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Streampunk Game Reviews – AEW Fight Forever

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Systems: PS5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC

Tagline: AEW Fight Forever – A wrestling game with the pedigree of the Hart Family, but did they get Bret Hart, or Davey Boy Smith Jr?


The first attempt for AEW in the video game market. From the beginning they set out to make a game that hearkened back to the days of WWE No Mercy and Wrestlemania 2000 for the N64, but for current generations of systems. Like how AEW first announced their new organization to challenge the status quo of WWE and Impact in the ring, AEW Fight Forever was announced with many promises and a lot of fanfare. Did the game itself follow through those lofty goals? Let’s climb through the ropes and find out!


Some background on the game itself first. AEW Fight Forever is the first foray into the video game ring for All Elite Wrestling. When announced by Kenny Omega back in 2020, it was the height of the pandemic, and it came with a lot of hype as only Omega can deliver. The promise from the start was that they wanted to deliver a game that was a call back to the old N64 days of wrestling games like No Mercy, Wrestlemania 2000, and Wcw/NWO World Tour, all of which drew in a generation of video gamers and were the source of countless hours of playtime and enough create-a-wrestlers to found their own federation. So, as such, people were hyped beyond belief, with it growing even more with the announcement of Yuke’s being the main developers behind the game, and THQ Nordic publishing. Yuke’s has been a longtime developer of wrestling games for WWE, whose contract ended back in 2018, who basically spearheaded the wrestling video game successes of the Smackdown series on the Playstation. THQ Nordic, or at least their past incarnations as THQ, also had a strong wrestling game background, as they were the company responsible for arguably one of the greatest wrestling games to ever exist in WWF No Mercy. So with a pedigree such as this, fans of wrestling games were hyped quite a bit as to what could be with AEW Fight Forever.

The gameplay itself is that of an arcade style wrestling game with similarities to that of the N64 wrestling games. The moves are straightforward with each button corresponding to a move type (punch, kick, grapple, etc), with variance given to which direction is pressed when a button command is given. There is a momentum meter similar to that of the N64 games as well, with signature moves coming about when the meter reaches a certain point, and finishers able to come out when a taunt is activated at the max momentum. Move your character (and opponent) to the appropriate spot, press the button, and your wrestler performs the move. Beat your opponent down hard enough, and secure a pinfall victory. Like with any wrestling game, players can win via pinfall, submission, count out, or whatever the particular mode requires.

The game has multiple modes of play ranging from simple 1 vs 1 matches and tag matches to Ladder matches, cage matches, etc, to some AEW-specific main event matches such as the Casino Battle Royal and the Barbed Wire Death Match (complete with anticlimax explosion potential!). These gameplay modes are available in exhibition modes as well as an online mode, which AEW hyped up given they have many online competitive gamers on their roster like Omega, Adam Cole (BAY BAY), and Miro. There is also a “Road to Elite” career mode where you can play as an existing AEW superstar such as Chris Jericho or Kenny Omega through a series of matches as you follow along a storyline, but the aspect that AEW heavily promoted was the career mode using a custom Create-A-Wrestler. In fact, they pushed this mode so heavily that there is a challenge/achievement to create 100 characters and run each of them through the mode! In addition to that, one could also create factions and arenas too. To round it all out, there are also mini-games, challenges and a shop to spend in game currency in to unlock additional wrestlers, moves, arena parts, and more.

The presentation of the game definitely was geared to resemble the older games, so the game went with a more cartoony path in terms of character models and animations. The game provides an initial roster of 52 characters with some additional ones as Day 1 DLC such as Matt Hardy and FTR, along with the promise of more coming as DLC such as Danhausen and Hook in future packs. Sadly, some AEW mainstays from the earlier days of AEW are not present anymore, such as Toni Storm and the jobber Librarians, which is unfortunate. AEW revealed a big roster addition though, as the game includes the late Owen Hart in his first official game appearance since the WWF games of the late 90s and Legends of Wrestling in 2004. The game is also hit or miss on the entrance themes. While they have some well known themes, like the Hardyz theme or Cult of Personality for CM Punk, many of which are remakes or slightly modified to avoid falling into licensing copyright issues, such as a remake of Ruby Soho’s theme originally by Rancid. More surprising is the lack of Fozzy songs for Chris Jericho given he’s one of the main figures of AEW (in addition to the rights are owned by Jericho himself, but I digress). The moves and animations are all very exaggerated, which given the intended style, works well. There is also a lack of mid-match voiceovers for better or worse. This also hearkens back to the older games, with the only voices in AEW: FF being pre and post match, and when explaining aspects of the game in tutorial blurbs.

The Create-A Wrestler mode also shows shades of classic wrestling games like No Mercy, but is heavily tied to the Road to Elite mode. Stats are initially determined by the archetype of wrestler that you pick for the character, such as Heavyweight, Cruiserweight, Technical, etc, and the game encourages the player to choose moves that fit said archetype. Is there anything restricting your 4 foot walking stick from having nothing but heavy slam attacks though? No. Build your character how you want, but be aware that weight class does determine if a character can lift super heavyweights like Paul Wright. The mode is also hit or miss in the variety of moves available for the characters, feeling rather light and limited in some departments. While it is nice the number of different positionings has been pruned down from the WWE 2K games, the number of choices of moves within a position is limited in many instances, which is a shame even when compared to the sheer number of move options found in the older games like No Mercy. The costume options and entrances are also severely limited, even when compared to the older games. So there is definitely room for growth in the create department, which is a shame given how hyped it was. New characters also start out with no perks or special tactics with the game requiring a character to run through Road to Elite to gain skill points to unlock additional signature and special slots. So if you like to create tons of wrestlers from scratch, expect to have to drop a lot of time running each of them through a decent length career mode to get them up to a level where they can hold their own against rostered superstars.

The controls of the game feel similar to that of the older games, for better and for worse. It’s nice to have a simplified move set at times compared to the hyper-specific, 5 million different situation move list of the WWE 2K series, but at times it may feel a little too simple as it was billed as the next evolution for that older style. The game itself also feels a bit laggy at times, and the hit detection can occasionally be off. This was surprising given how No Mercy was kinda the exact opposite, where most moves defaulted to hitting if it were reasonably close. So, expect to grab, punch, and kick a lot of air where you would think it would connect. The running and movement can also be a little bit frustrating, as trying to get around a fallen opponent, or an item, or even a standing teammate can feel like an effort in futility. With how smooth No Mercy or even newer similar style games that came out later like Def Jam Vendetta are, it was a bit of a disappointment to have so many issues control wise.

So, if you’ve survived that wall of text, let’s get into some ratings. I’ll break it down into five main categories.

Overall Content: 7.5/10 – The game has a good sized roster and plenty of game modes to choose from that are both commonplace in wrestling games, as well as a couple unique match types only found in AEW. The mini games are entertaining enough, but definitely not something to focus on. The create modes are nice, and it’s quite enjoyable to create a ton of characters, but due to the limited number of available moves in each category and the career mode requirement to make them viable, it felt underwhelming in the execution. Still, for what they have in terms of being able to just pick up and play your favorite AEW superstar and smack up your opponents in a variety of different matches arcade style, the game succeeds in that goal.

Gameplay & Controls: 5/10 – The gameplay is definitely nostalgic, and I enjoyed slamming my opponents all around the arena quite a bit. The simplified controls were welcome for sure. I also loved how smooth and heavy the moves felt but it was marred by the somewhat weak detection and some maneuverability issues. Game devs also need to realize that being stuck in a 1v3 non-stop move gauntlet against AI all allowed in the ring at once (even when the rules state there is DQ) with no chance to counter or do anything is NOT good gameplay, nor is it fun (even when coming out victorious, but this is a more personal complaint than anything else). There was also the issue where it was difficult to see which opponent you are targeting in the larger matches. The limitations of that older style do show a bit, and after this much time, many of these issues should have been ironed out by now. When the moves did work as intended, it did have a quick and smooth feel to them, and that led to some high-action matches. So, while certainly it’s playable and enjoyable definitely an area of improvement and needs polish.

Graphics and Visual Presentation: 8/10 – The game was advertised as being a classic-style arcade wrestling game a la No Mercy, and the art style definitely accentuates that pledge. The cartoony characters, flamboyant animations, and on-slam camera shakes and replays definitely hit the intended mark. It isn’t the detailed style of the WWE 2K games, nor did it intend to be, so those looking for something like that will be disappointed. But as stated, the art style suits the game quite well.

Sound and Music: 8/10 – Game sounds good overall. Sadly, many of the wrestler themes had to be adjusted due to licensing and copyright issues though, which is a bit disappointing. On the bright side, it does include a lot of tracks done by many AEW wrestlers

Replayability & Fun: 7.25/10 – It is definitely made to just pick up and play, and certainly fills the role of an arcade-style wrestling game. The career mode has a few branches and definitely allows for multiple playthroughs, especially given that there are snapshots and events to find as you go along. Also, even in this barebones form, the game’s create modes do allow for a few unique character designs. I do appreciate how they included an option to have a historically accurate Barbed Wire Death Match to go along with the intended mass explosion. Bonus points for an organization that can make fun of itself.

Overall Grade: 35.75/50 = 71.5/100 = C-

Even with the limitations in certain modes, the game is still fun at a base level. It did bring back some nostalgia feelings in the matches, and for a first attempt at a game, it’s not bad. However, that being said, they aimed for something like No Mercy, and they hit WCW/NWO World Tour. That’s fine for a first effort, but given the pedigree of those behind it and the hype it was given, one would not be remiss for feeling that it could have been better. However, there is certainly potential there, and they did say more modes and whatnot will be added in the future, so hopefully the game will eventually be tuned up a bit with updates to improve the limitations and issues as it goes along. However, right now it sits as a C- on release, with potential improvements promised on the horizon.

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