WWE 2K23 Early (Hands-Off) Impressions
After last year’s stellar WWE 2K22 – a game that many consider saved the franchise – developer Visual Concepts is once again primed to knock wrestling fans out of their seats. With a plethora of exciting additions (including War Games!), WWE 2K23 is shaping up to be one of the best representations of professional wrestling we’ve yet seen. I recently had the opportunity to sit with a few key contributors to the project. After doing so, I can safely say I’m as excited as a kid on Christmas to get my hands on the latest entry in this long-running franchise.
This year, MyRise is what Visual Concepts hopes to steal the show. Two brand-new storylines will be available, which offer intriguingly unique scenarios for players to dig into. The first will see your superstar begin as a second-generation talent, working to maintain your family’s legacy while carving your own path to greatness. The second offers a more traditional pathway into the WWE, starting as a performance center rookie with no ties to the business. Admittedly, the latter sounds similar to 2K22’s MyRise narrative, though Visual Concepts claims this year is entirely original.
Monday Night Wars
Also, back-and-better-than-ever is the fan favorite MyGM mode. A handful of new General Managers, including Eric Bischoff, Tyler Breeze, and Mick Foley, all make their way to WWE 2K23. In addition, two new brands will be selectable: NXT 2.0 and WCW. Most important, though, is the inclusion of all new challenges guaranteed to throw a wrench in your plans. Seasonal challenges, shake-ups, trophies, and more will all help dictate how your show turns out. Of course, it’ll be up to you to adjust on the fly to produce the best product possible. It should also be noted that MyGM in WWE 2K23 is playable with up to four people.
Rounding out the “My” modes (no points for creativity, to be sure) is MyFaction. I spent most of my time with WWE 2K22 in MyFaction and hoped for a significant update this year. Unfortunately, it seems as if this received the least amount of attention. MyFaction, like in other sports games, is a mode that revolves around collecting cards to build an ultimate team. Sure, we’ll now be able to take our squad online. But that’s about it as far as anything fresh is concerned. There’s a new card tier dubbed “pink diamond.” But that’s not nearly enough to get me as excited as I would have liked.
What I am looking forward to diving into is the updated Universe mode. WWE 2K22’s universe mode lacked stakes, mainly due to its random, lackluster rivalry system. At times, it became too difficult to book the show you wanted because you couldn’t rely on the superstars to do what you had in mind. 2K23 looks to remedy this by allowing you to build momentum and spend it on actions such as attacking your foe before a match. This can lead to big blow-offs at premium live event shows such as WrestleMania and SummerSlam. Furthermore, you can set forth finishes for the matches you create, allowing you to hone in on the exact dream scenarios you’ve always had in mind.
If You Build It, They Will Come
Speaking of creating, Visual Concepts and WWE 2K23 will once again deliver the very best creation suite in all of gaming. The character creator (which no other video game comes even close to matching) will see roughly 600 new parts added to it. This, of course, is in addition to everything from previous years. You’ll also have access to dozens of new parts and props for your created arenas. WWE 2K23 finally allows you to take said arenas online – an incredibly welcome addition. Finally, the return of “advanced customization” for create-an-entrance will surely put smiles on the faces of people intent on getting things as close to real life as possible.
Last but not least, Visual Concepts unveiled their plans for WWE 2K23’s DLC. And I hate to say it, but this quickly became the most disappointing part of the presentation. The following packs are planned for release with no concrete launch dates set:
DLC 1: Steiner Row Pack
- Scott Steiner, Rick Steiner, B-Fab, Top Dolla, Ashante Adonis
DLC 2: Pretty Sweet Pack
- Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Tiffany Stratton, Elton Prince, Kit Wilson
DLC 3: Race to NXT Pack
- Harley Race, Ivey Nile, Wendy Choo, Tony D’Angelo, Trick Williams
DLC 4: Revel with Wyatt Pack
- Bray Wyatt, Zeus (yes, from No Holds Barred), Sarah Logan, Joe Gacy, Blaire Davenport
DLC 5: Bad News U Pack
- Eve Torres, Wade Barrett, Damon Kemp, Andre Chase, Nathan Frazer
In fact, looking at it again, to call this list of DLC disappointing is an understatement. Don’t get me wrong, the Steiners, Harley Race, and Bray Wyatt are all fantastic additions. But I’ve been watching professional wrestling for over 30 years, and I’ve never heard of eleven of these names. And I can’t believe there’s anybody that actually wants to play as Hit Row or Eve Torres. This is terrible stuff here, especially considering that almost all of last year’s DLC was excellent.
At the end of the day, though, I can live with the lame DLC because the rest of WWE 2K23 looks phenomenal. Everything, from the impressive additions to the creation suite to the intriguing updates to MyRise and MyGM, points to Visual Concepts sitting on a terrific wrestling game once again. WWE 2K23 launches on March 14th, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. See you in the ring.
Thank you for keeping it locked on COGconnected.