PAX East 2023: WrestleQuest Preview

WrestleQuest puts an authentic sports-entertainment spin on turn-based RPG combat to make a love letter to classic games in the genre and the golden age of wrestling, and that's the bottom line.

Published: March 30, 2023 11:00 AM /

Previewed By:

Key art for WrestleQuest depicting Muchacho Man front and center.

This past weekend at PAX East I was able to play a hands-on demo of WrestleQuest, an upcoming wrestling themed RPG from Mega Cat Studios and published by Skybound Games. The passion for the fandom of wrestling and its storied heroes came through in every facet of the world in ways that will make any gamer in the Internet Wrestling Community break out their best Randy Savage “OH YEAH” when they pick it up later this year.

If you want more, check out our WrestleQuest preview from PAX West 2022.

In the demo, I was able to play as two characters whose stories will be told in parallel throughout the campaign with teases of a culmination between the two from studio head Zack Manko. This first is Muchacho Man, a babyface beginning his career in the ring with tutorials laying out the basics of turn based combat that make up the majority of WrestleQuest’s roughly 40 hour runtime. Fans of the Paper Mario series will feel comfortable, as this take on turn-based combat forces you to be much more active in your battle strategy in what Manko referred to as “the Wrestle-fication of RPGs.”

Muchacho man in a battle in a jungle biome

Upon beginning combat, players transition to a squared-circle where they stare down their rivals. The face buttons allow for attacks, taunts, and more as you choose which inputs to best whittle down your opponents health. However as any wrestling fan knows it’s not just a sport, it’s sports entertainment.

Mega Cat’s solution to the crowd angle of wrestling comes into play with a hype meter that rests beneath the battle arena overlaid on a rambunctious crowd of NPCs. This hype meter is a constant push and pull between you and your enemies where the hype being in your favor can lead to additional buffs in combat, or de-buffs should your opponents be the flashier athlete.

Having to juggle typical RPG status effects in addition to this flowing hype meter adds a nice layer to traditional turn based strategy where some may be inclined to just deal out massive damage as fast as possible. The other aspect that the team was able to translate from the world of wrestling is the pin system. Once your opponent is low on health, a mini game can be activated from the same menu where you spend ability points to perform suplexes and a variety of other iconic wrestling moves. This mini game brings up a Mario Golf style meter where you have a limited amount of time to line up a sliding marker, with another sliding target 3 times to successfully pin an opponent. Once again, this all serves the “wrestle-fication of RPGs” the studio has set out to do here.

Stag and Brink Logan activating the gimmick input in a battle

In terms of progression, the main throughline seems to be the story of these two wrestlers. Manko mentioned an affinity for JRPG-style narrative structure in RPGs as opposed to the narrative choice typically offered in western RPGs, and this affinity is core to the structure of WrestleQuest. While there are opportunities for players to be a face or a heel, like in pre-match promo cutting, the variety in play style really comes down to just that, how you focus the abilities of your character from who their manager is to what type of wrestler they are in the ring.

In addition to combat and following the story of our babyface and heel, players will be able to explore a world map full of a variety of regions and biomes. The two areas I saw in the demo were a standard grasslands where Muchacho Man began his journey, and a snowy town up north where I was introduced to jobbers Stag and Brink Logan. The location variety was welcome in making the world of WrestleQuest feel alive, but the writing maintains cohesion to make the plights of both characters feel even, assisting in the ramp up to whatever face-off Mega Cat has in store.

Statue of Rocky Johnson in the WrestleQuest overworld

Beyond the main quest, I was also told there will be a wide variety of side quests to pursue on your journey, so much so that the pitched 40 hours of gameplay could inflate to upwards of 50 or 60 according to the team. I wasn't told much of what these quests will consist of, other than each superstar who is featured in the game from Macho Man Randy Savage to Jake the Snake Roberts will have their own quest line to see through for special rewards. The full release will feature over 400 NPCs and 12 playable characters.

The game is a clear love letter to both '80s RPGs, fandom for the sport, and the golden era of wrestling. The characters in the game are even modeled to look like classic action figures with pronounced joints and poseability. In addition to a combat system that puts an engaging spin on turn-based mechanics, as a fan of wrestling, I’m eager to explore the world and experience the side quest chains built around each wrestling legend. In my brief time with WrestleQuest ,I feel confident in echoing a fan favorite chant for a great wrestling match in that “this is awesome.”

WrestleQuest was previewed at PAX East 2023.

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| Former Staff Writer & Social Lead

Christian Buckley is a Staff Writer and former Social Lead at TechRaptor. With a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Massachusetts… More about Christian

More Info About This Game
Learn More About WrestleQuest
Game Page WrestleQuest
Mega Cat Studios
Skybound Games
Nintendo Switch
RPG, Indie