The upcoming release of AEW: Fight Forever marks the first major professional wrestling video game outside of the WWE 2K series in a long time. But just as the two promotions have major differences, so, too, do the games. The WWE 2K series is in bad shape after the poor release of the 2K20but after a year off, it’s back rocking with solidity WWE 2K22.
However, it is not perfect, leaving a great opportunity for AEW: Fight Forever to steal the show. This upcoming release is made by veteran developer Yuke’s (the studio behind genre classics like WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain) means that the team has a lot of experience in making wrestling games. Not only that, but the project is led by Hideyuki “Geta” Iwashita, the director behind the iconic Nintendo 64. WWF No Mercy.
With all the talent in its midst, AEW’s debut console game can clear the ring once it’s tagged in. Here are just five ways AEW: Fight Forever may stand out from – or even beyond – the future WWE 2K23.
Embrace the madness
AEW’s overall product has always been looser – and even a little wackier – than WWE’s. In recent years, WWE has felt a little sterile, especially since it moved from its TV-14 rating. AEW has absurd types of matches, with blood, as well as funny segments like The Acclaimed “cementing their legacy” in Los Angeles.
WWE hasn’t completely abandoned its madness, but considering the real-life products, AEW: Fight Forever has a great chance to stand out by taking itself less seriously. The game is already looking the part, with more cartoonish character models and its wild mini-game types. Additionally, it focuses on the pick-up-and-play style of arcade gameplay instead of trying to be a realistic simulation. With that way of thinking, Fight Forever More promotional games could be called back (Stadium Stampede, anyone?), along with more outside commentary and wild backstage segments that mirror the unpredictable nature of TV programming.
AEW’s real-life roster is full of interesting characters who are just as good on the mic as they are in the ring. These are wrestlers like Ricky Starks, Samoa Joe, Christian Cage, FTR (Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler), and Saraya, to name a few. While we know some talent will show up AEW: Fight Forevermost of the roster remains a mystery, but hopefully more wrestlers will be revealed.
In particular, there’s an opportunity here for the game to put its dynamic roster to good use. Younger talent like Dante Martin, Action Andretti, and even the ridiculous Danhausen can bring completely different playing styles to the mix. the WWE 2K23 The roster is as strong as you’d expect, with nearly 200 superstars available, from current talent to Legends. In order to Fight Forever to compete, it needs to have more wrestlers to choose from, offering enough variety to keep players invested. Luckily, there’s no shortage of talent to choose from.
on WWE 2K22, one-on-one matches are great, but once you introduce three or more superstars to the ring, things get busy. Tag-team matches, in particular, are almost impossible to win, as your opponent’s partner will always enter the ring to break the pin. Fatal Four Ways or even Royal Rumble type matches are too chaotic to see your character, let alone win.
AEW: Fight Forever could excel if it implements a better AI that beat WWE at its own game. While the AI doesn’t need to be completely brainless, it’s important to allow players to have a chance in matches other than one-on-one, without having to rely on timing and luck. It’s nice to see opponents who are less offensive when engaging in Triple Threats or Fatal Four Ways, or computer-controller tag teams that don’t automatically rush to break up every pinfall attempt.
More freedom in story mode
In recent WWE games, story modes have the illusion of offering freedom, but in reality, they don’t give you much choice. This is especially true within the MyRise mode, which has interesting parts of the story, but has very few meaningful choices to make.
I miss entries like WWE SmackDown! closed up, an old PS2 game that essentially let you walk backstage to interact with various superstars around the locker room. You can start storylines with different branching paths that change based on your performance or even the superstar you play as, which offers a lot of variety. Because WWE 2K has felt more – dare we say – “scripted” in recent years, AEW: Fight Forever This can be used as an opportunity to include more freedom within the mystery mode of its story, as Yuke did in the past.
Back to the traditional grapple system
WWE 2K22 kind of reinvented in the series’ control scheme, but not completely for the better. It uses a combo system that feels like a fighting game, making it more approachable for players looking to button mash at the expense of consistency. Players must use multiple button combinations to execute a particular move, but since some maneuvers require multiple inputs, they are often difficult to pull off.
This combat system will remain on WWE 2K23leaving the door wide open for AEW: Fight Forever.
Based on our hands-on time with it at Gamescom last year, Fight Forever includes a similar grapple system to old WWE games, allowing you to execute moves more consistently. This system simply requires players to press a button to fight, and then tilt the analog stick while pressing another button to pull off a specific move. With this system, only two inputs are needed to get the grapples, making it easier to use them regularly.
on WWE 2K22, it is common to have to constantly pause the game to look at your character’s combo list, which breaks the flow of a match. Fortunately, this issue is mitigated by the traditional grapple system that seems to be coming AEW: Fight Forever. That alone will help AEW’s big match come out victorious by the bell.