After a successful resurgence last year, Visual Concepts’ WWE 2K series returns with WWE 2K23. Releasing on March 17th for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5 and PC (March 14th for those who purchase the Deluxe Edition), it features new match types, new features for returning modes, and lots of your favorite Superstars. Let’s look at 15 things you should know before buying.
2K Games and Visual Concepts recently revealed the full roster for the base game, which amounts to almost 180 Superstars across RAW, Smackdown, NXT 2.0 and the Legends. You have the likes of Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Cody Rhodes with Triple H, Eddie Guerrero, Shawn Michaels and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Rhea Ripley, Ronda Rousey, Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch face off against Cora Jade, Trish Stratus, Lita, and Jacy Jayne.
And yes, the classics like Andre the Giant, Bruno Sammartino and Rowdy Roddy Piper are also here. Many Legends look to be locked from the outset, and while they likely become available through gameplay, there are other ways to gain immediate access (read: spending money).
Day 1 DLC
Of course, there’s also day-one DLC, like the Ruthless Aggression Pack, which features classic versions of John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar. It’s (currently) only available with the $120 Icon Edition. You also get to play as Bad Bunny by pre-ordering the Standard Edition or buying the Deluxe and Icon Editions.
If you’ve played – and enjoyed – WWE 2K22, then good news: The gameplay in WWE 2K23 is pretty much the same. There are some changes (which we’ll get into shortly), but the core is very much the same. It’s fast-paced with numerous opportunities for reversals, and the combo system appears mostly intact. For the most part, it doesn’t fix what isn’t broken.
Pinfalls aren’t revamped, but there are different options for kicking out of them. You can press a button continuously to kick out, or align your cursor with a moving red bar and press up on the right stick. So whether you’re the kind who prefers button mashing or not destroying your fingers, the choices are there.
New Animations and Model Updates
Last year’s title was a massive improvement in animations, and WWE 2K23 builds upon this with more new animations. Various Superstars, like Cody Rhodes and Rob Van Dam from 2006, have also received model updates. Not everyone has received a massive face-lift – the Head of the Table looks very much the same, but several improvements to lighting make everything look that much better.
In terms of match types, the usual suspects are all present and accounted for. Normal matches, TLC matches, Hell-in-a-Cell, Extreme Rules, Last Man Standing, Falls Count Anywhere, and much more are available, many with 2v2, 3v3, Triple Threat and Fatal Fourway formats. The Royal Rumble also returns with 10, 20 and 30 Man versions, but the biggest new addition in terms of match types is WarGames.
WarGames is a unique match, available in 3v3 and 4v4 formats. It sees two rings lined side-by-side and enclosed by a giant steel cage. Two Superstars from the opposing teams begin in the ring, and the clock counts down. Once time is up, a Superstar from a team with the advantage (usually decided beforehand) will enter and can bring in weapons, tables, and so on.
The process continues until wrestlers are in the ring, and then a single pinfall or submission will decide the match. Despite the complexity, it’s pretty thrilling, and there are some new mechanics, like grappling in the space between both rings.
The other new addition is the 2K Showcase, focused on John Cena. But you’re not playing as Mr Hustle, Loyalty, Respect himself. Instead, you’re going through the 20 biggest losses from his career, controlling his opponents as they attempt to beat the Champ. From his debut bout against Kurt Angle on Smackdown in 2002 to his iconic battle with The Rock at Wrestlemania 28 and the confrontation with The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 34. Throughout all this, Cena will talk about these matches, and provide more details on his illustrious career.
The Showcase matches will have unique objectives to complete, allowing players to recreate famous moments. The game’s Slingshot Tech also transitions between real archive footage and gameplay on the fly, as seen in WWE 2K22. It adds to the experience, though it might not be ideal for those seeking a much more freestyle match.
The return of Universe Mode was one of the highlights of last year’s game, and it’s in WWE 2K23 as well. While various features have yet to be outlined, you can still expect to book either brand the way you want, choosing which Superstars appear on each show, the Champions and so on.
The Lock and the Legacy
Other modes somewhat lacking in details include The Lock and The Legacy, the new MyRISE Mode. You’ll once again debut as a new WWE Superstar and make decisions to progress through various storylines, but that’s all we know. If it’s anything like last year’s game, expect separate MyRISE campaigns for male and female Superstars, multiple fighting styles, and so on.
Of course, MyGM Mode is also here and once again involves choosing a general manager and competing against your rivals to become the top brand. This year’s version promises more show options, expanded match cards, additional GMs to choose from and much more. There will also be more match types that support four players.
4K and 60 FPS on Xbox Series X and PS5
The resolution and frame rate for Xbox Series X and PS5 has yet to be confirmed. However, the Xbox Store listing indicates 4K Ultra HD and +60 FPS support, so it’s a given that both options will be available. Unfortunately, like last year, no free upgrades for PS4 and Xbox One players. If you want to upgrade to the PS5 or Xbox Series X/S version later, you’ll need to buy the $70 Cross-Gen Bundle, which includes the previous and current-gen versions on your system of choice.
PC Version on Par With Current-Gen Consoles
Though Visual Concepts has yet to reveal the PC requirements for WWE 2K23, creative director Lynell Jinks confirmed to WCCF Tech that the visuals are on par with Xbox Series X/S and PS5. “Everything is authored on the computer. So, we’re looking at all the stuff at 4K, or whatever, and depending on the graphics card, you can have that same experience. Unfortunately, you’ll pay a lot more to get that experience.” As long as you have the GPU, then you can avail of the latest graphical features on PC.
Of course, a Superstar’s journey doesn’t just end at launch. Five additional character packs are coming as post-launch DLC, and are included with the Season Pass. It also features the Supercharger Pack to unlock all base game Legends, like Goldberg, Trish Stratus, the Ultimate Warrior, and more, along with throwback arenas like Halloween Havoc ’97, RAW 2005 and so on.