WWE 2K23 marks a triumphant return for the franchise, it has built on the success of WWE 2K22 to become one of the best wrestling games of all time. After a less-than-favorable reception to WWE 2K20 Developer Visual Concepts taking a year off to reassess and rework their approach has given fans of WWE one of the most polished and grand experiences that they could ask for.
AT A GLANCE
GENRE: Simulation, Sports
DEVELOPER: Visual Concepts
RELEASE DATE: 16 Mar, 2023
Right from the start, fans will notice the game feels like a more complete package than in previous years, with smoother action, deeper story modes, and an overall more immersive experience. Rather than rebuilding from the ground up, Visual Concepts made tweaks to nail the feel of the real deal.
One of the standout additions is the new WarGames mode, this specialized steel cage match involves two teams of four, five, or more wrestlers, who are locked inside a steel cage that spans two rings placed side by side. The presence or absence of a roof on the cage depends on the arena where the match is held.
The WarGames mode in WWE 2K23 offers an unparalleled experience for players, with its specialized steel cage match featuring teams of 3v3 or 4v4 battling it out for a single objective. The mode takes place within two rings side by side, surrounded by a double steel cage, creating total chaos for players to enjoy. Despite the potential for up to eight wrestlers in the ring, the mode feels fluid and detailed, with exceptional attention paid to every aspect of the game. Even within the confines of the steel cage, the development team has done an excellent job, of ensuring that the bars do not interfere with the experience or visuals of the game. This attention to detail is a testament to the quality of WWE 2K23 and makes WarGames mode a standout feature of the game.
The other game modes have also been given a boost, with the latest iteration of Showcase providing a twist, as players are tasked with beating John Cena in a number of his historic defeats. The MyRise mode features two distinct storylines this year with several different branches to encourage replayability.
MyGM has seen major updates, with more general managers to choose from and the chance to play through multiple seasons with fresh objectives keeping things interesting. Universe mode has also seen some improvements, with the addition of being able to add ‘rivalry actions’ before and after matches.
MyFaction is back too, as are its microtransactions and virtual currency, which may be unwelcome for some players. However, it’s important to note that anything that can be purchased with Virtual Currency can also be unlocked with MyFACTION Points earned through gameplay.
The game’s cover star, John Cena, is a 16-time WWE world champion and an icon of the sport. The decision to feature him on the cover was a smart move by Visual Concepts and 2K. Cena is a name synonymous with WWE now and is a legendary figure among WWE fans, with some loving him and others hating him. There’s no middle ground when it comes to Cena, and he always elicits a strong emotional response from audiences and there’s no denying his strong on-screen presence.
The “Never Give Up” Showcase mode is a long path full of surprises that spans John Cena’s 20-year career in WWE. The entire path is narrated by Cena himself, making it a must-play for any Cena fan. Visual Concepts has debuted 2K-exclusive Slingshot technology for a seamless transition from gameplay to live-action footage to bring crucial moments of every fight to life. One of the legendary matches of Cena’s career was against Rob Van Dam in the defunct ECW with extreme rules, and players can relive all of these moments in the showcase. This mode feels truly amazing, as players have the chance to “Never Give Up” against their opponents.
WWE 2K23 has taken a significant leap forward in terms of its graphics. The game’s visuals have been completely overhauled, with new lighting and shading techniques that help to create a more realistic look and feel. The textures and character models have been improved as well, with a greater level of detail in facial expressions, clothing, and even the wrestlers’ muscles.
Optimization and polish are crucial aspects of any game, and Visual Concepts has definitely delivered with WWE 2K23. The game features stunning visuals that are accompanied by impressive fighter inputs. Fighter entrances are particularly noteworthy, and the game features additional cameras that provide an immersive in-game feel. The fighters’ physical appearance is impressive, with a high level of detail that makes them appear more realistic than ever. From leaving the dressing room to entering the ring, the game’s visuals are outstanding.
Gameplay is smooth and polished, and I encountered no bugs or glitches during my hours of play. Although some fighters with long hair may exhibit some minor issues in certain movements, this is a minor quibble. The fighters’ movements are phenomenal, accurately replicating real-life fight sequences. Visual Concepts has clearly spent considerable time perfecting details, such as interactions between the audience and the fighters.
One of the most notable improvements to the graphics is the use of the new Slingshot technology, which seamlessly transitions from gameplay to live-action footage, bringing crucial moments of every fight to life. This technology adds a level of immersion that was not present in previous WWE games and helps to create a more cinematic experience.
Additionally, the WarGames mode, which features a specialized steel cage match with two rings side-by-side, looks impressive. The mode has been designed to emulate the look and feel of real-life matches, and the graphics help to create a sense of immersion that is unparalleled in previous WWE games.