AEW Fight Forever: wrestling game news, 2022 UK release date, roster, cover star CM Punk, will it be on Xbox Game Pass?

If you loved ‘No Mercy’ or ‘Here Comes the Pain’, you’ll want to check out Fight Forever

Once upon a time, wrestling video games were big business. 2000’s WWF No Mercy on the Nintendo 64, or the PlayStation 2’s WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain - released three years later - are fondly remembered as some of the best fighting games of all time.

In recent years, the dominance of WWE over the wrestling landscape has been reflected in the sport’s representation in video games. Yearly releases in the mould of FIFA’s annual schedule have seen the WWE 2K series slowly iterate, updating rosters and features set, but failing to expand significantly on the core gameplay.

As those games have pushed more to capture the pace and presentation of a live wrestling broadcast, some of the magic that made earlier wrestling games so fun to play has been lost. What’s needed is a real competitor.

Step forward AEW. The upstart rival to WWE was founded in 2019 by Fulham FC vice-chairman Tony Khan, looking to provide an exciting new wrestling product for fans jaded by WWE’s homogenised approach to the unique entertainment format.

The company quickly gained traction, presenting a grittier, combat-focused take on WWE’s often cartoonish storytelling. Now, it’s gearing up to release its first ever video game in AEW Fight Forever.

But why exactly are wrestling fans so looking forward to the new title, and when can you expect to play it? Here is everything you need to know.

What is AEW Fight Forever?

Kenny Omega hits Chris Jericho with a V-Trigger knee in a screenshot from AEW Fight Forever (Image: THQ Nordic)

AEW Fight Forever is AEW’s first foray into the video game space on consoles and PC - the company has previously released the much more limited mobile games, AEW Casino: Double or Nothing and AEW Elite GM.

It doesn’t appear to be doing anything particularly revolutionary with the format, but where WWE’s 2K games strive for a more realistic simulation of what you can expect to see during any weekly broadcast of flagship show WWE RAW, fight forever is taking more an old-school approach.

The game is being directed by Hideyuki Iwashita, who may not be a household name to many gaming fans, but was responsible for some of the most fondly remembered wrestling games from history.

He was also director on the aforementioned WWF No Mercy, and was also involved in the development and production of other wrestling games, most notably WCW/nWo Revenge and WWF WrestleMania 2000.

With the game also being published by THQ - who published many of the classic wrestling games of the late 90s - fans are hoping for throw-back, over-the-top arcade-style gameplay.

And with the reveal of the first gameplay from Fight Forever, it seems that is what we will be getting. Characters are exaggerated, their toned bodies accentuated to an almost anime-level, and classic gameplay features like special metres and taunting return.

What’s new in AEW Fight Forever?

‘Hangman’ Adam Page powerbombs Jon Moxley onto a ladder in AEW Fight Forever (Image: THQ Nordic)

Though the game is taking a decidedly old-school approach, which will be familiar to anybody who played a wrestling game on the N64 or the early PlayStation consoles, it still comes with all the mod-cons you’d expect in 2022.

The game will ship with nine match types in the launch version, and these will include wrestling staples like the singles match and tag team action, plus more esoteric setups like the Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch - though hopefully, these will be a little more spectacular in-game thanAEW’s real-life attempt.

The game also features online play, and intergender wrestling, and a full creation suite, including wrestlers, move-sets, entrances, and arenas. A career mode will also allow players to take their own created wrestler through the AEW schedule.

When can I play it?

As yet, there’s been no official word on when the game will be released, although many outlets have it tentatively pencilled in for a “2022” release date.

Since the end of the year is so close, we’d guess that a release this year is no longer happening, though the game did appear to be in a relatively finished state when match gameplay was first shown off earlier this year.

It’s possible that the game could be given a surprise release - or at least ‘announced’ just a couple of weeks ahead of its eventual release date - before the end of the year.

If that is the case, it would lend itself well to our next question...

Fight Forever’s ‘old-school’ gameplay could lend itself well to an Xbox Game Pass release (Image: THQ Nordic)

Will AEW Fight Forever be on Xbox Game Pass?

Rumours have recently sprung up that AEW Fight Forever will be released through Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s subscription service that allows games to play games new and old on Xbox consoles and PC for a monthly fee.

A report from WrestleZone’s Matt Black first stated that "numerous sources" had told him about the Game Pass launch plans. Later in the day, freelance journalist Mike Straw reported the same thing.

It’s probably a good bet for AEW to get the game released through Game Pass if that rumour does turn out to be true. Wrestling is a bit of a niche form of entertainment, and many people will likely be unwilling to fork out full price for a game based around simulated combat and the theatrics that goes with that.

However, offered to players for no more than a monthly subscription fee, many more people will be convinced to download the game to give it a go, and the developers will be hopeful that easy to grasp, “old-school” gameplay will have people hooked, regardless of the fact it is a wrestling game.

Who is the cover star?

The cover stars of sports games are usually speculated over by fans ahead of their launch, as being chosen to represent a game by being the first thing people see is usually a sign that you’re at the pinnacle of said sport.

AEW Fight Forever doesn’t feature just one wrestler, but instead gives fans a look at Chris Jericho, Jade Cargill, Jon Moxley, Kenny Omega, CM Punk, and Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D.

That’s a fairly inconspicuous line-up of some of the wrestling company’s biggest stars, but CM Punk’s inclusion is raising eyebrows, especially since he is currently suspended indefinitely from the company for his part in a real-life backstage altercation at one of AEW’s biggest shows just a number of weeks ago.

There have even been rumours that Punk - one of AEW’s biggest money makers - will never return to the company, just over a year after he first returned to pro-wrestling for the first time in seven years.

As always with wrestling, the lines between what is real and what is being ‘worked’ for an onscreen storyline is constantly being blurred, and how this particular backstage saga shakes out remains to be seen, but we could have a new cover star soon, especially since Punk is front and centre among his colleagues.