Image via 2K

WWE 2K23 body slams its way up to the top of the rope  – Review

2K and Visual Concepts’ WWE 2K23 is an ode to an iconic and “super” wrestler and a deeper experience than previous games.

It’s WrestleMania season, with the “Showcase of Immortals” set to take place in Los Angeles, California, this April. But before that, publisher 2K and the WWE are set for the second round of the revamped WWE 2K video game franchise. WWE 2K23 features a new Showcase, a fresh career arc in MyRise, and a significant change to an emerging mode in the franchise. While there are some valid concerns, WWE 2K23 — at least in my opinion — is a significant step forward for the franchise.

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Can you see him?

Image via 2K

The WWE 2K23 2K Showcase focuses on John Cena. The cover athlete’s wrestling career has spanned over 20 years and included feuds against the likes of Triple H. Edge, Batista, Brock Lesnar, and Randy Orton. Wrestling fans got a chance to relive parts of those classic feuds and several bonus matches not mentioned by developer Visual Concepts during the pre-release promotion of the game.

I think it’s fair to say that longtime WWE fans — especially those who love to boo when Cena does come out — will enjoy the Showcase. For one, there are 17 matches in the Showcase when counting all the bonus matches. 

One gripe I had about the WWE 2K22 Showcase that featured Rey Mysterio was that it felt too condensed. Only twelve matches were a part of it. This year’s Showcase made more sense as the theme was to relieve John Cena’s failures, not successes. The 2K23 Showcase flowed better than the Rey Mysterio one, which featured some pretty random matches.

A unique experience

Image via 2K

MyGM is back for another year and with some twists. WWE 2K brought back midcard and tag titles, both of which were added later in the 2K22 lifecycle. Among the new features Visual Concepts added to the mode were Shake Up cards that can provide roster boosts and other benefits that can be game-changers.

MyGM in WWE 2K23 now includes multiple seasons, new available managers like UpUpDownDown stars Tyler Breeze and Xavier Woods, and a Hall of Fame. After 2K22’s MyGM mode felt like a beta version at launch, there’s much more to do in this year’s edition.

Then, there’s MyRise, which features two distinct career paths. First is “The Lock” story, in which you must deal with the praise of others and handle the high pressure of being labeled the next big superstar. There’s also “The Legacy,”  in which you must be able to follow the footsteps of Justine, a fictional former WWE Women’s champion from the 2000s.

Despite the storyline changeup, MyRise still follows a familiar formula. Throughout the game mode, players must talk to wrestlers and management to find new stories and progress through the campaign. There are also unique paths that can be determined based on responses given to other characters.

Between the two stories and the subplots in each, there’s a lot to do in MyRise. And it is engaging to say the least.

MyFaction goes online

Image via 2K

Last year’s iteration WWE 2K22, saw the inclusion of MyFaction into the WWE 2K franchise. It is the WWE equivalent of MyTeam, in which players can collect cards via packs or in-game challenges and assemble a great faction.

MyFaction in WWE 2K22 only features offline play, which drastically limited the mode’s potential. WWE 2K23’s version of MyFaction now includes online matchmaking, allowing players to take on actual humans. That alone gives the mode more value, especially for those looking for more of a competitive experience.

MyFaction in WWE 2K23 is similar to sports-themed CCGs of the past. One aspect I don’t like is that, much like in 2K22, there are wrestlers and alternative versions of wrestlers locked behind MyFaction. Look, I understand why this is done, but it would be excellent that those who do buy either the Icon Edition or the Standard Edition and all the DLC packs receive all wrestlers in the roster and do not need to be bound to the MyFaction exclusivity of some of the wrestlers.

The verdict

Image via 2K

After a bounceback year for the WWE 2K franchise in 2022, the key for 2K23 was to keep it simple and build on the foundation. MyGM is much deeper and more complex — and the latter is not a bad thing. The 2K Showcase, meanwhile, does a fine job of tying together over two decades of John Cena’s legendary career.

Final Score:

8.5 / 10

+MyGM has more depth and longevity
+More 2K Showcase content fixes a problem from the past
+Added gameplay mechanics change things up
Still not a fan of MyFaction-locked content

Gamepur team received a PS5 code for the purpose of this review.


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Author
Chris Studley
Chris is a staff writer for Gamepur who lives on the East Coast of the U.S. Chris has covered sports games, including the Madden, FIFA, NHL, NBA 2K, and MLB The Show franchises, for Gamepur since 2020.