Wrestling fans around the world rejoiced Friday night as CM Punk made his official return to wrestling at AEW Rampage. This long-awaited return has been seven years in the making since his departure from WWE in 2014. With the AEW video game currently in development, this likely means that the best in the world may be making his video game return as well. Although he was playable in UFC 2, the last time fans could play as CM Punk in a wrestling game without creating him themselves was in WWE 2K15.
As exciting as that sounds, however, there is still no official date for the game’s release. The anticipation for how the AEW video game will stack up against its WWE counterpart has left fans dreaming of the possibilities. With the bug-ridden titles 2K put out in recent years, wrestling game fans hope that AEW will rejuvenate the video game landscape the same way they have done on their programming. As someone who’s been playing wrestling games since SmackDown 2: Know Your Role, there’s a list of things I think wrestling fans want to see AEW deliver on in their title.
A Legendary Roster
CM Punk isn’t the only major star in All Elite Wrestling. In fact, their entire roster is stacked with household names, indie darlings and newcomers alike. The variety of talent in the company should definitely be reflected in the video game adaptation.
AEW already confirmed some of the wrestlers who will feature in the game through the teasers they put out. So far, we know Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega, Hikaru Shida, The Young Bucks and Darby Allin will certainly be in the game. It’s also reasonable to deduce that the roster will include AEW’s other active talent as well.
Aside from the active roster, however, I think AEW should capitalize on their high-profile legends too. While they may not actively compete often (or at all) on television, it would be a shame if some of the all-time greats were not playable in the game. Here’s a list of legends AEW and Yuke’s should include in the game:
- Paul Wight
- Mark Henry
- Tully Blanchard
- Arn Anderson
- Jake “The Snake” Roberts
- Billy Gunn
- Diamond Dallas Page
- Chavo Guerrero
There are others, but I think you get the picture. While I feel confident that at least Sting will be playable due to the matches he wrestled in the company, I hope the other legends will get to shine as well. Another wrestler who AEW should definitely include is the late Brodie Lee. Since his passing, AEW has made sure to remember and pay respects to him, even gifting his son the red TNT title and a contract as -1. However, the ultimate tribute would be to include Brodie Lee as a playable character in the video game to immortalize him in AEW history forever.
Attention to Detail
Detail is important. Many game developers know that in their hearts, but 2K clearly forgot that in their latest WWE entries. The unforgivably poor character models in those games and horrendous glitches proved the laziness and lack of respect the developer has towards players. It’s as if 2K was Stone Cold flipping their player base off before delivering a fatal stunner.
With the care AEW has proven to have towards the fans in their product thus far, I feel much more confident in their attention to detail for the game. It’s also important to note who’s behind the game. Yuke’s is at the helm of development. While they did work on some of WWE’s 2K stinkers, they also played a vital role in the beloved SmackDown VS. Raw and SmackDown! series.
AEW also brought in WWF No Mercy director Hideyuki Iwashita for an advisory position. Kenny Omega himself is an advisor as well. As a wrestler and a gamer, his insight should make wrestling fans feel confident in the care for detail AEW’s title is receiving. He stated that this game draws heavily on SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain and No Mercy. Considering the debate between the greatest wrestling game of all time usually ends in a tie between these two, that’s fantastic news.
Some fans may point to the original teaser trailer as a massive red flag. I was also severely disappointed in the cartoonish character models given to the wrestlers in that teaser. However, it seems like AEW and Yuke’s took note of the backlash. In the brief gameplay demo showcased in June, heavy focus was put into the realistic detailing on Darby Allin’s character model. Even up to the smudges on his face paint, the attention to detail is a drastic improvement.
Ever since the Road to WrestleMania modes were abandoned by WWE in their games, fans mourned the loss of creative story modes. The 2K showcases were fine, but they focused solely on storylines people have already seen. And My Career mode is simply boring and uncreative. Wrestling game fans miss the iconic season modes featured in previous titles. And we hope AEW delivers on that as well.
The comparisons made to Here Comes the Pain and No Mercy also provide hope in this department thankfully. Beside being hailed for their gameplay, fans also attribute these two games as having two of the best story modes in wrestling game history. Fans celebrate both games for their branching stories that create nearly endless possibilities depending on matches won or lost. With such a solid team backing the production, it seems hopeful that AEW could provide something similar.
Aside from what he’s accomplished in the ring, Chris Jericho is also recognized for the creative match types he helped invent. Most notably, Jericho is responsible for introducing the Money in the Bank ladder match in WWE. But he was also able to get creative in AEW. Most notably, Jericho introduced the Mimosa Mayhem Match and the Stadium Stampede. Just take a moment to imagine how epic the Stadium Stampede Match could be in a video game.
In addition, AEW also has had a slew of other special match types fans would like to see included in the game. In fact, they even have their own spins on the Money in the Bank and the Royal Rumble in the forms of the Casino Ladder Match and Casino Battle Royale respectively. AEW also has the iconic Blood and Guts match and the Coffin Match that would be fun to play out in a video game. They could even add the infamous Exploding Barbed-Wire Death Match—hopefully with better explosives though.
Another staple of wrestling games that needs to be included is customization. The ability to create wrestlers with unique move-sets and entrances is traditional in any wrestling game. It’s also a fun feature to create custom championships and arenas. Once again, however, 2K’s games leave room for improvement. Sure, all the features are there, but the options for created wrestlers are so limited, it’s embarrassing. The only saving grace is the ability to upload custom images, which they need due to how few options there are for logos. Hopefully, AEW spends time to allow players a variety of options for their custom wrestlers.
I know I threw a lot of shade towards 2K in this article, but I will give credit where credit’s due. The community creations feature is great. The ability to share your creations online for other people to download is the one thing I hope AEW borrows from the WWE 2K games.
A Hopeful Sign
All in all, the AEW video game seems very promising. They have a very strong team backing the project with ties to some of wrestling’s greatest video games. As fans remain excited to see how the project continues, we can only hope that AEW delivers on some of the features that have been painfully missing from contemporary games. Although its release is expected sometime next year, the AEW video game has no official release date. Gamers can only hope the long development time is the result of Yuke’s providing a polished and complete experience for fans.
Via RealSport 101