It’s no secret that, in gaming, success can often be found when we look to the past. Playing on nostalgia is a powerful tool if used right and AEW Fight Forever may be proving this in the most astounding way possible.
We were fortunate enough to spend some time playing the game during Gamescom 2022. We even had a brief chat with superstars Evil Uno and Christopher Daniels not only about the game, but AEW’s future in general. THQ Nordic Senior Producer David Knudsen also joined us for the demo and answered some questions.
Uniting a Community
When I refer to AEW Fight Forever using nostalgia, it’s meant only with respect. The trio of teams working on this game include the in-house AEW Games, wrestling game legends Yuke’s and long-time publisher of the WWE video game series THQ Nordic (yes, they went bust and returned but the legacy is certainly there).
Each party seems painfully aware that there once existed a time when wrestling games were among the most anticipated releases in any given year. Not only that, they were often enjoyed by people who didn’t really have a huge attachment to the sport of pro wrestling.
AEW Fight Forever appears well on the path to not only paying homage to games like WWF No Mercy, Here Comes The Pain and WCW/NWO Revenge but it will also modernise many aspects that might not hold up quite so well.
The result is the Gamescom 2022 build of AEW Fight Forever. A simple single match was playable with Adam Cole, Kenny Omega, CM Punk, Paul Wight, Thunder Rosa and Hikaru Shida all playable.
The presentation of the game is wonderful. Short and sweet entrances that are interactive in that you can activate pyro at the push of a button. It’s a breath of fresh air given that, in other games, once the novelty of entrances wears off, you’re typically going to just skip them anyway.
It has a unique and ever so slightly exaggerated look but not on the scale of WWE All-Stars. The graphical decisions are quite risky but have been well worth it.
The gameplay is super tight and feels very smooth with quite a minimal HUD which means your attention can be all on the action in the ring.
THQ Nordic producer David Knudsen, who has a history with the Smackdown vs Raw series and also worked on Legends of Wrestlemania, spoke with an intense passion for AEW Fight Forever. Not only because of the promise that the game is showing but because of the initial waves of positive feedback that feel so rare within the industry.
The longer my match went on, the more natural the controls felt and it really did take me back to a simpler time where complex grabble systems, limb targeting and stamina meters just didn't exist. For the 30 minutes that I was playing AEW Fight Forever, I had a huge smile on my face that lasted long after my time with the game was over.
The Future is Bright
While AEW Fight Forever was naturally the hot topic in the room. I was also presented with an opportunity to put some questions to Christopher Daniels and Evil Uno. The first thing I was interested in was how they felt AEW could really broaden its appeal to continue its current boom.
‘The Fallen Angel’ was more than happy to put his ideas forward which essentially came down to one thing, touring. Daniels explained how TNA toured the UK and always received a positive reception. They wouldn’t necessarily hit the biggest venues but there was a rabid fanbase awaiting them at every show. He believes Tony Kahn’s ties to Fulham football club will eventually lead to a bigger focus on the UK market and I personally agree that it can’t come soon enough.
Daniels was also clear that AEW still hasn’t truly cracked the USA & Canada yet, and full access to a country-wide touring schedule closer to home is probably the bigger priority for now.
Dream Come True
On the other side of the spectrum, Evil Uno was simply overwhelmed by his upcoming appearance in AEW Fight Forever. He spoke passionately about playing wrestling games all throughout his formative years and picked out Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 as the game where the genre peaked for him.
This was just another example showing the passion involved in this project. Both Uno and producer David Knudsen both strongly commended Kenny Omega for his involvement with AEW Fight Forever’s development.
While only time will tell just how much more there is to see and learn about AEW Fight Forever, it’s clear that the project is in very capable hands and has all the resources it needs to succeed.