The annual release of 2K’s video game franchise is set to release on March 17th, 2023, and on January 28th, I was invited to a special press event in San Antonio, Texas to try out WWE 2K23 and attend the 2023 WWE Royal Rumble on behalf of MP1st. After spending a few hours with the game, I think fans should be very excited about the progress that Visual Concepts Austin has made in bringing them into the fully developed third version of the WWE 2K franchise.

A new kind of war

After a one-year hiatus, WWE 2K22 was a return to glory for the wrestling simulator, delivering many of the aspects of a wrestling game that fans have grown to love. With WWE 2K23, Visual Concepts returns “even stronger” as the game’s tagline suggests. This is definitely going to be the best wrestling game ever made, and the gameplay is as smooth as the graphics are amazing.

We’ve had access to a select portion of the roster and features, and the biggest one that people will be excited about is War Games. In war games there are two wrestling rings side by side, surrounded by a steel cage. You can compete in 3v3 or 4v4 matches, although in this build, we could only do 3v3. One wrestler per team starts in the ring, and similar to the Royal Rumble, other wrestlers will enter the ring one at a time at set times. This can create disadvantages. However, the game can only end after all participants enter the arena.

This game mode is fresh and exciting, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I had a few matches, each of the men’s and women’s divisions, and it was quite interesting to see how the AI ​​worked with me and against me. The game was smooth, even with all the extra screen space needed to see what was going on in two different rings. Upon entering the arena, I was given the choice to bring a weapon into the arena, as there were no disqualifications in the game. This is a fantastic new addition to the WWE 2K franchise, and I have a feeling people are going to love it.

One of my favorite things to do in WWE 2K22 was stream Royal Rumble matches and sit back and comment on them. I would download a lot of wrestlers created from all kinds of entertainment like Marvel, DC, Anime, etc. and this feature is back in WWE 2K23. I was able to play a few 10-man Royal Rumbles with the 11 male superstars we had in this build, and they were just as fun as they were in last year’s title. The 11 male superstars we had access to were Roman Reigns, Edge, Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley, Brock Lesnar, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Cody Rhodes, Baron Breaker, Drew McIntyre, and WWE 2K23 Superstar John Cena .


Speaking of John Cena, the Showcase series is back in WWE 2K23, and this year it focuses on John Cena’s career. Last year’s title featured some of the biggest matches of Rey Mysterio Jr.’s career, and winning them and achieving all the goals will unlock new gear for Rey, and the same will be true with John Cena in WWE 2K23. However, one area of ​​difference is that you won’t have to play as just John Cena. As John Cena understands the complex relationship he has with fans and how some love him, and others hate him, at this year’s Showcase series, fans will actually be able to fight against John Cena in some of his most legendary matches.

For this build, we relived the one-of-a-kind ECW One Night Stand match on June 11, 2006 against Rob Van Dam. Completing the game unlocks Rob Van Dam himself as a playable character as well as other things we haven’t been able to see at this point. The Showcase wasn’t my strong point in WWE 2K22, as I had my brother Eric play them for my videos because he’s really good at the game, so I struggled a bit with it. In Showcase mode, you have to meet specific objectives to advance the game’s story, and there were 17 to reach in this game. Of course, because I was busy trying to hit specific moves at specific times, I ended up getting beat, and ended up losing my game. But this is one of the biggest challenges fans are looking forward to in this game.

What I love about Showcase is that it features John Cena as the narrator. There’s a video of him talking about the game, and when you get to certain “roadblocks” in the games, it actually cuts to actual footage of the game itself seamlessly. Showcase promises to allow fans to relive many of John Cena’s most famous matches, so I have a feeling we’ll see some legendary moments with The Rock, HHH, Edge, Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels and many more. I doubt we’ll get to relive the legendary match against CM Punk. Just a guess.

We also had the opportunity to do more basic 1v1 matches. These aren’t the only game modes that will be available in the game, but it was quite a lot to work with for early builds towards the full release. WWE and 2K have a fun process they go through to reveal all the wrestlers that will be in the match along with their ratings, so we didn’t get to see the entire roster and were asked not to discuss any character ratings, but I will say when Seth Rollins stopped by the event, he didn’t look too pleased from his ranking compared to his wife, Becky Lynch.

Other female wrestlers we could have used in the event included Lynch, Bayley, Charlotte Flair, Bianca Blair, Asuka, Ronda Rousey, Liv Morgan, Shotzi, Rhea Ripley, and Sheena Basler. For some reason, the structure didn’t allow me to do a Royal Rumble with the women, but I did get to play some war games, which was great.

One of the things that stood out to me while playing was how much care and effort was put into the animations. The entrances were amazing, and it felt like we were watching real life, not a video game. I also noticed that many of the ring’s movements and mannerisms were concise. It stood out to me in the singles match between Bianca Blair and Rhea Ripley. Hair can be tricky in video games, and Bianca Blair is known for her signature braid, which is almost as long as she is tall, and she moves to perfection. I also noticed how accurate the look of disgust on Rhea Ripley’s face was when I kicked a mask. It was quite impressive.

Speaking of pins, one of the most notable changes I noticed in the game itself was the pin break minigame. Flicking up on the right analog stick will now help you break out while pinned, though there is an option in the menu to switch to the old option from WWE 2K22.

I was a little rusty with my game and regretted performing better, but I had fun playing the game and being a part of the event. 2K invited some of WWE’s biggest stars to the event and we got to meet and chat with Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre, Omus and The New Day Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston and Big E. I’m happy to say Big E is looking great on his way back from surgery neck last year.

At the Royal Rumble itself at the Elmodome, we got to sit in the press box and watch Cody Rhodes and Rhea Ripley with their Royal Rumble matches, as well as Roman Reigns defending his World Title against Kevin Owens. After the event, I attended a press conference after the show, from which we got to hear Rhea Ripley, Bray Wyatt, Cody Rhodesand Paul “Triple H” Levesque. The whole night was a dream come true as I always wanted to be in the Royal Rumble.

WWE 2K23 will be released on March 17, 2023, with several different versions (which you can read about here).

I would like to thank MP1sts.com for collaborating with me on this project. My name is Jason Joseph, and I’m a 2K Nextmaker aka JayShockblast on YouTube. All matches for the event were provided by 2K.


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