BSO Review: WWE2K23 Become The Tribal Chief of Your Own Faction – BlackSportsOnline
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BSO Review: WWE2K23 Become The Tribal Chief of Your Own Faction

I’m gonna keep it real with you, BSO friends. I don’t normally play wrestling games. Despite growing up a huge WWF/WWE fan, I sorta lost touch with the games when they started getting super complicated and difficult. I remember sitting down with a buddy trying to play the Stone Cold storyline for WWE 2K16 and we must have spent an hour just trying to pull off a submission in that game, and never could get it to work. After a good chunk of time away from the franchise, I had been contemplating getting back in. So when Rob asked me if I could help out and review WWE 2K23, I jumped at the chance. 

So what was it like stepping back in the squared circle after nearly seven years away? In a word, breathtaking. WWE clearly took the falling off of fans like me and the critical failure of WWE 2K20 to heart. So much so that fans were wondering if 2K’s days as lead developer were coming to a rapid close, but the WWE quietly stuck with 2K and what they delivered was nothing short of impressive. The two main ideas introduced in this version of the title were the reworked Showcase mode featuring John Cena as the focal point but with the added twist of playing as his opponents, and the long-awaited dual-ring spectacular known as War Games.

Coming right out of the gate, John Cena’s showcase is a pretty special love letter to his career. While some moments are deemphasised in favor of others, that doesn’t mean fans won’t get a healthy mix of Cena’s greatest WWE moments, including his debut against Kurt Angle, his match with Undertaker at WrestleMania 34 to his Once In A Lifetime match with the legendary Rock. Everything you could ever want from Cena’s career is showcased and getting to play as some of his greatest opponents really adds to the mode. 

While the main goal is obviously to recreate some of Cena’s biggest matches, players earn special bonuses by completing objectives as well as coming out victorious, and potentially changing history. What’s really cool about these objectives is that as you complete them in a match — and you are given instructions on how to do them, should you need them — the game shifts from gameplay mode straight into crisp live-footage of these matches as they happened in these exact moments and then back to gameplay again. It’s an incredible showcase of the next generation technology and brings fans right back into some of their favorite moments while delivering them a sense of feeling like they had a hand in it. 

Even if you’re not a John Cena fan, this game has an absolute ton to offer. Using MyUniverse, you can quite literally create an entire WWE Universe in whatever image you see fit. You’re able to control matches, the number of matches, rivalries, champions, and so much more. When I say you can control everything, I quite literally mean everything. I wasn’t able to get too terribly far into my play of the mode just yet because I went to town personalizing every aspect of my shows. When I say that I personalized everything, I do mean everything. By choice, it was over two hours before I ever got to the actual show because I kept fine-tuning everything as if I were Vince McMahon himself.  

First I relieved Roman Reigns of his responsibility as champion and slapped the belt on Edge. I then began to rework every division and decided to bring back some older titles and crowned a few new champions with those belts. From there I began creating new tag teams and I set up a minimum of four rivalries for each night’s show. It took me a minute to find the right formula for pleasing the crowd, but I eventually settled on having some mild-intensity rivalries to open one show, but closed with a very high-intensity run-in kickstarting a brand new rivalry with the newly crowned champion Edge. I was in total control of every moment of every show. You can see how one could get caught up in the minutiae of all these options, and I just kept finding more options available to me. 

 A different version of this is available to players under the MyGM mode. This allows players to choose their GM and dominate a show from behind the scenes. Players are in charge of rivalries, the budget, fan happiness, and PLEs or Paid Live Events, formerly called PPVs. Each GM has a different special power that gives the player an added bonus or boost. These abilities range from Mick Foley making your rival show’s two biggest stars get injured to Stephanie McMahon allowing you to earn twice as much money from attendance. You even have the option of appointing your created superstar as the GM and doing so allows you to sign a free WWE Legend, so there’s even a perk to using your own characters. My GM is really fun, but I tended toward MyUniverse because it was MyGM but on Jolt Cola. 

MyRise is where players can create their own superstar and engage in a storyline designed for them. The coolest thing about this year’s version of MyRise is that they’ve added two different stories for players to tackle and they’re widely different. It’s not a situation like Hogwarts Legacy where you can play as any house but the story is the same, they’re two different stories built around vastly different ideas. In the version of MyRise where you play The Legacy, your character will be the niece of a WWE Diva and you’ll be expected to live up to her legacy and create your own as a Diva. You must play as a Diva in this version. The other version of MyRise is called The Lock and you play as a Drew McIntye-type of superstar where you are projected to be the next big thing in the WWE. Here you must play as a male superstar. 

I chose to play The Lock out of the gate and I can’t wait to try The Legacy once I’ve put more hours into the Lock. You are free to rename your character and create your own outfit. But that’s hardly the big story here. The coolest feature present in this mode is an ability fans have been begging to have included for years. You now have the ability to set up your own entrance music and completely personalize every aspect of your ring entrance. You have full control over the pyro, when the pyro goes off, how each step or movement reacts with the pyro and confetti, and so much more. It’s a creative’s dream. I had to force myself to move on from this during setup because I was never going to get in any matches if I kept trying to create an Oscar winning entrance. 

Once I jumped into the story of The Lock, I had control over rivalries, challenges, social media, training and much more for my character. The Silent Death is the name I eventually chose for my character and I immediately began interacting on social media. Doing so opens different story opportunities for your character. You’ll also be offered training challenges and opportunities to interact with various different stars, heel and face. Accepting their challenges awards you bonus points and could potentially earn you allies. These allies could be important down the line as your legacy and status grow in the WWE, bringing newer and tougher challenges your way. 

If I’m being honest, this is the most complete and thorough wrestling game I’ve ever seen in my life. Just about everything a fan could want is in there except for one thing and I don’t honestly understand it. Fans normally see things like passing drills and scoring drills when they’re training and practicing throughout the season. Aside from being fun, these mini-games break up the monotony of simply doing the same thing over and over again. Instead of adding these things in, WWE 2K23 just has you do more wrestling while pretending it means something else. I was asking to join a book club by wrestling someone in a match where the first person to pull off their finisher was the winner, you know, as people normally do when they’re joining a book club. 

Aside from that odd exclusion, there isn’t much you won’t find in WWE 2K23. This game has it all. The graphics are truly impressive, but even more so is their ability to convince you that every movement these characters make is real. Diesel even walks and moves like Diesel. Same with Razor Ramon and his swagger gait, each intro and character is carefully crafted to perfection and there were moments I couldn’t believe I was playing a video game. I don’t know if 2K is going to keep their license for WWE, but I do know that they clearly understand what’s important to fans and are trying to give them everything they could want in a game. 

The only way to play this game is on a next generation console. If you want to experience WWE 2K23 in the very best way possible, play it on a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. While there are some modest load times, every bit of it is worth the wait. Even War Games work to perfection. This game was so damn packed that it’s turned into my longest review ever for BSO. That’s how much 2K packed into this game. I know the BSO audience takes their wrestling seriously and I couldn’t come with anything less than a championship review for a championship game. 

Kane Webb is an entertainment journalist for @BSO and @TheMarvelReport. He also writes about the USC Trojans for @AthlonSports and has been featured on @FanSided, @Scout, @Rivals, the Bakersfield Californian, Wisconsin State Journal, and much more. You can follow him on Twitter: @FightOnTwist

Rating: 9.25/10