RADICAN’S TAKE: My early impressions of the AEW Fight Forever videogame

By Sean Radican, PWTorch columnist (Twitter: @SR_Torch)


AEW Fight Forever is finally out on all major consoles. It has been three years in the making and the anticipation of wrestling fans for an alternate to the WWE 2K series has been high. My anticipation for this game was high because it became known from the outset that AEW EVP Kenny Omega was involved hands on in the making of the game and right from the outset I had heard AEW was looking to make a game similar to the games on the N64 with the AKI wrestling system. 

While playing through the game on PS5, it is disappointing to see how bare bones it is. There are no cage matches, no tag team ladder matches, and in general there’s a shortage of match types nad other features. 

The create-a-wrestler menu is bare bones. There’s nowhere close to the number of options and ability to make modifications to facial expressions, hair, body type, and other features compared to what the WWE 2K series offers each year. There’s also no ability to share community creations, which is a real shame. 

The wrestlers in the game are all fully animated and although some of their renderings shown before you load into a game don’t look much like their real life counterparts, they look and move like their real life counterparts once the match starts. C.M. Punk was one of the worst looking wrestlers that was animated in the menu, but his in-game character looks perfectly fine. 

The graphics seem a little lacking compared to WWE 2K23, which is nearly photo realistic for most of the wrestlers on the roster, but there’s a charm to the way the wrestlers in AEW Fight Forever are presented as animated fully from the ground up. 

The ability to create different arenas appears a little more robust. You can unlock tons of arena accessories using the in-game currency that piles up quickly as you play the game. There’s also the option to create your own entrances and modify the entrances of the wrestlers included in the game.  That being said, although there are tons of entrance animations to unlock, entrances are disappointingly short and only last about 10 seconds. 

Having spent about five or six hours playing AEW Fight Forever on PS5, the game makes a favorable impression when it comes to gameplay. It plays very much like an updated version of No Mercy on N64. AEW Fight Forever is very much a game that is easy to pick up, play, and have a ton of fun. The game has an arcade quality to it with over-the-top animations for big moves and the wrestlers moving faster than they should realistically be able to in order to execute different maneuvers.  Everything in the game lands with more oomph than the sequences you see in WWE 2k23. WWE 2K23  matches are typically slower paced and more realistic in terms of how wrestlers move inside the ring. 

If you played any of the games on the N64 with the AKI wrestling system, you’ll feel right at home with this game. The gameplay is about building momentum as you land maneuvers and build up to executing signature moves and finishers. Tag matches are a blast with some great animations saved for double team maneuvers, although I did struggle a little bit with targeting, as the AI just runs in constantly to save its partner from a pin and I couldn’t figure out how to stop it without going online to seek help. 

As I said previously, the entrances are disappointingly short, but some of them have some fun features. For example, if you use Matt Jackson in a singles match, you can shoot out Young Bucks money by mashing buttons during his entrance whereas with other wrestlers you can’t even see the pyro you’re setting off. 

I still have to explore more of the match types and online modes, but the ones I have played somewhat extensively are a lot of fun. The Exploding Barbed Wire Death match mode is a blast to play. I don’t know why the matches start with a two minute countdown to the explosion, but once you regroup and get back to wrestling your opponent, it’s a lot of fun. Blood pours out all over the ring and shows up on the bodies of the wrestlers in the ring when they run into the barbed wire ropes rigged with explosives. You can also slam your opponent into a table covered in barbed wire in the corner. 

Lights Out matches provide more opportunity for over-the-top gore and mayhem. You can grab a back of thumbtacks from under the ring and put them to good use on your opponent. Heck, you can even grab a skatboard under the ring and ride it around and use it for momentum to land moves or as a weapon.

As far as playing online, I’ve only done singles matches so far. They were a breeze to enter into and it wasn’t long before the match started. I still haven’t tried to play a tag match online, but I’m optimistic that it will be fun given how fun it is to play tag matches against the CPU. One fun feature about playing online is that after you beat your opponent you can continue to blast them with finishers for 15 seconds after you win the match. This makes for a great taunting mechanism. 

I haven’t begun to play through Road to Elite yet, but I am excited to try the game’s story mode. It looks like this mode is the main way you upgrade your created wrestler to level them up. 

There are several tag teams missing from the men’s side and the game only features 13 women from the women’s division. It seems like there’s a possibility of the game being regularly updated with DLC. The AEW twitter account earlier tonight mentioned a Stadium Stampede mode coming soon. Right now a $30 season pass is available with wrestlers like FTR included. The game allows for intergender matches to counterbalance the bare bones women’s division included in the game at launch. 

The game could use a better tutorial system. William Regal appears with tips on occasion. He once interrupted to give me a tip as my opponent was charging at me and I was taken down to begin the match. If you want to use change attire on a wrestler, it can be frustrating to figure out how to do it, as those options are not intuitive and I was left searching online to find out how to change the attire of the wrestlers in the game. 

My early impression of the game is that it is fun to pick up and play, but it feels like a bare bones release. I didn’t run into any bugs while playing except my tag partner got into the ring after a pin was broken up and he was frozen in the corner for about five minutes before he began moving again.

It’s  too bad that the bulk of the game is bare bones, but I am excited to check out more of the features that I haven’t spent much time on yet. 

Note: I was given a code to review AEW Fight Forever on PS5.

Contact Sean at pwtorchsean@gmail.com. Follow him @SR_Torch

1 Comment on RADICAN’S TAKE: My early impressions of the AEW Fight Forever videogame

  1. A good solid, honest review. The comments sections are pretty toxic down south and up north, but Sean from PWTorch is always candid and will point out the flaws of any wrestling program, or in this case, wrestling game. I can’t wait to check this game out, and the short length doesn’t bother me.

    That being said, maybe a sale on this title for a fun day where I can buy WWE2K23 and Fight Forever at the same time. Imagine the weekend of gaming that could bring. As a fan of No Mercy/AKI wrestling, I am glad Yukes and Omega chose this direction, and I want to support said direction.

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