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WWE 2K24: 40 Years of Wrestlemania Edition (Xbox Series X|S) Review

The premier wrestling series returns to consoles and PC with a game that adds plenty, but doesn’t shake up its winning formula too much.

And NEW

I’m a pretty big fan of what 2K has been doing with the WWE 2K series since its big return a few years ago. That’s a twist, because I wasn’t into these games at all before really digging into WWE 2K19 during the pandemic era.

That title changed this lapsed wrestling fan’s mind big time, or at least it did till the disaster that was 2K20 changed it right back. As mentioned though, that’s changed yet again, as 2K and developer Visual Concepts have really come out swinging since. In the last couple of years, the series has been mainly terrific playing and looking, with loads of options and match types, a solid roster with both current and past superstars, and what’s continued to be the best creation suite ever seen in a wrestling game.

The good news is that WWE 2K24 has a good chunk more of all of what I just mentioned. The bad news? Well, not all that much has changed since 2K23, so if you’re looking for a reinvention, you won’t find it.

Welcome… to Wrestlemania!

While games in classic generations had basic, arcade takes on sports entertainment, the 2K-produced titles have really filled out what’s to be expected from a grappling game. Fans will find ‘exhibition’ modes aplenty, with the ability to quickly fire up some random matches both online and off with tons of possible matches, but there’s so much more than just fast play.

For one thing, there’s the 40 Years of Wrestlemania (Showcase) mode, which is a slick look back at the history of the WWE’s biggest event of the year. In it, fans are able to play through a bunch of the grandest matches of all time. In those fights, players will have to hit all the high spots to both move on in the mode, and unlock things like new wrestlers and arenas.

The greatest Wrestlemania moment of all time?

Now, there is a little issue here with the “40 Years” mode, and it’s that there are only 21 (historical) matches. Yes, there are 21 matches for 40 years. To be clear, there are some great battles included, but I can’t help but agree with the masses of fans who’ve pointed out that this kind of makes no sense. There are notable matches from all the ‘Manias that could have been included, as each one has marquee brawls. It does end with a cool Royal Rumble that combines icons and modern stars though, which is cool and all, but doesn’t make the overall limitation to 21 matches any less puzzling.

Past that, there’s also the return of the MyFACTION, (the excellent) UNIVERSE, and MyGM modes. So if you dig those, they’re all back along with an added change to the also returning MyRISE mode. While the others are all going to feel familiar, MyRISE has original stories to play out in both men’s and women’s corners. That’s definitely cool, and expands possible play time considerably.

Creation station

While there’s all of the above to engage with, the Creations section of WWE 2K24 is massive. Fans can build their own WWE superstar, or craft a facsimile of a real one who’s not been included, plus create crowd signs, entrances and victories, and move-sets. And of course, once you’re done with all of that, you can share your creation online.

Is that a special guest referee? Yep. Will he call it down the middle? Ehhhhhhhh

Or, and this is my preferred method of adding wrestlers to my game, you can just not bother with any of what I just said and head to Community Creations instead. The WWE 2K series has accrued an incredible base of talented fans-turned-creators, and you pretty much only have to wait a little while at this point, before your favorite guy or gal hits the servers. I was able to add the Legion of Doom, Demolition and plenty more iconic stars to my roster in about a week. To call it ‘solid stuff’, is an understatement, but beware of the server quality. The game tends to hit speed bumps where you can’t upload/download anything pretty often.

Getting back to the suite through, there’s also the ability to create your own shows, belts, arenas, and more. On the whole, it continues to be as impressive as I’ve seen in any wrestling game, even though it’s somehow still missing some key elements of past releases. One of those is the ability to add your own music, which continues to boggle my mind.

Taking control

Much like the modes in WWE 2K24, the controls are pretty phenomenal. You can do almost everything that is shown on Raw every week, in every situation, and pretty darn easily. Simple combat like heavy and light strikes are joined by Irish Whips of every variety, weak and strong grapples, the ability to pick up your opponent or get them into power bomb position (for even more moves) and way more.

Yes, that’s a ton of stuff to remember for those who aren’t familiar with the series, but as mentioned it’s easy to learn. You can likely just pick up and play it, learning most of what I was talking about above as you go, but there’s also a relatively short and pain-free “Performance Center” mode, which is effectively a training sim. Go through that, and you should have the full control suite under uh… control.

Stone Cold puts KO in the hurt locker

Of course, on top of the above there’s a bit of additional stuff to know, and that’s mainly pertaining to special matches. Stuff like steel cage matches, casket matches, and even tag team events all require control options that you don’t have to worry about in other fights. Once again it’s all simple enough though, and shouldn’t give anyone all that much of an issue.

I’ve felt in the past that the WWE series has done a terrific job with its controls, and I still do. And I’ll add to that, that I’m mainly an “N64” style of wrestling game fan. So even though I like the slower and more strategic take on the sport, WWE 2K still hits the target for me.

Bring home all the action

Much like with the controls, WWE 2K24 doesn’t look that much different from last year’s edition. There’s been a bump in the visuals, no doubt, but it’s not head and shoulders better than what series fans were been playing last year. Nevertheless, it was already a great looking series, so there’s that.

All of the wrestlers included look almost exactly like they do in real-life, from modern champ Roman Reigns to all-time greats like Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper. I did have to add an “almost” in there though, as there are some odd sizing issues that I’ve noticed. One example is Undertaker, who seems a little too big for his own good.

Rest… in peace

Also while the face scans of each wrestler look good across the board, the emotions playing out on those mugs can look a little strange while in matches. This mainly (as I’ve found anyway) has to do with characters’ eyes, which can sometimes be lifeless while in duress, or bulging out Total Recall style while pulling off a move. I’ve only noticed stuff like that from time to time, but it’s worth a mention.

I have zero issues with the arenas and settings though, and (outside of the ropes which can have some oddball reactions to moves) the ring looks phenomenal in its multiple forms. Likewise the animation is great throughout, and moves and holds, entrances, and winning poses are all well done. Since I’m heaping on praise here too, I guess I’ll also get something in about the audio.

The sound effects are terrific in this game, mirroring the audio of real life theme songs as they boom throughout the arena, slams as bodies hit the mat with extreme force, and… a decent announce team. I also somehow didn’t find the main menu’s musical accompaniment all that annoying this time, which is shocking. That’s not to say that I haven’t turned off everything but wrestler themes, but still.

A New Generation classic (and there weren’t many of those)

Overall

I have been into what 2K and Visual Concepts have been doing with the line of WWE games since the big revival, and that attitude is not changing this year. WWE 2K24 is a terrific wrestling game with excellent depth in every area, and easily the best one out there right now. No, it’s definitely not without technical issues, and I’m still amazed at elements that’ve appeared (in wrestling games) before that the series continues to leave out, but overall it’s tough to get too negative about it.

If you’re looking for a wrestling title to have a heck of a lot to fun with, WWE 2K24 is your beast bet. And if you want to go all-in on it, then you might want to consider the pricey 40 Years of Wrestlemania Edition. The top version of the game includes a host of bonuses, like the Season Pass, the ability to unlock all wrestlers, and a multitude of otherwise ‘sold separately’ DLC.

A copy of WWE 2K24 was supplied by 2K Games for this review

WWE 2K24: 40 Years of Wrestlemania Edition
Release date:
March 5th, 2024 | March 8th for base edition
Platforms: Xbox Sereis X|S (reviewed), PS5, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Visual Concepts
MSRP: $119.99 USD

Ring the bell

Premise - 87%
Gameplay - 95%
Presentation - 93%

92%

Excellent

WWE 2K24 picks right up from last year's edition and rolls on with excellent play control, a top notch presentation, and deep collection of match types. Fans will also find a fun (but limited) trip through Wrestlemania's past, twin story modes for male and female wrestlers, and a phenomenal creative suite. As usual too, the Community Creations section is a highlight, allowing fans to upload and download created wrestlers and more. There are some weird technical issues still, as well as some odd choices, but overall this is far and away the best wrestling game you can get on consoles or the PC today.

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About Jason Micciche

Jason's been knee deep in videogames since he was but a lad. Cutting his teeth on the pixely glory that was the Atari 2600, he's been hack'n'slashing and shoot'em'uping ever since. Mainly an FPS and action guy, Jason enjoys the occasional well crafted title from every genre.

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