Those who know me will be aware that I'm a pretty big wrestling fan, but to be honest the only wrestling I tend to watch these days is AEW, every single Wednesday and Friday. To me, it's a much more entertaining form of professional wrestling than what WWE offers, but the promised AEW game from former SmackDown Vs. Raw! developer Yukes is still in development, so my only choice for a mainstream wrestling game right now is WWE 2K22.
That's not a bad thing! WWE 2K22 is not only the best game in the series so far in my opinion, but it allows you to get really involved with its exhaustive creation features, meaning you create your own AEW universe with just the press of a few buttons. It all starts in the downloads section, where you can find endless renditions of AEW wrestlers, arenas, championships and much more, some of which are absolutely outstanding (check out the Malakai Black in these images for an example of what I mean.. he looks incredible!).
And so, like many other people playing WWE 2K22 right now, I've started the task of creating the ultimate AEW universe. Things are progressing slowly (I'm always too busy to play games these days!), but I've already downloaded some outstanding versions of the various AEW arenas and championships, and I'm gradually building out my roster with the best Create-A-Wrestlers I can find. We're only a couple of weeks into WWE 2K22's existence, of course, so the quality of these creations will undoubtedly get even better as time goes on.
Despite what the headline suggests here, I'm kind of bouncing around the different modes with these AEW creations so far. I tend to just jump into random matches, put one of the titles on the line and see what happens, and I've tinkered with adding them to the likes of MyGM, but I'm ideally waiting to build out the roster even more. Universe Mode is obviously the endgame focus, where you can literally create your own AEW universe and watch the random rivalries play out from week-to-week as you build up to the quarterly pay-per-views. Universe seems to be a bit buggy when using CAWs at the moment though, so I'm not taking it too seriously just yet.
There are a few things I really love about AEW creations in 2K22 compared to 2K20. The first is obviously the graphics, which are a massive step up from the previous game. That can actually be a downside when you've got wrestlers who just don't look quite right, but when everything's firing on all cylinders, the gameplay shots can be pretty breathtaking. Another thing that makes a huge difference is the ability to add real pictures as character renders, which means the likes of CM Punk and MJF can be displayed as real images in the game.
The only thing I really want now? Custom music. Spotify just isn't good enough in these instances, and I'd love to see 2K try and find a way to implement a custom feature so we can add AEW entrance themes in the years to come.
It does help, of course, that WWE 2K22's official roster features a variety of names that have since made their way to AEW in real life. Jeff Hardy is the biggest name of them all, so you can just throw him into any AEW Universe you create, and there's also the likes of Keith Lee, Kyle O'Reilly, Buddy Murphy and many others. Let's be honest, that list is probably going to grow over the next 12 months as WWE inexplicably continues to release its talent at an alarming rate, so the next year-or-so of WWE 2K22 gameplay looks pretty great if you're an AEW fan.
Nevertheless, I'm still keeping my eyes glued to the progress being made on the official AEW console game, which looks like it's shaping up well so far. My concern at the moment is that it sounds like they want to get it released as soon as possible, and the last thing it needs is to be rushed. With WWE 2K22 turning out to be impressive this year, AEW is going to need to respond with a polished and well-received game of its own, not just to please the fans, but to make a statement against its competition. They need to avoid the game turning out like TNA Impact! on the Xbox 360, which wasn't the worst game in the world, but felt like it needed more time in the oven.
For now, I'm perfectly happy building my own custom AEW universe in WWE 2K22, and I'm grateful to all the fantastic creators out there who are making it possible. It's making the wait for that AEW console game so much easier.
Have you been tinkering with AEW creations in WWE 2K22? Let us know down in the comments below.