t’s crazy because when AEW was announced I found myself craving an alternative to WWE TV. Fast forward a few years and I had that same level of excitement when AEW announced its first video game, AEW Fight Forever. That excitement was amplified when I found out that Yukes and Hideyuki Iwashita was leading the project. These are the same minds that made the classic WWF No Mercy. So does this game provide that old-school fun that has been missing in wrestling games? Is AEW Fight Forever a good wrestling game alternative that is worth adding to your video game backlog?
Let’s dive into it.
AEW Fight Forever release on June 29th, 2023. I was provided with an early review code (Shoutout and thank you to THQ Nordic). You can play this wrasslin game on the PS5, Ps4, Switch, PC, Xbox one, and Xbox Series S and X.
Besides the exhibition matches, there are two other modes in Aew Fight Forever, Online matchmaking and Road to Elite. While I didn’t get to try out the Online Matchmaking program release, I did dive deep into Road to Elite.
The Road to Elite is AEW Fight Forever’s career mode. You play as a superstar during AEW’s first year. You relive some of AEW standout historical moments, as well as create your own. A part of managing your superstar is building their stats, buff, and going through the 1-year story. While the effort to provide a story is appreciated, unfortunately, nothing in the mode feels like a great original story. It would have been great to see a meaningful long story play out.
The purpose behind this game was to provide an arcade-like alternative to the WWE 2K simulation direction. I’m happy to report that Yuke nailed the gameplay. I had a really good time playing this game. The game has a real pick-up and play factor that has been missing in Wrestling games for decades. It’s always been hard to hand a friend a controller to play WWE 2k because the learning curve is steep. That’s not the case with AEW Fight Forever. The controls are simple enough that I can teach a friend how to play and have a competitive match in 10 minutes.
Veteran WWE 2K players are going to have a bit of a challenging time adapting to the differences in the controls here. On Xbox, you counter strikes using RB and counter grapples using LB. You using the right analog stick to execute your finishing moves. Grappling and strikes in comparison are simple.
It does seem like the game goes out of its way to be different. The entrances are short and just show the wrestler on the top of the ramp. You can control what type of pyro goes off during everyone’s entrance. To kick out or resist tapping out is retro as well. You basically push the face buttons down as much as you can to will your superstar onwards. The three match types that are different than what you’d get with WWE2k is the Exploding Barbed Wire Death March, Intergender matches, and the Casino Battle Royal. While all these matches have their pros, they aren’t enough to overshadow the matches that we are missing like First Blood, Steel Cage, War Games/Blood and Guts, Tables, and the Submission Match.
While I did run into a few glitches involving the ring, I will say that this game feels well-polished gameplay-wise. I didn’t experience any game-breaking bugs, freezes, or crashes. We for sure couldn’t say that about WWE 2k20. Someone should be brought up on charges for putting out that mess.
Another pro of AEW Fight Forever is the music. The soundtrack for the game is a solid mixture of different genres which is traditional for Wrestling games. The pleasant surprise is that a fair amount of songs were performed by AEW talent, like Platinum Max (from the Acclaimed), Sonny Kiss, Austin Gunn, and Swerve Strickland.
A major flaw of AEW Fight Forever is that everything outside of the in-ring action feels like is it at the beginning stages. For example, the online mode is just matching making. Over the years in Wrestling games, we’ve had the ability to download the creations of other people (Superstars, belts, arena, and more), but all that is absent in this game. If you want to see a created wrestler in this game then you’ll have to do the dirty work and create them yourself.
That brings me to another issue with the creation capabilities. The creation suite in the game is sorely lacking as it only offers the very basics. You get A barebones selection of clothing items and character models. With the clothing items you can’t even customize them with logos, change the materials of the items, or even change the colors of many of the items. Sadly the options are just as scarce when it comes to editing your wrestler’s physical appearance. The creation suite is simply abysmal. There is a lack of player-focused features in the game. When editing a moveset in WWE 2K22, the moves are neatly categorized. It’s easy to find suplexes, top rope diving moves, submissions and etc. In AEW Fight Forever all the moves are just thrown in one list. To make matters worse you can’t even scroll to a certain alphabet letter like you can in the other game if you are looking for a certain move like a German suplexes.
Another aspect of the game that most will find lacking is the game modes. There simply isn’t enough of them. The 2K games offer a Universe mode where you can control all aspects of the WWE, an online Factions mode (Which is a microtransaction-filled card collecting mode), or even a GM-type of mode. This game made a huge gamble by relying on Exhibition, online, and its Road to the Elite. Unfortunately, it feels like the result of that gamble is a game that doesn’t provide a lot of reasons for gamers to invest their time into the game outside of a weekend.
My final gripe with the game is that at launch there are tons of AEW wrestlers missing from the lineup. Here are some glaring omissions: The Acclaimed, FTR, LAX, Jake Hager, Evil Uno, Hook, Red Velvet, Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, Swerve Strickland, Keith Lee, The Gunns, Layla Hirsch, Athena, Brody King, Buddy Matthew’s, etc… Some of you might be saying these guys are too new to be in the game well most of these wrestlers have been on AEW before Jeff Hardy, Bryan Danielson, and Adam Cole (Bay Bay). Some of you might be saying “Well some of these people aren’t in AEW anymore” For that comment, I’ll push back and say that Cody Rhodes is in this game and is living his best life in WWE right now. So all this info tells us is that the roster selection is weird. I get that we have 50 Wrestlers in the game at launch, but it still feels like too many are missing.
Overall/Should You Play AEW Fight Forever:
Yes, especially if you are craving a modern-day take of No Mercy or an arcade Wrestling game. While this game feels halfway cooked and has many flaws as I listed previously, it’s still one of the most fun wrestling games that I’ve played in a long time. AEW Fight Forever is a solid first attempt and proof of concept. It just needs a bit more padding to reach its World Championship potential.
Where should AEW Fight Forever fit in your video game backlog list?
Here at the ProNerd Report and on the Single Player Experience Podcast, we practice the 10 games backlog rule. In this practice, you log down 10 games, those games are gonna be your video game backlog. To be as productive as you possibly can be, we recommend that you only play three games at one time. One single player narrative game, one game that’s gonna be your chill and relaxed game, and another game that’s going to be your palate cleanser game, which is a game that you play when you’re not in the mood for your other narrative. When you complete or get tired of one game, it leaves the backlog list. Then you decide which new game is added to the list, and which game on the list advances to your active three games.
AEW Fight Forever – Honestly, this game is the definition of a chill and relax sports game. It could be a solid pallet cleaner game, but it’s tailor-made to be a game you play when you just want to kill some time.
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