‘WWE 2K23’ Gets Even Stronger With WarGames And Rivalry Actions

Last year felt like a make or break moment for the WWE 2K series. After the game’s poor technical performance became the focal point of WWE 2K20, the 2K22 iteration was refreshing, as it was a clear rededication to improving the system and making it easier than ever to play.

Following the successful return of the WWE 2K series, WWE 2K23 brings its ‘Even Stronger’ moniker to life with a slew of updates that make this year exactly that. Without even pointing to the ease of gameplay and updates to Universe and MyRise modes, WarGames makes this iteration a must-have.

Fans can choose between 6- or 8-man WarGames matchups and let chaos reign in the two rings surrounded by cell structure. The game plays out much like you’d see in an actual match — characters are constrained to a platform outside the ring until the clock hits zero and it’s time to head to the match. On the way to the ring, you can grab weapons, climb into the cage, freely move between both rings, and climb the cage for dive attacks. Despite up to eight opponents being in the cage, the two rings gives enough space for this match not to feel crowded.

“There have been a lot of new match types in this franchise throughout the years, and I have to say, hands down WarGames is the best new match type that has ever been introduced in this game,” said Bryan Williams from the Visual Concepts team.

According to the developers, the backstage brawl match in 2K22 helped pave the way for WarGames, and the same could be true for the next evolution of the game. What that next match type could be is currently isn’t known, but the early success of this new game mode has given the team the “confidence to dream” as they build for the future.

When it comes to the nuts and bolts of standard gameplay, it continues to be incredibly easy to pick up and play with no background experience. You can no longer be the king of the reversals and successfully earn the advantage every other move. Matches flow much more similar to what you’d see on an episode of Raw or Smackdown, with developers making significant improvements to stamina to maintain that realism.

Opponents will rely on strings of momentum and your character needing to take advantage of a narrow opportunity to turn the tide. You won’t reverse every time your opponent picks you up off the mat, but you can swing things if you guess right on the first strike from a combo string. Depending on your skill level, that can be frustrating for the more experienced users as you sit back and take a beating with limited openings, or it can level the playing field for folks newer to the gaming experience.

The realism of living out a WWE storyline doesn’t stop with the gameplay, as users have options of sifting through hours of gameplay across Showcase, MyGM, Universe mode, or MyRise.

Showcase lives out John Cena’s “Never Give Up” attitude by putting fans in charge of some of his most famous opponents. Developers listened to fan feedback with the boredom that comes with playing as the same character over and again, thus the change to this year’s game mode.

We hear from Cena and see actual footage from matches as he takes us through iconic moments, such as what he calls his favorite crowd ever from the Hammerstein Ballroom at ECW One Night Stand. As you play through Cena’s rise to stardom, there are plenty of unlockables that come with successfully completing challenges, including fun new modes, historic character models, and a surprise or two.

For fans opting to pave their own path, MyRise offers two unique storylines — The Lock and The Legacy. Through these custom superstars, players journey from the humble beginnings of a rookie, to being immortalized as a WWE Legend. I haven’t had a chance to test out the Legacy story, but the Lock follows what fans sometimes see on WWE television when an indie darling inks a deal with WWE, then is required to change their name, appearance, and style that made them beloved in the first place. There are exclusive unlockables throughout this mode and quirks that are made for die hards, such as a tip not to sneeze around “the boss.”

Those who’d rather use existing stars can find their home in Universe mode, which allows users to play as a single superstar — essentially functioning as a MyCareer for an existing star — or classic mode, giving you total freedom to build match cards as a blend between MyGM and sandbox.

Historically, the giant sandbox that is Universe mode has built rivalries by setting wrestlers up against each other and essentially letting it play out as it would. Arguably the biggest update to this year’s Universe mode is the inclusion of “rivalry actions,” implementing over 100 moments to steer rivalries whatever direction you choose and build momentum of characters through Attack, Cheap Shot, Sportsmanship, Disrespect, and Showdown categories.

These moments can happen at any point through an established show, including opportunities for stars to show up during a rival’s match as a special enforcer, beginning a given match with a knocked out referee, or even setting up a post-match beatdown.

If setting up the matches and letting them play out is more in your wheelhouse, MyGM returns this year with new playable GMs Xavier Woods, Tyler Breeze, and others, as well as new brands, such as NXT 2.0 and WCW. The unlimited seasons offer challenges, such as Slammy Awards, Keepers before a given draft, and a competition to join the WWE Hall of Fame.

Between a plethora of game modes, MyFaction’s opportunities online, and one of WWE’s deepest rosters ever, WWE 2K23 raises the bar from what fans enjoyed last year. The game drops for Icon and Deluxe Editions on March 14, with the standard edition releasing on March 17.