What We Want to See From the AEW Video Game
For the longest time, the WWE has been the only game at the height of wrestling in North America, and perhaps the world. That changed back in 2019 when All Elite Wrestling (AEW), a promotion created by wrestlers Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes, and The Young Bucks, signed an exclusive TV deal with TNT. The young promotion has been hot on WWE’s heels, and now looks to challenge them in an arena where WWE retained a monopoly: the video game market with a AEW video game.
A (Wrestling) Match Made In Heaven: Yuke’s and AEW’s Wrestling Game
Those familiar with the history of wrestling games will remember Yuke’s Co. Ltd, the developer behind several popular WWE titles during the 2000s, like Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain and the Smackdown vs. Raw series. Their relationship with WWE carried into the modern era until the release of WWE 2K20, when publisher 2K Sports decided to part ways with Yuke’s. Now, Yuke’s brings its pedigree for developing fun, arcade-like, wrestling experiences to the AEW brand, and it’s happening under the supervision of Hideyuki Iwashita, the creator of WWF No Mercy for the Nintendo 64.
As WWE’s 2k series moved closer and closer to achieving sports simulation realism that’s synonymous with the 2k Sports brand, the wrestling game genre lost its luster for fun gameplay that utilized simple controls with the execution of a variety of actions based on context. What this means is that gameplay was context sensitive, with one button controlling a variety of interactions based on where characters are, what their state is, and what’s nearby. It’s a simple but deep system that was phased out of the modern 2k games.
There’s a couple of features we’d like to see in the AEW video game that will hopefully differentiate it from the WWE 2K series.
WWF No Mercy Story Mode
One of the things that personally irked me about the 2k was how its career mode emphasized a cinematic story-mode that relegated any narrative development to cutscenes and made match results feel inconsequential. Storylines in wrestling take place both in the ring and outside the ring, so it’d be nice if the story mode reflected that. Combine that with a deep simulation mode that can track injuries, create randomized story events, simulate lasting feuds and alliances, and you have the potential for player stories that are unique to every play through. The goal should be to surprise players by how their actions in a match will influence their wrestler’s career, not that they need to sit down and watch a 30 minute cutscene after a five minute match.
Create-A-Wrestler & Asset Variation
One of my favorite games has to be Fire Pro Wrestling World on PC, simply because the game lets you get really involved in creating wrestlers, from their movesets, their ring-gear, and their entrances. If the AEW game has wrestler customization options with a variety of different assets that are immediately available without extra purchase, it would set it apart from 2k from the jump. Allow players to create custom arenas, backstage areas, titantrons, etc, then it could serve as the main wrestling game for the modern era.
Asset creation would also be appreciated outside of choosing logos, colors, designs, etc. If you can design how someone’s unitard or boots looks, that would be incredible, especially for players looking to replicate their favorite wrestlers from a specific era in-game.
License Partnerships With TNA, AAA, and DDT.
AEW works with a lot of different promotions and will invite wrestlers to compete in AEW events, or have their own wrestlers show up on a different promotion’s show. Being able to bring in wrestlers from different promotions with their unique movesets and ring gear, even as DLC, would be a cool bonus for wrestling fans. While everyone can recreate wrestlers like KENTA, there’s a difference between an Argentine backbreaker into a knee strike and KENTA’s GTS. Having a specific wrestler’s body language and movement brings so much variety to a move that people would willingly pay extra for it.
One last thing we could mention is who should be on the AEW video game cover. While we may have our specific picks, it’s something I believe that the promotion will somehow weave into storylines in their show. With AEW recently signing CM Punk, it could be an opportunity for the legendary wrestler to show up on the cover of a game since WWE ‘13. Others are likely to bring up Kenny Omega, a legend in his own right, who has yet to be featured on the cover of any game yet. As a huge proponent of gaming culture, Omega would be an obvious choice.
As more teases like this in-game footage of AEW wrestler Jungle Boy release, it’s obvious that Yuke’s and AEW’s team want to create a video game that emphasizes fun and snappy gameplay. We’ll see if Iwashita’s guidance pays off.