Game Review: AEW: Fight Forever

By Dom Smith
By June 28, 2023 Game, Reviews

AEW: Fight Forever might take some getting used to. It’s not bad, at all. It is really fun, but it’s…really different from what we’ve seen before in the world of wrestling video games.

The Controls

Since I conducted the below video review for Wrestlesphere, I’ve had more time with the game, I’ve actually started to win matches, and I’ve learned how to pick chairs and ladders up! Indeed, this feels like quite an achievement. The arcade controls, which have way more in common with THQ’s WWF No Mercy (2000) than any wrestling-themed game that has come since, might take you a while to master, depending on what you are into, and how you play.

The controls are easy by everyday standards, sure, but when you’re used to the fast-paced WWE 2K way of doing things, the slower, more repetitive, methodical (at times clunky) style of the mechanics might be a shock to the system, so to speak. It certainly has been the hardest thing to get used to for me. As with most things though, the more you play, the easier it gets.

The Gameplay

Ultimately, this game is a good one to pick up and play for many repeated rounds with your favourite AEW stars (mine have been Darby Allin and CM Punk).

The mini-games are silly but thoroughly entertaining overall as little bits of extra goodness, and the Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match option will give you the opportunity to actually create what the real one (featuring Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega from 2021) should have been – if I was to pick a particularly inventive highlight of the game after playing for a few hours, it would be this style of match, though AEW’s trademark Casino Battle Royale is an entertaining addition too.

Meanwhile, on Road To Elite, this game’s Career Mode, I will admit to chuckling more than once (inspired by present-day AEW drama) as I took a call from Tony Khan as One Bill Phil (Punk), to join AEW in its infancy, and make nice at a press conference with Matt and Nick Jackson before facing off with Hangman Adam Page. Ahhhh, wrestling is ridiculous at times! On that note, yes, WWE’s Cody Rhodes (who defected from AEW to WWE) is still in the game (unlockable for free in the More Items section of the in-game shop), and that is a cool tribute from The Bucks and Omega to their former fellow Executive Vice President.

Road To Elite is well done for the most part and is relatively short and easy to complete, with ways for your superstar to build momentum including workouts, sightseeing (which is different depending on which city you are in), and city-specific dining. You will also encounter more characters (like Paul Wight and Brodie Lee) as you go through the mode and interact with them which is a nice touch. That said, the story doesn’t vary very much between different characters (for example, you’ll team with Hangman as Punk in the first part of the Mode [against Scorpio and Cassidy], and you’ll team with Malakai as Darby), but the general format and dialogue remains (mostly) the same between playthroughs, which is a little disappointing. It would have been nice to see a few character-specific storylines (aside from being asked to join different factions – Inner Circle for Darby, and Death Triangle for CM Punk) packed in there, though I do get there are time constraints and major complications with that type of work.

I had a go in Road To Elite as Abadon (pronouns: they/them), and they are dressed like a zombie while in the gym and chatting to Tony Khan on the phone, so it kinda lost me from the start. They’re a living dead zombie thing, let’s either see that or the person that plays the character (Monica Beadnell) in the gym. I will give the game props for including “let’s out a frightening shriek” and “questioning growl” in the dialogue boxes (which is character-specific, but not consistent). I will also say here that the Women’s Road To Elite is a tad more interesting (for me at least) than the Men’s – you can win the Women’s Title in your first match, and later you can JOIN THE DARK ORDER! So, yeah. That’s a win for me!

The Conclusion

To conclude, AEW: Fight Forever’s great strength, unlike other games that have come and gone, is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The developers are inviting you in on the fun they had when they envisioned this. If, in turn, you (as the player) take this game at face value, and take it in with a playful enthusiasm, it will keep your interest.

Developers Yuke’s along with publishers THQ Nordic have done a solid job with this first effort for All Elite Wrestling. It was never trying to be as polished as WWE’s yearly efforts, and that’s where the charm lies. This is the old-school of wrestling games, taking us back to the 90s (and 2000s), and the style that AEW EVP Kenny Omega adores so much.

This game is not always pretty, and it’s a little rough around the edges (see poor Eddie Kingston’s model), but just like AEW’s weekly programming, Fight Forever is likely to bring back lapsed wrestling fans into the gaming world with its welcome departure from what we have come to expect as the standard.

Overall Grade: 4/5