AEW: Fight Forever Review
Extra Features: Local (2-4) and Online (2-4) Multiplayer/Co-op, Leaderboards, Add-On Content
Within the past few years, I’ve become a big fan of wrestling games. They are just overall fun to play and I enjoy the customization options for created wrestlers. My earliest wrestling game was WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game and I never did play the N64 wrestling games. With newer wrestling games, I started around the time of the Smackdown vs Raw games and became more heavily involved around the time of WWE 2K19. After so many years of WWE having nearly the only wrestling games on the market, it’s good to see another brand step up to challenge them. AEW Fight Forever is a professional wrestling game developed by Yukes (former WWE games developer) and published by THQ Nordic. Fight Forever is said to be the spiritual successor to WWF No Mercy.
I honestly don’t know how Fight Forever compares to No Mercy, but it definitely has a unique style that is quite different from the WWE games. Fight Forever plays more like a fighting game. The gameplay is much simpler and it has parry moves in it that make it much more fun when played with competition. You have your punch and kick buttons along with a grab and run button. The two bumper buttons serve as counter/block buttons for attacks and grabs. Using them normally will block an attack and pressing them at the time just before the attack will counter the move.
There are a total of 48 wrestlers from the start with around 3 unlockable wrestlers. The roster is comprised of current wrestlers and wrestlers that have moved on – such as Cody Rhodes, who is on WWE now. Each wrestler has their own unique stats, skills, signatures and finishers. Just like WWE games, you can create your own wrestler and have limited customization of established wrestlers. Created wrestlers in Fight Forever have much less customizable options than WWE. Accessories are much more limited and so is the overall look of the wrestler. You can customize male and female wrestlers. Unlike WWE, male and female wrestlers can fight each other in Fight Forever. This is very understandable considering the default roster has only 11 women in it.
The game’s main single player mode is Road to Elite. This mode takes you through several weeks of AEW programs. It’s quite an interesting mode overall. In between matches, you must tend to your wrestler’s condition. You can engage in different activities that give you stamina, upgrade points and money. You can also increase your wrestler’s motivation with some activities. Training at the gym will give you upgrade points but if you don’t keep your stamina up, your wrestler can suffer injuries which need to be taken care of by visiting a hospital. You are given a total of four turns after every match in order to choose options for your wrestler before beginning your next match. There are also extra matches that can be played during your turns. Some events can lead to extra events where you’ll meet up with another wrestler and be given bonuses such as extra upgrade points.
Road to Elite is a good idea, but it needs more to it. The mode is overall too short and repetitive. You can begin the mode with an established wrestler or a created wrestler. This mode is the only way to increase your created wrestler’s status and skills. The upgrade points earned in the mode allow you to upgrade your created wrestler. There is honestly little reason to use an established wrestler since you can’t change their stats. All upgrade points that you earn are nearly useless with an established wrestler. The game will automatically convert all upgrade points and everything else gained into in-game currency for unlocking bonuses in other modes once your playthrough ends.
The game has a set of minigames that you play both in and outside of Road to Elite. Some examples are gathering chips in a ring, taking quizzes, pressing certain buttons as they appear along a grid while being timed, and there are several others. Many of these have little to do with wrestling, but they are very fun to play. It’s a shame that there are no online options for minigames. Each minigame is available for up to four players with local play only. If anything, they are good for “stupid fun” even though the majority of them make little sense.
For match types (besides the minigames), the game has your standard 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 along with 3-Way and 4-Way matches. There is a Casino Battle Royal (basically a Royal Rumble), Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match, Ladder Match, and there is a Training mode. Most of these are just your standard modes that you’ll find in any WWE games. The Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match is a match where the ring has explosive barbed wire on its ropes. The entire ring explodes after 120 seconds, damaging both wrestlers – the wrestler closest to the ropes receives the most damage. It’s literally as ridiculous as it sounds, but it is a lot of fun. Exploding Barbed Wire Match is the only match type where you can draw blood from your opponent.
It’s nice to see that the game has a dedicated training mode. You can try out whatever you want in the training mode and get the CPU to perform certain actions to test moves on them. It’s not completely the level of a fighting game training mode, but it’s a lot better than WWE game’s hidden training mode. It would be nice to have some sort of tutorial that teaches you better timing for the game’s counters. The majority of the controls for the game are taught through tutorials in Road to Elite.
Fight Forever has a graphics style similar to WWE 2K Battlegrounds, but with more realistic wrestlers compared to Battlegrounds. The style actually works well for Fight Forever. The faces are actually well done. Cody Rhodes is in Fight Forever as well as WWE 2K23 and his face noticeably looks better in his Fight Forever appearance. The only problem I have with the presentation is that the overall animations could look smoother.
The game has both ranked and casual matches. Both online services allow up to 4 player matches. Just about every mode can be played online except for the minigames. If it wasn’t for some unbalanced roster characters (Kenny Omega) and the inclusion of created wrestlers in online matches, this game could be somewhat competitive like a fighting game in ranked matches. The developers should really limit players to only the main cast in ranked or maybe have some sort of ranked mode for only created characters since the created characters break the balance and they basically are the meta since you can give them all the good stats and skills.
Despite its problems, AEW: Fight Forever is a good start for an AEW game. It’s really nice to see WWE finally have some more competition. Let’s hope that the developers can address some of the problems in a future update and add some more content to the game in the months ahead. As it stands, the game is mainly only good for online or couch co-op with a friend. The Road to Elite single player mode is way too short and repetitive to hold up for long. The game has a better feel to it online when compared to a WWE game, so it has it beat on that. If you want a good single player experience however, WWE games far outweigh Fight Forever with content and just overall things to do.
+ The gameplay is overall fun and simple (sort of like a fighting game)
+ Matches are more fun to play online compared to WWE games
+ The minigames are fun
- Overall lack of content compared to WWE games
- Created Wrestlers are very limited in customizable appearance options
- Ranked matches should have more balance (no created wrestlers)
Final Rating: 60% - AEW Fight Forever is a good start to this franchise, but it’s lacking when compared to WWE games.
Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.