The production efficiency and optimal control of wave energy converter (WEC) array are mainly based on array layout, thus it is crucial to establish a reliable mathematical model for the WEC array layout optimization. So far, a lot of research has been done on the modeling and methods of WEC array layout optimization. However, the existing reviews are either incomplete in the classification of modeling methods, or incomplete in a collection of optimization methods, especially lacking detailed evaluation. This paper aims to comprehensively summarize various WEC models and related approaches for WEC array layout optimization. Note that over 80 related pieces of literature have been carefully analyzed and summarized, and they are divided into three categories: meta-heuristic-based, machine learning-based, and mathematics-based methods. In particular, the advantages/disadvantages, variables, evaluation indices, parameters, complexity, and objective functions are thoroughly discussed. Finally, potential research directions and recommendations are proposed in future in-depth research for both researchers and engineers.