As part of AEW Games’ stream on Twitch on Wednesday morning, All Elite Wrestling’s new game collaboration with former WWE 2K developer Yuke’s was officially unveiled as AEW Fight Forever. The game’s title has been an unofficially known entity for the last few weeks after Tony Khan — the billionaire owner of AEW — shared details with a live show crowd before recording crowd noise for the game. Evil Uno, professional wrestler for AEW and ambassador for AEW Games, officially revealed the title after showing off character reveal trailers for Kris Statlander and Nyla Rose.
Beyond that, we only got two juicy morsels of information despite AEW Fight Forever having a rumored late Q3 2022 release window. I already gave you one of them: the title. The other is that the game, which has been referred to as “AEW Console Game” in official pressers, will also be coming PC. That’s potentially excellent news for PC players looking for an alternative to recently underwhelming WWE 2K entries, inaccessible games like Fire Pro Wrestling World (which I still love), and the super jank of MDickie’s charming but tough-to-swallow Wrestling Empire.
All Elite Wrestling has made incredible strides only three years into its existence, largely thanks to Tony Khan’s deep pockets and roster of talent that’s dedicated to putting their best on television each and every week. With large events, media deals, star power, and social engagement rivaling what you’re used to seeing with mega-established WWE, it’s not a debate as to whether AEW and Vince McMahon’s federation are direct competitors; they absolutely are. Perhaps the last frontier of AEW’s ascension is in video games — a market WWE has cornered with its licensed WWE 2K franchise for years, stretching back to its dominant days with N64 classics like WWF No Mercy and WWE 2K‘s precursor Smackdown on PlayStation.
AEW has already previously jumped into games with mobile titles like AEW Casino, which is exactly what it sounds like, and AEW Elite General Manager, a light management sim that has you set up shows and watch them go down.
For a while now, we’ve known about AEW’s plans to release a real-deal pro wrestling simulation in the vein of WWE’s games. Many on AEW’s roster are students of professional wrestling games of yesteryear. Kenny Omega, who is apparently deeply involved in the process of making AEW Fight Forever, has been on the record as saying he wants AEW’s wrestling sim to be rooted in arcade games or the N64 sims of the late nineties/early aughts. Eddie Kingston, professional dreamy eyes-haver, is a mega-fan of Virtual Pro Wrestling 2, which uses the engine of WWF No Mercy with the roster of Japanese legends like Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi, and more. (It’s very good and not too hard to emulate with an English patch, ahem.)
Kenny Omega — AEW’s arguably biggest star — invoking memories of four-player N64 battle royals with your friends in 2000 is a powerful thing to bring to the table when setting expectations. That’s a high bar, and AEW and Yuke’s probably ought to try leaping it. If they do, they’ll be battling the mighty WWE on every conceivable front. They even yanked Yuke’s away from WWE 2K, which in turn gave development duties over to Visual Concepts.
The problem is that they’ve shown precious little for us to get actually excited about. In fact, what they have shown looks a little rough. Wrestler movesets look true-to-life and mostly well-animated, but the instant two bodies begin to interact with each other, there’s a noticeable hitstop. There’s also very little being shown in the way of any story modes, tag-team encounters, and gimmick matches — all things the wrestling game audience would expect from a new release in 2022, especially from a wrestling organization that does those things so incredibly well on TNT and TBS every week.
I was expecting a bit more meat on the bone for Evil Uno, Adam Cole, and AEW’s “reveal” of AEW Fight Forever this week. Hopefully, we’ll soon see evidence of a wrestling game ready for a championship bout.
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