In 2019, All Elite Wrestling opened its doors and immediately changed the professional wrestling world. For the first time in a long while, a promotion emerged which could rival the longtime king of American pro wrestling, WWE. There have undeniably been some growing pains, but four years later, AEW continues to be a popular alternative option for wrestling fans. Now, the company is trying to do the same in the video game world with AEW: Fight Forever, and much like those first AEW shows, the game is a promising debut effort–but with some noticeable room for improvement.

Fight Forever features 47 wrestlers–a far cry from the 218 wrestlers in WWE 2K23, for comparison–at the start, with more able to be unlocked via the in-game shop with currency earned through playing the game. AEW mainstays like MJF, Kenny Omega, Jon Moxley, Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D., “Hangman” Adam Page, and The Young Bucks are here, as well as a few surprising entries. Some of them are heartwarming tributes to wrestlers who have passed away–like Mr. Brodie Lee and Owen Hart–while others are names who have departed to the competition like Cody Rhodes. There are plenty of names missing–the current AEW Women’s Champion Toni Storm, the previous women’s champion Jamie Hayter, and two-thirds of the Trios Champion House Of Black, for example–but it does represent most of the top talent currently in the promotion.

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What’s cool about Fight Forever’s approach to the roster is that everyone is on an even playing field. There are no ratings in Fight Forever; I can pick any matchup I want and have the same chance of winning no matter who I’m controlling. And I do mean “any matchup I want,” as intergender matches–which aren’t available in WWE’s current game series–are completely fine here. The game treats its roster less like a wrestling simulation, with clear divisions and ratings that separate the big stars from the midcard talent, and more like a fighting game where anyone can fight anyone, no questions asked. Being able to book whoever I want in a match, regardless of gender, size, or any other factors, is a really cool approach and I love that Fight Forever opted for it.

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