AEW Fight Forever is a strong, promising start to a franchise with exciting potential

Let me get this out of the way early – don’t go into AEW Fight Forever trying to compare it to WWE 2K23 and you’ll feel better for it.

Fight Forever is raw, it’s new, offering a bit of something different while at the same time being familiar and old, and it’s fun. But it doesn’t have the complexities, options, detail, presentation, nor is it the total package that 2K can offer you each and every year.

That’ll come in time, I’m sure. 2K have had years to build the WWE 2K series up to where it is now. So on that merit alone, this has to be the best debut wrestling game I’ve played – certainly the best outside of the WWE and original WCW World Tour games. Let’s not talk about Mayhem, shall we?

AEW is a brand on the rise, which means Fight Forever is a game fitting for them. It’s got a healthy roster of some big names – everyone from Chris Jericho to CM Punk, Sting, Jon Moxley and Brian Danielson. But there’s also world-renowned talent like Adam Page, MJF, Britt Baker, and Kenny Omega. Even Cody Rhodes is in here.

But you might have noticed a distinct lack of women in that above list and that’s definitely a glaring issue that crops up immediately for Fight Forever. In career mode, especially, when you have to do intergender matches a few months into a ‘one year’ campaign because there’s not enough talent there for fresh enough matches.

Not the game’s fault, as such, as it’s kind of an AEW issue in general, but again, this is a great example of something that will change in time. Subsequently, new wrestlers have turned up in the show that aren’t in Fight Forever like Toni Storm and Saraya.

In-ring movement feels great, though. If you ever played WCW/nWo Revenge or WWF No Mercy, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect here. This is the throwback wrestling game we’ve waited years for with the easy-to-pull off strikes, light and hard grapples to execute additional move variety and using taunts to prepare your finishing move.

You can float around the ring, take to the skies and have a pretty good understanding of how to play within minutes. The sound of your strikes will make you ‘ooo’ and ‘aaa’ and you can feel like a complete bad ass when you stick and move around your enemy. Equally, doing chain wrestling, pre-empting your opponent, can feel incredibly satisfying.  To be honest, this is what I feel has been missing from the 2K games which, at times, are too complex for their own good.

It also creates some really satisfying looking wrestling matches and it encourages you to vary your moveset more than perhaps you might see in other games, thus creating more enjoyable matches for people watching. Though I did have a bit of confusion around the star rating system as I had some stinkers that ended up grading better than matches which were a ton of fun, and I think it’s more based on your individual performance as opposed to the quality of contest. Which is a bit disappointing.

Fight Forever definitely feels more arcade’y as a result, taking itself less seriously than other games and offering a lighter touch with potential for some really humorous moments that are less centered around random glitches or offbeat CAW creations. But there’s meta stuff too, like, for instance, a wrestler can hold every available AEW belt and carry them out during their entrance. It looks ridiculous but at the same time it’s perfect for the kind of offering you have here.

And yes, you can change the current champions around at any point to match the existing product. Which is the first thing I did when booting the game up. We’ve got to show Lucha…I mean, Christian Cage love and respect for his groundbreaking TNT Title win, don’t we?

There’s some staple matches here that really maintain a distinct identity from other wrestling titles, like the Casino Battle Royale and the Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match. After 120 seconds, the entire ring blows up and the person nearest the ropes is the one who will lose the most health. Eep! It’s a brilliant showcase match, adds a bit of tension in those closing moments, and it shows how hardcore you can get in the game. There’s blood, of course, lots of it, and you can even light tables on fire!

Then there’s Road to Elite, the feature many people are hoping is the game’s bread and butter. And it provides just enough to be that. You can take a pre-made star or build your own character and work your way through random story lines and matches while eating, sightseeing and working out in your downtime. If you overdo it, though, you can injure yourself before a match or leave yourself with no stamina, making you easy prey to whoever’s across the ring from you.

It’s definitely catered toward CAW’s though. I mentioned before women end up fighting men pretty quickly and you can win the title within the first match, so there’s no real chase there. And it’s similar for the men, but oddly enough I found that after winning the title, the career mode almost forgot I had it and just dumped me into a random storyline where I wasn’t even recognised as champion nor taking it out to the ring with me.

It also felt weird when the game was telling me Jericho was the first AEW World Champion (true) but in terms of my career mode, it was actually me playing as Adam Cole. So, yeah, there’s definitely some things to iron out.

Also, if you’re an established star, you don’t get to experiment with a big chunk of Road to Elite’s content, which lets you add new stats and skills to improve your star over time. You can add points to everything from the strength of your shots, to the amount of finishers you can hold by winning matches, having successful interactions and winning minigames. I get it, but it’s also a little strange half the content is locked off just because you decide to make your first run with CM Punk.

Within Road to Elite, you travel all over the world, visiting different locations where you can buy unique t-shirts to kit your CAWs out with, visit iconic landmarks and eat cuisine unique to the area. Sometimes you’ll bump into another AEW wrestler and that’ll either result in making a match or taking a snapshot together which you can store in your album.

It’s a sweet touch, and it can provide some fun back and forth, but as the career only goes across a year and plays out largely the same way – repetition does set in a little bit. Storylines are definitely a weak point within the campaign as they feel both random and inconsistent at the same time.

Fight Forever doesn’t really go into the spectacle of a WWE 2K23. A big part of that experience is recreating entrances authentically, making those superstars feel as close to the real thing as possible, and producing a big fight feel for every match. Entrances in Fight Forever are much more simplistic, playing the wrestler’s theme tune while they stand on the ramp, letting you mess around with camera angles and setting off a bunch of fireworks. And that’s cool and I love it, but it’s definitely limiting.

While interacting during an entrance is fun, I did miss some of that walk down the aisleway, jaw-jacking with the crowd, letting the music play out a bit more. Man, I just wanted to serenade Jericho with Judas while he walks down the ramp for a little bit longer. And that does sum AEW Fight Forever up just a little bit. At times, it tries so hard to be No Mercy that it comes across dated in some areas.

The core loop of in-ring action and gameplay is great. That’s some of the most fun I’ve had in a wrestling game since, well, No Mercy, but the presentation around that, the content and feature-set and the limitations in some areas like CAW, plus the reliance on Challenges to fill out your time spent on the game are areas to review in any potential followup.

Create a Wrestler is fine and it has all the basics in there. You can create some really odd and interesting things, but it’s definitely not as comprehensive as you’re used to in the WWE games. Similarly when building out an arena in the game. Fortunately the AEW shop at launch lets you buy various additions, like different guardrails, turnbuckles, and padding to make it feel distinct in its own ways and keep things fresh.

On top of that, there is an online component here where you can build up your rank to pro from rookie by taking on others from around the world, testing your skills in the match types available. Again, not as robust as 2K’s offerings, but it’s enough that you can just dive in and start playing from whenever you want, against anyone you want. Plus you can defend your title belts and the game does keep a record of wins and losses across each character.

Don’t get me wrong, I love some of the other ideas that have gone into this, like showing off key AEW moments in history in between matches: CM Punk’s debut, Jericho becoming the first World Champion and other classic moments that have defined company history. This is a wonderful guide for people who may not be familiar with the product to catch up quickly and maybe even check it out for themselves.

Even the minigames are a fun, silly way to break away from the action, breaking the fourth wall and testing your knowledge and skills so you’re not always just getting head deep into the action. My AEW knowledge isn’t fantastic but I did quite enjoy a bit of Penta Says, which basically has you performing the same pose as the wrestler at the front in the quickest time possible.

That’s just it, if you’re looking for a no-frills grappler where you can have some fun, or dive in and start playing right away, this is perfect. It’s fun, fast-paced, easy to pick up and entertaining. As homages to classic wrestling games go, honestly, this does not get any better.

However, I know I said not to compare the games, but the truth is we’ve just come to expect a bit more from our games in general, these days. The limited career and online mode is a bit disappointing, the content feels a bit slim, as does the roster – particularly on the women’s side. I’d even go as far as to say the continuous ‘Fight Forever’ chant becomes grating, especially when the match I’m having is awful. And there’s slightly too much reliance on button mashing, which can get irritating deep on in matches.

But none of that takes away from AEW Fight Forever being a really fun, enjoyable diversion from the norm. This gets the most important thing right – feeling like a good-time wrestling game – and there’s the foundations here for a very exciting, promising, fulfilling wrestling franchise. The good news for THQ and Yukes is they got the hard part – in-ring wrestling – down on pretty much their first try. The rest can be built upon and expanded in future installments.

If they can pull off an AEW Forbidden Door for the next game, allowing a slew of NJPW stars to feature alongside the main roster, that would not only be a sensational coup for THQ and Yukes, but it would also fill out the roster even more and give you some exciting possible matches you can’t play anywhere else.

But equally you could add some NJPW staple matches and make the career mode even more interesting by going international and having even more cool, unexpected crossovers. Then maybe throw in a GM mode so you can book your own shows.

I guess what I’m getting at here is the potential is vast to really keep carving a niche and identity for this franchise, offering the tropes we know and love, but equally building it out to be something truly different and special. A bit like the AEW brand in general.


AEW Fight Forever is a solid starting point for a franchise with really exciting potential. Yukes have absolutely nailed the in-ring action, paying a ton of respect to No Mercy while successfully modernising it for today’s audience. Rosters and content are a bit on the slim side, while other areas like Road to Elite and Online need more developing and fine-tuning in future installments, but what we have is a successful, enjoyable alternative to other games on the market that’s easy to get into and difficult to put down. 


+ In-ring action is fast-paced, fun, easy to pick up and difficult to put down
+ Good selection of different match types
+ Characters look good and game has overall solid presentation of AEW product
+ Mini games are a fun distraction


– Road to Elite gets repetitive and storylines are a bit messy and inconsistent
– Entrances could be a bit longer and some chants get grating
– Online mode feels a bit bare and match grading seems limited
– Roster needs better balancing

AEW Fight Forever is out now on PC, PlayStation, Switch and Xbox 

Code Kindly Provided by THQ Nordic for review purposes

Played on PlayStation 5

About the author

Jay Jones

Jay is a massive football fan - Manchester Utd in case you were wondering - and lover of gaming. He'll play just about anything, but his vice is definitely Ultimate Team.
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