On the road to WWE 2K22’s March release, 2K released the first of its Ringside Report series. These developer commentary videos are designed to showcase in-game footage while providing developer commentary on the game’s systems. This first installment hones in on the in-ring action itself, detailing the redesigned combat system and streamlined philosophy.
For the first time, we got to see footage of an actual in-game match between cover star Rey Mysterio and current United States Champion, Damien Priest. The 2K team spends much of the video emphasizing the game’s increased accessibility thanks to a more simplified control scheme that makes 2K22 easier for newcomers to grasp. Though the game is more of a pick-up-and-play experience, there’s still plenty of depth for veterans in learning how to execute strike/grapple combos (which can be customized) and time reversals.
While standard reversals can negate most actions, combos and grapples can only be stopped by executing a new counter called the Breaker. This manever can only be triggered by hitting the same strike or grapple input being used against you. That means predicting your opponent’s attack works to your advantage.
Blocking is another new feature. Holding the reversal button puts you in a blocking stance that lets you better withstand light/heavy/running strikes. It also allows you to counterattack faster than your opponent. A dodge button mapped to the right bumper lets you evade attacks by hitting it at the right time. Though, 2K says doing so presents a higher risk of failure than a block.
Kicking out of a pin or simply getting up from the mat requires players to repeatedly button mash to fill a meter, much like the WWE games of the early-to-mid 2000s. That means no more pinfall mini-games. Additionally, you can also hit the bumper to spend resources to perform an instant recovery.
The superstar HUD has also been streamlined from its busier incarnations. Now, it sports three meters: vitality, a special meter for performing signature, payback, and defensive moves, and the finisher meter (where up to three finishers can be stored). The body damage indicator remains, but the reversal stock has been axed; players now have unlimited reversals, but they’re tougher to pull off. Though it doesn’t appear on the HUD, characters now have a stun meter as well. Using weaker light attacks fills the stun meter faster. Once full, it renders your opponent vulnerable for your big move, negating the risk of being countered.
2K22 looks impressive thanks to new graphics and VFX engines though special attention has been paid to lighting. 2K stressed the importance of matching the lighting presentation of not only current broadcasts but also classic bouts. In-game footage of Rey Mysterio vs Eddie Guerrero at WrestleMania 21, for example, provides a great example of how the game matches the lighting of 2005, further selling the idea that you’re playing a match from yesteryear. Full incorporation of the Havok physics engine means 2K22 features breakable weapons and props, such as the corner barricade, that degrade more realistically.
WWE fans have waited impatiently for a real look at the game in action, making today’s presentation a welcomed update. Everything we’ve seen looks promising, so we only hope that it all comes together when WWE 2K22 launches March 11 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, And PC. To learn more about the game’s special editions, including an nWo-themed package, click here.