WWE 2K24 Review – The Head of the Table

Oftentimes, reviewing sports titles comes with conditions. Almost as though delving into these games requires grading on a curve. There is this compulsion to write them off as just a yearly roster update. Yet where so many of these entries fail, WWE 2K24 continues to build upon its 2022 resurrection.

Nostalgia WWE 2K24 Review
Image Source: 2K

Professional wrestling, sports entertainment – whatever you want to call it – thrives on nostalgia. “The Icon” Sting just wrestled his final match (if you believe in that sort of thing). Ric Flair never really goes away. Hulk Hogan, in the year 2024, is still occasionally involved in WWE advertising. The Rock is back on “Friday Night SmackDown.”

As so many of us continue to learn, though, nostalgia trips can turn eye-roll-inducing in a hurry. They run the risk of turning into a hackneyed compilation of things we know while sacrificing the overall quality of the end product. A cynical cash-in, as it were. WWE 2K24, it must be said, does not succumb to this particular pitfall. Instead, they devote one specific mode to the cause – The Showcase of the Immortals – while sprinkling moments in the rest of the way.

And why wouldn’t they? After all, this is the largest roster in the series to date. It’s important to give wrestling fans a healthy amount of what they love while still providing suitable options for more casual fans who may simply be looking to enjoy another fighting simulation. There can be inside jokes or consistent nods regardless of subtlety, and there must be, just not at the cost of a satisfactory experience. WWE 2K24 walks this tightrope quite well.

WWE 2K24 MyRISE Review
Image Source: 2K

From quality-of-life improvements within Showcase objectives to certain mid-match inclusions such as trading blows and additional weapons, wrestling for fun has more of a purpose. Gameplay modifications may not be vast, but they are noticeable. Things are kept simple in ways that make sense. And if you thought WarGames was exciting last year, wait until you put on the zebra stripes and make your presence felt in a Special Guest Referee match. Or you could always toss your opponent into an ambulance or casket.

More than that, whether it’s taking real-life booking and putting its twist on it (MyRISE), allowing players to go back in time to recreate some of the more memorable WrestleMania moments (Showcase), or allowing players to battle against – or play as – 11 different General Managers (MyGM), there is something for everyone here. That is before we even touch on MyFACTION.

For as long as I can remember now, some variation of “Ultimate Team” – a mode that allows players to construct squads comprised of players from all over the world, past and present – has existed. It began in 2008 when FIFA 09 hit the shelves, and lives on across EA FC, the Madden NFL franchise, and NHL. It will be in EA Sports College Football 25. MLB: The Show has Diamond Dynasty, whereas NBA 2K boasts MyTEAM. Any major sports title has something resembling this, and that may forever be the case.

But yearly entries like these can often be measured by one specific quality: Is this the only mode worth playing? Or has attention, care, and time been placed in making the others pop? Spoiler: 2K makes skillful use of its various modes. So, how does WWEK 2K24 set itself apart? Well not only are there various game modes to experience, but said modes are genuinely enjoyable.

MyRISE requires multiple playthroughs if you wish to hit every decision branch on the way down. MyGM brings four new playable options into the fold and an additional Brand, all while including new promos, scouting, trades, and different presentation options. We’ve touched on Showcase, but there is plenty of consideration put into not repeating matches or moments from past years. Any undertaking like this needs to come out feeling fresh, and WWE 2K24 does.

Cody Rhodes Finish the Story WWE 2K24 Review
Image Source: 2K

Yes, there could always be more moments. Sure, we all likely have a favorite that never seems to quite break into the rotation. Still, there is enough. Even when the commentary begins to feel stale, something all of these games struggle so badly with. Or that referees cannot help but be in the worst possible position imaginable to start their count regardless of the situation. The repetition of certain entrance tracks can be grating. Couldn’t the original soundtrack have been longer? These Arenas and bonus Superstars cost how much to unlock?

We’re not here to pretend WWE 2K24 isn’t without its faults. Rather, we’re suggesting there is so much more to enjoy beyond them.

Now then, what if none of those aforementioned game modes appeal to you? Well if that’s the case, you’re probably not playing this game anyway. But if you wish to control everything, Universe mode remains. If MyGM doesn’t go far enough, Universe will. A four-bout match card is one thing, how about Money in the Bank cash-ins, new cutscenes, and extreme stipulations? Sometimes, even here, Universe mode can feel like an afterthought. At the same time, the options feel endless. Overwhelmingly so, in fact.

Speaking of, the WWE 2K Creation Suite is back and perhaps better than ever. If you haven’t found what you’re looking for across the various game modes, you’ll find it here. With such an incredible amount of detail put into so many creations, from wrestlers to arenas and beyond, the community seems to up its game every year. If you want more, you just have to know where to look. Fortunately, 2K doesn’t make that too difficult of an endeavor.

When it comes to sports titles specifically, microtransactions will forever be the bane of my existence and experience. To their core, they are rotten. Unfortunately, in this day and age, I struggle to think of a yearly sports title that doesn’t rely on them in some capacity. This neither has been, nor will it, ever be solely a 2K problem. For as long as they remain prevalent, though, they will be a major source of frustration.

That said, so far, there isn’t much of that to (rightfully) lash out against. Inevitably, there will be, but in the meantime let’s talk about the distinct types of in-game Virtual Currency instead. There are three kinds just for MyFACTION alone: Points, used for card packs and contracts; Tokens, used for powerful Superstars and Legends; and VC, which is available for purchase and to be used exclusively for card packs, boxes, and contracts within MyFACTION.

For all other unlockables you’ll find throughout the game outside of MyFACTION, of which there are many, that’s where Store Tokens come in. You take those to the Purchasables Store, where you’ll find Arenas, Championships, Superstars, and so on. My gripe, though, will always be: Why can’t we just combine all of these currencies into one? Why does one game mode need three different sets of in-game currency? Cynically, I know the answer just as you do. And that, for lack of a better word, is grating.

Tying VC to MyFACTION in the sense that it can only be spent within that mode is one thing. Still, the idea of essentially forcing players to grind the game in a certain way instead of offering more unlockables through challenges, matches, and objectives will always feel like an avoidable issue. You don’t have to give everything away, and you can’t. You can, however, reward the players who put in more time, who complete more challenges, and who win more matches. Those who grind because they enjoy playing, not because they need to in order to keep up.

This is where all of these titles fall short. Some are far worse than others, yes, but frustrating all the same.

If you came out the other side of the disaster that was WWE 2K20 and kept playing the franchise afterward, then you’ll want to play 2K24. For fans, there is something so satisfying about being able to tell off The Miz, even if it may come back to bite you in the short term. There is a special feeling in seeing the direction MyRISE has taken this year when compared to the current reality of WWE storytelling. Do you have to suspend your disbelief a little more from time to time? Of course. But at the end of the day, isn’t that what being a wrestling fan is all about?

Be it baseball, basketball, football – both American and the superior version – or hockey, season or franchise modes are of the utmost importance to me. As the years pass, however, and as online play becomes even more prevalent (not to mention financially exploitable), these modes always seem to suffer the most. They are cast aside to make room for addicting content. Yet while WWE 2K certainly can’t offer the same type of seasonal experience that baseball, basketball, etc… can, MyGM provides plenty of options for players and friends alike to have a fun time.

WWE 2K24 is always going to be more accessible and enjoyable to those who love or have spent plenty of time following the sports entertainment superpower. But this is another step forward for the franchise. From falling back on names you know and developing no-names to main event status to all of the customizable options and game modes in between. From carving your path to controlling every creative decision imaginable. Regardless of your familiarity with the squared circle, there is simply too much good to ignore.

4

WWE 2K24

As so many of us continue to learn, nostalgia trips can turn eye-roll-inducing in a hurry. They run the risk of turning into a hackneyed compilation of things we know while sacrificing the overall quality of the end product. A cynical cash-in, as it were. WWE 2K24, it must be said, does not succumb to this particular pitfall.

Pros

  • Another improved trip down memory lane.
  • Customizable options and GMs galore.
  • General quality-of-life improvements.
  • Art imitates life in MyRISE.
  • Largest Roster yet.

Cons

  • Additional MyRISE storylines would go a long way.
  • Too many currencies and not enough original songs.
  • Referee AI needs improvement.
  • Repetitive, stale commentary.

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC.

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