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After Several Updates, WWE 2K24 is (Only) Decent on Steam Deck

Key Takeaways
1. Tons of gameplay modes make this the biggest and best yet.
2. “Choices” in the career mode are pretty limited and vague.
3. Steam Deck performance was terrible, but now it's solidly “fine not great”.

I have really been looking forward to this year's WWE title, especially since getting a Steam Deck.

WWE 2K24 is a fantastic game with a ton of different ways to play, robust creation tools, and a live-service model that is only slightly too aggressive. Unfortunately, it has also had a whole heap of issues on the Steam Deck, but with recent updates those are (almost) all resolved, and I can finally recommend the game to handheld PC players!

Create a Look, Not a Vibe

Wwe 2k24 will let you make a doofus of a character, but won't let you choose how they act.

After liking the campaign but being disappointed by the character creator in AEW Fight Forever, I was really excited to try out the story mode in WWE 2K24. I opted to step into the male story mode, called MyRise: Undisputed, with Chap “Chapman”, a character with bizarre head proportions, a handlebar mustache, uneven eyes, and purple slacks. I envisioned his as sort of an old-timey boxer turned wrestler, like a Kurt Angle of the 1920s.

While the options for creating the look and play style for your wrestler are tremendous, the story mode has a bizarre take on player agency. My story started with Chapman as an unimpressive mid-carder who was entered (presumably as fodder) into a tournament for the belt that Roman Reigns bizarrely vacated to pursue a movie career. While Roman stepping away is weird, it seemed like a bland enough start for a player character to grow from.

The story plays out through wrestling matches with specific objectives to hit, and behind-the-scenes conversations and cutscenes with other wrestlers and crew. All of these scenes are fully voiced, including responses from your character… which is where I first had a problem. I never envisioned Chap as a likeable chap, but in my head, he spoke with an over-exaggerated mid-Atlantic accent. I’d honestly have preferred a silent main character, like in Baldurs Gate 3, rather than having to hear the stuck-up, “I’ll show you” cadence the story mode sticks you with.

‘Mania Mania

Wwe 2k24 uses the same camera sweeps for every match introduction.

I’m coming up on my third year as a wrestling fan, which makes it hard to describe myself as still being “new” to the sport. I've been avidly watching AEW that whole time, but have also been reading a book about the history of the WWE for the past year and a half. Yeah, roughly 18 months to read a book… but that’s because partway through I decided I wanted to watch all the Wrestlemanias as they came up in the book. Then part way into that exercise I was convinced I should watch the Royal Rumble before each Wrestlemania as well.

So, yeah, I’m still a relatively recent fan and know next to nothing about modern WWE, but I've dove into its past with more zeal than a lot of new fans would.

With all that in mind, and after digging the core gameplay but wishing for more depth in last years AEW Fight Forever, I was really excited to dive into this years WWE game, which is pitched as a celebration of the history of Wrestlemania.

Unfortunately, the mode that is actually focused on that theme is also the one mode that still has an issue on the Steam Deck.

I recently checked out WWE 2K23 from my library in anticipation of 2K24. To get a feel for the game, I played through the Showcase mode, which last year was focused on huge loses in John Cena’s career. While it was a fun idea to be beating up the same guy in each match, there wasn’t a lot of narrative cohesion in the structure of the mode. I mean, the second level was John Cena’s first match in WWE, so ten minutes in things were already feeling like they were shoved in in a random order.

A Brief History

The in-game look of the showcase mode of wwe 2k24 is great, but the video footage on steam deck is broken.

This year's showcase mode features just over 20 matches from the 39 Wrestlemanias that happened before the game's release. Keen mathematicians will note that 20 is a lot less than 39, so nearly half of the history this mode is celebrating is neglected. In fact, it’s even less than that, with several ‘Manias being represented by two matches, and 2023's show popping up three times.

On the plus side, the matches are actually presented in order. There’s also commentary between matches and during the cutscene moments when you nail objectives that offer context for why these matches and moments in them are so important.

Unfortunately, the Showcase mode is also where the Steam Deck version of the game suffers most. The gameplay is all fine, but for some reason the game has a massive rendering problem when it cuts to live-action footage of the match.

Just like last year, an absurd amount of the video footage is blurred out. Refs, commentators, t-shirts, and the butt pockets of John Cena’s jorts are all victims of this weird blurring that makes the footage just look bad. But that is nothing compared to the weird jittering that the footage does on the deck. There is screen tearing and stuttering constantly in these segments. It’s like different parts of the footage are constantly jumping backwards and forwards a few frames all at different times, which is headache-inducing in the worst way. This issue has gotten slightly better over the past few updates but still hasn't gone away entirely.

Final Thoughts

Of course there's a giant bunny in WWE 2K24.

WWE 2K24 is a fantastically meaty package. The core gameplay feels really good, and there are so many different modes to frame that gameplay that you can easily spend an obscene amount of time on this release. At launch, the handheld gameplay experience was pretty horrible thanks to all sorts of weird graphical issues, but with those mostly ironed out the Steam Deck is now a perfectly reasonable place to play it. The game runs at 1280×800 on medium-ish settings with a fairly steady frame rate. You'll still run into some drops when things get busy, the video issues in the Showcase Mode are extremely annoying, and menus and overlays frequently cut off at 720 vertical pixels even with the taller display, but the game is ultimately playable and pretty dang fun.

This game probably won't turn me into a regular WWE viewer, but I'm having enough fun with it that I plan to keep an eye on the product over the next year so I know more of the roster by the time 2K25 rolls around.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Redundant Title Belts

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Quick View
Title:WWE 2K24
Release Date:March 5, 2024
ESRB Rating:T for Teen
Number of Players:1-4
Platforms:Steam, PlayStation, Xbox
How Long to Beat:8ish Hours Per Story Mode
Recommended for fans of:Wrasslin, Choose Your Own Adventures, and Infinite Replayability
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.

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