AEW Fight Forever has finally been released, providing wrestling fans everywhere with the first major alternative to the WWE 2K series since IMPACT! Wrestling stepped into the video gaming ring. This AEW Fight Forever review will detail what the game did right, what it gets wrong, and what to think about this debut effort.
Read More: AEW: Fight Forever CAW Formulas Index
AEW Fight Forever Review
Title: AEW: Fight Forever
Publisher: THQ Nordic, All Elite Wrestling
Genre: Sports, Wrestling, Fighting, Action
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation, Xbox
There’s no better place to start with a wrestling game then right here. One of the key appeals of Fight Forever has been the promise of a return to the arcade-y, action-packed style of older wrestling games like No Mercy as opposed to the simulation-heavy 2K games.
I have to say Yuke’s has pulled this off for the most part. The in-ring action flows really well, the combos feel impactful, high-flying moves hit with ease, and signature/finisher moves really feel like you’ve landed a fatal blow to your opponent. At higher difficulties, I did find some issues with grappling being a bit too delayed and opening me up to attacks, meaning my best course of action to win was to just hit triangle or square and repeat combos as opposed to using any grappling.
The gameplay peaks while using someone like Kenny Omega who has a number of signature and finishing moves so if you’re quick enough and skilled enough you can chain them together to obliterate any opponent. I’d dare argue that no wrestling game has ever got my adrenaline pumping quite like AEW when I was hitting a dragon suplex, into a V-Trigger, into a STRONGER V-Trigger, into the One Winged Angel. I truly felt unstoppable in those moments.
One other thing that I love is the music playing in the background of the match. It can’t be overstated just how much better this is than the alternative. The best part is you can select what songs will play in the menu/during the match so you can beat people up to some delightful AYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY’ing if you so please, and you bet that’s what I did!
The hardcore gameplay is also worthy of praise. Fight Forever has embraced the “blood & guts” reputation handed to them by a salty competitor and run with it. Not only do weapons do damage but they’re more dynamic than ever. Thumbtacks can leave a lasting impact on your opponents skin by drawing blood, exploding barbed wire will tear through your opponent’s health in seconds, skateboards have become a weapon, even the fire extinguisher is the most useful it has ever been.
No DQ matches in Fight Forever reminded me of my time playing Extreme Rules matches back on SmackDown vs Raw 2008, which at the time were the peak of brutality in a wrestling game. If there’s one thing I think AEW could really trademark in the gaming scene, it’s the fact it embraces and encourages senseless violence.
The only real downside I found to the actual in-ring gameplay is it can kind of fall apart in multi-person scenarios. The counter system and even the attacks just aren’t made for having so many bodies in the way. This especially impacts tag team matches where I find the AI is already quite weak and my tag partner basically never kicks out of a pinfall even if they have only just entered the match.
After a few days, the in-ring aspect does wear a bit thin from a single-player perspective, especially if you play through the Road to The Elite mode a bunch as you’ll basically be an expert with your chosen wrestler by the time that ends but there’s enough there for multiplayer and online matches to keep the game interesting.
AEW Fight Forever doesn’t go down the route of hyperrealism like most other sports sims and its a move I really appreciate. The entire vibe of the game just wouldn’t work with super-realistic models.
Some of the wrestler models look better than others and if there’s ever a follow-up release I hope there’s effort put into polishing the overall look of the wrestlers and the game as a whole. While Kenny Omega and Darby Allin look amazing, I don’t want to spend another second looking at wax figurine Nick Jackson if I have to.
One brave choice made in this game is a change to entrances. You don’t see the entirety of a wrestler’s entrance, instead, you get to control the set when they come out of the tunnel. This is a pretty cool move that separates Fight Forever from the pack as you can change camera angles, change pyro, and even pump in bubbles if you so please. This is another moment that CAN expose some of the weaker models but the better-looking wrestlers looked amazing up close and personal with pyro and a close-up camera.
Road to The Elite
Road to The Elite serves as the career mode for AEW: Fight Forever. It is an ambitious mode that aims to fit in stat management, RPG elements, collectables, and stories that change based on the results of matches. If pulled off properly this could have been a mode that truly set this game apart from the field but I find the execution didn’t match the ambition.
For starters, the RPG elements of improving your skills only come into play if you use a custom wrestler, but Road to The Elite only lasts 4 PPVs so you won’t have time to fully go on the journey from a newcomer with no abilities to a top wrestler with some maxed out stats.
When playing as an established wrestler you can’t improve their skills at all so the training and RPG elements fall by the wayside which I think hurts the experience a bit, it would be good to see inspiration taken from Smackdown vs Raw 2008 where you could choose to keep a wrestler’s starting overall or lower their stats for a different experience.
The changing story element is an interesting one and does offer some replayability but with only 3 paths per PPV to explore and there not being a clear way to go from one path to another I ended up replaying some of the stories over and over again, which grows tedious pretty quickly. Some matches also have no real impact on the story regardless of the result so you can just lose on Dynamite and it won’t really change the outcome all that much.
Playing through the same storylines a number of times wouldn’t be so bad if the game didn’t reuse assets for this mode. You’ll see the same animations over and over again for every angle with the same song playing in the background when something happens. Not only that, but you face the exact same people every time, I have faced Luchasaurus more times than I can count because of how often I fall into the Inner Circle story block.
One saving grace of Road to The Elite is definitely the interactions with other characters. I can see this being a big hit as you can interact with and take photos with basically every wrestler in the game and sometimes this can lead to incredibly funny interactions. Andrade telling me I need to get better at politicking stands out as one of my favourite moments.
I certainly don’t hate Road to The Elite but it definitely needs improvements to make it flow better and avoid tedious repetition. I am especially baffled at the lack of a women’s division exclusive career run, whether you pick a man or woman most of the storylines repeat themselves which is kind of disappointing. There are slight differences between the two but not enough for the women’s roster to really get much to do.
The biggest issue is that RttE is the only game mode of substance in Fight Forever. There’s no other mode to really flex your muscles and play through Dynamite, Rampage, Dark and PPVs so it being repetitive is a big blow to the game overall.
One thing I’ve wanted from WWE 2K in recent years is to trim the roster and give more attention to the wrestlers in the game. Fight Forever did this and has a relatively small roster that has left a number of wrestlers out of the game The roster could definitely have been a bit better as there’s some head-scratching omissions of wrestlers who would have been very fun to control while someone like Abadon, who has wrestled on television a handful of times since joining, is in the game.
Despite having a smaller roster I don’t feel like the wrestlers were all given the TLC they deserve. Some don’t look great and some are just kind of there, they aren’t fun to play or distinct in any way. If you’re going to have a smaller roster the least you can do is make them all distinct and great to play with.
Wrestling games often get a lengthy shelflife due to their creative options. Pro Wrestling is a wonderfully weird world and usually, wrestling games allow you to be as weirdly creative as you please. This is one area where AEW: Fight Forever is set to really lose out. The create a wrestler options are incredibly limited and the moveset area doesn’t even have basic quality-of-life features that make things easier to sort, instead of being able to search by the type of move you’re greeted with a list of hundreds of moves you have to make your way through.
The lack of any kind of Community Creation space is also a major downer as that has been a big part of 2K games for years now and even Sims players will recognise its importance. Instead of being able to download great creations made by others you’ll have to go through the process of making them step-by-step yourself.
AEW Fight Forever Review – Last Word on Gaming Viewpoint
AEW: Fight Forever is a solid first step into the gaming world for All Elite Wrestling. They’ve already got the gameplay down and have something they can expand on in future games to really make their mark. It is, however, a game that lacks any real depth and with the CAW options being so bare they’re going to be relying on multiplayer fun to carry the game’s momentum. With some minor improvements and polish they could make an exceptional follow-up but their first foray into gaming is merely a solid entry that will leave single-player users without much to do after a few days.