Also on: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Publisher: THQ Nordic
A few weeks ago Paul gave his (somewhat WWE-influenced) thoughts on AEW: Fight Forever for PC and PS5. Now it’s my turn to cover the Switch version of the game, and I’ll do my best not to let my huge bias for AEW influence how I grade it.
It’s tough, though. As someone who’s been a fan of AEW since its inception four years ago, I really, really want to see them succeed. What’s more, it’s been years since I last really enjoyed a wrestling game, and given how much AEW: Fight Forever was clearly influenced by games like WWF No Mercy — a game I have fond memories of sinking hours upon hours into — I had pretty high hopes.
The good news is that this is far and away the best wrestling game available on the Switch. Admittedly, that’s not exactly a difficult achievement, since the competition is pretty lacking: you have a WWE 2K offering that’s literally one of the worst games ever made, ports of old Neo Geo Pocket Color games, lacklustre arcade games, and the insane weirdness of Wrestling Empire – the last of which is the only other game that comes close to Fight Forever. (Though I’ll hasten to add that Wrestling Empire is definitely an oddball gem in the Switch catalogue if you’re a wrestling fan.)
But even on its own merits, Fight Forever has a few things going for it. The creation tools may not get into the weeds of things like facial bone structure in the way that some other sports games do, but it still allows you to not just create wrestlers with unique looks and movesets (à la No Mercy), but also factions and arenas.
On top of that, there’s a storyline mode that gives you a pretty good taste of everything the game has to offer. It has flaws – which I’ll get into in a moment – but it was still neat to travel around North America, not just wrestling match after match but also taking time to go sight-seeing and sample local restaurants. I thought it was pretty amazing to get to choose your wrestler’s diet, and then have that reflected in where and what they ate on the road – though the fact I’m a long-time vegan may be influencing me here a little bit.
Mind you, the storyline is also where you notice some of the game’s problems: it doesn’t always make a lot of sense. For example, I had a match with Penta one day, then the next cutscene featured him talking about how he really wanted to fight me. I won the tag titles with Christian, and then I never saw him or defended the belts again. Playing as a male wrestler, I got embroiled in a long-running intergender feud with Thunder Rosa. I had a match against PAC where it clearly stated that DQ was on, then I got destroyed in a 3-on-1 beatdown in the ring in front of the ref. (I mean, I know that AEW refs take a somewhat loose approach to applying the rulebook, but even that seemed pretty blatant.)
There are other problems with Fight Forever that are specific to the Switch version, though. The visuals are pretty terrible. You constantly feel like you’re watching the game through a haze, and everyone and everything looks blurry at all times. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking at a profile picture, or picking people during selection screens, or watching cutscenes, or fighting a match: on the Switch, this game looks like it came out a few generations ago.
There were also some intermittent performance issues. Any time I ran into the ropes, for example, they’d wobble like I was looking at sine waves, and would take a surprising amount of time to calm down. The crowd generally sounded tinny and far away, as if the chants were coming in over a can and a piece of string. There were even one or two moments where the game just froze, and I I had to restart it completely.
Even with those problems, however, AEW: Fight Forever is still worth playing. Like AEW itself, it offers a welcome change from the slickness of its main rival, and while there are definitely areas for the game to improve, it fully captures the spirit of the games it’s trying to emulate. If you’re looking to play a wrestling game on the Switch, your search pretty much begins and ends with AEW: Fight Forever.
THQ Nordic provided us with an AEW: Fight Forever Switch code for review purposes.