Let me start by saying AEW: Fight Forever is a good game. I open with this because AEW’s first foray into the console wrestling game has a huge fight on its hands if it plans on eventually taking the title away from the much more established competition. It is also very ambitious in what it sets out to do, and how it goes about separating itself from the competition.
That’s kind of the beauty of it. It is what it is. It’s a different wrestling game that has a feel of its own and doesn’t try to be anything other than that, and that is where it shines. AEW and Yukes have promised a lot in that Fight Forever is billed as a game that instead of a yearly release they would build upon this title with ongoing updates and DLC. It is a bold idea.
Many thanks to the publishers for the review copy.
What You Are In For
What AEW: Fight Forever does well is recreate that classic wrestling feel of classic N64 era wrestling games that us older folk remember so fondly. The wrestling itself is great. It feels classic, as it should. The action is fast paced and a lot of fun. For a game with mostly exhibition matches it is easy to end up playing match after match after match and lose hours of your day. Outside of a few frame hiccups (looking for you, major day one patch, that has yet to happen as of this writing), the animation is very smooth and looks pretty good. It’s a very different kind of fun than the more methodical sim-based gameplay of the competition.
The menu sets you up for exhibition matches that you can choose from. It’s all pretty basic, but it does have its highlights, such as the “Lights Out Match” and the “Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match”, that capture some of the violent and bloody magic that AEW has going for it. The Death Match gets brutal and bloody very quickly and is a one of a kind type of match that you won’t find in other mainstream types of modern wrestling game. The Lights Out match stands out because of the large amount of weapons and their uses that are available. The tables are a little wonky (still looking for you major day-one patch) but it gets wild, especially if you get lucky and pull out a bag of thumbtacks from the randomly distributed weapons from under the ring or from the crowd. There are also your standard match types; single, falls count anywhere, tag, 3 way, 4 way, ladder (2 way), and battle royal (max 4 at a time). The bad thing is that it ends with that. No other way to customize matches. Matches are at their most fun when things get brutal and bloody, but without intentionally drawing them out matches usually don’t last long enough to make the ring look like the “murder scene” that was promised before release.
Noticeably missing from the available match types are any kind of tornado tag match, triple tag that is one of AEW’s specialties, and any style of caged match. It would also do well to have more wrestlers for ladder and light out matches. Imagine the chaotic fun.
There is also the “Road to Elite” mode. This is the “story” mode that you can take a wrestler (preferably a create-a-wrestler so you can build their attributes) through a generic but serviceable storyline that takes you through a year of being the hot new thing in AEW. It plays out through cut scenes that don’t do anything special but offer a visual exposition for whatever RPG mechanic that you are playing through to prepare for or story element to set up this week’s show. It’s fun, but since you have to take any created wrestler you make through it, the fun has diminishing returns. “Fortunately” the creation suite is not great so you won’t be creating tons of wrestlers.
There are also minigames. It is what it is. They are not bad. They are exactly what they say they are. Mini games. They are a fun diversion but nothing that I would turn the game on just to play (have not played minigames available as DLC). There is also a “Stadium Stampede” that is going to be made available at some point. It is an online 30 person stadium battle royal type mode that reminds me of Fortnite or something like that. I have trouble finding a matchup for a one on one match. I strongly believe that 30 people isn’t happening.
But again, the gameplay is solid and most of all, fun
And it has a great soundtrack.
And you get to play as Orange Cassidy.
What it Does Well
* Orange Cassidy
* Gets bloody
* Fast paced
What it Could Do Better
* Gameplay options
* Difficult to find online matches
* Women’s roster
* Creation suite
* pin/submit system
At this point $60 (US) is a hard sell. Online is a lot of fun, but matches are hard to find. Hopefully you like the roster because it’s outdated and the character pack DLC is expensive for what it is, and the content roadmap has already been delayed. Stadium Stampede sounds incredible if they could pull it off, but 30 people is asking a lot of an audience that already isn’t there. It’s a good game though, so it’s tough. I’d wait for a sale though if you’re not a fan of AEW and really just wanting to play an outdated AEW game.
There’s also a chance that they put out some serious patches and add some game modes and functions and that could also change the value, but if the game hasn’t sold well how much are they going to invest into making the game better.
AEW: Fight Forever is a lot of fun. It is not the 2K game, but it doesn’t have to be. It is what it is. It plays like the classic with modern sensibility. If you enjoy wrestling games and especially if you are an AEW fan you’ll have a lot of fun here. Just don’t expect a lot of options. Regardless, it’s the best wrestling game on Nintendo Switch.