When you were a kid, if you watched wrestling, you probably had to deal with people smugly telling you that it wasn’t real. “All those stunts are fake,” your friends would say, with a knowing smile on their face. If you didn’t know that, it could be a little disheartening to learn that your favourite wrestlers weren’t being totally authentic when they beat seven bells out of each other, but in fairness, some of the stunts they pull off are pretty difficult to survive without massive trauma anyway.
Of course, there’s another layer of disconnect between wrestling video games and the real world. Not only is wrestling “not real” (although many of the long-term injuries sustained by wrestlers seem pretty real to us), but the video game version is even less real, because the violence isn’t even happening between real people. Still, that doesn’t make wrestling games any less fun, and that’s true of the PS4’s lineup too. Here are the 5 best PS4 wrestling games to check out right now.
1. WWE 2K22
It might not come as much of a surprise to you that WWE 2K22 is the best wrestling game you can play on PS4 right now, but if it doesn’t, that’s probably because you didn’t play WWE 2K20. That game was received so disastrously that it caused publisher 2K to take a step back from the franchise for a year in order to reassess its strategy. Luckily, when they returned to the fray with WWE 2K22, things had improved significantly.
Gone are the glitchy animations (for the most part, anyway), replaced by a level of polish and attention to detail that wrestling fans hadn’t been treated to for some time. The roster was just as full as ever, but now wrestlers actually looked like their real-life counterparts. It was clear that 2K had actually listened to fans, which makes WWE 2K22 a superb wrestling game if you’re a fan of the real-life sport.
On the other side of the coin, we have Fire Pro Wrestling World, which is a decidedly more arcade-style experience that will appeal to you if you don’t want realism in your wrestling games. Believe it or not, the Fire Pro Wrestling series has been chugging along for many years now; the first instalment came out all the way back in 1989 for the PC Engine, and World is the latest in a franchise that has spanned over 20 games.
Fire Pro Wrestling World is, like its predecessors, all about customisation and gameplay modes. There are a ludicrous number of modes and options on offer here; almost every aspect of the experience can be changed and altered, from the wrestlers themselves to the rules governing each match. If you don’t care much about real-life wrestler licensing, you should definitely check this one out.
3. UFC 4
Okay, okay, we know – UFC and MMA fighting aren’t really wrestling, and you’re not getting the same thing out of this game as you might out of an official WWE title. Hear us out, though. Mixed martial arts fighting resembles wrestling in a lot of ways, and many of the personalities who duke it out in the UFC ring feel like wrestlers sometimes, given their trash talk tendencies and larger-than-life charisma.
Luckily, UFC 4 does a good job of translating all of that excitement into a video game. There are lots of pros to choose from, each of whom feels distinct from the last, and you’ll also find a faithful recreation of MMA cage match fighting here. The game can be a little buggy at times, but there’s literally no better way to experience the world of MMA in video games, so try this one out if you want to broaden your wrestling horizons a little.
If there’s one thing we could point to as being the most controversial and divisive element in modern gaming, it would probably be microtransactions. Publishers and major game companies love microtransactions, because they’re an opportunity to make more money from consumers, and people clearly engage with them, because publishers keep putting them in games.
WWE 2K Battlegrounds’ principal problem is the fact that it feels overrun with microtransactions. The experience just won’t get out of its own way; there’s a fun arcade-style wrestling brawler in here somewhere, as long as you can look past the microtransactions and predatory monetisation. Pick this one up for cheap and ignore the constant attempts to get you to spend real money and it’s not a bad time.
We didn’t want to flood this list with prior WWE 2K titles, but the PS4’s wrestling stable is a little underpopulated, so here’s a game that’s not out yet. AEW: Fight Forever is arriving “soon”, and it’s the first wrestling game licensed by the burgeoning AEW promo, giving WWE a direct rival for the first time since the WCW games. What’s more, Fight Forever comes to us from former WWE 2K developer Yuke’s, giving it an extra pedigree.
So, what does this game offer? Well, if you like the old WWF SmackDown!-style wrestling titles, then this one looks like it’ll be for you. It’s got a “nostalgic arcade wrestling feel”, according to the developers, and it has lots of game modes and options to choose from as well. Yuke’s is promising a deep career mode and lots of customisation features to make your own wrestler, too. If this game pulls it off, it could be a serious contender.