AEW Fight Forever
Cover art featuring several AEW wrestlers
Developer(s)Yuke's
Publisher(s)THQ Nordic
Director(s)Hideyuki "Geta" Iwashita
EngineUnreal Engine 4
Platform(s)
ReleaseJune 29, 2023
Genre(s)Sports
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

AEW Fight Forever is a professional wrestling video game developed by Yuke's and published by THQ Nordic. It is the debut title on home consoles and personal computers based on American professional wrestling promotion All Elite Wrestling (AEW).

Plans of a game for the promotion were reported as early as October 2019 and officially announced in November 2020, with the game being the first wrestling game developed by Yuke's since 2018 with WWE 2K19, before the studio ended its working relationship with WWE. The game is heavily inspired by previous console generations of wrestling games, particularly WWF No Mercy for the Nintendo 64, with an arcade-style of gameplay with exaggerated wrestler appearances and presentation, as opposed to a more realistic simulation style of the developer's most recent previous wrestling games.

The game was released on June 29, 2023 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch and received mixed reviews, being praised for its throwback style of arcade gameplay, but criticized for limited presentation, modes, and customization.

Gameplay

Fight Forever features arcade-style gameplay, with different match types including singles match, tag team match, ladder match, Casino Battle Royale, and Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch. The game also features online play and intergender wrestling, the first Yuke's game since WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 to do so.[1] During November 10, 2020, at the AEW Games 1.0 Special Event, Kenny Omega confirmed that the game would be a spiritual successor to games like WWF No Mercy and Virtual Pro Wrestling, with gameplay in the style and veins as the AKI engine that ran those games.[citation needed]

A career mode entitled "Road to Elite" allows players to take a member of the AEW roster or their own created wrestler through the AEW schedule spanning across four blocks, taking place throughout 2019 and 2020, with each block corresponding to each of the four major AEW pay-per-view events: All Out, Full Gear, Revolution and Double or Nothing, with three storylines per block, for a total of sixteen storylines. Each block has four weeks, with the first three weeks taking place in AEW Dynamite and the fourth week being a PPV event. During each week, the chosen wrestler has four turns, simulating a daily life of an AEW wrestler, with an option to take on optional matches taking place in AEW Dark and AEW Rampage, as well as facing off against Kenny Omega (as a partner in 2v2 mini-games) and/or The Young Bucks (Nick and Matt Jackson) in mini-games. Video packages chronicle the history of AEW, with the story beginning with Double or Nothing in 2019, placing the male player character in the Casino Battle Royale for a spot in the inaugural AEW World Championship match or the female player character in a Fatal-4-Way Match for a spot in the inaugural AEW Women's World Championship match at All Out. The story changes as a result of matches won or lost, and other player choices. Character upgrades are carried through to the rest of the game, with players encouraged to play through the mode multiple times with different wrestlers.[citation needed]

An in-game shop allows players to use currency earned through completing challenges to unlock creation suite parts (including entrance motions inspired by NJPW and WWE stars)[citation needed], alternative attires and unlockable wrestlers. Additional minigames and an "Elite" difficulty were originally unlockables in the shop, but these were available to all players. The game features a full creation suite, including wrestlers, entrances, teams and arenas. Players can change camera angles, use visual effects and set off pyrotechnics and various special effects during entrances. Fight Forever also features fifteen mini-games in the base game, with four additional mini-games being made available as DLC.[citation needed]

Development

Pre-release

Several members of AEW management expressed interest in an AEW video game ahead of AEW Dynamite's debut episode in October 2019.[2][3] The game was officially announced on November 10, 2020, at the AEW Games 1.0 Special Event.[4] Yuke's was announced as the developer, having previously worked on multiple games for both New Japan Pro-Wrestling and WWE, as well as Rumble Roses for Konami.[5] It would be their first wrestling game since WWE 2K19 in 2018. The reveal trailer featured AEW wrestlers Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho, and Hikaru Shida.[6] Hideyuki "Geta" Iwashita, director of WWF No Mercy and WCW/nWo Revenge, was also announced as the director.[citation needed]

Later that month, Hiromi Furuta, senior producer at Yuke's, stated that WWF No Mercy was a key influence due to its popularity with fans of the genre, and that Fight Forever was not intended to rival the WWE 2K series.[7] In June 2021, the first in-development gameplay video was released, including the reveal of Darby Allin. In September, another short gameplay video featuring Jungle Boy was released.[8] On September 20, 2021, AEW announced a partnership with the Owen Hart Foundation to preserve the legacy of Owen Hart, which included an appearance in the forthcoming console game. This would mark Hart's first appearance in a video game since 2004 in Showdown: Legends of Wrestling, which was released by Acclaim.[9] In February 2022, Kenny Omega stated that the game would feature cross-platform play.[10] However, only cross-generation play was available at launch, with PS4 players able to connect with PS5 players, and Xbox One players being to interact with Xbox Series X/S players.[11]

Following the April 21, 2022 taping of AEW Dynamite, AEW founder Tony Khan told the live crowd that the title of the game would be AEW: Fight Forever.[12] This was formally announced on May 4, 2022, with the release of gameplay videos featuring Kris Statlander and Nyla Rose.[13][14] In June 2022, Omega stated in an interview with Fightful that the game was tentatively scheduled to release later that year.[15] Omega later confirmed that the game would be published by THQ Nordic.[16] In December 2022, Evil Uno revealed to Fightful that the game would launch with over 50 playable characters, with new roster members and game modes being added as downloadable content over time, likening it to No Man's Sky.[17]

Despite his departure from AEW in February 2022 and subsequent return to the WWE at WrestleMania 38, former executive vice-president Cody Rhodes remained part of the base roster as an unlockable wrestler in Fight Forever. When asked about Rhodes' presence in the game, Kenny Omega responded that he was "very passionate about making sure [Rhodes'] legacy and position within the company were preserved," and that "you get to experience AEW from the beginning, from day one," referencing Rhodes' involvement in the formation of AEW.[18] As a result, Rhodes became the first wrestler in 24 years to appear in two professional wrestling games released by rival promotions within the same calendar year, having been playable in WWE 2K23 which was released 3 months prior to Fight Forever.

Tony Khan said in June 2021 that he put forth an eight-figure investment in AEW's games division.[19] Journalist Dave Meltzer reported the budget for Fight Forever itself exceeded $10 million as of June 2022.[20] Other reports during this time stated that development costs exceeded the game's planned budget, causing conflict between Yuke's development staff and AEW management.[21][22]

On June 22, 2023, AEW Senior Vice President Nik Sobic stated in an interview with SEScoops that the decision was made early on to hand-animate the moves instead of using motion capture technology. He also mentioned that if the team had unlimited time, the game would have featured full rosters from both AEW and NJPW, adding that if Fight Forever performed well and the fans requested it, there would be opportunities for crossover updates in the future. In the same interview, THQ Nordic producer David Knudsen pushed back on rumors that blood was removed due to issues with the ESRB.[23]

Post-launch content

On June 1, 2023, two versions of Matt Hardy were announced as the pre-order bonus for the game, featuring both his standard and "Broken" Matt personas.[24] The contents of the Elite Edition was also revealed and made available for digital pre-order that same day. The edition contains the Matt Hardy pre-order pack, one-day early access, and the Season Pass which includes: FTR (Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood), Keith Lee, The Bunny, Hook, and Danhausen as well as four additional mini-games.[25]

On June 26, 2023, data miners playing early copies of the game discovered text strings referring to a Stadium Stampede mode that allows up to 30 players online to compete in a battle royale match in an open arena environment; featuring weapon loadouts, item chests, vehicles, and a levelling system thought to be used for a battle pass system.[26] On July 6, 2023, the mode was formally announced with a trailer showcasing the large stadium map, with visual comparisons being made to games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone.[27][28] On August 23, 2023, AEW general manager, Tony Khan, AEW executive-vice president and head of AEW Games, Kenny Omega and Eddie Kingston announced that the Stadium Stampede mode would launch the following day in a video message filmed at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida ahead of the All In pay-per-view at Wembley Stadium in London, England.[29]

On 22 November, 2023, AEW announced the Fight Forever Season 2 pass, which included 3 wrestlers (The Acclaimed (Anthony Bowens and Max Caster) and Toni Storm), an updated AEW Dynamite arena and a new game mode in Beat the Elite.[30]

Release

On August 3, 2022, AEW and THQ Nordic released an official teaser for the game, along with the cover art featuring CM Punk, Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D., Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, and Jade Cargill.[31] However, following CM Punk's indefinite suspension following a backstage altercation at All Out, a new cover art without him was revealed in November, additionally featuring Sting, MJF, Orange Cassidy, Bryan Danielson, and "Hangman" Adam Page, alongside the wrestlers of the previous cover art.[32][33]

On August 12, 2022, a trailer at the THQ Nordic Digital Showcase featuring Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. and Tony Schiavone was revealed, with one-on-one gameplay, as well as a look at the different mini-games in Fight Forever.[34] It was also announced that a demo of the game would be playable at Gamescom, winning the award for Best Sports Game at the event.[35][36] On September 15, 2022, a demo was also playable at the Tokyo Game Show.[37]

In March 2023, at a press conference following the Revolution event, Tony Khan stated that Fight Forever was complete, and that they would announce a release date soon.[38] However, THQ Nordic community manager Per Hollenbo would clarify on his Twitter account that the game was not finished, and was still being prepared for release.[39]

On May 16, 2023, the achievements for the game were listed on Xbox platforms.[40] On May 22, 2023, in a special video message from Kenny Omega, it was announced that Fight Forever would release internationally on June 29, 2023, with pre-orders and pre-loads officially commencing that same day.[41]

Reception

Upon release according to review aggregator Metacritic, AEW Fight Forever received "mixed or average" reviews across all platforms.[42][43][44][45]

Polygon's Hector Diaz lauded the arcade style of gameplay, favorably comparing it to classic wrestling titles such as the AKI developed WWF No Mercy and WCW/nWo Revenge, and early games in the WWE SmackDown! series.[50] Nintendo Life's Chris Scullion stated the gameplay "will feel right at home to No Mercy fans" due to similar mechanics and "a lot of it does feel like where we’d be if AKI’s series had continued to evolve and not stopped in 2000."[52] Justin Clarke of Slant Magazine considered the gameplay noticeably different from the WWE 2K series, with particular praise to the hardcore match types such as the Lights Out and Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch as highlights, saying they "[push] the envelope in ways wrestling games haven’t in years".[51]

The Road To Elite mode drew mixed reactions from critics, with Jarrett Green of IGN writing that while it was an earnest attempt at recreating a classic wrestling game story mode and featured a lot of humour, Green considered the mode to be poorly and under written, whilst also lacking direction to its branching paths, concluding that there was "a bunch of potential in this mode, but it goes unrealized".[49] Marcus Stewart of Game Informer criticized the mode, particularly the side activities and cutscenes between matches as being repetitive, while also finding many options were redundant when playing as non-custom player created wrestlers. Stewart was also disappointed by only one women wrestler focused story in the mode.[46] Conversely, Ben Wilson of GamesRadar+ praised the humour, structure and pacing, while enjoying the use of archive footage of AEW's history into the story.[48]

The customization options drew criticism from many reviewers for lacking in depth and choice, with Joe Draper of Digital Spy finding the feature underwhelming when compared to past wrestling games,[53] while Steward of Game Informer called it the "biggest let down" of the game, taking issue with the limited choices for players and the inability to share creations online.[46] Jason Fanelli of GameSpot and Hector Diaz of Polygon were both disappointed the absence of multiple major AEW wrestlers in the base roster, including Toni Storm, Jamie Hayter, Evil Uno and other members of wrestling stables featured in the game and lack of 3 versus 3 tag matches as a mode and corresponding AEW World Trios Championship.[47][50]

The Nintendo Switch version of the game was reported to have performance issues, including pauses and crashes during gameplay, with its visuals reaching 30 frames per second compared to 60 frames on other platforms.[52] The PlayStation 4 version was also reported to have numerous glitches and error codes, prompting THQ Nordic to release a statement apologizing for the problems.[54] Responding to a fan on Twitter, Kenny Omega acknowledged criticisms of the game, stating there would be continued future support, encouraging fixes and rebalancing.[55]

Sales

Fight Forever was the third best-selling game in the United Kingdom upon release behind The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Final Fantasy XVI.[56]

References

  1. ^ "AEW: Fight Forever - Official Site". aew.thqnordic.com. Retrieved August 11, 2022.
  2. ^ "The Young Bucks confirm there are plans for an AEW videogame". PCGamesN. July 13, 2019. Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  3. ^ Cooper, Dalton (July 15, 2019). "AEW Video Game Teased by The Young Bucks". Game Rant. Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  4. ^ AEW Games 1.0 Special Event, retrieved July 3, 2022
  5. ^ "Game Releases". Yuke's Co., Ltd. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  6. ^ All Elite Wrestling: The Game - Official Teaser, retrieved July 3, 2022
  7. ^ Harradence, Michael (November 24, 2020). "WWF No Mercy Cited As Key Inspiration For Upcoming AEW PS4, PS5 Title By Producer". PlayStation Universe. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  8. ^ AEW Console Game – Development Update: Jungle Boy Reveal, retrieved July 3, 2022
  9. ^ "Owen Hart will appear in AEW, his first video game in nearly 20 years". VGC. September 20, 2021. Retrieved June 3, 2023.
  10. ^ Taylor, Sanchez (February 20, 2022). "Kenny Omega Confirms Cross Platform Play For AEW Console Game". WrestleTalk. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
  11. ^ "AEW Fight Forever - Pre-release FAQ | THQ Nordic GmbH". thqnordic.com. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
  12. ^ "All Elite Wrestling's New Game Is Named After A Crowd Chant And That's Too Sweet". Kotaku. April 21, 2022. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  13. ^ AEW Fight Forever – Dev Update: Kris Statlander Reveal, retrieved July 3, 2022
  14. ^ AEW Fight Forever – Dev Update: Nyla Rose Reveal, retrieved July 3, 2022
  15. ^ "Kenny Omega Provides Update On AEW Fight Forever, Hopeful For 2022 Release | Fightful News". www.fightful.com. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  16. ^ "Kenny Omega Confirms AEW: Fight Forever's Publisher | Fightful News". www.fightful.com. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  17. ^ "Evil Uno Provides More Details On AEW Fight Forever, Compares It To Deep Rock Galactic, No Man's Sky | Fightful News". www.fightful.com. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  18. ^ Casey, Connor. "AEW: A Current WWE Superstar Will Appear in the AEW Fight Forever Video Game". ComicBook.com. Retrieved June 1, 2023.
  19. ^ Lambert, Jeremy (June 22, 2021). "Tony Khan Discusses Eight-Figure Video Game Investment, Believes It Will Pay Off In 2022 | Fightful News". Fightful. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  20. ^ Williams, Leah J. (April 22, 2022). "AEW: Fight Forever aims to be a major WWE 2K rival". Games Hub. Retrieved August 13, 2023.
  21. ^ "AEW Fight Forever could be 'one and done,' reportedly 'way over budget'". realsport101.com. May 4, 2022. Retrieved August 12, 2023.
  22. ^ Straw, Michael (May 4, 2022). "AEW, Yuke's Butting Heads Over AEW Video Game". Sports Gamers Online. Retrieved August 12, 2023.
  23. ^ Fishman, Scott (June 22, 2023). "AEW SVP Nik Sobic & THQ Nordic Producer David Knudsen Break Down 'AEW Fight Forever' Video Game (Exclusive)". Se Scoops | Wrestling News, Results & Interviews. Retrieved June 24, 2023.
  24. ^ "AEW Fight Forever 'Elite Edition' Announced: Matt Hardy As Pre-Order Bonus, FTR, Keith Lee, More Set | Fightful News". www.fightful.com. Retrieved June 1, 2023.
  25. ^ "The Multifarious Matt Handy Steps Into the AEW: Fight Forever Ring". THQ Nordic.
  26. ^ "AEW Fight Forever leak reveals Stadium Stampede battle royale". Dexerto. Retrieved June 27, 2023.
  27. ^ "AEW: Fight Forever Is Getting Stadium Stampede". Game Informer. Retrieved July 7, 2023.
  28. ^ Dator, James (July 6, 2023). "AEW: Fight Forever's new mode is wrestling meets Fortnite and it's dumb in the best way". SBNation.com. Retrieved July 7, 2023.
  29. ^ "AEW Announces Stadium Stampede Mode Will Be Playable In AEW Fight Forever On 8/24/23 | Fightful News". www.fightful.com. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
  30. ^ "AEW: FIGHT FOREVER KICKS OFF SEASON 2!". www.thqnordic.com. Retrieved January 21, 2024.
  31. ^ AEW: Fight Forever | Announcement Teaser, retrieved August 11, 2022
  32. ^ Shirey, J Brodie (November 21, 2022). "AEW: Fight Forever Removes CM Punk From Game Cover After Suspension". Screen Rant. Retrieved November 23, 2022.
  33. ^ Murray, Sean (November 20, 2022). "CM Punk Has Been Removed From AEW: Fight Forever's Cover Art". The Gamer. Retrieved November 23, 2022.
  34. ^ AEW: Fight Forever | Showcase Trailer 2022, retrieved August 16, 2022
  35. ^ "AEW Fight Forever will be playable for the first time at Gamescom 2022". Shacknews. August 12, 2022. Retrieved August 16, 2022.
  36. ^ "AEW Fight Forever Wins Major Gamescom 2022 Award". WWE. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  37. ^ "AEW Fight Forever Had A Big Display For Tokyo Game Show". Gameranx. September 18, 2022. Retrieved September 22, 2022.
  38. ^ "411Mania". Tony Khan Says AEW Fight Forever Is Finished, Won’t Announce Release Date Yet. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  39. ^ "THQ Nordic community manager denies claims that AEW Fight Forever is 'basically ready'". VGC. April 12, 2023. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  40. ^ "AEW Fight Forever Xbox Achievements Leaked". Yahoo Entertainment. May 16, 2023. Retrieved May 19, 2023.
  41. ^ AEW: Fight Forever Release Date Announcement, retrieved May 22, 2023
  42. ^ a b "AEW Fight Forever for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 29, 2023.
  43. ^ a b "AEW Fight Forever for PlayStation 5 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 29, 2023.
  44. ^ a b "AEW Fight Forever for Nintendo Switch Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 29, 2023.
  45. ^ a b "AEW Fight Forever for Xbox Series X Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 4, 2023.
  46. ^ a b c Stewart, Marcus (June 28, 2023). "AEW: Fight Forever Review". Game Informer. Retrieved June 29, 2023.
  47. ^ a b Fanelli, Jason (June 28, 2023). "AEW: Fight Forever Review - A Midcard Debut". GameSpot. Retrieved June 28, 2023.
  48. ^ a b Wilson, Ben (June 28, 2023). "AEW: Fight Forever review: "Every wrestling fan needs to play it"". GamesRadar+. Retrieved June 29, 2023.
  49. ^ a b Green, Jarrett (June 28, 2023). "AEW Fight Forever Review". IGN. Retrieved June 29, 2023.
  50. ^ a b c Diaz, Hector (June 30, 2023). "AEW Fight Forever Review". Polygon. Retrieved July 1, 2023.
  51. ^ a b Clarke, Justin (June 28, 2023). "AEW: Fight Forever Review: All About the Boom". Slant Magazine.
  52. ^ a b Scullion, Chris (June 28, 2023). "AEW: Fight Forever Review: Penta Plays". Nintendo Life. Retrieved July 1, 2023.
  53. ^ Draper, Joe (June 28, 2023). "AEW: Fight Forever is a successful modern mix of No Mercy and SmackDown". DigitalSpy. Retrieved July 1, 2023.
  54. ^ "THQ Nordic says it's 'aware' of AEW PS4 crash complaints". VGC. July 3, 2023. Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  55. ^ Cary, Ian (July 3, 2023). "AEW notes: Roster update, Fight Forever, ticket sales, Mexican streaming deal". Wrestling Observer. Retrieved July 3, 2023.
  56. ^ B2B, Christopher Dring Head of Games (July 3, 2023). "Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom returns to No.1, while new wrestler AEW debuts at No.3 | UK Boxed Charts". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved August 23, 2023.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)