WWE 2K22 is a game that is years in the making.

After the subpar WWE 2K20, 2K Sports took a year off to work on the next iteration of the WWE video game (the pandemic didn’t help matters, either). And now, WWE 2K22 is here, set to be released on Friday, March 11, in the United States.

And let me tell you — WWE 2K22 is straight fire for anyone who enjoys wrestling or combat video games.

WWE 2K22 is a simple game, really. It’s a pro-wrestling video game stacked with WWE stars. But there’s much more than competing in the ring. You can manage your own WWE television program in the MyGM mode. You can create a character and help him or her rise through the ranks in MyRise. You can control the entire WWE product through the WWE Universe feature. And if you’re a fan of building fantasy teams and card collecting, the new MyFaction mode is there for you.

We’ve received a copy of the game ahead of its launch, which allowed us to review some of the game’s most important aspects. We will update the review as we work our way through the game.

But I’ll say this — WWE 2K22 is the best WWE video game in years.

The overall gameplay is the best it has been in years

The gameplay is better than WWE 2K games have felt in years. Previous games felt like you were moving characters around until there were cut scenes for different moves. This game feels like you’re in complete control of the match. Each decision you make matters.

Professional wrestlers The Rock and John Cena in WWE 2K22.
Professional wrestlers The Rock and John Cena in WWE 2K22, the new WWE 2K video game. | WWE 2K22

There’s a new combo system where tapping a number of buttons in a row and combining them with another button unlocks powerful moves. While this sounded like a button-mashing feature, it’s actually pretty smooth. It’s an easy move for newcomers to pull off, while also giving experienced veterans a new way to control and plan their matches.

Everything feels crisp inside the ring. WWE 2K22 really puts you in the driver’s seat of your matches. Each move hits hard and is a worthy gaming experience for the wrestling fan.

Playing against the computer’s artificial intelligence system isn’t a chore, either. The AI system acts really well against you and makes it a fun yet challenging experience that doesn’t bore you in any way.

I can’t explain how fun this game has been. Multiple matches had epic finishes where my wrestler hit their finishing move, only for the opponent to kick out. When I went for a second finisher, my opponent reversed it into their finisher. Any wrestling fan will enjoy the finishes to these matches.

MyGM mode has all the tools to succeed

The MyGM mode is a must-play feature in the new WWE 2K22. This mode begins with you selecting a general manager to control and then picking a rival. From there, you draft WWE superstars and book your own WWE shows.

The point of the mode is to draw more fan support and keep your roster happy so that your show is better than your rival’s show.

Pro wrestler Goldberg as seen in a WWE 2K22 screenshot.
The professional wrestler Goldberg as seen in a WWE 2K22 screenshot. | 2K and Visual Concepts

This mode requires a lot of work — booking shows, picking superstars and watching out for your rival. But anyone who enjoys franchise modes in sports games will like how this mode plays out. The menus are easy to understand and smoothly laid out, making it easier to navigate through each section of the mode.

It’s also totally customizable in that you can create matches, decide on specific winners and build funds between wrestlers to keep the game fresh.

You can also create your own general manager to use in the game, which provides a fresh take on a franchise model.

MyRise mode

We have not attempted the MyRise mode yet. This section will be updated once we test it out.

Showcase mode

We have not attempted the Showcase mode yet. This section will be updated once we test it out.

MyFaction mode: A great idea but sort of pointless so far

On the surface, MyFaction — a mode similar to the NBA 2K franchise’s MyTeam mode or FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode — seems like a good idea. You collect digital cards, you compete in the ring with wrestlers based on those cards and you earn rewards.

But my first impression of MyFaction isn’t great. The cards for the various wrestlers represent average versions of the wrestlers. So instead of using a fully-powered Undertaker, you have to use one with subpar stats. Though this works in games like NBA 2K because you can customize your teams with legends and newbies alike, it’s odd to use weaker versions of your favorite wrestlers.

For example, one of my first cards is a lower-rated AJ Styles. But why would I use that AJ Styles to earn an average reward when I can use a high-level AJ Styles in the exhibition mode?

I totally understand 2K’s decision to add this mode into WWE 2K22 since it includes the fun card collecting concept from MyTeam, as well as the ability to buy packs like MyTeam. But it falls flat as there doesn’t seem to be a direct point in playing.

One fix could be locking legends and certain superstars behind the mode. In NBA, you can only play with some legends if you compete in MyTeam. The same might be an option for MyFaction.

It also doesn’t help that your wrestlers have contracts. So you can only compete for a certain amount of matches with a wrestler before adding a contract card onto them. It’s an odd feature for an offline mode and, once again, makes it feel odd to play this mode when you can play with top-level versions of your favorite wrestlers without the worry of running out of contracts.