In the dynamic realm of gaming, few genres pack a punch like fighting games do. They’re the exhilarating adrenaline rushes we’ve craved since the dawn of arcade times, serving us dramatic showdowns, epic battles, and unforgettable characters. But with a plethora of options out there, how does one separate the champs from the chumps? Fret not! Whether you’re a seasoned player hunting for your next challenge or a newbie ready to dive into the action, we’ve got you covered.
Buckle up as we journey through the best fighting games that have truly marked their territory in the gaming world. From iconic classics to modern masterpieces, let’s uncover the heavy hitters that have defined generations and still continue to keep us on the edge of our seats. Ready, set, fight!
When you dive into the world of fighting games, SNK emerges as an iconic name with its rich legacy. Among its remarkable creations, Samurai Shodown undeniably stands tall. While the modern trend in fighting games leans heavily on electrifying combos and eye-popping hit numbers, Samurai Shodown gracefully dances to a different tune. Drawing inspiration from its arcade roots, this weapon-based brawler adds weight to every blow, where even a single strike can drain a significant portion of your health bar.
Instead of concentrating on dazzling moves, the game gives prime importance to ‘footsies’. To put it simply, it’s a strategy of manipulating movement and understanding the hitboxes to land successful hits, though the real depth goes far beyond that. It’s a nod to the golden days of gaming, offering a more traditional and stripped-down experience than many contemporaries. But here’s the real beauty: the gripping duels keep you on the edge, where you might be just one strike away from defeat, yet a few precise hits can flip the game in your favor.
To spice things up, the game frequently introduces fresh faces, and most recently, Baiken from the renowned Guilty Gear series has made an appearance. If you’re on the lookout for the best fighting games that evoke nostalgic feels and exhilarating tension, grab a buddy and give Samurai Shodown a try.
Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown
Roll back the years, and many of us would remember the initial visuals of blocky fighters engaging in animated brawls in the first Virtua Fighter. Fast forward to today, and the transformation is nothing short of astounding. With the advent of Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown, those once rudimentary figures have evolved into breathtaking HD characters, all thanks to the Dragon Engine developed by the maestros behind the Yakuza series. But some things remain eternal.
The combat in Virtua Fighter still mirrors a strategic game of chess, demanding players to master a staggering variety of moves, techniques, and tactics for every character. Ultimate Showdown wasn’t just a fresh coat of paint; it was a rejuvenation the series direly needed to charm today’s players and showcase its deep yet gratifying fighting mechanics to a fresh wave of enthusiasts.
As one of the best fighting games out there, it boasts the title of being the most visually stunning Virtua Fighter ever, packed with an unparalleled roster of fighters and an intensive training regime for newcomers. If you’re passionate about witnessing the evolution of a classic while enjoying a rich combat experience, Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown is your perfect match.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
When you think of the best fighting games that blend the essence of iconic anime with thrilling combat, Dragon Ball FighterZ swiftly takes a top spot. Going beyond just being a solid game for Dragon Ball aficionados, it asserts itself as a phenomenal fighting game in every dimension. What strikes you initially is its sheer beauty. The visuals are so captivating, it’s like witnessing the anime come to life with every punch, dash, and energy blast – it truly resonates with the show’s spirit.
Pause at any moment, and you’d believe you’re watching a frame right out of the anime series. But there’s more than just aesthetics; with a diversified lineup of beloved characters, a dynamic 3v3 tagging system, and an intuitive auto-combo mechanism that empowers even novices to unleash spectacular moves, it promises unparalleled enjoyment.
The game’s competitiveness remains unwavering, and with the introduction of the rollback netcode, its future seems even more promising. Despite initial network hiccups, the game beams with genuine passion for the Dragon Ball universe and the fighting genre, making it an unforgettable experience for fans and fighters alike.
The King of Fighters XV
2022 brought to the table an entrant that reignited the fighting spirit in many – The King of Fighters XV. Its vast roster, filled with recognizable names, is only the tip of the iceberg. For close to three decades, this series has given fans countless memories, and with KOFXV, SNK promises to “shatter all expectations.”
Delving into the storyline, several iconic characters like Ash Crimson, Shermie, Chris, and Yashiro make their dramatic comeback, introducing fresh dynamics and intensifying the excitement. With a roster boasting 39 unique characters, many of whom have been away from the limelight, every match is a thrilling reunion. Comparing it to its predecessor, KOFXV’s graphics take a giant leap forward, capturing the essence of the classic 3v3 team clashes the series is celebrated for.
The online experience is further elevated with the debut of the rollback netcode in the series, ensuring smooth and immersive brawls, whether you’re playing offline or online. Representing a new dawn for SNK’s fighting game lineup, The King of Fighters XV is poised to define the genre’s trajectory, and we anticipate it being a staple in the best fighting games lineup for a long while.
Guilty Gear -Strive-
Arc System Works has made waves in the world of best fighting games with its anime-inspired 2D masterpieces. With Guilty Gear -Strive-, they’ve not just delivered a visual marvel, but also refined the gameplay to cater to a wider range of players. Echoing the magic of its predecessor, Xrd, Strive employs intricate 3D character designs that move with the fluidity and charm of 2D animations.
It’s genuinely mesmerizing to witness the camera pans and zooms showcasing the characters in their full 3D glory while maintaining a seamless, animated aesthetic. For enthusiasts who crave intricate gameplay mechanics, Guilty Gear offers a smorgasbord of features: exhilarating air dashes, nuanced character abilities, and the multifaceted Roman Cancel system.
Strive also boasts a significant upgrade for its online players: the introduction of rollback netcode, ensuring a more consistent and lag-free online combat experience, a testament to Arc System Works’ commitment to excellence. Currently, Guilty Gear -Strive- stands as a shining beacon in the realm of fighting games, making it an essential pick for those eager to engage with top-tier combat action.
Capcom Fighting Collection
As the retro gaming trend sweeps the market, Capcom stands tall by presenting fans with an authentic trip down memory lane, unlike any other. Enter the Capcom Fighting Collection – a treasure trove that encapsulates the golden era of arcade fighting games from the 1990s, all under one roof.
What sets this collection apart, especially when juxtaposed with compilations like the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, is its feature that allows every game to be played online, bridging the gap between past enthusiasts and a new generation of players. For a single investment, players gain access to a medley of classics: Hyper Street Fighter 2: The Anniversary Edition, the complete Darkstalkers series, Cyberbots: Fullmetal Madness, and the debut home version of the imaginative Red Earth, blending classic fighting with RPG-style progression.
Puzzle aficionados aren’t left out either, with Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo offering a delightful blend of combat and puzzle-solving. And for those who have a soft spot for adorable chibi-style animations, Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix is sure to be a hit. All in all, with a roster of ten iconic games, Capcom Fighting Collection is an indispensable addition for every retro fighting game enthusiast, solidifying its position in the list of best fighting games.
Street Fighter V: Championship Edition
Street Fighter V started its journey with a bumpy road, and many players remember its initial release as somewhat underwhelming. The game’s foundational mechanics were excellent from day one, but the initial scarcity of characters and limited content left fans yearning for more. Fast forward a bit, and by the time the Arcade Edition dropped in 2018, Street Fighter V truly began to shine.
The Championship Edition was the icing on the cake, fortifying the game’s place in the pantheon of the best fighting games for years to come. At its core, this game remains true to the essence of Street Fighter – the gold standard for all fighting game franchises. Whether you’re a newbie wanting to learn about fireballs and combos or a pro delving deep into footsies and frame data, Street Fighter is where you start.
The legacy it has crafted since the inception of World Warrior in arcades is unparalleled. An added perk for PC players is the cross-play functionality with PlayStation 4, offering a more expansive playground, as fighting game communities primarily lean towards console gaming. Over the years, Street Fighter V has evolved immensely, with new characters, an engaging story mode, and more. To get a glimpse of its early days, our initial Street Fighter V PC review is a handy resource.
Injustice 2 Legendary Edition
Superheroes are ruling our screens, both big and small. So, it’s only fitting that one of the best fighting games to date capitalizes on our love for these larger-than-life characters. NetherRealm Studios, already esteemed for their Mortal Kombat series, crafted the masterpiece that is Injustice 2.
Players get to step into the shoes of iconic DC superheroes and supervillains, battling across diverse modes – from gripping story campaigns to the dynamic Multiverse. The latter spices up gameplay by offering various challenges, each bringing its own twist to battles. One standout feature is the Gear system, where characters can be customized with unique equipment, ranging from modest stat boosts to game-changing abilities.
Opting for the Legendary Edition ensures you’re getting the ultimate Injustice 2 experience. It comes loaded with all the DLC characters, exclusive skins, a raised character level ceiling, and several other exciting inclusions. Whether you’re a comic book fan or a fighting game enthusiast, this edition is a feast for the senses.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a delightful blend of two worlds: the iconic characters from Atlus’ renowned RPGs, Persona 3 and Persona 4, combined with the adrenaline-pumping dynamics of a fighting game. Recently making a comeback on platforms such as PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC, this refreshed version boasts every character ever introduced via DLC and offers two immersive story campaigns that extend the narrative beyond Persona 4.
Players will find themselves engaged in thrilling combat, with their cherished Personas at their side. This dual-layered fighting system allocates two distinct button inputs, one for the character and one for their Persona, making it a unique 4-button experience. The rapid combat style might remind you of Arc System Works’ masterpieces like Guilty Gear, but Persona 4 Arena Ultimax offers a gentler learning curve, especially catering to fans migrating from the JRPG-centric Persona titles.
Although the game has been around for a decade, the recent ports inject a fresh energy, making it an enticing pick among the best fighting games. And there’s more good news! A patch set for release this summer aims to fine-tune the online play experience, ensuring smoother and more engaging battles. Dive deeper into our thoughts with our dedicated review.
Street Fighter 6
Capcom learned some hard lessons from the initial hurdles of Street Fighter 5’s release. With the advent of Street Fighter 6, they vowed not to tread down the same path. And they certainly delivered! For the first time ever, the series introduced an expansive single-player campaign titled “World Tour.” Players embark on a global quest, navigating their favorite fighters to rescue their dearest friend.
This journey is more than just battles—it’s an ode to longtime fans with its nostalgic undertones, coupled with the inclusion of RPG elements to enrich the gameplay. At its heart, the roster for Street Fighter 6 is a brilliant fusion of the old and the new. While returning characters sport revamped designs and enhanced moves, the new entrants bring fresh fighting styles that the series hadn’t explored before.
Take Jamie, for instance, who masters the intriguing “drunken fighter” style, a delightful addition to the game. If you’re eager to uncover how Capcom has meticulously crafted this installment to cater to every kind of fighting game aficionado, our in-depth review of Street Fighter 6 is a must-read.
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
In the realm of fighting games, communities often migrate to the newest entry of a beloved series, leaving behind older versions. However, this pattern saw a break with the Marvel vs Capcom series. Sure, the reception to the recent title, Infinite, was lukewarm, but the enduring love for Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 is a testament to its superior quality.
This game seamlessly brings together a dynamic roster of characters from two giant franchises, skillfully capturing the essence of both the Marvel and Capcom worlds. It’s not just about the extensive roster; the artistry brilliantly resonates with fans. But what truly sets UMVC3 apart in the best fighting games genre is its intricate tag-team combat system. Players delve into immersive 3v3 battles, leveraging tags and assists, leading to intensely powerful and often dizzying combos.
This high-octane action, while challenging to track at times, is the game’s allure. The satisfaction players get from mastering such intense mechanics is unmatched, making it an invaluable treasure in the fighting game world. It’s no wonder that this game graced the main stage at Evo 2023, solidifying its reputation as a pioneer in both the fighting game genre and the broader esports landscape. Its legacy? Well-earned and timeless.
Killer Instinct, released in 2013, shattered any misconceptions of it merely mimicking other fighting games like Mortal Kombat. Its distinction started with being among the first mainstream fighting games to adopt rollback netcode, ensuring buttery-smooth online gameplay.
But what truly makes it stand out among the best fighting games is its unparalleled Dojo mode—a guide that transcends mere game tutorials. It’s not just about mastering Killer Instinct; it’s an introduction to the fighting game universe, an essential starting point for novices. Beyond this, the game is bursting with engaging single-player content, delivering top-notch visuals paired with a captivating soundtrack by the gifted Mick Gordon.
The thrill of executing an Ultra Combo, the rush of perfectly timing a Combo or Counter Breaker, or the sheer joy of mastering a new character—all converge to provide a playing experience that feels deeply rewarding. Killer Instinct doesn’t just adhere to the norms of a great fighting game; it carves its unique identity in the genre. Now, fans are eagerly waiting, hoping Microsoft blesses them with a sequel soon.
Skullgirls 2nd Encore
Skullgirls emerges as a loving nod to the iconic tag-game style popularized by titles like Marvel Vs Capcom 2. The game generously offers you the opportunity to dive into battles with up to three characters. Yet, it also offers a unique twist; if you’re someone who prefers a smaller team or even a solo fighter, the game compensates by bumping up your chosen character’s health, balancing out the odds.
This adaptive feature is a breath of fresh air in the world of best fighting games, offering a chance for players to explore the intricacies of tag fighting or pour their focus into mastering a single character. The game’s newfound popularity can be attributed to its robust rollback netcode, an essential feature, especially with the remote play necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, Skullgirls showcased an all-female cast, each character empowered with superhuman abilities courtesy of their parasitic partners. As the game evolved, the roster expanded to include male fighters.
The game’s journey is also noteworthy. After transitioning from the dissolved Lab Zero Games, it found a home with Hidden Variable Studios. This new alliance revitalized the game, introducing a seasonal character release structure. While Skullgirls 2nd Encore isn’t a brand-new title, this innovative approach ensures fans will keep seeing new additions, making the game more dynamic and engaging. Eager to know more? Dive into our detailed review.
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection
The Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection might seem like an unconventional pick since it’s not just one game, but a treasure trove of twelve epic titles. But trust us, this inclusion isn’t merely about numbers. This collection showcases some of the finest gems in the best fighting games category, especially the legendary Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo and Street Fighter 3: Third Strike.
The former is hailed as a groundbreaking game that reshaped the fighting genre’s landscape, while the latter stands out as one of the most polished and visually striking 2D sprite-based fighters ever created. With the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, the beauty lies in its breadth and depth.
Players are presented with a rich palette, enabling them to relive the nostalgia and immerse themselves in the intricate combat mechanics that have defined the series. So, whether you’re reminiscing about the golden days or diving in for the first time, this collection is a celebration of fighting game excellence.
Delve into the intense world of Tekken, where family feuds reach their boiling point, and fighting gets personal. In the latest chapter of the “King of Iron Fist Tournament”, Tekken 7 takes center stage, reviving those legendary scenes of fathers sending their sons into fiery volcanoes. But it’s not just about the epic narrative. As a standout in the realm of best fighting games, Tekken 7 showcases 3D combat at its finest. Unlike many contenders in this category, the game lets you maneuver freely within its arenas, allowing for strategic dodges and attacks from diverse angles—something you won’t get in the likes of Street Fighter or Guilty Gear.
Tekken 7 also boasts a unique control scheme, assigning each limb of your fighter to individual buttons, ensuring a greater sense of control over attacks and the direction they hail from. Whether it’s the sheer power and precision of characters like Kazuya or the rhythmic flair of Eddie Gordo’s Capoeira moves, the game offers a vast palette of fighting styles. And for those seeking drama, the game’s new slowdown mechanics, triggered by match-defining moves, intensify the experience. While it might seem strange to have the action decelerate, it only amplifies the suspense, making every duel unforgettable. If you’re scouting for top-tier 3D fighting games, Tekken 7 shines brightly, making it a must-have addition to your collection.
Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike
Choosing a single representative from the illustrious Street Fighter anthology is no small feat. While Street Fighter II blazed a trail in the early 90s, sparking a worldwide fighting game craze, and Street Fighter IV rejuvenated the genre for a new era, it’s Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike that truly captivates the heart. Remembered for the iconic “Evo Moment 37” and the mesmerizing Daigo parry, this game not only marked history but also inspired countless enthusiasts.
Beyond those moments, the game is a visual and auditory masterpiece. Its detailed sprite animations, atmospheric backgrounds, and jazzy beats craft a sensory feast like no other in the fighting game realm. Although the roster might’ve initially raised eyebrows due to its departure from classic characters and the inclusion of quirkier fighters, in hindsight, it offers a well-balanced mix catering to varied playstyles. But what sets 3rd Strike on a pedestal is its revolutionary parry system. The ability to deflect any move, whether a simple Hadouken or a powerful Super Art, adds layers of complexity, making the game both challenging for veterans and accessible for newcomers.
Revisiting the golden era of the late 90s, few games have withstood the test of time as 3rd Strike has. Even today, with modern releases supporting rollback netcode, the game remains unparalleled in its charm and mechanics. For many, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike isn’t just another title—it’s the epitome of the best fighting games ever crafted.
The magic of the Dreamcast’s original Soulcalibur has long been an elusive charm, one the series has been chasing for many years. But with Soulcalibur 6, it feels like that enchanting allure is back, bigger and better. When you dive into this weapon-centric fighter, you’ll notice its wide appeal. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie trying out moves or a seasoned pro looking to perfect a lethal combo; this game offers a satisfying experience for all.
Among the game’s treasures is the Soulcalibur 6 character creator, a playground for the imagination that has given birth to some unforgettable, sometimes hilariously eerie, custom-made fighters. The beauty of it is you can take your hand-crafted warrior on a sprawling journey, immersing yourself in a campaign filled with RPG elements, or indulge in a story mode tailored uniquely for every in-game character. In a landscape dominated by best fighting games, Soulcalibur 6 stands tall, offering both depth and endless fun.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Let’s set the record straight: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn’t just another installment in the long-standing series; it’s a masterclass, an ode to video gaming at its finest. Though some die-hard fans might swear by Melee, the Switch’s rendition of this beloved fighter is nothing short of legendary. Gone are the balance issues from the Wii U version, and in their place, we get a chaotic, exhilarating fighter teeming with a whopping 80 characters!
From Nintendo’s iconic cast to unexpected additions like Sephiroth and Persona 5’s Joker, the roster feels like a grand festival of gaming icons. But it’s not just about the numbers; it’s the sheer enjoyment derived from playing. The diversity in characters means every player, regardless of their preference, finds a virtual alter ego.
And if you’re seeking a narrative, the RPG-infused “World of Light” adventure mode offers just that, paired with the series’ most seamless net code yet. Whether you love raining items in casual matches or you’re the competitive sort, meticulously planning every move, Ultimate is a cornucopia of delight. Some might even argue it’s more than one of the best fighting games of the modern era; it could be among the most phenomenal games ever. Skeptical? Let’s settle it on Final Destination.
EA Sports UFC 3
In the vast universe of best fighting games, where we often see otherworldly creatures and animated heroes duke it out, it’s refreshing to have a game that mirrors the intensity and strategy of real-world martial arts. That’s precisely where EA Sports UFC 3 shines. It’s not just about flashy moves or supernatural combos; it’s about simulating the genuine feel of a UFC cage match. Every punch, every kick, they’re all designed to make you feel the adrenaline and the impact.
Unlike many other fighting games where you’re watching health bars, in UFC 3, it’s all about tactically assessing your moves. It’s a game of strategy, where you have to be mindful of your stamina and decide when to deliver that potential knockout blow. It brings the thrill of real-life UFC bouts right to your gaming console, making it a unique gem in the fighting game arena.
Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate
Enter the world of Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate, and you’re diving into an overflowing treasure chest of fighting game content. This Ultimate edition serves as a grand buffet, offering everything the game has unveiled over the past few years. From a robust roster teeming with both iconic Mortal Kombat fighters and surprising additions like Robocop and The Joker to a plethora of additional content, this game goes above and beyond.
Even if you aren’t keen on challenging others online, the cinematic storyline that spans around eight hours will keep you glued to the screen. And the cherry on top? An abundance of customization options and unlockables to tweak and personalize your chosen fighter. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or someone just dipping their toes into the world of best fighting games, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate promises an experience that’s both deep and accessible.