WWE 2K24 Review – Finally Main Roster Ready

Veloz Lamma

WWE 2K24 Review – Finally Main Roster Ready

Over the past few years the WWE 2K franchise has played the role of a wrestler who’s been busted back down to WWE Performance Center to work on their fundamentals. WWE 2K20 was an embarrassing debacle requiring a full year off and reset, WWE 2K22 still had issues but generally got the series back on solid footing, WWE 2K23 built on that foundation with some new features and polish, and now WWE 2K24 is here to… take us where exactly?

Does WWE 2K24 continue to build on the positive momentum the franchise has accumulated over the past couple of years? Or has developer Visual Concepts let up on the gas? Time to lace up those boots yet again and find out…

Note: Earlier this year a bombshell lawsuit implicating Vince McMahon and others brought to light troubling accusations of sexual coercion, assault, and trafficking within WWE and sparked a reexamination of past stories of harassment and sexual misconduct in the company. This may, understandably, effect some people’s ability to enjoy a celebratory game like WWE 2K24, but as I said in my preview, the series is produced largely independently from WWE by Visual Concepts and they’ve always come across as genuinely enthusiastic fans who just want to make the best wrestling game possible. As such, I’m largely going to review WWE 2K24 on its own terms. For those wondering, Vince McMahon, Brock Lesnar, and other implicated by the lawsuit have been removed from the WWE 2K24 playable roster, but haven’t necessarily been scrubbed from every mode in the game, so be aware of that.

In terms of in-ring action, WWE 2K24 largely sticks to blueprint we’ve had since WWE 2K22. For years, difficult-to-time reversals were pretty much your only option for regaining the advantage in matches, but 2K22 added blocks, dodges, and “Breakers” that allow you to escape combos and grapple moves by anticipating what attack your opponent is going to launch next. WWE 2K24 doesn’t really make any fundamental changes to this foundation, but it does add a few new mechanics on top of it.

The most noteworthy of these changes are Super Finishers — true match-ending maneuvers that can be pulled off by saving up and unleashing three finisher charges. Finisher spam is something that’s crept into both real-world and video game wrestling in recent years, with multiple big moves and kickouts per match becoming the norm. In recent WWE 2K titles, it’s not unusual to have to unload with three or four finishers to end a match, so getting some heavier artillery is welcome. The other new feature is the new Trading Blows minigame, which replicates those increasingly commonplace spots where two wrestlers take turns hitting their hardest chops and/or forearms to test each other’s mettle. While I wasn’t necessarily that thrilled to see a new minigame added to WWE 2K24 after the last couple games deemphasized them, once you get a hang of trading strikes it’s undeniably satisfying to whack away at an opponent.

While both Super Finishers and the Trading Blows minigame add a welcome extra bit depth and real-world accuracy to WWE 2K24, I’d perhaps like to see future games turn their focus back to the fundamentals. Yes, this is the most polished and playable WWE 2K has been in years, but issues remain – animations still feel overly canned at times with your opponent often being invincible when going through certain motions, and while there are more options for reversing attacks now, it remains too difficult to change the course of a match once you’ve been knocked down and stunned. Also, can somebody give the referees the memo not to stand right in front of the action? Thanks.

The visuals bringing your squared-circle showdowns to life are largely the same as last year, although Visual Concepts claims they’ve rescanned and re-rigged most of the Superstars’ faces. Frankly, a lot of them don’t look much different, but a few standouts, like Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair, are a lot more dynamic now. A few likenesses could still use some work (poor, poor Bayley), and the game’s hair tech seems to have actually backslid from last year, but overall, this is the most consistent and polished the series has looked.

While WWE 2K24’s core gameplay is largely familiar, we do get some new ways to test said gameplay out with four fresh match types. The flashiest of these additions are the Ambulance and Casket matches, which deliver in terms of elaborate presentation and exciting moments – there’s no denying it’s a hoot to toss an opponent off the top of an ambulance or smash their face into a casket. That said, actually getting your opponent into the ambulance/coffin takes a lot of button-mashing, to the point the matches can be a bit tiring. They’re still fun, particularly against other human opponents, but perhaps best in smaller doses.

My favorite added match type is actually the returning Special Guest Referee, which gives you the opportunity to take full control of officiating duties, from making counts, to catching cheating, to even getting involved in the action if you want. The final addition, the Gauntlet match, is fairly straightforward, but gives the players a good amount of leeway to customize the experience.

Moving beyond the base in-ring action, WWE 2K24 gives players the usual array of modes, with 2K Showcase arguably being the most improved this year. Celebrating 40 years of WrestleMania, this year’s Showcase is one of the meatiest and most varied to date, serving up 21 matches spanning the decades. Many of the frustrations that have accompanied past Showcases have also been fixed – previously, the objectives you have to complete have often been too finicky, with the game not clearly communicating how you’re supposed to pull them off. This year, each new objective that pops up now clearly tells you exactly what you need to do in terms of positioning and button inputs. The objectives also seem a bit less elaborate this year – less “do a spinning leg drop from the top turnbuckle to the southwest guardrail while your opponent is stunned” and more “hit your opponent with a strong strike anywhere in the ring.”

The MyRise career mode largely sticks to last year’s format, with matches being interspersed with backstage conversations, some branching paths, and optional “sidequests.” This isn’t a bad thing, as the approach worked well last year as it gives players some ability to guide their virtual careers without getting bogged down in unnecessary sim aspects. It also feels like there’s more focus on developing MyRise through in-ring action and angles this year, rather than just backstage conversations.

Once again, MyRise presents two campaigns – “Undisputed” for the men and “Unleashed” for the women, with both offering interesting setups. Undisputed imagines a world where Roman Reigns ends his record-setting title reign by running off to Hollywood and the fallout that results from that. You take on the role of a dark horse contender who steps up to fill the vacuum and wins the title, only to be pushed and pulled by various forces, including Roman Reigns himself. Meanwhile, Unleashed casts players as a female indie wrestler who’s previously opted out of a WWE system she doesn’t see herself fitting into, but decides to take the plunge as others start to pass her by.

While the Unleashed storyline ultimately casts the WWE in a positive light, it treads right up to the line, cagily referencing the company’s sorted history when it comes to dealing with indie darlings and women, which feels particularly relevant given the recent allegations against company leadership. Undisputed doesn’t have those same heavy implications, but both stories provide some food for thought and fun “What if?” scenarios. The quality and delivery of MyRise’s sometimes robotic-sounding dialogue could definitely still be improved, but the stories themselves are engaging.

The MyGM brand-management mode also includes a fairly robust array of new features this year, including the ability to level-up stars, inter-brand trading, and a talent scouting system. The result is a much more robust feeling simulation, and I’ll admit, the first time I hopped into MyGM nearly four hours disappeared without me noticing. That said, I just can’t quite get over MyGM’s original sin – that you can’t easily determine match results, with everything instead revolving around the somewhat vague notion of match quality. WWE 2K24’s Universe mode does let you decide who wins, but it’s very dry – essentially just a fancy calendar for you to organize your armchair booking. There is an ideal scenario where the fun sim elements of MyGM are combined with the full booking control of Universe mode, but that last lingering shred of kayfabe that keeps WWE products from outright admitting results are pre-determined probably means that will never happen.

The Ultimate-Team-style MyFaction mode also returns this year, and continues to be an awkward fit for a game with only 200-some names to mine for virtual cards. A number of things have been added this year, including a storefront that sells individual cards to those who want to avoid randomized packs, but when I opened said store to see cards selling for nearly 20,000 “VC” apiece (which would require you to spend at least $10 of real money on VC bundles) this mode just not being for me was enforced.

Beyond all the bigger pros and cons detailed above, WWE 2K24 just feels like a more polished overall package than its predecessors. Loading times have been improved, most notably in the Creation Suite, which feels more fluid and usable this year. Heck, even this year’s soundtrack, apparently chosen by Post Malone, isn’t as terrible as in the past. Even if not every part of WWE 2K24 is for you, there’s more than enough to grapple with here.

This review was based on a PS5 copy of WWE 2K24 provided by publisher 2K Games.

Products mentioned in this post

8

Wccftech Rating

WWE 2K24

WWE 2K24

With the release of WWE 2K24 this series no longer feels like a carny outcast amongst the other big sports franchises. While the game’s core action could stand to be even further refined, fun new mechanics, match types, and a fully-developed suite of modes, including significantly improved Showcase and MyGM offerings, are worth cheering for. While maybe not quite the total package just yet, WWE 2K24 feels like it’s ready for the bright lights.

Pros
  • Super Finishers/Trading Blows good adds
  • Most true-to-life-looking roster to date
  • Showcase frustrations are finally fixed
  • Another solid pair of MyRise stories
  • More layers added to MyGM
  • Creative suite better to use
Cons
  • Still more room to polish the action
  • Universe mode feels underdeveloped
  • What’s up with the wonky hair?

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