In the now somewhat distant year of 2019, the world of pro-wrestling changed forever with the arrival of All Elite Wrestling on the scene as the first legitimate competition to WWE in a long time. Even during the company’s first year, wrestler Kenny Omega, one of the founders of the AEW and a fellow true gamer, immediately promised that AEW would get its own video game sooner than later! All the stars aligned and when studio Yuke’s who had been making WWE games for many years separated from 2K – it was not a big mystery what they would do next. However, the development of AEW as a company and their first video game was slowed down by some world events, I don’t know, maybe you remember something around 2020-2021? Anyhow, after a lot of delays, the first AEW game is finally here, and I had a lot of time with it, so it’s finally time to get my impressions together.
AEW Fight Forever Review – New Contender Old-School Approach
As someone who has been a wrestling fan all his life in an environment that is anything but friendly towards this type of sports entertainment, I am especially glad when I see a project like this that is aimed at a mega-hardcore audience. Here, we have a game based on an alternative wrestling promotion made in the style of retro games from the 90s or early 2000s when such titles were everywhere and on many systems of that time. In particular, AEW Fight Forever draws inspiration from WWF No Mercy for Nintendo 64, so here we have a double dose of wrestling and retro gaming fanaticism all rolled up into one. It is clear that such a title will not attract a vast audience, but it is phenomenal that it exists in this form!
It’s been a long time since Yuke’s had the opportunity to make something that wasn’t a new WWE 2K game, although they had a couple of detours to more arcadey side games, they always seemed rushed and without any special direction. In the case of the first AEW game, you can clearly see the focus and desire to recreate the feeling of old-school wrestling titles where the focus is not on replicating what the fans see on TV every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday as realistically as possible, but on creating a gaming arcade experience. There are no detailed long entrances, matches do not last 20 minutes each, and everything is fast and snappy but still has a layer of modern animation. The design of AEW wrestlers is somewhat cartoonish, but not too much like in the case of WWE All Stars or the later WWE 2K Battlegrounds – and it somehow fits.
“The biggest improvement is certainly the fast and snappier matches”
The control system takes some getting used to, especially if you’re coming from the WWE 2K games, and I have no complaints there, except that it took me a long time to get used to the two different ways of blocking and the somewhat weird button layout. Later I realized that controls were also “inspired” by the classic N64 game, and that’s cool. The biggest improvement is certainly the fast and snappier matches, which makes going through the Road to Elite career mode a lot more pleasant experience because you won’t have to watch your opponents kick out at two after five finishers in every single match. Really, how silly was it that even the opening matches in WWE 2K games always seem like they are the main event of WrestleMania? There is no such thing here – you will win but sometimes lose matches in a much shorter time, and depending on the outcome, your path through the career will develop differently.
All the specifics of AEW as the company and as the show have been transferred to the game. The roster is quite up-to-date and full of both current male and female superstars, as well as some legends from the world of pro wrestling. There are also matches that we have only seen in AEW so far, such as Casino Battle Royale and even that crazy Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match, all with a spoof of that time when the explosion didn’t go as planned. Also, inter-gender matches are also possible, just like in the old games. AEW still does not mix genders in its matches on TV like, for example, the more progressive IMPACT wrestling, but complete equality has been established in the game, where men and women can fight equally. I mean, it’s not a competitive sport, plus, it’s a game, all wrestlers are strong like superheroes, so why can’t they duke it out without weight and gender limits? Exactly. So kudos to AEW for not imposing the same boring limitations as WWE does.
Really, Fight Forever is a true love letter to all AEW fans who have been waiting for this title for so long, following the rise of this promotion which no one can dispute. However, not everything is perfect, even without 2K developers messing with the code, Yuke’s managed to create a bit of glitch comedy in the launch version of the game, which should have been fixed by now with a couple of patches. Another thing that can only be criticized when we view Fight Forever from the point of modern games is that it seems a bit bare-bones.
“After you finish Road to Elite and unlock all the hidden characters – there’s not that much else to do.”
In the age of Nintendo 64 and the first PlayStation, the number of wrestlers, arenas, and features in the game would have been more than enough. After decades of 2K wrestling games, fans simply expect more complex create-a-wrestler features, management, universe modes and whatnot – and that’s where Fight Forever barely gets a pass. If you don’t plan to play it in co-op with your wrestling buddies, after you finish Road to Elite and unlock all the hidden characters – there’s not that much else to do in the game aside from those silly Mario Party knock-off mini-games. The announced DLC packs will only bring a few more wrestlers, and that’s it. It remains to be seen how THQ, Yuke’s, and AEW will handle this game later, whether we will get more DLC and patches, or if they plan to make this an annual franchise, is currently unknown.
If you remember the times when you didn’t even need to be a wrestling fan to enjoy the super fun WWF, WCW, and ECW games on game consoles at the turn of the millennium – this one is for you, and of course, today’s AEW fans – let’s just hope that we won’t have to “Fight Forever” in this game, as this should definitely be a series.
AEW Fight Forever
- Quick and snappy matches
- Fantastic retro gameplay
- Transitional animations are very well done
- Creative modes are underwhelming
- Not much to do after you finish career
- Where is AEW Collision?
Reviewed on PlayStation 5.