March 7, 2024

Written by Jamie Galea

When it comes to annualized sports games, there’s very few that interest me like WWE 2K. Aside from being an annualized game about wrestling, it’s been fascinating seeing the series being rebooted successfully and becoming a good sports game in its own right. WWE 2K24, the third game of the reboot, asks its players to Finish Your Story, and for the most part, it succeeds in being the top tier in sports entertainment simulation.

As far as the gameplay goes, it genuinely feels like the foundation has been firmly established, so now 2K & Visual Concepts can add all sorts of improvements for future iterations. There’s no big back of the box feature that 2K24 introduces, but a lot of smaller additions and refinements that overall make for a good time. It’s being able to throw weapons, or set five different finishers and signature moves, or facepaint fading away as a match progresses. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you’ve played games like these for years, they’re big and useful additions.

It’s not always the most fun to play though. The combo system that defines the core gameplay is a neat idea, but does feel just a bit too simple at times. There’s a new trading blows mini-game that I’m not entirely sure how to trigger or what it actually does. It drives me up the wall how sluggish and unresponsive it can feel at times. It’s an acquired taste for sure, but if you can stick with it, it grows on you.

While there’s a handful of new modes reintroduced into the game, my favourite has been the revamped Special Referee mode. Where previously you played as a wrestler who had the power of officiating matches, the game gives you even more refereeing abilities, so much so that you now need to toggle between ref mode (can issue rules) and superstar mode (can issue punishment).

The biggest point of difference between this iteration and other iterations of the mode is that there is now an optional performance meter. Think of how you’re rated in NBA 2K’s MyCareer, and you’ve got the right idea. By being a good and honest ref, you’ll gain meter, and lose it if you’re doing things like fast counts or ignoring submissions. Fail to be an honest enough ref and you’ll be replaced. It’s a fun idea, and keeping this on in multiplayer has the potential for managed chaos. The fact that it’s optional is also a godsend.

Yes they actually went ahead and recreated HBK’s entrance from this Wrestlemania. In full. It’s bonkers.

While there’s no shortage of ways to play WWE 2K24, most of my time was spent checking out the two big single player modes: Showcase & MyRise. This year’s Showcase celebrates Forty Years of Wrestlemania, which recreates 21 matches across the five decades that the Grandest Stage of them All has been around.

If you’re familiar with Showcase in previous WWE 2K games, there’s not much new here. For everyone else, in each match, you’re given a list of objectives to recreate the match spot by spot, with FMV clips slingshotted in to help fill in parts of the match with more complicated spots or selling moves. The overall idea is that you’re going through a match more throughly, at least compared to the last time some of these matches were recreated in-game.

The big difference here, compared to previous games, is the objectives are now much more streamlined and easier to pull off. Where previous games would really have you going into the  finer and more specific mechanics of the game, most of the time you just need to damage the opponent enough in a specific place or land a combo. It makes for a far less frustrating time, something that’s much appreciated.

For the most part it works. The mode is framed by WWE commentator Corey Graves presenting each match in the same way as one of those direct to video specials that the WWE used to do, who also provides additional commentary during the FMV segments in-game. There’s even brief interview segments from wrestlers involved in some of the matches.

It’s a novel idea, and it’s gotten me to actually check out and revisit a few of the matches. This is something I’d genuinely recommend in some cases too, if only because the presentation in watching the matches is slightly better than playing them. You can thank the rampant blurring of former employees, old logos and replacing the original commentary with generic music. This isn’t new to Showcase, it’s been like this for years, but it’s still kind of a bummer.

While I get there’s issues involved with not wanting to feature employees who are no longer with the company, and it’s not quite the same to re-record older commentary using contemporary talent, it does slightly take away from the overall experience. It also doesn’t help that the music that plays over these matches is not good.

Mami is watching.

If reliving the past isn’t your thing, MyRise is worth a look. If Showcase is a historical story mode, MyRise is one for created characters engaging in original storylines with WWE superstars and 2K’s universe of original characters. Trust me when I say it works much better than you’d think it does.

Continuing on from last year, the mode is split into two storylines: Unleashed & Undisputed, depending on your choice of created character. For the women, Unleashed sees you playing as the co-founder of an anarchic indie fed who ends up signing with WWE and has to navigate through this new world while also staying true to herself.

As for the men, Unleashed sees you becoming Undisputed WWE Universal Champion after Roman Reigns vacates the title to go shoot a movie. Before he comes back though, he challenges you to establish your legacy, with the ultimate goal to be acknowledged by the Tribal Chief.

In the midst of these major stories, there’s a bunch of smaller storylines spread across 3-4 matches you can experience. I’ve been focusing on the Unleashed story, and so far I’ve dealt with a meditation app that’s part of an MLM scheme, WWE co-opting my character’s indie fed to sell merch, and becoming popular enough that I needed a personal assistant…who also needed a personal assistant.

While the stories might not always land, part of where I think MyRise really does work is that it’s the perfect compliment to Showcase. Where the Showcase matches are all 1v1 matches, I’ve been playing Tag Matches, Handicap matches, Fatal Four Way matches and more. Matches can also set you up with varying modifiers, such as starting off injured or with a full bar of momentum. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it all goes a long way to giving matches some variety.

Furthering this is that MyRise’s matches are more freeform, with less of an emphasis on objectives. While there are matches that require you to complete some objectives, most of the time you’re given the freedom to win the match however you see fit. The most complicated it ever got objective wise was trying to put someone through a flaming table, which was only ever asked of me once.

Speaking of, one of the first things the game asks of you is to go into its tutorials, and they do a good job of getting you up to speed. As a whole, the game wants to be sure you know what you’re doing. If you’re unsure how to complete an objective, pausing the game will point you in the right direction for some of the mechanics the game asks of you, which is handy.

This was taken as the servers went live. The 2K community works quickly.

While the tutorials are a good starting point, most of your learning will be during matches through pop up cards. For instance, one of the new things the game has is the ability to issue commands to AI partners in tag matches, which the game tells you the first time you boot into a tag match.

It’s a less than ideal way of teaching, though thankfully you can look back at them if you accidentally button through or miss them. It would’ve been nice if the tutorials covered more than one on one matches, giving you a chance to practice without dealing with an actual match scenario.

The one real downside to the game is 2K continuing to try to make MyFaction, WWE 2K’s version of the card based mode every sports game has, even more important. I’ve never really been a fan of these kinds of modes, but frustratingly there are character unlocks tied to playing through this mode, which isn’t great.

In fairness, 2K made an important change compared to last year: there aren’t any alternate versions of wrestlers that can only be played in this mode. This year, if you come across what’s called a “Persona Card” variant of a wrestler, they’ll unlock across every game mode.

It’s a change for the better, though unfortunately it means you still need to interact with the mode in order to unlock these versions. Same goes with the MyRise original characters. You can unlock them for play, which is rad, but only for this mode.

If you know, you know…


It shouldn’t sound like an issue in a game with well over 200 playable characters, plus a ludicrously detailed creation suite allowing me to make very detailed characters. But you can’t dangle a toy version of John Cena or debut Sheamus and expect me to not want to have them playable at any time.

It just rubs me the wrong way that I can’t unlock everything unless I interact with this one mode. Especially since it’s a mode that’s geared towards microtransactions above all else. It’s the reality of games like these sure, but it’s not one I’m happy to accept.

Ignoring that though, there’s still plenty of fun to be had in WWE 2K24. There’s a metric tonne of content to go through, and even if it doesn’t always land, it’s still a bunch of fun. Even when the game wasn’t always the most fun to play, I still had a blast going through MyRise and Showcase, or trying to make the weirdest people the tools would allow me to make.

Right now, it feels like the game is in a pretty good place, so if you’ve yet to give the rebooted series a shot, WWE 2K24 is as good a time as ever to give it a go.


WWE 2K24 was reviewed on an Xbox Series X with a review code provided by the publisher. For more inane wrestling takes, follow Jamie on social media at @jamiemgalea.

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