A new face in the wrestling genre, AEW Fight Forever marks the debut of the All Elite Wrestling promotion into the world of video games. A growing competitor to the monolithic WWE, both iconic wrestlers of past decades and rising stars alike have begun to call AEW home since its inception in 2019. WWE and its associated brands have had complete dominance over the world of wrestling games for over two decades, but AEW Fight Forever by developer Yuke’s has brought a completely new IP to the table. Although a great showing as an alternative to the WWE 2K experience in many ways, AEW Fight Forever does ultimately lack in terms of one the genre’s signature features.
It may not be the size of WWE 2K23’s built up roster, but AEW Fight Forever more than makes up for the lower quantity of its personnel with their quality. Between classic wrestling icons like Chris Jericho, Sting, and even Jeff Hardy, the roster of AEW’s game is stacked with several of its historical legends that increase the validity of the younger brand. While it may not have the realistic graphical focus of the modern WWE 2K titles, Fight Forever embraces its lower fidelity style to the extent that it harkens back to what many fans consider the glory days of wrestling games.
With the 2K series of annual releases going back nearly a decade and ties to the original SmackDown series starting in 2000, the WWE brand has been ubiquitous with the wrestling genre of games. Largely defining the gameplay style differentiated from that of a traditional fighting game, the WWE games have mutated and experimented over the years until settling into the realism-centric formula of the past few entries. The promotion’s digital history dates all the way back to its previous incarnations, and the WWF series of games had an entirely separate legacy.
Released in 2000, WWF No Mercy was a Nintendo 64 release from THQ that received critical praise. Widely considered one of the best wrestling games of all time to this day, No Mercy is fondly remembered due to its rich, balanced mechanics. Despite its age, No Mercy is still compared to the modern WWE releases and has proven to be highly influential over the years. AEW Fight Forever seems to have taken direct inspiration from the more solid combat mechanics feature in the WWF classic, but it also ultimately comes up short when it comes to one feature even No Mercy is still recognized for.
While similar modes in the past few WWE releases have proven to be primary selling points, the Create-a-Wrestler mode of AEW Fight Forever has a far less robust character suite by comparison. For example, only eight options for male faces are available for a custom wrestler as opposed to WWE's inclusion of detailed editing sliders for years. The sparser selections of hairstyles and even clothing reinforce the fact that Fight Forever has far more limited options. Although it may lack in terms of these aspects of customization, Fight Forever focuses on custom move-sets in a showing of the game’s emphasis on gameplay over visual presentation.
A strong showing for the newer wrestling promotion’s expanding brand, AEW Fight Forever also leaves out some of what WWE fans appreciate the most. Despite its rougher graphics and lack of depth regarding customization, the fast pace of the actual wrestling combat shines through and makes up for what is missing. Its status as an equal to its WWE competitor may be dubious in terms of overall content, but further games can only be expected to reach new heights if AEW Fight Forever starts a franchise.
AEW Fight Forever is currently available for Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.