Ever since it was founded in 2018, AEW has presented itself as the alternative to the WWE not only in format but also in tone and character. For example, while the WWE pretty much sticks like glue to its PG rating, product shying away from blood of any kind, AEW not only embraces it, but invites it by holding crazy death and gimmick matches.
The distinctly different mindset and approach continues with the release of AEW’s first ever console, PC game: Fight Forever. It is a completely different experience than what you will find playing any WWE 2K game and that is a good thing for gamers and wrestling fans alike.
Immediately upon launching the game, it is quite clear Fight Forever is a different beast. Firstly, you don’t have to turn the blood option on like WWE 2K. With AEW and the developer Yuke’s knowing what blood-thirsty savages we are, it is automatically on. Secondly, that “Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match” start menu option just beckons to be clicked on so very, very badly. Thirdly, the AI fans chant “Holy s–t!” and those exclamations of pure wrestling joy aren’t censored at all or in any way.
Like AEW itself, Fight Forever revels in the over-the-top mayhem that can happen inside and outside of the squared circle, just not in the mainstream WWE. You can perform a move off the barricade at ringside. You can slam or throw someone through the barricade. You can spray a fire extinguisher. You can bash an opponent with pieces of the table you just slammed them through. You can smash their ugly face into the barricade. You can beat them with a barbed wire baseball bat leaving them with bloody cuts and bruises all over their body. You can clock them with a football helmet and a skateboard, which you can ride around the arena as well.
But, best of all. You can retrieve a bag of thumb tacks from under the ring, scatter them anywhere and then slam, suplex, powerbomb, chokeslam, your opponent onto them. That never, ever gets old no matter how man times you do it.
As you might have guessed by now Fight Forever isn’t striving to be a combat or wrestling simulation like WWE 2K does. It is a ‘pick up and play’, arcade-style wrestling game with very simple, elementary controls that anyone can learn in no time flat after they have a handful of matches under their belts. The control scheme and the gameplay should be very familiar to anyone who has played any kind of wrestling game before.
There are strong strikes and moves, weak strikes and moves, signature moves, finishers, Irish whips and grapple, strike blocking. You can pick up illegal objects under the ring and from the audience. You can also interact with the environment like the ringside barricades. As you build your momentum, you can perform more devastating moves which eventually includes your signature and finishing moves. What does separate Fight Forever from WWE 2K is that I am pretty sure you cannot ‘store-up’ or ‘save’ your signature and finishing moves, unless I am somewhat mistaken and that wouldn’t be the first time.
As you might or might not know there was a bit of history and drama with Fight Forever. Yuke’s is the Japanese developer of many of the best wrestling games ever made such as all the WWE games published by THQ including the Smackdown versus Raw series, WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain, WWE Legends of WrestleMania, WWE WrestleMania X8 as well as the WWE 2K games from 12 to 19. The company left its partnership with 2K and partnered with THQ again but this time on the Fight Forever game. It is why players may notice many similarities in graphics, models, menus, gameplay between Fight Forever and Yuke’s previous games. It is to be expected when a developer has such an esteemed, established history in a particular gaming genre.
Fight Forever is AEW’s first console, PC game release and as such is not as extensive or as detailed as the WWE 2K series which has been in development and publication for 12 years. There are really only three modes. There is an exhibition match mode including singles, tag team, three- and four-way matches, a Casino Battle Royal, the aforementioned Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match, ladder matches, lights out (no disqualification) matches and falls count anywhere.
In the Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match, you can throw your opponent into the barbed wire and there is a countdown timer to the ring exploding. Whomever is too close to the ropes will be caught up in the blast.
Atsushi Onita, Terry Funk, Tarzan Goto and Cactus Jack would be in their glory.
Fight Forever’s version of the ladder match is far better than 2K’s in the sense that the ladder is far easier to set-up and the mini-game to retrieve the belt, enormous casino chip is far better requiring only button mashing not 2K’s “marble through a hole” mini-game which has been frustrating as hell from the start.
The second mode is the campaign which is called Road to the Elite. A phone call from AEW President Tony Khan inviting you to participate in the Casino Battle Royal leads to a full-time contract and a fun, intriguing trip through AEW history. Besides the thumb tacks and Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match, Road to the Elite is the best part of Fight Forever.
You have to do more than win matches to progress in Road to the Elite though. You have to manage your free time too. You can go to the gym to gain momentum but lose energy, go out to dinner to regain energy, choose to wrestle on Dark or Rampage before Dynamite or the next pay-per-view or “go out” which could be sight-seeing, attending a press conference or challenging other members of the AEW roster to various mini-games. This is all to improve your mood, which matters in the campaign. You also can find yourself injured from a match or a workout. In that case, you have to go to the hospital, not a “medical facility”, to heal up. The cut-scenes throughout all these choices features cameos by a ton of AEW superstars many of which are playing off or having fun with their in-ring personas. Road to the Elite is not the most extensive of campaigns and sometimes it relies on multi-man matches far to much to bolster the difficulty. The one great thing is that the Road to the Elite campaign’s storyline changes depending on the matches you win and the choices you have made which really ups the mode’s replayability.
Also, unlike WWE 2K, you cannot replay any of the matches in Road to Elite. The mode is unforgiving. If you lose, you lose and must solider on.
Finally, there is a mini-game mode which as someone who is not a fan of Mario Party didn’t really appeal to me. You can compete in AEW trivia, gather gambling chips in the ring, play Fight Forever’s version of baseball, etc., all for in-game currency.
What isn’t extensive either is the custom character or create-a-character mode. While it can be argued that 2K’s has become so bloated with so many variations of attire and moves that to create a character can take as long as Roman Reigns’ title reign. On the other side of the scale though Fight Forever’s choices are incredibly and severely lacking. To make matters worse you cannot alter the colour of some clothing and you are frustratingly blocked using some items with others, they just won’t work. You can unlock more items playing the game or you can use the cash you earn to do so.
Good luck trying to create talent from other promotions or others from AEW. There just isn’t the selection or variety of attires, moves, and what not, to do so and no mechanism to share them with other players who are online but you can battle other players in ranked and unranked matches online.
All things considered Fight Forever is a strong first effort from AEW, THQ and Yuke’s. It may be more of a bare bones wrestling game and it may have some issues that will probably be ironed out with a patch or two.
Replayability is the game’s weak spot though. There are daily and weekly challenges to keep players engaged and the ability to battle other players online but with only three modes, one of them being mini-games, a flimsy creation suite and no way to create your own universe or own promotion, you have to wonder when the shine and fascination will eventually wear off and will that been sooner rather than later? As a gamer, I still have many “go-to” games installed. Games that I go back to here and there. Games like Friday 13th: The Game, WWE 2K23, Evil Dead, Hitman, etc. For me, I can see Fight Forever being one of those perennial titles stored on my machine. For others, I guess we will have to see what the future holds not only for gamers but the Fight Forever series as well. The future does seem bright though with such a good and solid foundation to build upon.
Fight Forever is available now for the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC and Nintendo Switch.
Fight Forever Gallery
Fight Forever Summary
What it lacks in diversity Fight Forever more than makes up for in its uncensored delivery. Just like AEW itself, the game is full of attitude and isn’t afraid at all to push the envelope.