WWE 2K23 review: A new must-have undisputed king of wrestling games has emerged

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    I have been playing WWE games on consoles of various generations for the last 20 years.

    And my long-time favourite has always been WWF Attitude, which came out on the original PlayStation in 1999.

    However, and this is no exaggeration, WWE 2K23 is the closest the sports entertainment giant has come in that time to becoming the new king.

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    I can sum up 2K and WWE's latest instalment of the long-running franchise in three words – sharper, crisper, cleaner.

    From the moment you start the game, which I was playing on an Xbox One X, you can tell that the 2K team have put in more work than ever before, from stunning character models to tightened gameplay.

    Even the start menu is a thing of beauty, as you're already immersed in a sort-of classic WWE entrance way tron screen, with snippets from superstars entrance videos played in the background.

    And when you start trying to become the Next Big Thing – remember that phrase when you're playing My Rise – you realise that this game is not like previous iterations of the franchise.

    My first tip is that you must NOT skip the tutorial.

    Hosted by Xavier Woods, it is full of meme-worthy content, as well as an actual storyline.

    Once completed, and I'm not going to spoil the storyline of it, you do end up with a My Faction reward, so it's well worth doing.

    There is one immediate change that the tutorial explains to you – a new timed mini-game for pinfalls involving using the right stick to flick up as a red block flies past the bar.

    I realise that was horribly explained, but it makes sense when you play it.

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    I'm undecided whether or not I'm fully on-board with it yet, but that's a personal choice and some games might like it.

    This year's game has been promoted on two main aspects: Showcase Mode featuring John Cena, and the new addition of Wargames.

    I'll start with the good points.

    Showcase Mode is brilliant fun, and gives all Cena hates the chance to beat the ever-loving snot out of one of the greatest ever.

    Cena lovers, however, get the chance to try and gain some retribution on some of his most iconic losses.

    It's a great twist to the mode which has, in the past, felt a little stale.

    Now on to one of my only negatives about this year's game.

    Wargames, to put it bluntly, is not good.

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    I get it, we've all wanted to get inside (virtually) that massive double cage double ring since it returned a few years ago.

    But when you start playing this, you very quickly realise that maybe not everything you want is a good thing.

    To me, it feels like there is just far too much going on to make this enjoyable, and the camera is permanently on full-wide, so that every single bit of action is being captured.

    This becomes very hard to watch after a few minutes, especially when playing four-v-four.

    It's almost impossible to see where pin attempts are, to break them up and to try and win for yourself.

    I love the effort the 2K team has clearly put into this, but sometimes its worth trying to refine something even more before releasing it to the public.

    I also do not think having a weird platform for the cages way up in the stands rather than on the stage is a compromise worth putting up with.

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    Overall, this mode should have been left out for at least one more year.

    One slightly fun part of it, though, comes when you pick Johnny Gargano.

    Watch his entrance in full and listen to the Easter Egg-filled commentary.

    However, on to more good stuff,

    My Rise has been refreshed with two new career pathways – The Lock and The Legacy.

    Sami Zayn plays a huge role in the start of The Lock storyline, and it's great to be able to really choose options that make an impact rather than playing through storylines that mean nothing and are the WWE 2K version of riding the space bar on Football Manager.

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    It seems like 2K really has listened with their new additions to My GM.

    Being able to manage WCW as Eric Bischoff is a fantastic addition, and the intro from Xavier Woods and Tyler Breeze – yes, Breeze IS BACK – was a nice surprise.

    A must-play mode for any fan of the game.

    My Faction mode has some great new additions, and is smoother and more enjoyable then previous years.

    It's also easier to earn the coins needed to progress further and boost your faction, too.

    I haven't have a chance to crack open the Universe mode yet, but the if it's anything like the rest of the game, it'll be just a great.

    Also, there's one other random thing I noticed across the game . . . the hair mechanics are a little off.

    Put Brock Lesnar into a suplex and watch his ponytail – you'll see what I mean.

    Overall, I love this game and – apart from Wargames – I can see myself playing this for hours upon hours without getting bored of it.

    The days of button-bashing your way through a WWE game are definitely over.


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