WWE 2K23 Review – Tightening Some Holds

WWE 2K23 doesn’t break the mold from last year’s big re-debut, instead offering smaller improvements and additions to the elements that worked.The action feels similar but a little more polished, the modes have more features, and is a more solid package all around. 2K23 is a solid follow-up, even though there are some issues. 

Control-wise, 2K23 is identical to the previous game’s revamped setup, but is a bit smoother. However, there are still legacy issues such as the finickiness of picking up weapons. I’ve also become increasingly frustrated having to hit multiple reversal buttons due to the often annoying guessing game of deducing which input your opponent may hit. I’d prefer a single, universal counter since nailing the timing alone is tricky enough in its own right. In a nice touch of accessibility, you can now choose whether pinfalls require you to mash buttons to escape or become the “stop the needle” minigame from WWE 2K games past. 

WarGames is the new and most popular match type. It faithfully reproduces the chaos and fun of the live-action version. Beyond that, the usual offerings return as you remember them, though a more robust tutorial does a better job onboarding or refreshing players to the combat’s various nuances. This time, the roster looks impressive, is up-to-date, and it is extremely deep. I also didn’t encounter any significant technical glitches – always a good sign for this series. Overall, the gameplay hasn’t changed significantly, so if you enjoyed 2K22, you’ll slip right into 2K23. If you didn’t, it’s unlikely this entry will change your mind. 

The documentary-style Showcase mode has a fun twist, letting you relive cover star John Cena’s career as told through his biggest losses. This is a meatier offering than last year’s Rey Mysterio Showcase, as you’ll beat Cena using a wide assortment of his greatest rivals, from Edge to The Rock to Brock Lesnar. You can still complete the basic framework, but you will be able to achieve additional goodies such as era-specific versions or moves. This can feel like work, but the rewards are generally worth the effort, especially if you’re a diehard member of the Cenation. 

I enjoyed Cena’s narrations where he praises his opponents while discussing what he learned from these defeats, though I miss listening to the subject’s commentary during the mid-match transitions to real-life video footage. The effectiveness of these clips is diminished if they are viewed in relative silence. The generic music that plays during these matches is outright bad, and it’s even worse that you can’t turn it off within the mode itself. Showcase is a fun and entertaining trip down the memory lane. It ends with a charmingly unexpected and goofy twist that makes it almost worth the effort. 

I had a better time with MyRise compared to last year’s, which offers two separate story campaigns, one of which lets you play in the female roster for the first time. As either a newly signed indie darling or a second-generation prospect, both stories offer totally different choice-driven narratives that range from being silly to cringy with humorous inside jokes for smartened-up fans (such as executive VP Shawn Michaels claiming WWE has a “great track record” of repackaging superstars under new gimmicks). Though this adventure unfolds in identical fashion – chat with superstars backstage to engage in main and sidequests while picking fights on your social media feed – MyRise is a stronger package this year.   


MyGM is still a great time-sink that provides new match types as well as other options for helping you build your brand. Additional GM’s (including Xavier Woods and Tyler Breeze for UpUpDownDown fans), modifiers that change the course of a season, plus the option to compete against up more players, are nice bonuses too. I’ve never been a big fan of the sandbox-style Universe Mode, and though it now offers expanded narrative control for steering a superstar’s career, it’s not enough to retain my interest for very long. MyFaction is a similar game, but it also allows you to build and customize star teams through a trading card format. Small tweaks to their modes can, as with all things else in life, be a great way to draw new players. 

It’s a great way to create superstars. The increased customization options as well as the larger amount of save slots for superstars make this even more possible. While it is difficult to do, photographic face mapping can help you recreate wrestlers in a more accurate way than ever. Easy to upload and download your custom images online. It is fun creating my own heroes, but the best part about it all? Seeing thousands of others’ creations gives me an extra kick. Creating custom arena (which can now be used online), entrances, videos, and championships isn’t markedly different from before, but remain entertaining avenues for flexing my creativity. 

Online play has been a little bit chaotic as of the writing. During the game’s early launch for Icon and Deluxe Edition players, I never played a match where my opponent(s) wasn’t immediately disconnected and replaced by an A.I..While that’s a smooth fix to keep players in the game, the inability to play without interruption is very disappointing. It’s not clear that things have improved since launch. I do hope they will fix it soon. 

WWE 2K23’s more incremental bells and whistles means it’s technically an overall stronger package than 2K22. However, unlike last year, it doesn’t benefit from the rose-colored excitement of getting to play a big wrestling sim again after a years-long absence. The similarities to its predecessor means 2K23 feels more formulaic than special, but it still continues the series’ overall positive trajectory. Like watching a returning legend perform their greatest hits night after night, the novelty has faded, but I’m still pleased to have them back – for now.

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