'WWE 2K23' Preview: Welcome to WarGames!

wwe 2k23 mobile
2K Games

There was a time when I swore by everything the WWE 2K games provided me. WWE 2K14 and WWE 2K19 in particular stood out as two of the better series entries that kept me entertained for the duration of their runs before the next annual installment arrived. Then...WWE 2K20 happened. That game's unforgivable glitches and hella corny MyCAREER storyline & premise made me drop it cold turkey and cope by returning to its predecessor. I was more than overjoyed when Visual Concepts took a year off to guarantee that WWE 2K22 got the franchise back on track. And thankfully, it did just that. Now we're just a month away from its sequel arriving and building upon the solid foundation 2K22 put in place. After spending some time with it during a special pre-Royal Rumble 2023 game preview event, I'm here to bless you all with my WWE 2K23 preview.

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WWE 2K23 John Cena
2K Games

Now I have to admit - Showcase Mode is a decent single-player detour that I definitely got the most out of via Rey Mysterio's historic run from 2k22. So when I heard that 2K23's cover boy John Cena would be the focus of this year's Showcase Mode match playlist, I just went "okay...that's cool." I'm not the biggest Cena fan in the world, but I do respect him immensely for his legendary run as the face of the WWE from the mid-2000s to the mid-2010s. However, I got a bit more excited when I find out we'd actually be given the chance to play out the matches where Cena lost against some of his biggest rivals. For my WWE 2K23 preview playtime, two major bouts were included - Cena vs. Kurt Angle during his WWE SmackDown debut in 2002 and Cena vs. Rob Van Dam from ECW One Night Stand 2006.

And just as you'd expect, the Showcase Mode structure is the same as its ever been - watch a quick cinematic that explains the storyline going into the match, then proceed to complete a number of special objectives in order to reenact the live-action sequences that transpired in real life. Pulling off three German Suplexes on "Prototype" Cena and landing a spinning kick to the back of Cena's head while he's laid out over the fan barricade looked & felt great. While playing, I thought about the other possible matches that'll be included in this year's Showcase. My gut's telling me I'll get to play as Triple H, Randy Orton, Batista, Edge, and many more.

But I did get a bit sad when I realized we're not gonna get to play as CM Punk during his WWE Championship victory against Cena at Money in the Bank 2011. And to be quite honest, I'd much rather prefer a Showcase Mode that replicates what 2K14's "30 Years of WrestleMania" mode did. But this time, I'd love to see it allow fans to play out the biggest matches of all time across WWE, WCW, and ECW. But alas, 2K23 sticks to the series' traditional single superstar Showcase Mode for better or worse...


WWE 2K23 McIntyre and Reigns
2K Games

The main attraction for 2k23 is the arrival of the WarGames Match. I got to hop into it with the likes of Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, plus newcomers such as Bron Breakker and the "American Nightmare" variation of the one & only Cody Rhodes. As I expected, it's a tumultuous style of match that lets you smash your opponents over the head with all sorts of weapons you can retrieve before you enter the cage and use the cage itself to do even more damage. I had a hell of a time flinging my foes into the steel center between both cages and launching myself off the top to land some lethal daredevil splashes. I can already see myself picking a whole bunch of WCW legends and making WarGames their destination for some epic AI encounters. Fingers crossed that 2K23 gets the new "Iron Survivor" match concept as DLC at some point, too!

The In-Ring Action You're Used to

WWE 2K23 Rhea and Bianca
2K Games

During the entirety of my WWE 2K23 preview session, I settled into the same cadence I've grown used to with 2K22. At this point, 2K22 set up a scenario for 2K23 that can pretty much be translated as "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." The same arcadey feel of the in-ring action from before is still a thing here and I'm glad nothing major has been done to alter it. The new pinning system doesn't rock the boat to the point where I missed the previous one, either.

Pressing any button within the confines of a red meter in order to kick out is just fine, plus the near-falls hit even harder when that meter grows smaller & smaller as your superstar accrues more damage. Visually, 2K23 looks similar to 2K22. And to be honest, I have no complaint on that front since 2K22 looks pretty good. I am a bit disappointed that 2k23 is still being made for last-gen consoles, though - I'm confident that this year's WWE 2K would've gotten a nice bump in graphical prowess if it was only developed for current-gen hardware.

Sadly, I did spot your usual array of odd glitches involving wrestlers' gear and hair looking a bit off. Bianca Belair's elongated braid did look a bit too stiff while she swung it around during her entrance and Charlotte Flair's robe clipped through her skin per usual. I played an early build of the game, of course. But these sorts of issues tend to always stick around in the full version of the WWE 2K games, so I don't have a lot of hope for them getting ironed out in 2K23 in a month's time before launch.

'WWE 2K23' Preview Final Thoughts, Release Date, and Platforms

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