WWE 2K23 Preview – Let the WarGames begin!

WWE 2K23 Preview – Let the WarGames begin!
Ben Borthwick Updated on by

WWE 2K23 is coming after what’s been – to put it mildly – a wild year in the world of wrestling where the backstage drama has threatened to overshadow the action on screen.

It’s an odd reflection then, of a similar drama with the games just three years ago, after WWE 2K22 came to right the wrongs by a series forced to take a year’s hiatus – and it did very well, becoming one of the most well received entries in the series to date.

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The challenge with WWE 2K23 for Visual Concepts and 2K Games then is to maintain that momentum, do right by the fans – and return that drama back in the ring where it belongs.

One of the ways in which they’re doing that is the introduction of a longtime fan requested mode in WarGames – making its debut in this year’s game.

WWE 2K23 – This Means WarGames

For those unfamiliar, the match type sees two rings side by side, surrounded by a steel cage. Superstars are in two teams, with one from each side starting the match in the ring and able to fight – but crucically – not able to finish the match.

Every two minutes or so, another superstar enters the ring – alternating between each team until all participants are in the ring. Only then is the cage door locked, and WarGames ‘officially’ begins.

At this point, pins and submissions come into play – and it’s the first one of those, no matter who it’s on, that wins the match for their respective team. So there’s no escaping the cage, no disqualifications. Only a pin or submission will suffice.

And this makes for an interesting dynamic, because obviously the smart play is to attack the superstar(s) that have been in the longest, as they’ll have the least energy and most damage already done – making them more vulnerable. 

As a result, teamwork & strategy becomes more important than perhaps in any other matchtype – do you take the chance to wear down the person attacking you, attack the freshest person or keep out of the way of the carnage so you can break up pin and submission attempts on your teammates?

It makes for some great in-ring drama; and it’s only helped by the fact that as each new superstar enters the ring, they bring with them more weapons and plunder. By the end of the match, the ring can literally look like the name implies – that all involved have been in a war.

In WWE 2K23, the WarGames mode supports two teams of either 3 vs 3 or 4 vs 4, and both the women and the men are supported in the mode. (Though intergender matches are not). 

Those who remember the chaos of the first few NXT WarGames matches may be disappointed to learn that 3 teams aren’t possible right now, but it’s likely for the best in this first iteration to prevent things getting too unwieldy.

However, for those worried about the new mode being too much for the older gen consoles, fret not – we’re told WarGames will be available on those too.

WWE 2K23 – Showcase Mode –  U Cant C Me

While WarGames is the big poster feature, there are plenty of other additions in this year’s game. They include the traditional single player Showcase mode, this time celebrating the 20 year career of John Cena.

As with Rey Mysterio’s Showcase last year, Cena himself talks through some of his most important matches of his career, starting off with his debut against Kurt Angle. 

And while Cena commentates, we get the live-action WWE footage of these matches seamlessly transitioning into gameplay cutscenes in a really cool presentational touch. 

WWE 2K23 Preview 2

Once more, you’re asked to complete certain specific objectives to move the story along – although as a twist, this time you’re always taking on the mantle of Cena’s opponents, rather than John himself.

It’s a really neat idea – playing into the love/hate relationship fans have had with Cena across his storied career. And, as a bonus, it helps prevent the mode from becoming repetitive if you were playing as the same person the whole way through.

We got to play the Kurt Angle debut and another mission featuring Cena’s infamous match at One Night Stand versus RVD – and as WWE fans ourselves, it was great relieving these classic confrontations.

WWE 2K23 – Are we feeling Ucey yet?

There’s some other, smaller new features too. Including a new pin mechanic where you have a moving red gauge, and have to flick the right stick up at tjust the right time to kick out.

Personally, I thought it worked very well indeed – but if you prefer a return to the button mashing, the new mechanic is entirely optional.

Animations and combat feel slightly more fluid – strikes and moves have a nice weight to them, and feel appropriate for each Superstar depending on their weight class.

As mentioned at the top of this article though, it has been a turbulent time behind the scenes, with a lot of unexpected returns in the past twelve months – including the highly anticipated return of Cody Rhodes in his new ‘American Nightmare’ persona.

The build we played didn’t have the full roster – so we’re unable to say exactly how up to date it’ll be in that sense on launch just yet – but certainly an effort has been made to keep things as current as possible. 

WWE 2K23 preview 3

From our time with the preview, our initial impression was that it didn’t quite feel like the sea change between WWE 2K20 and WWE 2K22 – but that’s hardly a fair comparison given the latter had an entire extra year of development.

Instead, it’s far fairer to make note that just about everything that made last year’s game such an improvement is still here intact, and even tuned up appropriately – the in-ring action feels satisfyingly weighty with a slick, accurate-to-the-TV-product presentation you’ve come to expect.

And while we still have yet to get our hands on things like this year’s MyGM mode or Universe mode – so far it does feel like there’s enough big-sticker changes here to please WWE fans and make WWE 2K23 worthy of its #EvenStronger tagline.

We’ll find out for sure when WWE 2K23 launches first in Early Access for those who pick up the Deluxe Edition and Icon Edition on March 14.

Everyone else on the Standard and Cross Gen Editions will then tag in on March 17 across Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 and PC.

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