AEW Fight Forever: analyzing the new gameplay

NJPW, Kenny Omega (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)
NJPW, Kenny Omega (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images) /

Gamescom 2022 was AEW’s chance to show off a polished wrestling game in AEW Fight Forever. They did not drop the ball on showing off an exciting new entry in the wrestling game world.

Evil Uno and Colt Cabana hosted a live playthrough at Gamescom where they played their first full match of AEW Fight Forever. It was a singles match between Kenny Omega and Adam Cole. The goal of the video was to learn how the controls worked and show off how easy the play mechanics were.

The spirit of No Mercy is deep in this game as the fighting system is almost identical to the N64 classic. AEW Fight Forever has a nearly identical button layout to the wrestling game of yesteryear. Wrestlers can do weak and strong attacks and when they grapple an opponent they need to press A/B/X in order to perform a different slam (Xbox controls). The momentum meter at the bottom of the screen fills up as your wrestler gains successful moves awarding them a signature or a finishing move. Since this is AEW 2022, you can imagine every wrestler having three signature moves and four finishers. Adam Cole had his Shining Wizard and Ushi Goroshi as signatures, while his finishers were the Panama Sunrise and The Boom. Kenny Omega, on the other hand, has two different kinds of One Winged Angel finishers and a few different V-triggers he can perform around the ring.

Fun fact: The momentum meter, the grapple button with face buttons, and the weak and strong attack buttons are closer to WCW Mayhem for the PS1/N64, but no one is going to liken their game to that.

Lots of moves are a good thing as the game rewards you for using variety and punishes you for doing “stale” moves. Kenny Omega did a very enthusiastic backbreaker, while Adam Cole hit his snap mare to rolling elbow move. The moves looked very clean, albeit there was some clipping. Even WWE 2K22 had clipping so we need to take it as a necessary evil for wrestling games.

One thing that surprised me is how much the hair on the wrestlers looked like clay. Adam Cole’s top part of his hair was a stiff mold, but the backend flopped around like a cheap toupee. Kenny Omega’s hair looked like fried noodles after a perm. WWE fans will not hesitate to post on Twitter how fake these look.

If you don’t factor in the clipping and the clay hair then AEW Fight Forever is a very impressive-looking game. Chants and taunts looked picture perfect, the move variety is generous, and the signatures and finishers seem easy to pull off. It won the Gamescom Sports/Racing Award for best in show. Early reviews from IGN and other major publications are showing that it has promise.

The one thing that the gameplay did not cover is reversals. Wrestlers can get out of pin covers and submissions with button mashing, but how easy/annoying is the reversal system? Also, how easy is it to climb a ladder or a cage?

Other questions include: will this game play smoothly on the last generation systems and the Nintendo Switch or should we discount them? WWE 2K22 had some serious load times on the Xbox One. What is the deal with dropping FTR and the Acclaimed from the game’s roster?

AEW Fight Forever scored a W for this demo. I know the WWE-only crowd is always going to find ways to bash it for its graphical shortcomings (which might reduce load times), but I think this is a contender that should not be thrown away too easily.