Gaming

WWE 2K22 review: Laying the smackdown one more time

Appealing to old and new fans alike

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Almost two decades ago, I loved the SmackDown vs. Raw series. At the time, wrestling was an integral part of my identity growing up. Weeknights after school were filled with fantasy matches. Plus, when the PSP versions came out, I lived the series even while outside.

For several years, the franchise was an exciting way to live out dream battles, string together powerful moves, and pretend to be a wrestler. It had a lot going for it. Of course, time went by quickly. Though still a part of my life, wrestling took a back seat. I’ve also moved on to other gaming genres and franchises. And besides, the SmackDown vs. Raw series turned into the WWE 2K series, switching from one developer to another.

Fast forward to this year, both the wrestling world and the videogame franchise breathed a compelling argument to draw me back into the fandom. Both signaled a return to what made that world so appealing in the first place. With the game finally launching after an announced postponement, did WWE 2K22 fulfill just that?

A return to form

Though I wasn’t into the series as much, I did give the WWE 2K series several goes. However, they never sparkled with the same magic of its predecessors. Like the NBA series, WWE 2K was obsessed with creating more complex fighting systems with every iteration. Though realism is appreciated, the changes reduce the approachability of the series. It’s hard to feel powerful while worrying about what each button will do.

Thankfully, WWE 2K22 ameliorates this problem by introducing a simpler system. Compared to previous games, this year’s entry plays with more similarity to the SmackDown vs. Raw series of yore. Every in-ring event doesn’t turn into a complicated minigame that takes you away from the action. You can easily get by through mashing buttons. However, though mashing can become a strategy, the game still rewards studying moves.

Each wrestler comes with a host of moves and combos that more willing players can learn and master. The system also comes with a fairly simple reversal system: predict what the opponent is doing and press the button corresponding to the attack they did. For example, if the opponent does a heavy attack, press your heavy attack at the right time. Simple, even if it involves a bit of luck.

If all this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. 2K Games turned the series into a pseudo-fighting game, and I’m all in. It’s a good blend between simulation and action.

(Side note: it’s also a point of hilarity that Drew Gulak, a current WWE wrestler, does the tutorial when you first encounter a new mechanic.)

An array of how to play

Besides setting up dream matches, WWE 2K22 offers several modes to mix up gameplay (which are also the same modes you get from previous games). The headline, of course, is a Showcase mode featuring Rey Mysterio. In it, you can relive several of Mysterio’s most notable matches throughout his career. Each match comes with around a dozen objectives (such as “hit your enemy with a front grapple) to follow the flow of the real match. At certain points, the match transitions into WWE footage interspersed with kayfabe commentary with Mysterio. While cinematic, it’s also an advanced tutorial to learn some of the more advanced techniques of the game.

For those disinclined to play as Mysterio, the game also has a Universe mode, letting users play as any wrestler of their choosing and take them through potential matches and rivalries during a season of their chosen WWE show.

For the more management-focused player, MyGM makes a comeback. Players can book a show and compete against the GM (or general manager) of other shows in a race for ratings supremacy. The mode has been part of the series since the early days, so long-time fans will likely rejoice or, at least, find familiarity with the mode.

Another familiar sight for fans is MyRise, otherwise known as MyCareer. As always, players create their own custom wrestler and take them through the career of a WWE superstar. Potential stars start off in the WWE Performance Center before moving on to the main shows: Raw, SmackDown, and NXT. Along the way, you can choose to start rivalries or mini stories through one-on-one encounters or social media interactions. Unfortunately, the latter of the two happens quite a bit. While it’s true that social media is a powerful tool in a wrestler’s repertoire today, in-ring promos and speeches are, too. Some of the magic is lost when matches just spontaneously happen after Twitter beef.

Finally, WWE 2K22 adds a new mode called MyFaction. For NBA 2K fans, this mode is that series’ MyTeam mode. Players get a basic starting deck of wrestlers, managers, power-ups, and contract extensions. They can also bolster the set with booster packs that can be purchased using real money. Otherwise, players can also fight matches inside the mode to slowly gain currency for packs.

Microtransactions have always been a major sticking point for 2K’s gallery of games. WWE 2K22 is no different. At the very least, MyFaction doesn’t lock away a lot of content behind the microtransaction system.

By no fault of its own

Speaking of the game’s roster, WWE 2K22’s biggest issue wasn’t created by anyone from 2K Games. Months before the game’s release, WWE fired several wrestlers. 2K Games was likely putting the finishing touches already, having captured the likenesses of wrestlers in the promotion ages ago. Unsurprisingly, when the game came out, WWE 2K22 already had an outdated roster. Some are already gone, while some found work in WWE’s rival promotion, AEW. It felt like an old game from the get-go.

It’s an unfortunate twist of fate. However, it does have a silver lining. Instead of a SmackDown versus Raw game, a portion of WWE 2K22 turns into a WWE versus AEW game, albeit with WWE-style entrances.

Further, the game comes with a decent amount of customization options for new wrestlers, entrances, movesets, championships, and arenas. At the time of this writing, the community already had a dedicated set of creators working to bring elements from competing companies into the game. I could download creations themed from AEW, Impact, NJPW, and unavailable legends. Coupled with the impressive graphics available to the series, WWE 2K22 has the potential to become the ultimate wrestling game in today’s age.

Back to the action

The potential to pit WWE against other companies underscores the game’s biggest strength: the value it places on actual fighting. WWE 2K22 shines brightest when it focuses on wrestling. In retrospect, what keeps bringing me back to the game was the simple fighting system.

Funny enough, it mirrors how I feel about the wrestling world today. Amid controversial backstage decisions, booking, and character developments, it’s still nice to kick back and watch two wrestlers tell a story in the ring. Now, my wrestling diet consists of more than just the WWE. It encompasses AEW, NJPW, Impact, GCW, and all the rest I can consume. Despite an outdated roster, WWE 2K22 fosters a blank slate that can support a fandom hungry for more than just WWE-style wrestling.

Is WWE 2K22 worth a recommend? If you like wrestling regardless of promotion, yes, it is. The game caters to both religious fans of the WWE 2K series and fans waxing nostalgic for a past wrestling game.

SEE ALSO: WWE 2K22 introduces its new MyFACTION mode

Accessories

Razer introduces two new Ornata V3 keyboards

Slim, clicky, and ergonomic

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Ornata V3

Razer is releasing two new entry-level gaming keyboards in the Ornata V3 and Ornata V3 X, which will both have Razer’s Mecha-membrane switches.

The new keyboards come with all the basics expected of an affordable gaming accessory. That’s everything from their keycaps design, RGB backlight, and more.

The two low-profile gaming keyboards come with smaller footprint and slimline keycap designs. The ABS keycaps are UV-coated for scratch resistance, while the Ornata V3 X’s keycaps are spill-resistant.

The keyboards also feature Razer Chroma RGB with 10 lighting zones. The V3 X has four lighting effects: Breathing, Spectrum Cycling, Static, and Wave.

Aside from these, they have backlit dedicated media keys for more convenient controls such as playing and pausing, skipping, or adjusting brightness or volume.

Adding value to the Ornata V3 and V3 X is their magnetic soft-touch wrists rest. These are not often included for keyboards in their price range.

Pricing, availability

The Razer Ornata V3 and Ornata V3 X keyboards are now available on Razer’s official website, Shopee, Lazada, and through their authorized sellers.

The Ornata V3 will retail for PhP 2,590 while the Ornata V3 X is priced at PhP 4,199.

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Accessories

SteelSeries unveils Arctis Nova Pro series

The almighty future of audio

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Arctis Nova Pro

SteelSeries has released the Arctis Nova Pro series. It’s latest and most advanced gaming and esports headsets yet from the company.

The series has two variants — the Arctis Nova Pro and Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. The new series is enhanced by SteelSeries’ Sonar Audio Software Suite. It helps deliver the ultimate sound quality and clarity.

The software is the first in-gaming Pro-grade Parametric EQ which gives gamers even more control over sound across games, team chat, and the microphone and allows them to adjust individual frequencies on the fly seamlessly.

Both variants come with immersive 360° Spatial Audio which is fully compatible with Tempest 3D audio for PS5 or Microsoft Spatial Sound.

They also feature Multi-System Connect which allows users to switch between platforms easily. Complementing the next-level sound experience is an AI-powered noise cancelling and broadcast-quality bidirectional microphone.

Price and availability

The Arctis Nova Pro will retail for US$ 279.99 for both the PC/PlayStation and Xbox options, while the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless is priced at US$ 379.99.

In Singapore, pricing are as follows:

  • Arctis Nova Pro – SG$ 439
  • Arctis Nova Pro (Xbox) – SG$ 449 (available in Sep 2022)
  • Arctis Nova Pro Wireless – SG$ 599 (available in Sep 2022)
  • Arctis Nova Pro Wireless (Xbox) – SG $620

There are also booster packs for users to be able to customize the headsets with headbands and metallic color speaker plates of their choice.

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Gaming

Final Fantasy XVI producer reveals game details in interview

Things just got more exciting

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Final Fantasy XVI

Ever since the announcement of Final Fantasy XVI a few years back, enthusiasts have been on the edge of their seats in anticipation how exactly the latest installment in the popular video game franchise would look like.

Now, no less than producer Naoki Yoshida is teasing us all with even more details for what is there to expect before FFXVI releases officially in the summer of 2023 exclusively on PS5.

Here’s a quick rundown of the highlights of his latest interview regarding FFXVI.

FFXVI won’t be traditional open world

Unlike previous iterations of Final Fantasy, the upcoming video game is going in a different direction as it will not be open world, surprisingly.

Instead, it will be an “independent area-based game design”. Still, Yoshida did give away that it will take a lot of inspiration from “triple-A open world RPGs” to allow players to experience the game on a “global scale”.

Clive’s got company — making battles more interesting

Prior to Yoshida’s interviews, players have been expecting FFXVI’s protagonist, Clive, to be a solo fighter which meant that the game would have been a single-player type for the first time.

But apparently, Clive’s got company — other characters who will fight alongside him but will be AI-controlled, according to Yoshida.

Something that will also resonate uniquely with players will be the Eikon-versus-Eikon battles. Players will be able to control an Eikon in real-time and engage with another Eikon.

Yoshida recalled the original Final Fantasy in making XVI

Citing the importance of making each of Final Fantasy’s releases true to its essence, Yoshida mentioned that he went to as far as thinking about the original Final Fantasy and remembering how it felt like while playing the lead role.

He said that he “wanted to recapture that feeling in XVI”, plus the advancements in technology and modern game design.

This is something Yoshida hopes could turn into reality for people to look forward to.

The game is almost ready as of the moment

Yoshida also mentioned that in terms of progress, the game is “fully playable from start to finish” already. 

As it stands, it looks like voice-overs in different languages are currently the focus as of the moment, as well as finetuning to make sure there are no bugs or glitches.

Since FFXVI is full of action, it is only natural for the developers to have it undergo several tests to ensure smooth gameplay.

A third trailer will drop later in 2022

Lastly, a third trailer that will succeed the “Dominance” trailer released a month ago will drop this fall.

That will surely excite players even more as they get closer and closer to Final Fantasy XVI’s launch next year.

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