AEW Fight Forever Review
AEW Fight Forever from THQ Nordic and Yuke’s is finally here and is the up-and-coming superstar that’s set to challenge the throne long-occupied by the WWE 2K series. With a roster made of veteran wrestlers such as Kenny Omega and Sting combined with many WWE veterans such as CM Punk and Chris Jericho, all it needs is to execute.
Unlike its WWE 2K counterpart, AEW Fight Forever touts the return of the arcade-style wrestler seen from the late 90s and early 20s fare such as the WWE Smackdown vs Raw titles, which are also coincidentally developed by Yuke’s.
With a myriad of gameplay options, including the Road to Elite story mode, there’s much to experience with AEW Fight Forever. But can it successfully wrestle the throne away from the reigning champ?
Get in the Ring!
Immediately, AEW Fight Forever brings the classic arcade wrestler feel to the forefront where you’re thrown into the fray mashing buttons to get into the action. It brings back nostalgia with the classic arcade style, especially when you start playing multiplayer either by couch co-op or online play.
You can play against up to 4 players on different modes including the exciting battle royale mode, where the last one in the ring wins when they run out of wrestlers to throw at you. The ease of playability allows even the most casual player to get in the ring, given that attacks are pretty straightforward and there’s not much in the way of learning complicated movements that get in the way of the fun.
Every featured wrestler in AEW Fight Forever has their signature moves and taunts, and by building their bar, will be able to perform them with ease. These signature maneuvers are some of the biggest highlights in the game and are recreated as faithfully as possible despite some of the character models looking rather stiff and janky. Despite that, animations and moves are well translated and register well while playing the game.
As the novelty wanes, much of what made AEW Fight Forever fun during the arcade mode starts to show its seams. The ease of playability will give way to unresponsive controls that make precision moves such as counters difficult to land. While it isn’t noticeable during one-on-one matches, things tend to get really awkward the moment you get into the battle royale with multiple fighters.
There could’ve been more fun to be had with a massive pool of wrestlers duking it out, so initially, I felt it was a missed opportunity to allow for more than 4 wrestlers in the ring, When I think about it, it’s also a good thing that they didn’t allow this because much of the questionable design choices and unresponsive controls rear its ugly head when you’re fighting more than one wrestler.
Movement becomes awkward and targeting is a bit of a pain. When a wrestler gets in between you and your target, the target automatically switches to the other wrestler, which can be annoying during crucial moments in the match. Add on the unresponsive controls and AEW Fight Forever becomes a frustrating experience. While fans could easily overlook this, more casual fans such as myself could easily write it off.
As with most, if not all wrestling games, AEW Fight Forever also sports a customization suite that allows players to build their own wrestler or even construct an arena. This is nothing to write home about, as options are very limited, and coming from something like the WWE series, we’ve clearly been spoilt with choice.
Visually, the game also looks a little rough, with framerate issues and awkward character models. A few more months of polishing the visuals and balancing the controls could’ve made the title look, feel, and move better. They already have nostalgia and novelty on their side, so a few more improvements would’ve taken it home.
The Road to Elite is Paved with Sightseeing and Restaurants
AEW Fight Forever‘s Road to Elite story mode is a great way to get oriented to the world of All Elite Wrestling as well as the many gameplay options as you build your own legend or follow an existing superstar to become part of the pantheon of AEW greats.
Just like many of the story modes in sports games, it’s a way to receive a proper tutorial and get invested with your wrestler of choice. Each mode is divided into turns until your title match, be it a Battle Royale or a Cage Fight, and you can use your turns to improve your energy, motivation, healing from injury, and training to learn moves.
You will earn cash to purchase extras as well as points to learn moves. Selected wrestlers aren’t able to learn new moves, but you can still take part in the available activities per city. It’s a pretty entertaining way of passing the time and improving your wrestler’s stats before the next round.
If you didn’t like the actual gameplay loop, none of the quirky side missions will change the rough gameplay. If you’re a fan of the franchise, encountering other wrestlers during your travels can be an added bonus, but there’s not enough meat to the bones in this mode.
AEW Fight Forever also features some inconsistencies when it comes to voice acting. Most of the story is told through text with inconsistent voice acting that sporadically enters now and then, usually from Tony Khan. With wrestlers like Kenny Omega in the mix, it’s almost a crime to not hear their voices narrate through the events of the mode, further proof that the mode feels like it wasn’t fully realized.
The biggest issue I had with this mode is it feels tacked on and unfinished. There could’ve been an opportunity to give every wrestler a backstory, but they follow only one actual Road to Elite story. It would make more sense if the mode was made specifically for your custom wrestler as established wrestlers cannot learn new techniques; which makes this a strange creative decision to include all the wrestlers.
What We Liked
- The Road to Elite story mode provides a nice distraction and tutorial for casual fans.
- A fun arcade wrestler that has a lot of potential as the franchise continues to grow.
What We Didn’t Like
- Control response times may vary, which is annoying for more precision-based moves such as counters.
- Road to Elite only features one story, which feels like a missed opportunity to give other wrestlers a backstory.
- Awkward movement animations combined with awkward controls make it difficult to tell where you’re aiming and what you’re doing.
- Uneven visuals and strange design choices make AEW Fight Forever feel unfinished
Verdict: Wait For It…
There is a lot of potential for AEW Fight Forever, as it provides variety and an alternative to WWE 2K’s quasi-monopoly for wrestling games. It hearkens back to classic arcade-style wrestling titles, which brings back some nostalgia; however, it will take a little more than nostalgia to provide a fun and lasting experience.
Due to many performance issues and awkward design choices, we cannot completely recommend AEW Fight Forever as a Day 1 purchase. However, there are quite a few fun ideas that they have so that it doesn’t feel like a complete write-off; namely, the Road to Elite story mode has the potential to be a fun story mode moving forward should the developers continue to support it.
*AEW Fight Forever was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.