Review – AEW: Fight Forever


December 31st, 2018, was when AEW, the second-largest American Professional Wrestling Company, was founded. During that time, I was on the hunt for a gritty alternative to WWE, and because of the names attached to this new venture, I felt comfortable enough to commit. For months afterward, the question everyone had on their mind was when they’d start running weekly television. Once that happened, the question shifted to video games. Surely AEW would want to dive into those waters to provide us with another option to the WWE-dominated genre. Well, on June 29th, 2023, they’ve done it. 

AEW: Fight Forever has had a rough go of it, having delays out the butt. None of that mattered, though, because the passionate fan base was willing to wait and see – it being touted as a spiritual successor to WWF No Mercy did help. People were hyped, and promises of blood, a Barbed Wire Death Match, and the return of the AKI Engine had us all aroused. Despite my having covered WWE2K23, I won’t be making comparisons. There won’t be any tribalistic bullshit here, just a fan indulging in entertainment he finds immense joy in.

AEW: Fight Forever - Finished creating my character!

I did what I could with what I had, and as you can see, it’s not much.



Fight Forever’s plot is segmented to accommodate the branching nature. Depending on the outcome of specific feuds, I’ll stray in different directions. It’s done in this manner with the hopes of bolstering replayability, giving the player a reason to continue jumping into Road to Elite – effectively, the career mode. It should be noted, however, that it’s limited. Essentially, the varying routes aren’t vast. Most importantly, it’s possible to beat a run in two to three hours, meaning that together, we’re looking at roughly ten to experience everything. Well, that is if I manage to only travel down the paths that lead to fresh content and never rewatch entire portions before the new.

It’s obvious that whoever wrote the script for AEW: Fight Forever is a fellow enthusiast. There are references galore. Whenever I saw one, I had the biggest smile. It resembled those moments that I’d gleefully point with my eyes wide. Understanding the nuance behind what’s said and being along for the ride is simple fun. In that same breath, however, it proves detrimental since it may alienate the casual demographic. I reckon that it largely shouldn’t, especially if you’re willing to suspend belief. Sure, there remains a handful of inside baseball nudges, but 95% of it can be relished without prior knowledge of the promotion or the many media channels it has.



While we’re discussing literary prowess, a fear that I frequently saw in the lead-up was how outdated it would end up due to the delays, and the answer is decent. For example, a performer named Kris Statlander still has her alien gimmick. While eating at a restaurant, I met up with her, and we had this back-and-forth where she said she wanted to boop my nose. I’ll be forthright with y’all; it was awesome because it feels like a Time Capsule – it also carries an adequate amount of charm. I’m taken to the past to swim in nostalgia. Hell, Team Taz is another act that has long been dismantled, and yet, Ricky Starks is the FTW Champion. Honestly, none of what I just mentioned is a blip on my radar as a problem, but I’m aware of purists, so.

AEW: Fight Forever - Orange Cassidy is being a creep.

From Soda to Lobotomy – that escalated real fast.

If, like me, you grew up playing oldies like Here Comes the Pain or Smackdown VS Raw, then Yukes is familiar. Before 2K took over development for WWE and steered that franchise to lean more heavily into a realistic simulation, arcadey goodness reigned supreme. With that came a specific kind of humor I can proudly say has returned. There’s a fair bit of one-liners doused in ridiculousness, and I’m so here for it – some even caught me off guard. As a disclaimer, a couple could be construed as being racially insensitive. I was never bothered, mainly thanks to those portions being played off as teasing amongst friends. In other words, despite the stereotyping, there’s no malicious intent. Even then, whatever they utter tended to meander around the gimmick they portrayed, which aided my immersion. 

Now, personality isn’t a subject you’d expect to come up with when talking about this genre, but wrestling, in general, is dramatic as hell, so it’s appropriate. The only thing is that it’s pretty one-dimensional in that sassiness is the lone trait we see. To its credit, it is responsible for my sporadic snickering. It’s also a testament to how AEW: Fight Forever is focused on delivering a delightful experience and not an engrossing narrative. It embraces the stupidity of the sport and rolls with the punches, and I appreciate that. I do wish when it came to the commentators, it would better reflect their banter and wit, but I digress.

For us old farts that are well acquainted with Yukes, we know of the wackiness they seem to love bathing in. I remember one time being drugged by The Undertaker before doing combat with a group of druids in an early WWE title. Fortunately, while that insanity can be seen here, it’s tempered. There are certainly elements of fiction, but it’s the slightest tinge. The developers are sending out feelers, trying to gauge the market to see if there’s still a yearning for the outlandish. Well, as I’ve said, the hobby we hold so dear routinely delves into the absurd, with Impact being a company that kills characters when their contracts expire. I think it’s safe to surmise that, yes, there’s an emptiness, and optimistically, future updates deliver.

AEW Fight Forever: Yuka Sakazaki wins it all!

I said she’d be the women’s champ, but then I learned she could win every belt, so…



My favorite aspect of wrestling romps is the creation suite. There’s something truly obsessive about the ability to fashion your person – essentially being God. I heard rumors that the one they’ve implemented in AEW: Fight Forever wasn’t too robust, but actually seeing it makes me think I was still misled. It’s barren and, quite frankly, a sad excuse. The options are ludicrously limited; no, that isn’t accurate. They’re minute, and by minute, I mean they’re laughable. For instance, I can’t mold the facial structure of whoever I birth, meaning several twins and triplets running around this universe. As someone that thrives in this feature, I’m supremely disappointed by how lackluster it is.

Oh, it manages to get worse, too, because the clothing I can choose are just variations of shirts that the wrestlers sell in reality. Any that aren’t, well, I can pick a generic tee, a tank top, and this strange mesh top that clashes with many of the pants. As for the women, oh boy, their selection is downright dreadful. There are one or two bralettes and perhaps five other things, but that’s all she wrote. Nothing is unisex regarding the upper body, but the bottoms oddly are. I comprehend the developer’s whims since I can adorn the dudes with loud designs. They want to maintain that spirit of goofiness, but for the folks who want to take this feature seriously, we’re left in the dark. Since I fit snugly into that category, I don’t feel acknowledged.

As another swift kick to the groin, the already minuscule list of apparel has choices that don’t play nicely together. If I, say, pick a particular type of jacket, there’s some stuff that I can’t accompany it with. I admit the reasoning behind that decision is sound. It may cause a hairdo or earrings that I’m wearing to clip through or, in a few cases, freak the heck out. Where the issues begin to creep in like the town pervert is thanks to that restrictive catalog. One piece of clothing can eliminate a plethora of items from the get, leaving me with zilch, nada, or, well, a bunch of shirts made to look like flags which, by the way, doesn’t include Portugal. The country can be placed as a hometown, but I can’t wear it. It’s weird, but I won’t get into it.

AEW: Fight Forever - Going through the menus in Road to Elite.

See, the choices for women are MINIMAL. It’s small. Size matters, folks.



When it comes to giving your brainchild a moveset, I have a minor complaint. While there’s a modest number of techniques to learn, it won’t shake how small it sometimes feels, especially in very explicit situations. There were instances where it prompted me to select ground attacks, for example, but my extensive list of options was just variations of an elbow drop. I know there’s more, and I’ve seen that in not only the WWE outings but also non-licensed titles. It gives off the impression that this mechanic wasn’t even one of importance. They want you to use actual names like Chris Jericho or Kenny Omega, and as a means of forcing you, they cripple what I consider an enormous selling point to a rather sizable chunk of people.

Okay, I know that gripe is majorly subjective, and what I’m about to say continues to be, but here goes: I like having the ability to make my creations feel unique – I like making sure they have distinct skills. I get that characters based on actual real-life individuals will overlap in terms of the sorts of moves they can pull off, but that’s inevitable. When a whole position of attack has to be identical due to an absence of offensive strikes, it’s a bitter pill. What’s baffling is that Yukes has implemented a vast collection of aggressive maneuvers before. Maybe I’m misremembering, but Here Comes the Pain had loads, which only multiplied my delight. Since the plan is to build upon this foundation, I’m hopeful a DLC pack will address everything soon.


Without a doubt, the gameplay is friggin fun. I was having an absolute blast beating my opponents. The button layout isn’t as intuitive as I’d like, but I eventually got accustomed. So much so, in fact, that after stumbling into settings and finding I could remap the controller inputs, I switched back to the default prompts. The change screwed with me, and winning became difficult. After losing two matches in a row, I reverted, and almost immediately, I emerged victorious left, right, and center. All this to say that before diving into Road to Elite or Exhibition, ensure to adjust the buttons to your specifications if you so desire.

AEW: Fight Forever - Star rating for the match I just had.

Yup, Kenny Omega was part of this match. How did you guess?

Something else I’m smitten with, and that I’m positive will get me on a list somewhere, is how AEW: Fight Forever allows for intergender fights. Before y’all root, that admiration isn’t due to beating women but to the moderately sized roster. There are 50, with roughly 13 being female. Since the number is so low, it wouldn’t allow many fresh pairings. If the girls could only challenge other girls, it would eventually get repetitive. Smashing down the barriers and letting them face the men, sometimes for their belts, blows the possible rivalries wide open. You can live out your wildest fantasy booking ideas, and if you’re like me, have Yuka Sakazaki be undisputed.

When pitting wrestlers against each other, the typical types of matches are present – Singles, Tag Team, Triple Threat, and so on. Overall, though, it’s slim pickings and runs the risk of becoming monotonous. I grew bored with the basic options. There’s no cage match, Blood and Guts, which for those not privy, is a big steel enclosure surrounding two rings. There’s no hardcore 2-on-2, or TLC, either. None of those explosive, over-the-top events are here, but hey, the essentials are. Otherwise, it’s barebones. Luckily, it seems that Stadium Stampede is on the horizon. I’m crossing my toes and fingers that that’s a sign of a lot more being added in the coming weeks.


If you weren’t alive when WWF No Mercy was tearing it up, you’d be surprised to know there is some tantalizing RPG flavoring in AEW: Fight Forever. See, when entrenched in the campaign, there’s a possibility of winning skill points that can be used to purchase nifty perks. These range from gaining a buff if you land the first punch to earning the right to use springboard moves, which means you can jump off the ropes and use your body as a battering ram. I’m so fascinated with this one mechanic. It motivates me to kick ass and take names, which I proudly did. It didn’t matter that I was going through a regurgitated storyline because I was fixated on maximizing who I chose, which was, naturally, Kylie Monroe.

AEW: Fight Forever - Chatting with Sting at Venice Beach.

Woah, y’all are at Venice Beach, careful of the zombies!

Now, I’m not sure that what I’m about to describe is a bug because, through testing, it certainly seems so. After I had completed Road to Elite and restarted, I began noticing that my accumulated bonuses had been wiped. It was all gone, which sucked, but here’s the deal. I unlocked the capability to utilize a secondary Finisher. I assumed it had to be repurchased; however, I was mistaken. This video game recognized I still had it in my arsenal. That meant I had to redistribute 1000 Skill Points to gain access to what I allegedly already had so I could resume upgrades. It’s so demotivating because I was retreading the waters for rewards I’m being told I have but shown I don’t. It muddles my sense of progression because it feels like my decisions are worthless.


When it concerns the pinning system, I’m mixed. On the one hand, it harkens back to the old days. I grew up having to mash to roll a shoulder up. In recent years, though, that whole notion went topsy-derpy, and covering your opponent evolved. The player now has control over if they prevent a loss, even after receiving a pummeling. I don’t have to rely on stupid RNG solely. It, however, seems like AEW: Fight Forever missed the memo. It’s infuriating, primarily due to inconsistency. For example, when I faced Cody Rhodes, he landed a wonky-looking roundhouse yet somehow scored a victory. There was a minimal connection, but then again, is it that smart to refute that maybe he succeeded thanks to the strength brought by the adrenaline in his soul?

Another technical hiccup is the three count. The referees seem incapable of properly doing so. Moreover, whenever I’m one-on-one with someone, there’s a slight delay before the refs slide into the correct position. To add insult to injury, they also slowly, sluggishly, like a snail wiggling up a hill, count to, well, three. It’s such an insane aspect to whine about, I know, but there’s a method to the madness. See, when they aren’t visually inside the squared circle, and I go for the pin, they miraculously gain their kindergarten diploma and speed up. My theory as to why that occurs is a programming faux pas. Since the model’s movement lags, it negatively affects it.

AEW: Fight Forever - Off to the next show!

I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky…



Unlike WWE, we won’t be dealing with annuals. Both THQ and AEW have made it abundantly clear that they plan on keeping this title alive through content updates and, presumably, paid DLC. Upon hearing that, I was cautiously optimistic. If gameplay-wise, we weren’t dealing with a banger; it makes you question the staying power. Well, while I can check that requirement off, it’s a monkey paw wish because, sure, it’s a certifiable pleasure; but it’s also a desolate wasteland. There are barely many modes, with a campaign, exhibition matches, and online being the lone attractions. To be blunt, there’s only so much I can do until boredom begins seeping in.

Minigames have been introduced to spice up the genre, but their quality varies. Sure, a couple are fun pastimes, but on the other end, I was indifferent. What I can potentially earn is nice, with 1000 skill points, as well as cash up for grabs, but that’s dwarfed by going and performing on AEW Dark or Rampage, which unlocks fairly quickly. In comparison, those are, by far, more satisfying and, therefore, worth the investment. Not to mention that the AI, particularly Kenny Omega, are savants in said minigames, and if I don’t grab the brass ring, he’s winning. I like the added challenge, and it does create tension, but it also fails to emulate that Mario Party glee.

It’s imperative to know that the bulk of the above niggles is for a singular soul. With that out of the way, I want to note that if played in co-op, things change drastically. It’s much more engaging, thanks to having a friend. All that laughter and screwing each other over will always be entertaining. From that angle, this mechanic is fantastic, but you need someone else, and without a partner, it loses some grandeur. Also, upcoming character packs are going to shoehorn extra minigames, so it could be that in the next few weeks, being single won’t be as targeted, and one day, even those like me can frolic in the goodness they provide to twosomes.

AEW: Fight Forever - Meeting with Darby at a press conference.

Some of these lines are pure gold, I swear.



When it comes to the animations of maneuvers, they’re sublime. The PS5 outputs every motion in crispy 60 frames per second. When I pull off the Blade Runner, it’s super snappy, just like the real-world counterpart. If I did a moonsault off the top turnbuckle, I felt the impactfulness of landing on my opponent. Yukes have outdone themselves, doing a great job capturing the brutality of these moves, like the Judas Effect. As an added plus, during my entire session, I had absolutely zero crashes. I have heard of players getting them on Sony’s device, though, so hold that information close.

The biggest blow to the performance’s pristine image has to be the subpar hitboxes. My grapples, punches, and kicks seem to work fine. I began noticing falters when in a tag team or Triple Threat. If the opposing wrestler covers me, my partner can rush in and attempt to break it up. Sadly, I had instances of pure failure. Not for lack of trying, of course, because they’re definitely dropping those fists, stomping, and even doing some acrobatic clotheslines. All their efforts are futile, though, and their offense doesn’t register. Hell, there were a handful of moments where the computer got stuck in a perpetual grappling cycle for a minute or so.

Alright, let’s delve into a super weird case and something I’ve been able to repeat consistently. It appears as though AEW: Fight Forever has this burning hatred for a specific technique. If I were to edit the moveset of a custom wrestler, throwing The Enzugiri 1 into their pool, the game would have a meltdown. The instant I use it in a match, the buttons lock up, leaving me frozen. Nothing responds; I’m stuck. Luckily, that won’t apply to the opponent, and if I’m battered, I break free from the imaginary chains shackling me. Thankfully, through testing, it seems to be the only cause of this hiccup.

AEW: Fight Forever - My second create a wrestler!

Yup, I basically named him Daddy Hernandez. FFXVI has influenced my brain.



When AEW: Fight Forever was announced, I was probably the most ecstatic about having themes be easily accessible. I love many of the tracks that AEW has for their wrestlers. Simply put, Mike Ruckus is a damn genius, and we get a nice buffet of musical bliss in this title. My only qualm is that, like WWF No Mercy, entrances aren’t the complete package, and instead, we get a shrunk-down, bite-sized version of it. It’s perfect for those who want to get on with the action, but it makes appreciating the songs tougher. What’s awesome is Max Caster is on the OST. I’m going to be frank and say I’m digging his stuff. They’re lowkey heat, and it brought the vibes. Anyone that thinks otherwise is a cop.

In an ironic twist of fate, audio issues do plague AEW: Fight Forever, just as they do with the actual product. It won’t be musically. I found that whenever Justin Roberts, the ring announcer, introduced someone, it was either muffled or too quiet. When he presents anyone from the main roster, it isn’t terrible, but when it’s anyone I finessed through the creation suite, I need hearing aids. Whenever Kylie or Papi walked out, I could only make out Monroe or Hernandez, but never their first name. Even after adjusting the volume through settings, nothing about it is rectified – the balancing is off.


AEW: Fight Forever has a sturdy foundation for an incredible wrestling jaunt, but it hasn’t yet been built up to meet its true potential. Yes, the gameplay is a blast, without a doubt, but what the title offers is barebones. One of the most requested modes was General Manager. Yukes have done it in the past, and I know it was foregone because of the mobile game’s existence, but that decision prevents their console effort from flourishing. They’re purposely holding it down.

As is, the available activities are slim, and I reckon that it won’t take long before monotony sets in. I did enjoy the Career, but the Rogue elements turned me right off. When I realized my progress had been lost, yet upgrades were still recognized, I stopped playing and got straight to writing. My motivation was tapped out. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend buying at full price in its current state. The value isn’t there to justify $60, but if you find it half off or so, do it.

Graphics: 7.5

Contrary to what the popular complaint says, I actually really like the visual styling of the models. It fits with the arcade nature that it’s trying to go for. The environments, however, don’t fare as strongly, falling into the generic camp. 

Gameplay: 6.5

There’s a lot to like about AEW: Fight Forever. The biggest hurdle it has to combat is decisions that hamper the core great ideas. They need to add more modes, and maybe not make Road to Elite feel like a Rogue. This is a wrestling game and I want yo feel like I’m progressing, not regressing.

Sound: 7.5

The music and themes are stellar. I have no complaints about their quality. What I dislike is how bad the audio mixing is. Sometimes the voices are high, and sometimes they’re low. I want to be able to hear when a character is announced, though. There not being more of a voice acting presence is a shame. 

Fun Factor: 5.0

It’s a lot of fun, but when I saw that my points I had invested in skills were reset, my excitement fizzled and instead of rock hard, I was limp. The wrestling itself is awesome and retains that classic feel I remember from all those years ago. Hopefully, a patch addresses my problems and I can go back to having a blast.  

Final Verdict: 6.5

AEW: Fight Forever is available now on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Playstation 4/5.

Reviewed on PlayStation 5.

A copy of AEW: Fight Forever was provided by the publisher.