WWE 2K23 guide: Everything we know so far

WWE 2K23
(Image credit: 2K)

WWE 2K23 is here, and fantastically playable – meaning you should be hooked long past this year's WrestleMania. Don't believe us? Check out our WWE 2K23 review. Once you've done that, pop back here for everything you need to know about this year's game. You can view the first trailer, a rundown of gameplay features, and loads of other key intel. All your wrestling needs are covered in GR's complete WWE 2K23 guide.

What will be the WWE 2K23 release date?

WWE 2K23

(Image credit: 2K)

Historically WWE sim games were an annual pre-Christmas event. That changed following the dreadful feedback to WWE 2K20, and subsequent cancellation of WWE 2K21. WWE 2K22 moved to a release window shortly before WrestleMania, the biggest annual event on the wrestling calendar. Sure enough, that new precedent remains in place this year.

The official WWE 2K23 release date is Friday, March 17. However, those who pre-ordered the Deluxe or Icon Editions got to play it three days early, on Tuesday, March 14. More on those very shortly…

Where can I see the WWE 2K23 trailer?

Right here! The WWE 2K23 trailer is focussed on gameplay, and gives glimpses at John Cena, Roman Reigns and Bad Bunny. Yes, we said Bad Bunny. Again, all will be explained imminently. You can watch it in the window above.

What are the WWE 2K23 pre-order bonuses?

WWE 2K23

(Image credit: 2K)

Okay, now we can explain the references above. The main pre-order bonus is Bad Bunny: the Puerto Rican rapper who has made sporadic, yet impressive, appearances in WWE over the past two years. He's fully playable, and the standard edition comes with him for use across the game, along with Bad Bunny's Ruby Edition MyFaction card.

There are also two special editions available to pre-order. Here's what you get in each, in addition to those Bad Bunny goodies…

WWE 2K23 Deluxe Edition

  • Early Access – Access to the game three days early.
  • Full Season Pass – All five post-launch DLC character packs, MyRise Mega-Boost pack, 200 additional Attribute Points, and the Supercharger pack that instantly unlocks all base-game WWE Legends and old-school arenas.
  • Deluxe Edition Bonus Pack – John Cena EVO card, Emerald-tier Bianca Belair, and Gold-tier Asuka and Edge cards. It also comes with additional three Basic Day 1 MyFaction card packs

WWE 2K23 Icon Edition

  • Early Access – Access to the game three days early.
  • Ruthless Aggression Pack – Old-school versions of John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista, and Brock Lesnar with the additional WrestleMania 22 arena, and John Cena Legacy Championship.
  • Full Season Pass – Same as the Deluxe Edition – all five post-launch DLC character packs, MyRise Mega-Boost pack, 200 additional Attribute Points, and the Supercharger pack that instantly unlocks all base-game WWE Legends and old-school arenas.
  • Deluxe Edition Bonus Pack – Includes a John Cena EVO card, Emerald-tier Bianca Belair, and Gold-tier Asuka and Edge cards, plus three Basic Day 1 MyFaction card packs.
  • Icon Edition Bonus Pack – Comes with a Paul Heyman Emerald tier Manager MyFaction Card and additional three Deluxe Premium Launch MyFaction Packs

Who is the WWE 2K23 cover star?

WWE 2K23

(Image credit: 2K)

16-time world champion John Cena scores his first series cover since fronting WWE 2K14, almost ten years ago. Indeed, he has three covers in total: one for the standard version of WWE 2K23, one for the Deluxe Edition, and another for the Icon Edition. 

As well as scoring the box art, Cena is the focus of the returning Showcase Mode. Like in previous years, you replay famous matches introduced by the man himself – but with a twist. This time around, you have to defeat Cena in every contest to advance, and unlock past legends and arenas. That ensures variety as you control Rob Van Dam, Kurt Angle, Batista and more, in memorable bouts against Mr You-Can't-See-Me. 

What WWE 2K23 gameplay features are new?

WWE 2K23

(Image credit: 2K)

As you can read about in our WWE 2K23 preview, the new game largely focuses on building upon the solid foundations of WWE 2K22. That means matches feel similar, but with some neat incremental additions. For instance, you can now kick out of pin attempts by flicking the right stick up at the correct point on a timing bar. It's a subtle yet smart way of mimicking reality.

The biggest new addition, in every sense, is WarGames. This new match type sees two teams of three go head-to-head inside two rings, held within a single elongated steel cage. Team-mates enter in staggered intervals and can bring weapons in with them, making for sheer mayhem once all six combatants are inside. It's playable online and off, in two different arenas: NXT and Survivor Series. 

The dev team says squeezing WarGames in was a colossal challenge. “Having two rings doesn’t seem like it would cause a problem: copy, paste, put it in the other spot,” explains lead gameplay designer Derek Donahue. In fact it meant retooling the entire engine. “The assumption that the ring is at the centre of the world, and the ropes are a certain distance away, with four corners, are all baked into the game. Anything [you did] broke as soon as you put another ring in there. We had to revamp every interaction in the game, to get two rings to work. And then you’ve got a [larger] cage…”

Who’s going to be on the WWE 2K23 roster?

WWE 2K23

(Image credit: 2K)

A whole load of fresh blood. Visual Concepts did a tremendous job with WWE 2K22 DLC, adding many new faces whose rise to Raw or Smackdown occurred late in the development process. As such Omos, Rick Boogs, Piper Niven (AKA Doudrop) and Commander Azeez (AKA Dabba-Kato) are all in WWE 2K23 from launch.

They’re joined by the company’s biggest signing of 2022, Cody Rhodes, and a selection of goodies and baddies who’ve shot to prominence in NXT. Rick Steiner’s son Bron Breakker heads the pack, while upcoming female starlet Cora Jade is also confirmed. You can keep tabs on all wrestlers as they're confirmed using our WWE 2K23 roster guide.

2K is also committed to unleashing five DLC packs post-release. Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, and Valhalla – the lady formerly known as Sarah Logan – are all on this magic list, along with 21 other stars. See them all in GR's WWE 2K23 DLC guide.

Which wrestlers have been cut from WWE 2K23?

WWE 2K23

(Image credit: 2K)

While some old favorites return – welcome back, Kurt Angle! – this year’s entry also bids a fond farewell to a significant chunk of the last game's line-up. Eleven of those who featured in WWE 2K22 have since joined the rival AEW roster, and will therefore be gone from the series. They are:

  • Ariya Daivari (M, 70)
  • Cesaro (M, 84)
  • Isaiah Scott (M, 80)
  • Jake Roberts (M, 85)
  • Jeff Hardy (M, 85)
  • Keith Lee (M, 80)
  • Kyle O’Reilly (M, 81)
  • Murphy (M, 77)
  • Samoa Joe (M, 86)
  • Ember Moon (F, 81)
  • Toni Storm (F, 80)

In total, almost 50 wrestlers who made WWE 2K22 are no longer with the company. That means it's goodbye to Mickie James, Lana, Fandango and many more from the WWE 2K23 roster.

Was WWE 2K23 ever truly at risk?

WWE 2K23

(Image credit: 2K)

That's a very intriguing question. WWE 2K22 saw Visual Concepts overcome the disaster that was WWE 2K20, revitalizing the series with genuine physicality, user-friendly mechanics and huge cosmetic upgrades. GR awarded it 3.5 stars, and patches since have bolstered it further.

Yet rumors circulated post-release that WWE may have quietly cut ties with 2K, with 2K22 acting as the series’ swansong. In March, wrestling publication Fightful reported WWE had even held talks with EA. The company’s May financial call was non-committal, with new boss Stephanie McMahon praising the recent release, without mentioning 2K23.

"After taking a little more than a year off to improve the game engine, we worked hand in glove with our partners at Take Two Interactive, listened to our customers and fans, and earned back their trust by delivering a game that exceeded their expectations," she said. ”WWE 2K22 was a commercial and critical success with the highest Metacritic scores on both Xbox and PlayStation platforms in franchise history.”

However, it's all turned out rosily for now. WWE 2K23 is official – and shaping up promisingly, too.

What made the WWE 2K23 features wishlist?

WWE 2K23

(Image credit: 2K)

Brilliant independent fan site Operation Sports had a number of excellent suggestions for WWE 2K23. Luke Skywalker was keen to see sharable rosters. For instance, a fan could create a comprehensive WCW 1996 roster which you could then download in one hit. GM Mode is where he’d like the biggest changes, with evolving rosters the most tantalizing suggestion: “A wrestler gets fired from the company or brought in, [or you] bring in new created players in an existing Season mode. Three years down the line, I don’t expect the roster to be the same. Hell, some people [on the roster] aren’t even in WWE right now.”

Custom entrance themes always appear high on fan wishlists, but as SmashMan explains, tech restrictions likely render this impossible. “We had custom music on the PS3/360 gen but it disappeared in the PS4/X1 [era],” he writes. “The only games that I know of that support custom soundtracks (Fire Pro Wrestling and MLB The Show) were not on XBOX, and since The Show has gone multiplatform they've dropped it from the PS5 version. This one might be a situation where Xbox doesn't support it in the same way Sony did/does, so it's left off to keep the experience equal across platforms.”

Over on Reddit, wildcharmander1992 wanted Royal Rumbles to be overhauled. "I simply want the AI improved,” he says. “We have a great little thing where we can add allies and rivals to superstars and I think this needs to have a bigger impact. [Let’s say] Triple H and Randy Orton are in Evolution in your game? They’re Level 4 allies – so they shouldn't be attacking one another in the Royal Rumble unless they're the only two in the ring… By the same token, if an ally is at risk of elimination [there could be] an RNG to determine whether they ignore it or take out their team-mate. Basically, add more immersion to those bouts."

Ben Wilson

I'm GamesRadar's sports editor, and obsessed with NFL, WWE, MLB, AEW, and occasionally things that don't have a three-letter acronym – such as Chvrches, Bill Bryson, and Streets Of Rage 4. (All the Streets Of Rage games, actually.) Even after three decades I still have a soft spot for Euro Boss on the Amstrad CPC 464+.