When AEW Fight Forever was announced in November 2020, it couldn’t have come at a better time. WWE 2K20 was an absolute disaster. This was primarily due to the departure of long-time WWE video game development team Yuke’s.
So it came to little surprise when it was also announced that Yuke’s would be the development team behind AEW Fight Forever. As a lifelong pro wrestling fan, I was ecstatic that not only were we getting a new pro wrestling video game from and up & coming promotion but it will also be developed by an experienced team who know a thing or two about creating pro wrestling video games.
AEW’s EVP Kenny Omega has had a substantial role in the development of AEW Fight Forever.
Last year he said the goal was to re-create the beloved No Mercy and WCW VS NWO N64 video game arcade control scheme and gameplay in a modern game. They even brought in No Mercy and Def Jam Vendetta director Hideyuki “Geta” Iwashita to direct AEW Fight Forever.
AEW Fight Forever’s art style is more on the cartoonish side but not to the point of being comical or overly exaggerated like WWE 2K Battlegrounds which, unlike WWE 2K23 focusing on more on photo-realistic models. As expected, some wrestlers look better than others in terms of character models but overall each wrestler’s model is well-proportioned to resemble their real-life counterparts.
Each wrestler has a key portion of their entrance portrayed but the full entrances aren’t accounted for. For example, Malakai Black will appear sitting on the ramp in a dark arena with a spotlight on him while Adam Cole will start his entrance in the ring and have him do his “ADAM COLE BAY BAY” motion along with crowd participation just like on TV.
However, there is a noticeable exclusion which is color commentary. So no Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, or Excalibur calling the action. Instead, you will hear music playing during the match along with the occasional grunts or signature lines such as Matt Hardy saying “Delete” as a taunt.
The Arena also has a similar art style which complements the wrestlers and really makes the game look unique.
Upon boot up, you’ll watch a video montage about AEW (which is skippable) and then be thrown into the game’s menu displaying the 9 game modes which include the following:
- 1-on-1, Normal, Lights Out, and Falls Count Anywhere
- 3-Way Match
- 4-Way Match
- Casino Battle Royale
- Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match
- Ladder Match
As you can see, this is a good amount of match types, but as a fan of AEW, I did notice one match type missing that is prominent on AEW programming which is the Trios match. Unfortunately, AEW Fight Forever can only have 4 wrestlers at a time in the ring which instantly voids out a trios match. This also applies to the Casino Battle Royale. This limitation is a bummer but not a deal breaker and I’m sure the match type will appear in a future release.
Now if you’ve played a pro wrestling game (and I’m sure you have) this list of game modes looks pretty usual with the exception of the last one, “Minigames”. Yes, the early screenshots of coins falling from the sky to the ring as wrestling scramble to pick them up are real along with others. This might not be for everyone and some may regard them as filler content but I will NEVER complain about additional/obscure content.
I actually enjoyed the trivia game in which you have to pick the correct answer to AEW trivia questions. My question is will this minigame receive updates in the form of new questions? We already know they plan on expanding the list of minigames overtime via the season pass. It’s worth mentioning these minigames also appear in the Road to Elite career mode.
As mentioned, Kenny Omega had a particular style of gameplay in mind and for the most part AEW Fight Forever nailed it. Simply press (A) to grapple, and (X and Y) to perform punches and kicks. The longer that you press the button, the stronger the attacks become. Also pressing in different directions performs additional moves. (B) is to run (LB and RB) to counter or block attacks and (LB) to pin a downed opponent and (RB) to pick up pulled up a downed opponent to a standing position. (L Pressing (LT) gets you in and out of the ring.
There are plenty more controls but as you can see it’s pretty simple to pick up & play which is great. However, the main complaint has to be with the collision detection and movement animations. More often than not you will be attacking or attempting a grapple with an opponent right in front of you, yet the wrestler is unable to connect. This occurs in every match.
This can be extremely frustrating when doing a casino battle royale. Even with the limited number of wrestlers in the ring, you will find your wrestler auto-switching to a different target. For example, I was performing a series of strikes on an opponent, and for no reason, my wrestler turned around and began attacking another wrestler. Hopefully, theses bugs can be ironed out via patches but as of this writing on launch day it’s very much a concern.
Road To Elite career mode allows you to pick a current wrestler or create your own. The creation suite is not as vast as WWE 2K23 nor does it have a CAW community share center but it does offer plenty of variants which can be expanded by purchasing additional items using the in-game currency.
Winning matches and completing challenges are key ways to earn in-game money to purchase a variety of items for your custom wrestler, alternate attire for your AEW wrestlers, or even additional wrestlers such as Cody Rhodes. From the main menu, you will see a tab for challenges which will display what’s available and how much you will get for completion. You can complete these in any match type unless it’s match-specific.
AEW Fight Forever is a solid first impression. It’s given us a damn fun deathmatch mode which also includes “holy s**t” chants besides the blood and over-the-top explosions. You can also perform mix gender matches and put a title on the line. There is also a “teams” tab when selecting your wrestler which is fantastic and something I have been asking for in the WWE 2K series.
Yes, the game has a few rough spots and the career mode feels dated in regards to the side activities which are all text-based and not voice-acted. Despite these things, AEW Fight Forever is a fun pickup and play arcade stylized wrestling game and that was its ultimate goal.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of AEW Fight Forever for the Xbox Series X provided by THQ Nordic.