WWE 2K24 review – Grappling with greatness

WWE 2K24 is a leap up from WWE 2K23, with solid improvements and additions across the board.
wwe 2k24 review

WWE 2K24 is yet another solid entry into the WWE 2K canon, and one with just enough tweaks and additions to make the entire experience feel fresh and engaging once again. While it shares a lot in common with WWE 2K23, clearly using it as a foundational building block, the content included in this year’s franchise entry is impressive on its own.

For those familiar with the modern WWE 2K games, there won’t be much surprising in the design and layout of this year’s release. As comes standard, the game again has an overwhelming smorgasbord of modes: MyGM, MyFACTION, MyRISE, Universe, and Showcase.

All of them are largely set dressing for the core gameplay, which allows you to embody a favourite wrestler (or create your own) and take part in a variety of match types, with the ultimate goal of pulling off an impressive five-star match.

Each gameplay mode is hearty, to the point where they’re practically their own games. In MyGM and Universe, you’ll host your own versions of WWE programming, stacking your match lists and rosters to ensure exciting, well-received shows. In MyFACTION, you’ll collect cards and assemble an array of WWE wrestlers, then take them through gauntlet-style matches to earn unlockables, and boost your power.

wwe 2k24 gameplay combat
Screenshot: GamesHub

These three modes, frankly speaking, aren’t the most interesting in WWE 2K24 – mostly because they’re outshined by this year’s MyRISE and Showcase modes. To be clear, MyFACTION, MyGM and Universe are still complex and entertaining, and contain fresh features to keep players engaged with their loops, but they’re not superbly different compared to past years.

In comparison, both MyRISE and Showcase feel improved in leaps and bounds in WWE 2K24, and they were the modes I spent the most time with in the game’s review period.

MyRISE feels more engaging than ever

As in last year, WWE 2K24‘s MyRISE mode is split into two gendered segments: Unleashed (Women’s) and Undisputed (Men’s). Both tell dual stories revolving around wrestlers joining WWE, and fighting to become the greatest, while contending with vicious rivalries, backstabbing, and other hurdles.

Unleashed is particularly refreshing for its character backstory. In this plot, you are a tenured wrestler from an independent company known as TBD. You only attend a WWE tryout to help one of your young employees, but wind up accepting a company contract after WWE manager William Regal spots your potential.

wwe 2k24 myrise unleashed gameplay mode
Screenshot: GamesHub

Read: WWE 2K24’s MyRISE mode was developed with Drew Gulak

Where in past years, MyRISE has treated independent wrestling with a sense of disdain, stereotyping smaller promotions, this year’s tale has a bit more respect for the wider wrestling industry. Your custom female wrestler retains her personality and identity when joining the WWE roster, and in lines of dialogue, her experience in the indie scene is valued. It’s a minor touch, but makes the story feel far more interesting and layered.

Beyond this, it’s also worth noting that MyRISE is now completely voiced, with support from various WWE wrestlers. Having actual conversations with the likes of Bayley, Shotzi, and Candice LeRae adds a greater feeling of authenticity, and makes WWE 2K24‘s MyRISE feel like a well-rounded wrestling RPG.

Undisputed also presents an intriguing “what if” for the WWE canon, allowing you to explore an alternative future for the company – complete with performances from Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns that flesh out the drama and intrigue of this plot.

For those looking to immerse themselves in the world of wrestling, and carve out their own spot on a crowded roster, this year’s MyRISE presents two compelling experiences, both of which rank highly in the annual MyRISE stakes. While character dialogue is still occasionally cheesy and over the top, this adds more charm than cringe, in my experience.

Showcase mode brings the heat

wwe 2k24 showcase mode gameplay hulk hogan and andre the giant
Screenshot: GamesHub

Alongside MyRISE, Showcase mode has also taken a significant step up this year. With a theme like ‘WrestleMania‘s Greatest Matches’ you can’t really go wrong, but the choice here works very well. There’s a sense of grandeur to every match in the campaign, and the real world footage spliced into gameplay also lends gravitas.

For as much as WWE has mythologised its own history, it’s hard to deny that its yearly WrestleMania shows have had a significant impact on America’s cultural history. It’s most obvious when looking at the past that WrestleMania is a reflection of the changing values, political landscape, and pop culture of America.

“A very raw, primitive form of new drama is being born, as primitive and crude as it must have been in the earlier Greek times before Sophocles and before Euripides, when something like this emerged for the public eye,” famed director Werner Herzog once said of WrestleMania. “I do believe that what is fascinating about WrestleMania is the stories around it … This is almost sort of an ancient Greek drama.”

“Why do I watch WrestleMania? My answer is the poet must not avert his eyes from what’s going on in the world. In order to understand what’s going on, you have to face it.”

All this to say, WrestleMania is an essential part of history – not just wrestling history – and Showcase mode does an stellar job of preserving this history, allowing players to take part in significant matches, and experience how they changed the wrestling landscape, and the popular conscious.

The match choices included in this year’s Showcase are all great, and put a well-earned spotlight on WrestleMania and its many Greek-style dramas. With hearty tutorials for hitting each match’s historic beats, and a more streamlined flow, this Showcase mode is also very well-designed, and a very approachable exploration of core wrestling history.

Stepping up

wwe 2k24 matches
Screenshot: GamesHub

Tweaks to MyRISE and Showcase are the most obvious improvements in WWE 2K24, but this refresh goes far beyond the basics. While there are new match types in this game, including ambulance, casket, and gauntlet matches, the best additions are the smallest ones.

Things like custom makeup being scrubbed after an intense match, and unique facial expressions in dire circumstances. It’s things like weapons being far easier to grab and deploy, and more accuracy when changing between opponents. It’s women’s hair being slightly less sentient, and having a more fluid flow.

It’s also being able to unlock more wrestlers, rather than having them be available from the jump. As you play through MyRISE, Showcase, MyFACTION, and other modes, you’ll be able to unlock a number of wrestlers, and some wrestler variants, which can then be used in regular gameplay.

That provides an incentive to actually spend time with each mode in WWE 2K24, and to hit those Showcase match requirements. In past years, unlockables haven’t been nearly deployed as well – but in WWE 2K24 there is genuine reward in investing time, advancing each gameplay mode, and hitting the right notes in Showcase.

In the grand scheme, these are just minor tweaks. WWE 2K24 and WWE 2K23 do share a lot in common. This isn’t quite a revolution for the series. But with a range of smaller tweaks, and improvements to its storytelling and delivery, WWE 2K24 still makes a compelling case to make the upgrade.

Four stars: ★★★★

WWE 2K24
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Microsoft Windows
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: 8 March 2024

A copy of WWE 2K24 for PS5 was provided for the purposes of this review. GamesHub reviews are rated on a five-point scale. GamesHub has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content. GamesHub may earn a small percentage of commission for products purchased via affiliate links.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.