The AEW console game will feature campaign, multiplayer, create-a-wrestler, and “various other unusual modes”, but won’t include a GM mode, according to executive vice president of All Elite Wrestling Kenny Omega – who also revealed that he joined AEW on the condition that he’d be a part of its gaming division, and talked through the game’s retro influences.
In an interview with IGN Japan, Omega explained that a lot of the details are still under discussion, but that the console game will include a campaign mode in addition to multiplayer. He said that the General Manager mode will not be in the console game, instead remaining unique to the mobile title AEW Elite GM.
“I can say right now that we’re not sure of how many wrestlers will be available upon release, but one thing I can say is that the number of wrestlers in the AEW is growing all the time, and the roster of wrestlers in the game will reflect that,” he said. “There will be a campaign, and various other unusual modes, and you will be able to edit your own wrestler, too.”
He said that while the team are aiming for a 2021 release, this is not set in stone, as the quality of the game will come before release date commitments. “I don’t want to rush it, so I don’t want to make a promise [about the release date],” he said. “I want the release version to be good.”
In just two years since its January 2019 inception, All Elite Wrestling (AEW) has become a powerhouse in the world of wrestling. A few months ago, top wrestler Kenny Omega announced the establishment of AEW Games, revealing that an as-yet untitled console game is being produced by Japanese developer Yuke’s. Omega handpicked the developer, with veteran wrestling game producer Hideyuki “Geta” Iwashita as an advisor.
Omega’s clearly invested in the game, and wrestling games in general – even saying that he originally joined AEW as a wrestler on the condition that he would also be involved with its gaming division. He told us that he was influenced by the wrestling games he loved in the 1990s and early 2000s, and this influence will shape the direction of the new games.
“In America, there are a lot of fans [of professional wrestling] who want a game like [2000 N64 game] WWF No Mercy or [PlayStation/N64 series] Virtual Pro Wrestling, and I hope that we can create something that feels like that, but something a little more speedy, something that allows for today’s style, which is a little different than it was 20 years ago. Things are faster and more dynamic now.”
In particular, he said that he is keen to revisit those games’ mechanics for countering, modernising them to work in a more satisfying way. “I want to give the player a little more control over when he can reverse moves, instead of it being completely random,” Omega said. “No Mercy and Virtual Pro Wrestling had a ‘counter’ button, but you never knew if you would counter or not, and there was no indication of if you could or if you would. It would just sometimes happen. So I’ve been thinking about if there is some sort of merit to giving the player more control over when you can counter, and would it be more fun that way. Or maybe we will create a counter system. None of this is final yet though.”
He also heaped praise on PlayStation 2 series King of Colosseum, and said that he is considering implementing that game’s liberating use of finishing moves. “One thing that I loved about King of Colosseum is that you had the ability to use a finisher right away. And in wrestling, sometimes that happens,” he said. “First there needs to be momentum, and the ability to build a special. We’re still experimenting, so who knows what’s going to happen.”
Omega explained that these old-school touches will help to keep his console game from directly competing with other modern franchises. Indeed, an early teaser trailer (above) shown during the AEW Games 1.0 Special Event in November revealed that the game favours a cartoonish graphics style rather than photoreal fighters, which appears to be part of Omega’s strategy. Indeed, he explained that the reason he chose to work with Iwashita was because of the developer’s strong innovation on older games such as Virtual Pro Wrestling and WWF No Mercy. He had been discussing the idea of working with Iwashita since even before the formation of the AEW promotion. Yuke’s, meanwhile, was the original developer of the WWE 2K series, which was recently taken over by Visual Concepts.
“My plan is not to compete with WWE and that style of games,” he told us. “Those games try to re-create the look of a WWE wrestling match as you’d see it on TV, and their system is to use mo-cap for capturing the moves. I always felt that the way that Geta had created his systems, even though it wasn’t with real people in mo-cap, it was more accurate.”
Shuka Yamada is a freelance writer for IGN Japan; she also wrestles for Gatoh Move Pro Wrestling under the name Lulu Pencil. Follow her on Twitter for all that good stuff.