WWE 2K23 review for PlayStation, Xbox, PC

Platform: PS5
Also On: PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
Publisher: 2K
Developer: Visual Concepts
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

It?s WrestleMania season and that now means it’s WWE 2K season! It seems 2K is back on schedule with annual releases and is no longer releasing in the fall, but in March, right in time for WrestleMania. Releasing during this ?season? is smart because it has the most eyes on the product that you will probably see all year, but could also be a burial if the game is terrible. Well what I must tell you ladies and gentlemen is not a prediction, but a spoiler; WWE 2K23 is even better than last year?s release! Improving on nearly all aspects of 2K22, this release scratched me right where I itched. Join me as I take over creative from Trips (or VKM as some dirt sheets believe) and guide you through my journey in WWE 2K23 (heavy on the wrestling puns I know, just stick with me).

Let?s start with the Showcase Mode; the feature that is flaunted in nearly every release of the 2K franchise. This year we get to go through some of John Cena?s iconic matches, but they gave us a unique spin on it for once. You see this year you aren?t playing as the featured superstar and playing through all their memorable wins, you?re playing as the opponents in some of Cena?s memorable losses. I really dig this to be honest, for one I DEFINITELY didn?t want to play as John Cena with his five moves of doom repeatedly, and secondly you get to play as different superstars each matchup with different unique objectives. So, without going into all the matches they chose for Showcase, this year has you play through memorable moments in Cena?s career, but not in chronological order. So it opens with you as RVD taking on Cena at ECW?s One Night Stand, which was a fantastic match and translates really well to Showcase mode. So along with playing as RVD, you?ll also play as Kurt Angle, Undertaker, The Rock and more. The varied superstars had me saying; ?just one more match? multiple times. Where previous years with Rey Mysterio and Daniel Bryan, I really had to force my way through it.

One issue that I had with Showcase is a carryover complaint from last year?s release and might just be the way it?s going to be going forward. The use of blurring of historic videos is still here. The referees faces, some fans, their shirts and other random items. You?re playing a match and it seamlessly switches from gameplay to video package and then boom, you?re taken out of the flow with some jarring blurring all over the screen. Maybe it?s just a peeve of mine but it just irritates me and it?s also worth noting this is my only real complaint with Showcase. Some people are already saying the exclusion of some matchups from Cena?s career are glaring, but in my opinion
they did the best with the roster and licensed legends they have. Obviously, they won?t have the classic matches with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. There are some great unlockables in Showcase this year as well? make sure you see them all.

Showcase is all well and good but the true star in 2K23 for me is MyGM and the improvements made year over year. For 2K22 we saw the return of MyGM after a long hiatus and it was great to have it back, but it lacked a lot of match types and options. 2K has heard everyone?s complaints and added a ton of improvements. From more selectable GMs, shows, match types, Hall of Fame goals and more. You know I booted MyGM right up and selected Eric Bischoff as my GM and WCW as my brand, and it was time to rewrite the Monday Night War. I know people are big fans of MyRise and MyFaction, and both see improvements this year (especially MyRise), but MyGM is the mode I continue to go back to. Becoming ?The BOOKER? bay-bay, has always been a dream of mine and setting up the angles and seeing how they shake out just tickles me. You can compete against four brands with a mix of real players and AI. Perfect for all you internet marks to finally bring AEW to be ACTUAL competition for the WWE (oh that?s gonna get me some heat).

I?m not going to hammer on about the returning stuff that?s still great such as the ?Create? options. From doing it yourself, to downloading superstars, arenas, movesets and more?I have no complaints. They continue to improve just how easy it is to build out wrestlers from other organizations or legends, or download other people?s creations (the amount of wrestlers that are already up and how great they look is extremely impressive). But I do want to mention the inclusion of a brand-new match type, which doesn?t happen very often anymore, THE WAR GAMES (insert William Regal voice). Now for us wrestling dinosaurs, War Games has been around a long time and this isn?t what you?ll remember from the WCW days, but it?s the current WWE iteration. It?s still a lot of fun to play this match type with teams of 3 or 4 and I believe it is the first time a wrestling game has featured the double ring. Not only do you have the double ring, the cage, but on your way into the ring you can grab some toys to play with (weapons). War Games will be a mode I go back to on the regular, joining my favorites rotation of Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber. I should also mention the new Backstage Brawl match type with quite a large Backstage environment. I think this is one that needs a little be more time to cook and the interactive items are cool but do become tedious.

Here we are at the post show press conference and what?s the verdict? WWE 2K23 makes all the right moves and improves on the great foundation 2K22 set out to establish following some rocky years (no Rock pun necessary). Some of the entrances and visuals this year really rival the on-screen product and really make other products look absolutely terrible, despite them not even being released yet (cough?AEW Fight/Delayed Forever?cough). With the already announced DLC plans, the roster (when all is said and done) is the most complete it?s been in a very long time and it?s damn impressive. Pair that with the creation suite and your dream match options are only limited by your imagination. As you can see, I?m really smitten with this year?s release and I highly recommend it. Now 2K, can we get some more throwback Showcase modes? ECW? WCW? History of Monday Night Raw? Four Horsemen? I?ve got plenty of ideas, give me a call.

2K provided us with a WWE 2K23 PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: A-