Having played wrestling games since the original PlayStation with WWF Warzone, ECW Anarchy Rulz, and WCW Backstage Assault taking up a ton of my time, I missed out on the PS2 era of wrestling games until much later. I started getting back to playing them regularly towards the end of the PS3 generation. A lot has changed since, and WWE games, now under 2K, have been of varying degrees of quality. While I enjoyed WWE 2K16’s showcase for obvious reasons, WWE 2K22 last year was a massive step in the right direction. Now WWE 2K23 feels like the first great Wrestling game in a long time, albeit one with its own issues. In my WWE 2K23 Steam Deck review, I’m going to focus on how it looks and runs on Steam Deck with what I did to fix any issues I ran into.
Having only played WWE 2K22 a few months after it launched directly on Xbox Series X, I was impressed with how most aspects were improved over prior games. WWE 2K23 feels like a more confident entry that took learnings from 2K22, but added a lot of polish to actually be a wrestling game I have enjoyed playing from day one. Whether you should grab it right now or wait, is something I will address a bit later in this review. Even the excellent tutorial from Xavier Woods is good. John Cena’s Showcase mode is a nice twist on the formula as well. It is worth playing even if you aren’t a fan of his.
Right off the bat, WWE 2K23 surprised me on Steam Deck. The default graphics options it had selected had WWE 2K23 running perfectly in the first few matches I played on Steam Deck. It almost felt too good to be true with a near flawless 60fps and great visuals with fast loading. Then I decided to start stress testing the game on Steam Deck. The new WarGames mode with eight players was far too much for Steam Deck with the frame rate constantly dropping to the 40s from 60. In a game like this, you want the frame rate to remain at 60fps even if it means playing with worse visuals so the action doesn’t slow down.
I was surprised to see some of the eight man modes run at 60fps without dropping more than a few frames during camera cuts in the five matches I tested specifically before getting back to the normal modes I play. It takes a lot of tweaking in the settings to get the WarGames mode with eight total superstars working at 60fps without issues though. If you’re planning on playing WWE 2K23 on Steam Deck and want to focus on this mode, you’re going to need to try out many settings to see what sticks. If you don’t care about the most demanding matches like that, you can make it look really great and play at 60fps, which isn’t something I expected on Steam Deck at all given how modern AAA games usually run on the system day one.
WWE 2K23 Steam Deck graphics and performance
There is an in-game benchmark, but I’d recommend opting for standard textures, standard models, 60fps action camera, medium or low shadows, medium shaders, FXAA (or TAA if you’re playing less visually demanding matches only), FSR upscaling, and then try to find which of the other settings you want to keep on when it comes to your own taste. If you disable windowed mode, WWE 2K23 even runs at 16:10 during matches with most of the interface and other parts of the game being rendered at 16:9. I used Proton Experimental (bleeding edge) and the default Proton in my testing, and the only major difference I noticed was the entrances and some other camera cuts did run at a higher frame rate when using Proton Experimental.
WWE 2K23 on Steam Deck with Remote Play Together
I was curious to see how WWE 2K23 on Steam Deck would handle Valve’s Remote Play Together, so I invited a friend of mine in another country to join my game on Steam Deck. The experience for him wasn’t great over wireless as expected, but it did run perfectly fine at 60fps on my Steam Deck even in an eight man battle royal. The image quality obviously isn’t perfect, but the 60fps and Steam Deck’s smaller screen make it a fine experience. The only thing to keep in mind is the Steam Deck sometimes reboots when ending a Remote Play Together session. This happens in other games as well, so it isn’t a WWE 2K23 specific issue.
Since this is the first time a full fledged 2K WWE game has been available without feature compromises on a portable, I wanted to see how it would handle suspending as well. I left the game suspended for a few hours to test and it resumed fine on Steam Deck without internet as well. On the battery life side, I usually play with full brightness and the projected battery life indicator when I was playing an eight man ladder match was about 1 hour 50 minutes left when I had around 65% battery left when I did this. I’m not the best judge of this as I always push the Steam Deck for better performance and full brightness, but I wanted to give you a rough idea of what to expect with how I set up the game and play on Steam Deck. I installed it on my SD card from the start where it takes about 81.5GB of storage space.
In its current state, my main issues with WWE 2K23 on Steam Deck also apply to the PC version in general. As of this writing, I don’t have access to the other platforms, but the regular server issues are beyond annoying. Barring that, the modes all worked fine on Steam Deck barring the video portion of the creation suite which crashed every single time regardless of what Proton version I tried. I don’t usually spend time in that mode, but I wanted to test it for this WWE 2K23 Steam Deck review.
WWE 2K23 is shockingly good on Steam Deck despite the few issues I ran into. If you skipped the last few years of WWE games, WWE 2K23 is worth your time. It feels like an enhanced version of WWE 2K22 that improves in all the right ways and brings some long overdue features. Just don’t come into this expecting as much of a jump in quality as you had with WWE 2K22 from prior games. In its current state, WWE 2K23 is an excellent wrestling game with tons of content, but one that is let down by its online servers.
Interested in more Steam Deck coverage? Check out our Steam Deck recommendations!