Professional wrestling video games have been primarily dominated by the WWE 2K franchise for nearly a decade. AEW: Fight Forever for Xbox Series X, as a new contender, enters the scene with laudable audacity, adopting an arcade design reminiscent of earlier eras while offering an easy pick-up-and-play experience. However, it falls short in several critical areas, including a lack of genre-standard features, a mediocre single-player campaign, and a host of mechanical glitches, preventing it from truly challenging the reigning champion.
Unique Visual Flair, Yet Flawed Roster
Fight Forever distinguishes itself visually with its cartoonish character models and vibrant animations. Among the 52 available competitors, many are well-executed caricatures, with standout models including Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley. The game’s departure from hyperrealism allows it to convey the desired atmosphere, even when specific models miss the mark.
Despite these strengths, the game is hindered by many character and championship absences. Featured figures from the real-world AEW are conspicuously missing, which detracts from the game’s authenticity.
Exaggerated In-Ring Action Marred by Mechanical Hiccups
When it comes to the action, Fight Forever’s gameplay echoes the exaggerated dynamism of classics like Def Jam Vendetta. The over-the-top animations enhance the thrills and spills of wrestling, providing an engaging experience with innovative mechanics. However, the gameplay suffers from inconsistent response times and a lack of polish, with bouts occasionally marred by missed attacks and unresponsive controls.
A Mediocre Single-Player Mode and Creative Constraints
Fight Forever’s single-player campaign, Road to Elite, is an ambitious but underwhelming attempt at reviving the old-school season modes. The narratives often feel contrived, and the management-sim elements are poorly developed. The game also stumbles in its creative suite, with Create a Wrestler and Arena modes that offer little diversity and a shortage of user-friendly features.
Unrealized Potential and a Glimpse of Future Promise
AEW: Fight Forever represents an intriguing but flawed entry into the wrestling video game arena. Its unique character designs, vibrant animations, and distinctive in-ring action set it apart. Still, the game suffers from technical glitches, a lackluster single-player campaign, and limited creative options.
There’s plenty of potential for improvement here, and given the game’s daring and innovative approach, a sequel could prove to be a top contender. Until then, however, AEW: Fight Forever remains a promising rookie with plenty of training before it can contend for the title.
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