WWE 2K23 has finally arrived, with 2K Games once again dipping their toes into the weird and wonderful world of wrestling to bring us a fighting game like no other.
It's no secret that this franchise has faced its issues in the past, with last year's game getting the series back on track. With WWE 2K23 now in our hands, we can assess just how much further this instalment has gone and whether the fight is truly back.
From gameplay improvements to the challenging balance of making each and every mode feel important, here is our full review and breakdown of WWE 2K23.
WWE 2K23 Review
WWE 2K23 is a visual masterpiece, and we don't say that lightly. The power of next-gen tech is on display with supreme execution as your favourite superstars truly feel accessible in the palm of your hands.
Each entrance carries gravitas and holds a real sense of scale, making you feel like you've just taken your seat to watch the biggest title fight around.
Not only are the superstar's presentations spectacularly executed, but the game itself is perfectly lit to accentuate the beauty spots and shadow any blotches. Entrances for superstars like Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar carry a certain sense of visual awe and once again seem to exceed the positives of the predecessor.
2K has received a lot of slack in recent years for their graphics and overall character design but no such slander will be on show this year.
WWE 2K23 perfectly translates the world of wrestling to your console and truly immerses you in each and every mode it has to offer.
Cinematics once again feel crisp and sharp, with the translation of intricate manoeuvres allowing you to accomplish pretty much anything in the ring.
The overall presentation of the game is stylish and on-brand, with navigation through the hundreds of different menu screens simple and precise.
The massive roster, spanning from certified legends like Stone Cold to up-and-coming stars like Bron Breakker, offers a multitude of choice and keeps WWE 2K23's matches feeling fresh and exciting.
The number of different moves, attires and entrances ensure that each match-up feels different from the last, with heavyweights hitting hard, cruiserweights flying high and everyone in between playing a vital role in keeping WWE 2K23 moving forward.
Let's be clear, WWE 2K23 isn't perfect, but it certainly is the closest we've seen in the wrestling gaming sphere. The targeting mechanic can still feel a little loose and the different combos can take a long time to learn, resulting in a number of one-note punches that quickly become tiring.
Having said that, the range of combos does ensure that there's always something to learn in this game, and there's seldom anything more satisfying than pulling off the perfect combo at the right moment.
In terms of gameplay and presentation, this is the best WWE game we've ever seen.
Packing A Punch
WWE 2K23 offers a range of modes. From MyRISE to Universe Mode, MyGM to Showcase, there is truly something for everyone.
Does this spread of different modes result in certain ones lacking depth? Sort of.
Universe Mode is by far our favourite this year as it provides you with all the autonomy you'd want from a WWE Universe builder.
Crafting your universe has never been better, with the brand-new momentum option allowing you to truly flesh out rivalries in new and exciting ways.
MyGM has also seen an improvement on recent years, but the throwback mode does still feel a little bloated, with a streamlined approach in the future sure to be of benefit.
In fact, you could even combine the best parts of both Universe Mode and MyGM to create something for everyone.
MyFACTION remains a mode that feels hollow by comparison to its counterparts, with the squad building, card-collecting element yet to really catch on in this genre.
We're pleased to say that MyRISE has clawed back a lot of its charm, with the storylines and set characteristics allowing you to plot a unique path through WWE landscape upon each playthrough.
A major feature added to WWE 2K23 is War Games and whilst it may not stand out as its own mode, we can confirm that this new match type is insanely good.
When we went hands-on with an early build of the game, we were delighted with how this whacky match-type had been translated and none of the gloss has been lost in the full release.
War Games is full of surprises and combining different superstars allows for a unique result every time.
WWE 2K23's Showcase Mode focuses on the career of multi-time champion John Cena, only this time placing you into the boots of his opponents.
The way the mode is presented is excellent, with the in-game cinematics combining perfectly with real-life footage to truly showcase the love and attention that the developers have for this game.
The charismatic narration from the 'man who can't be seen' guides you seamlessly through the showcase and provides different flashes of colour before, and after, every match.
That being said, showcase mode does suffer from feeling a little too familiar at times, with the classic one-on-one matches becoming repetitive.
On top of that, the rock music that players over each match became a real pet peeve, with commentary much more preferable.
One final thing to note on the Showcase Mode is that you are bound to complete set objectives in order to move forward. During our playthrough, we did encounter some frustrating moments in which setting up Cena for the objective completion was much easier said than done.
That being said, if you do happen to change the course of history and get beaten by Cena, some very unique cinematics will play, offering a view into an alternate reality.
WWE 2K23 offers an insane amount of customisation options, truly making this game stand out amongst all others.
From creating your perfect superstar to crafting your own title belt, the number of options for creativity is truly astonishing.
Not only can you pick the perfect attire, entrance and move-set for your custom superstar, but you can individually customise each of their teeth!
Whenever you boot up a game, you in some way want to take ownership of what you're playing, and WWE 2K23 allows you to do precisely that.
The amount of content that 2K pile into the customisation tools is astounding and truly lets you craft a WWE in your own image.
Many hours can be lost toggling with hair, attire colours and simple combo moves, giving this game a clear advantage over all other sports games when it comes to customisation.
WWE 2K23 may not be a perfect game, but in our opinion, it's the best wrestling game ever released.
Perfectly capturing the marvellous world of Professional Wrestling, this game does justice to each and every Superstar, packing a wide array of exciting content into every mode on show.
Sure, the game still suffers from some major bloating in places, but the nightmare days of WWE 2K20 are firmly in the past, with 2K turning a new leaf and providing a standard-bearer for all other sports franchises.
When it comes to pouring a copious amount of love, sweat and tears into the release of a game, there is no team that does it better than 2K.
You can truly tell that this is a development team that adores its subject matter, with this game reminding us of some of the classic Wrestling titles that are still fondly remembered today.
When the dust settles and we get the chance to look back on the release of WWE 2K23, we've no doubt it will go down as one of the greatest wrestling games ever released.