While we don't have official confirmation of WWE 2K22, all signs point to the series being back on schedule for a release date later this year.
We know development is underway including motion capture and model scanning, but it's absolutely essential that 2K and WWE Games take full advantage of Next Gen technology for this installment.
WWE 2K22 Must Go Next Gen
Details are understandably scarce for WWE 2K22, and much of that has to do with the cancellation of WWE 2K21 and the poorly received launch of WWE 2K20.
The last installment in the WWE gaming sim series launched with major issues including game-breaking glitches and heavily criticized in-game models.
Many of the struggles that WWE 2K20 faced had to do with the sudden departure of Yuke's as a development partner for the title, and the takeover by Visual Concepts through 2K Games.
But with next gen, things can be remedied.
Graphics in Desperate Need of Upgrades
The hiccups of WWE 2K20 can be explained because of the time-crunch that the title faced and the developmental turmoil, but the same can't be said for the upcoming WWE 2K22.
Visual Concepts will now have had a full two-year development cycle, and that's more than enough time to get WWE 2K22 looking crisp and clean.
Many have pointed out through side by side comparisons that WWE 2K20 looked like a legitimate downgrade compared to WWE 2K19, and WWE 2K22 has to do better than both of them with a launch on Next Gen platforms.
Next Gen Tech Can Remedy Physics Engine
One of the biggest criticisms for WWE 2K20, and one that led to a lot of the hilariously memorable glitches, was the game's physics engine.
The actual physics of wrestler interaction in matches, the way weapons and the environment interacted, all of it was riddled with issues.
With this in fan's minds, it's time for Visual Concepts to make use of their two-year development cycle and the power of Next Gen tech here to make sure WWE 2K22 has the best physics we've ever seen in a WWE game.
New Game Modes Could Be Next Gen Exclusive
One of the things we've seen in a few major sports games is the utilization of Next Gen technology allows for more advanced and complicated game modes.
NBA 2K21 did this with The City, which is Next Gen exclusive, and MLB The Show 21 is set to do it with Stadium Creator when their title launches next month.
Whether it's bringing back things like GM Mode or beloved creation suite modes like Create-A-Finisher, WWE 2K22 has the opportunity to use the same model to leverage Next Gen and incentivize players to upgrade for these new modes.
Next Gen Development Can't Neglect Current Gen
As many possible advantages as there are for making WWE 2K22 the best the series has seen on Next Gen, these advancements can't come at the expense of Current Gen systems.
With availability still scarce for Next Gen consoles worldwide, many players who are ready to make the leap simply haven't had the opportunity to do so.
While that will hopefully be remedied by the time WWE 2K22 is out, there are likely to still be many gamers using Current Gen systems.
If WWE 2K22 makes improvements but sees Current Gen versions of the game struggle, they could have the same kind of debacle on their hands that Cyberpunk 2077 saw at launch.
Visual Concepts Can Learn From NBA 2K21
While there wasn't a WWE 2K21, Visual Concepts has been hard at work on NBA 2K21, which is the other primary product the developer works on.
NBA 2K21 went Next Gen for the first time in series history, and there were major upgrades including graphics, overall game physics, and the addition of The City.
WWE 2K22 could use this level of care to level up massively on its previous releases.
WWE 2K22 Looks High Risk and High Reward
Ultimately, there is a lot of upside with the release of WWE 2K22 later this year and the possibility of providing a proper reset for the series.
Unfortunately, the pressure is perhaps higher than ever for the series due to the failure of WWE 2K20.
Should Visual Concepts and 2K Games botch the launch of WWE 2K22, it could eliminate all remaining faith the WWE gaming community has in the series.
Only time will tell how this turns out, but the stakes are higher than ever for the release of WWE 2K22.