WWE 2K22 was a game that 2K Sports had to get right, especially on the gameplay and performance side. 2K20 was among the buggiest games we’ve seen, which forced 2K to scrap the franchise’s yearly release cycle entirely. Fortunately, the team mostly got 2K22 where things needed to be by keeping things simple. New players could pick up the game and quickly compete because the gameplay was intuitive. WWE 2K23 doesn’t have the same task of reinventing the series, but that doesn’t mean 2K is staying static.
Accessibility breeds better gameplay
The new pin mechanic is one of the easiest places to see what’s new with WWE 2K23. In previous WWE games, getting out of a pin was a question of how fast you can mash buttons. It wasn’t necessarily a bad mechanic, but it became stale and represented an accessibility challenge for some players. In 2K23, you instead just need to flick up on the right stick at the right moment. There’s a bar sliding across the bottom of your screen, and you need to time your flick to when your marker is inside the bar.
If that sounds a bit easy, you’re correct. If someone pins you at the start of the match, you’ll kick out before the ref can even start the count. However, as you get deeper into a match, becoming tired and taking damage, the bar will get smaller and move faster. This mechanic almost perfectly replicates what you see on TV. It’s rare that someone will hit a single suplex, and their opponent won’t immediately pop up from a pin attempt. Real-life Superstars won’t start shocking the crowd with near-falls until they are several minutes deep into the match, at the very least.
It feels more true to life and gives players’ fingers a much-deserved rest. Transitioning to a timing-based mechanic opens things up for even more players and gives everyone the option to get away from mashing. Of course, the old mechanic is still there, but I will never turn it back on unless they force me.
WarGames — A blast with friends
The new pin mechanic is far from the only gameplay tweak in WWE 2K23. One of the other main ones is the introduction of WarGames into the mix. This multi-person match takes place inside a cage across two rings and introduces some incredible chaos. Personally, I have AI trust issues and can’t see myself playing this mode much by myself, but if you can get three or more human friends to join in, it’s a blast. During my early time with the game, I spent most of my time cheering on teammates as we divebombed opponents from the top of the cage.
There are still quite a few canned animations that can take you out of the match, but I didn’t notice as much in WWE 2K23. Of course, I only played a few hours, so those may crop up as I get more time with the game; however, the gameplay generally feels as smooth, if not smoother, than 2K22. It’s great to be able to do things as complicated as a springboard off the top rope onto your opponent with a few button presses. While not perfect, it’s hard to complain too much when the game is this intuitive.