE 2K Showcase
  • Rey Mysterio's Legendary Career: the showcase features narration by Rey, both in video form and over the big moments of each match. Each match is similar to another old-school Madden feature--scenarios--and plays similar to Showcases in the past.
  • Matches: the list of matches include Rey Misterio, Jr vs Eddie Guerrero in a mask vs Cruiserweight title match, the Rey Mysterio vs HBK tribute match to Eddie G, and various other marquis moments during his WWE career.
  • Playability: The showcase runs flawlessly but we're still halfway in. The showcase weaves archival footage and the game's engine perfectly, creating a very unique form of storytelling. Possibly the best-developed Showcase to date (not content--everyone has their fave Superstar after all).
  • More to come: The Showcase will be completely finished by this weekend and any notable changes, rewards, or bugs will be mentioned to this amended article.
WWE Online Mode
  • Tonight's Match returns, and unlike 2K20 you can seamless go from match to match without the game freezing or kicking you to the dashboard.
  • Elimination Chamber, a source of major lag in 2K20 and 2K19's online modes, works nearly flawless with the only latency experienced being caused by other player's inputs, but it was in no means a game breaker.
  • Lobbies return in addition to Tonight's Match, and the lobbies are quite populated for a pre-release game. Matches go up to eight persons, AI or human or a mix of both, and the lobbies do not feature the 2K20 bugs regarding lag, failure to update, and kicks-to-dashboard instances.
  • More to come: Online Mode won't fully be available in-depth until its official drop late tonight, and this will be further updated.
MyGM Mode
  • MyGM is similar to Universe mode, except you take on the role of a GM, pick a brand, draft stars and battle for brand supremacy.
  • Intricate, subtle stats factor into the battle of the brands as attendance/gate figures, ratings, merch sales, etc all factor in.
  • Narration - Stephanie McMahon lends her voice and likeness with an intro video that adequately lightly touches on the features of MyGM.
  • GMs and Brands (shows) each come with perks that boost your brand's performance.
  • Adam Pearce: The Instigator - increases the level of rivalries by 1.
  • Sonya Deville: A Superstar's GM - raise the entire roster's morale by 15.
  • Stephanie McMahon: The McMahon Presence - earn twice as much money from arena attendance this week.
  • Shane McMahon: Coast to Coast - a GM interference booked this week will provide an additional +2 show bonus, and be free to book this week.
  • William Regal: Legend Whisperer - the first legend signed this week is free.
  • Raw Brand: This is War - 3 randomly selected Superstars on opposing brands can't be booked in matches next week. Cannot be used the week before a premium live event PPV.
  • SmackDown Brand: Birth of Legends - 6 random Superstars on your roster will have their popularity increased +6.
  • NXT Brand: Fighting Champion - title matches booked this week will receive a large match rating boost.
  • NXT UK Brand: International Takeover - your network deal is tripled if you gain fans this week; otherwise it will only be doubled.
  • AI or Human: You can play MyGM against a human or AI. If you choose AI, you can set the opposing brand & GM to your liking.
  • Duration of MyGM: current options for the duration are 15 weeks, 25 weeks, and 50 weeks. The "year" starts approximately a month prior to WrestleMania.
  • MyGM Draft: each GM starts with a budget (2.75 million), and each Superstar has a price. Some are available for a permanent fee; other Superstars are contracted for a specific number of weeks for a much lower price.
  • MyGM Draft II: You have complete control over the draft--make the pool of Superstars you want, and it goes eight rounds. A few additional rounds are available, with the bulk of the roster serving as free agents. The AI also has helpful tools and tips for newcomers to the mode.
  • Superstar Classes: MyGm Superstar classes reflect those in other modes of the game--Specialist, Bruiser, Cruiser, Powerhouse--and Heels are denoted with a red icon, whereas Faces are denoted with a green icon.
  • Match Modes Available: currently, 15 weeks into MyGM, the only match types available are 1v1 and 2v2. This may be expanded upon later in a patch, or it may open up more options the further you advance. I'll update as I get further, if there's anything worth noting.
  • Match Types Available: Normal, Tables, Extreme Rules, TLC, and Hell in a Cell.
MyFaction Mode
  • What's MyFaction?:MyFaction combines elements of CCG's (customizable card games, similar to Magic: the Gathering) regarding Superstars and upgrades but real-time combat.
  • Cards:Cards represent Superstars, with varying degrees represented by colors (Ruby, for example, is the best, I believe). Cards are acquired from packs, which are purchased either through playing the game and collecting MF/VC points, or by cash for those who want lazy mode. Cards can be upgraded.
  • How it Works:Create a faction that consists of 4 male and 4 female Superstars. Enter a custom name and choose from a variety of icons/emblems, backgrounds, and frames. These are all unlocked via challenges and via packs. You then enter one of the three modes available (see below). Combat is resolved with the actual game engine, despite selecting and upgrading Superstars via the card method.
  • Modes: Proving Grounds - A tower system with increased difficulty and scaling rewards that unlock contracts (boosts), Superstars, and cosmetics such as frames, background sand emblems. Use your Faction and ascend the tower for huge rewards!
  • Modes: Faction Wars - an exhibition mode that allows you to unlock rewards and earn VC and MF points.
  • Modes: MyTowers - the 2K19 hit mode is back in a unique form--present only in MyFaction--allowing yet another way to garner rewards and unlock Superstar cards, arenas, pyro, and other cosmetics.
  • Rewards: rewards from the various modes under MyFaction all lend towards the base game, via VC and MFP (MyFaction points, used exclusively in MyFaction), while establishing a unique hybrid of card game and action/combat.
  • Evolution Cards: Evolution cards are those which can be upgraded by way of various challenges based on each Superstar. For example, Hollywood Hulk Hogan has three criteria for an upgrade, including completing 65 taunts to the audience and performing a certain number of light strikes. These upgrade the cards and provide more rewards.
  • Manager Cards: Managers provide buffs, and each manager has a particularly favorite fighting style that receives the biggest boost, with a select secondary stat. There are multiple iterations of Superstars and Managers (Scarlett, for example, has eight manager cards). A Ruby Eric Bischoff (Ruby is quality), for example, pairs perfectly with Cruisers but also can benefit Strikers, so he's paired with Rey.
  • Log-In Rewards: Logging in daily rewards you with various currency and cards, and logging in five days in a seven-day calendar period will give you a bonus boost (changes weekly).
Notes on Combat
  • Revamped Combos: Combinations replace the old system of pressing the joystick a certain direction and hitting a strike button. Each Superstar has nearly a dozen (more or less) combinations. For example, X + X + X + B chains into a Hurricanrana for Rey. Combinations can also be broken if, when prompted, you press the coordinating button that pops on screen.
  • Combo Breakers: When your opponent unleashes a combination of strikes, you now have the ability to break the combo by countering via reversals, as well as countering light strikes and grapples via the light strike button. Heavy strikes and strong grapples can be countered with A, and you can counter grapple combo finishers by performing a grapple when promoted. All aforementioned controls are X-Box (sorry, PS folk).
  • Reversals & Defensive Maneuvers: the reversal system has been completely redone. We've returned to 2K19's Y button as the chief defensive button for reverses and blocks. It also serves as a block when held, and the right bumper serves as both a dodge and climb button. Also, we now have unlimited reversals. The ability to block strikes, dodge strikes, and the return of unlimited reverses give you more ability to put up a defensive effort that'd make Zelensky proud.
  • Blocking, Guarding, Dodging Details: Holding your reversal button allows you to enter a blocking stance. This will allow you to withstand strikes and running attacks but is completely ineffective against grapples and special moves. A bonus to blocking--you can attack your opponent first while they're knocked off guard. Dodging allows you to choose a direction when times to just before the opponent strikes you. It allows you to perform a roll or a dodge when timed perfectly, and the Superstar's size and weight determines their animation. Dodging is superior to blocking, but is significantly more of a risk. Mid-move reversals are still available and prompt you with a floating Y at the time to press. Again, the supply of reversals has been removed and infinite reversals reign--except when you're stunned.
  • The Stun Meter: Various attacks fill your opponent's stun meter (and vice versa). When it's filled, the Superstar is stunned and cannot reverse any moves. Also, the Superstar will remain on the ground as in past editions, with the ability to press a button to recover quickly at a stamina and health penalty.
  • Pins and Kick-outs: Pins are initiated by pressing down on the right joystick. Kicking out of a pin is no longer a small zone with a larger circle that requires precise timing. Instead, it is now a button smasher in which you spam A as fast as possible. Missing those old turbo controllers now! You can, however, revert to 2K19's kick-out system in which you have to line up with the red target zone, if you want.
  • Paybacks: Paybacks are back, most of which are similar to the last editions of WWE 2K.
  • Finishers & Signatures: both have been streamlined. The right trigger now serves as a "wheel" in which right trigger (rt) + X is for signatures, rt+ A for finishers, rt + Y initiates your Payback, and rt + B starts a submission. Much more user-friendly than past editions.
General Information
  • My system stats - For comparison's sake. I play an Xbox Series S with the 2K22 XSX nWo collector's edition, using fiber speeds in excess of 1gb/sec.
  • Tutorials - Drew Gulak lends his voice and likeness to the game's tutorial system, including his image blazoned everywhere one might need assistance. The tutorial is smoothly done, informative, and simplistic.
  • Online Issues - Most likely due to the pre-release status, the game, at times, will state that you need to update (exit back to the main screen of the game, click your joystick to update WWE Live data). Minor, very minor bug and does not generally impact game play due to the insane load speeds of the game.
  • Online Issues, POST Launch - With the game fully launched everywhere in the world but Russia, we've had time to get our hands on the Online modes. Online server stability is great; the only source of lag came from players with slower speeds. Elimination Chamber, known for its lag, registered only 49ms of latency throughout the bout. Despite a player with a slow connection, there was very little loss of quality. The slightest stutter as the match began but that was it.
  • Online Modes - the Match of the Night returns, changing daily with various match modes and criteria. MyRise is still pending review this weekend, but will include a male and female Superstar for you to level from working small AEW and crowded gyms to the grandest stage of them all. Lobbies, as mentioned earlier, are heavily populated and stability is impressive. Compared to WWE 2K20, well...if 2K20 is a Kia, 2K22 is a Mercedes.
  • The Creation Suite - Barely 48 hours after international drop, there are over over 125 pages filled with created Superstars, arenas, titles. AEW Fans: Modders have already loaded up Dynamite, Rampage, All Out, Full Throttle arenas, just about the entire top tier of the roster (not counting the AEW stars included in the WWE roster), and the belts...are gorgeous. Even if you HATE the WWE, the game should be considered for your AEW gaming needs until theirs drops. New to the creation suite are portraits. These allow you to use real, Superstar photos (from their match cards we see on tv) to update the look of any Superstar. You can also upload your own images and download Superstar portraits that you want. For example, I downloaded a CAW (Create-a-Wrestler) of Chris Jericho, which was spot on; under the Created Moves available for downloading, I was able to download an authentic-to-Jericho move set someone else designed; an entrance and portrait download later and I'm able to rock out the best version of Chris Jericho possible, sans music. We still do not have the ability to upload custom music, sadly.
  • Music: a solid selection of contemporary artists, ranging from hip hop to heavy metal. The Jukebox returns, allowing you to edit the tracks allowed to play--and enable your favorite Superstars' themes!
  • Smoothness of Game-play: the game runs as smooth as bourbon. The game's mechanics don't have the glitches from 2K and I've yet to notice any graphical bugs. There are no game-breaking bugs that 2K20 had at launch (and to this day, as they never fixed it).
  • Graphics: Not gonna lie, the trailer does not do the graphics justice. Ultimate Warrior looks almost as if he's archival footage, and most of the renders are spot-on. Even Dominick Mysterio looks as baby-faced as real-life.
Announced DLC Content:
  • Banzai Pack (April 26): Yokozuna, Umaga, Rikishi, Omos, Kacy Catanzaro
  • Most Wanted Pack (May 17): Cactus Jack, the Boogeyman, Vader, Ilja Dragunov, Indi Hartwell
  • Stand Back Pack (June 7): Hurricane Helms, Stacy Keibler, A-Kid, Wes Lee, Nash Carter
  • Clowning Around Pack (June 28): Doink the Clown, Ronda Rousey, the British Bulldog, Mr. T, Doudrop
  • The Whole Damn Pack (July 19): Rob Van Dam, Xia Li, LA Knight, Commander Azeez, Logan Paul, Machine Gun Kelly

Again, this is my review based on way too much gaming since Tuesday. If you have questions, please ask them below! I'll get to them as quick as I can.*

* Article originally posted Thursday 10 March; updated 11 March; updated 12 March.

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