Well, it’s finally here… AEW Fight Forever is available on top gaming platforms and this has been in development for quite a while. Announced to be happening during the Fall of 2020, almost 3 years later, here we are. One would figure that with extra production time, this game be great, right? Perform well on all platforms, right?
Eh, not exactly. Reportedly, there were delays, many of which were triggered AEW Executive Vice President Kenny Omega heading up the project and reportedly changing his mind often on features and other in-game aspects. While Omega is a wrestler and loves playing video games, it’s a whole different world in actually making a wrestling video game. Furthermore, AEW was boasting that they had a director from the old N64 THQ games on board to direct this game. While it actually does play like those games, their focus appeared to NOT be on the game’s performance and graphics.
Look, I’m not one of those video gamers who complains about the Frame Rate of a video game (or as I call it “fwame rate”). As a Nintendo fan, I’m used to things slowing down here or there. That’s NOT the case here with AEW Fight Forever, as it’s performance often has the action just outright freezing. It’s frustrating and this happens in both local mode and ramps up a tad during online mode. With this game being just below 12 GB on the Nintendo Switch and not making graphics a priority, one would think that the THQ Nordic would focus on performance and gameplay. They tried, but this game is in serious need of patches to make things flow better.
The graphics in this game are not the best, especially for 2023 standards and that is not just on the Nintendo Switch version. Playstation and Xbox have graphics that seriously resemble like they were for the Playstation 2, Original Xbox, and Game Cube generation, maybe even worse. There were a few moments where graphics in the “Road to Elite” were purposely blurred when trying to slow storyline modes. On top of that, because the performance of this game is constantly having mini-freezes, the graphics can appear glitchy at times.
The version I am playing on is the Nintendo Switch, and while it has seen difficulties on other Third-Party games during the past, others have been successful such as FIFA and NBA 2K games. Watching Let’s Play on the advanced Playstation and Xbox systems, I’m seeing the same weak graphics and performance issues that the Nintendo Switch is enduring with this game. Worse yet, I’ve seen some painful glitch videos, such as wrestlers falling through rings, on those advanced systems. While I haven’t experienced any game-breaking glitches like falling through the ring, things get a little weird around the ropes in this game.
What I really don’t like about this game is the mechanics of different types of wrestlers. While you have the choice of being a Super Heavyweight to a Cruiserweight, smaller wrestlers or female wrestlers can actually throw your heavier wrestler around like a feather without struggle. I had an online match where my Create-a-Wrestler, the super heavyweight Sid Justice (he’s the Master & Ruler of the World, why not?) was getting tossed around easily by female wrestler Britt Baker. It’s funny how AEW proudly allows male versus female to beat the crap out of each other on AEW Fight Forever, but not on their television shows. If the TV executives weren’t there, who knows what we’d see on Dynamite.
Speaking of Create-a-Wrestler, it’s a struggle… Not so much with the features or options to make your wrestler, but the process of creating the wrestler itself. The menus move so SLOWLY as you try to scroll the lists of moves, themes, and gear. Just brutal. Then, you’ll encounter many moves, themes, or gears blocked out by the in-game currency where you have to purchase said things. It may seem scary, but I did not see the use of micro-transactions yet and playing the game does award you with reasonable in-game currency to use to unlock things. It’s reasonable, though as an old man, I don’t like to spend hours on the Create-a-Wrestler functions like I used to during the N64 and GameCube days.
I was kind of shocked at how violent this game was, especially once you play the actual game. Right away, you may play the “Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match” immediately if you wish. That match is pure bonkers, as the ring explodes after like 1 minute and 20 seconds (or 120 seconds, something like that). Then, the ring ropes have electricity flowing through them… Just super violent. I felt really bad having Sting vs. Chris Jericho in that match… And I write about this saying that I kind of enjoyed it. After decades of playing Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, and other violent games, it doesn’t bother me and its refreshing to see in a wrestling game.
So many match types to choose from, but be warned, the multi-person matches really slow the game down and ramps up the performance issues. Add match gimmicks, it gets worse. Again, THQ needs to build patches immediately because this is honestly a game-breaker and should be a deal-breaker for anyone considering this video game for their home consoles. Then, this game has peculiar minigames, such as wrestler chasing down casino chips in a ring and trying to avoid bombs. It’s just different, but sticks out as a sore thumb when wrapped around working out, eating, and going out for your “Road to Elite” character development.
“Road to Elite” is pretty enjoyable, though voice acting would be welcome instead of text (which follows live footage of past shows). That said, if this game had lots of sound files, I’d worry about how much that could glitch up the game. What I liked about this feature was how AEW tried to teach you the history of its promotion so far and your wrestler works their way up through the events that built the company. In between shows, you have your choices of working out, eating (choice of being vegetarian or not), and then doing things like making personal appearances. Each add to the attributes of your wrestler in this mode. It’s basic, but it works.
The initial roster is loaded with most of the familiar top stars and I’m assuming that the in-game cash built by experience will unlock more. For example, I paid 10,000 in-game cash to unlock Cody Rhodes and I could pay 20,000 to unlock referee Aubrey Edwards if I choose. Early on, AEW Fight Forever has DLC to purchase FTR and Matt Hardy, with the promise of other wrestlers coming with the Season Pass. Aside from the roster growing, I didn’t quite see too much value with the Season Pass, though more might come later on this feature. In many ways, I’m glad that this game was delayed because it allows for Cody Rhodes to still be in the game.
Overall, there is a good foundation here for a wrestling game. The gameplay feels like WWE No Mercy (though holding Up or Down on the right control stick + the R button to hit your special signature move is excessive) and is basic enough for anyone to pick-up. That said, trying to make the game too much like No Mercy could be limiting, too. Personally, I enjoyed the changes that 2K gave for WWE’s 2022 game and felt really comfortable with its gameplay, performance, and it had better speed. This game really feels like a Nintendo 64 performing game. It’s kind of what I want, but I’m not exactly hooking up my Nintendo 64 to replay the old THQ games.
The game BADLY needs a patch to improve performance issues and block out any glitches that can happen. Besides falling through the ring, others have experiences game crashes or the game freezing to the point where it needs a reset. Given how small this game really is and also for the lack of graphics, what were the programmers doing with this game for the past 3 years? There is NO EXCUSE for how this game performs and the hilarious glitches seen so far. They had more than enough time to make a polished product, even with weaker graphics. Given that this game is smaller in size, it shouldn’t be observing framerate issues and glitches.
Congrats, though, on becoming the BEST wrestling game on the Nintendo Switch. That said, as I’ve covered before, the Nintendo Switch has received awful wrestling games which many fans should avoid. That’s like awarding the best food product that was found in a local dumpster. This game still has potential, as a few performance based patches could greatly improve it… But in its current state, this won’t be a game-changer in terms of wrestling video games. In fact, because of its performance, it’s a step back.
If you’re a big AEW fan, then this game could work for you. Otherwise, I’d be patient and see if there are any performance patches that are applied to this game. Why? Because you’ll get frustrated at the gameplay that freezes on you often. I just don’t know, in its current state, if it’s worth $60 and the Season Pass just doesn’t look that all impressive.
LAST WORD: I wanted this game to be great, so bad! But the game does not perform well, and it’s not because the game is bloated in size or on the older Nintendo Switch hardware. Something is off with the programming and I hope that it will be addressed soon. Otherwise, it limits my demand to return to this game. Funny, as this was the FIRST Nintendo Switch video game to cause me to remove my Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom cartridge but I think it is safe to say that I’ll be returning to that game soon. I give it a generous grade of [ C+ ] due to performance issues of in-ring matches and excessive time scrolling through menus while also experiencing longer loading times. Given that we have some indication that production began in 2020, the game should have been much better just 3 years later. Color me disappointed, but a gameplay patch could fix many of these technical issues. Hopefully, programming minds will come together and fix this game. AEW should never put Kenny Omega or any wrestler for that matcher (including female referees) in charge of video game development.