Few things can measure up to the competitive joy of an adrenaline-pumped match between you and your friend. Whether it’s due to complex combos to master, great feeling of power through flashy blows, kicks, and punches, or the imaginative, sometimes very iconic characters, Fighting games are a pinnacle of multiplayer fun.
With that in mind, We’ve compiled a solid list of the best fighting games available in the industry. I tried to strike a careful balance between those with high skill ceiling and those more approachable to the newcomer. Due to the popularity of martial arts-based combat in storytelling in general, these games also often involve known characters from the popular movie or comic book series. So a part of the idea is taking the reigns of your favorite characters and putting them in hypothetical scenarios you wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise.
So let’s take a look at our selection of champions!
Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator
|Publisher||Arc System Works|
|Genre||Fighting Game, Arcade|
|Modes||Single and multi-player|
As far as character designs go, the Guilty Gear series is definitely one of the more out-there. Not just that, but practically everything in this game oozes personality, from the over-the-top story and move-sets of the characters to the fantastic music.
source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdTZ0Sj2I_A (Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR- Official Trailer)
Guilty Gear is definitely a niche title, for the most part, underrepresented by the western audiences. It is also a little bit difficult to get into, not because it’s hard, but because it’s just different. But those willing to learn new things, the Guilty Gear will reward with very intense and nuanced gameplay. While the game has a lot of backstory that may seem difficult to follow, it mostly rests on the characters, who are certainly fascinating.
- Huge roster of very unique characters
- Complex gameplay, highly diversified between the characters
- Great aesthetic, including very unique character designs
Dragon Ball: FighterZ
|Publisher||Bandai Namco Games|
The selling point of this game is pretty straight-forward: you get to play as characters from the ever-popular anime: Dragon Ball Z. You pick a tag-team of three characters and engage your opponent’s team.
source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBI0MU73nlc (DRAGON BALL FighterZ – E3 2017 Trailer | XB1, PS4, PC)
Dragon Ball: FighterZ manages to strike the balance between accessibility and a high skill ceiling. Which is to say, picking three random heroes and just mashing buttons is a lot of fun and can be surprisingly effective, but taking time to master the controls can reward you with the ability to pull off some very fancy tricks. Additionally, you can learn to master the iconic moves of these characters, like Goku’s ubiquitous Kamehameha wave.
- Play as your favorite Dragon Ball Z characters
- Easy to get into, very rewarding to master
- Great single-player campaign
|Modes||Single and multi-player|
Injustice is something of a DC’s response to Marvel’s foothold in fighting games. You get to pick from a roster of famous DC heroes and villains, from Batman, through Wonder Woman and down to the various Lanterns.
source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p50qZNiRfa8 (Injustice 2 – Gameplay Reveal Trailer)
Gameplay-wise, Injustice is pretty complex with a wide selection of possible moves for each character. You can also customize the characters’ costumes to change their basic statistics. While the game isn’t highly competitive, this allows for something of a meta-game to form within Injustice 2, though there’s an option to disable stat bonuses from gear and give all characters a level playing field.
- Play as your favorite DC characters, from Batman to Superman
- Customize your heroes to make them truly yours
- Master your favorite hero or villain and harness their ultimate, destructive moves like the Flash’s time-traveling
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
|Genre||Fighting, 2D Arcade|
Built on the idea of a crossover between the two massive IPs, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom series gives the player a chance to play matches between famous characters from Capcom games, like Dante from the devil may Cry series, against famous Marvel heroes and villains. The game’s classic mode features a tag-team of 3 characters picked and chosen according to the player’s fancy.
source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-UFkBRzYi4 (Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 : Trailer #1)
The big draw here is trying to comprise a team of characters to complete each other. Throughout the single-player campaign, these characters interact and give little bits of characterization, allowing you to roleplay this crazy crossover out a little bit. While Marvel deals exclusively with comic book heroes, who for the most part fight in their respective stories, on Capcom’s side there’re a few characters, Marcus Phoenix for example, who don’t usually resort to brass knuckles like this, so it’s certainly cool to see and play as them in this environment.
- Mix and match a perfect team from two different settings
- See what your favorite characters who don’t usually fight, can pull off
- Intuitive and straight-forward gameplay
Soul Calibur VI
Soul Calibur is a little bit different from most of the classic fighting games because the characters come to the arena armed with actual weapons. That and the arena is not closed, which means you can win by knock-out if you manage to push your opponent outside the ring, a little bit like in Super Smash Bros.
source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sCw3kvSjj0 (SOULCALIBUR VI – PS4/XB1/PC – Feature Trailer)
Soul Calibur VI has a pretty high ceiling, but the barrier of entry isn’t particularly hard. Admittedly though, the game has some balance issues with certain characters having a little bit too many compounded advantages, but this is a subject of change due to a stable stream of patches and balance changes. Also of note, is the excellent character creator tool, which allows you to exercise your creative freedom in many different ways and create your own, unique fighter.
- Best sword fighting game of all time
- Various fighters and weapons, each with their own characteristics
- Guest appearance by Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher series
Street Fighter V
|Modes||single player, multiplayer|
Another one of the classics, much like Tekken Street Fighter is considered to be one of the competitive staples in the genre. Street Fighter may seem simplistic at first glance, but beneath very straight-forward mechanics lays a world of possible combinations, reversals and ripostes that provide for some fantastic interplay.
source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIOMBc6E_MQ (Street Fighter V Gameplay Trailer)
In the newest edition of the game, things were shaken up by giving players an extra meter that will fill up whenever you take damage, and can then be expended for a buff which can completely turn the tables. Something should also be said about the awesome style of Street Fighter and a more interactive arena, which provides for some highly cinematic finishes.
- One of the oldest and most popular fighting game franchises
- A classic roster of heroes and climactic backgrounds
- Great gameplay full of legendary special attacks
Developed by Namco Bandai, Tekken is one of the fighting games staple series, defined by its complexity within a very strict set of rules. It is an ideal 1v1 game whose tournaments are a sight to behold, with a long and proud legacy.
source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4h8o4pWECI (Tekken 7 – E3 Trailer | XB1, PS4, PC)
A match of Tekken is more like a professional game of chess than a fighting game. Every combination of blows comes as a response to a specific gambit and the victory comes down to how good you are at reading your opponent. Tekken 7 sees the return of all classic (and highly zany) character from previous games, so long-time fans of the series can get back to playing their favorites.
- Difficult to get into, but very rewarding to master
- Extremely competitive style
- A wide roster of unique characters
Mortal Kombat X, XI
|Released in||MK X – 2010 , MK XI – 2019|
|Publisher||Warner Bros, Interactive Entertainment|
Mortal Kombat pretty much speaks for itself. One of the longest-running series of fighting games, Mortal Kombat doesn’t shy away from gore and violence, turning the fight into a bloody spectacle. Mortal Kombat has its own cast of classic characters, who all make a return in the newest edition and some new ones appear as well.
source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSi2LDkyKmI ( Mortal Kombat X | official trailer (2015) )
Mortal Kombat is definitely more complex than its flashy appearance would suggest, but that only makes pulling off those delicious fatalities that much more rewarding. There are also a few characters who are very newcomer-friendly and work perfectly fine when you just mash buttons desperately.
source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14vlJuCYFBA (Mortal Kombat 11 – Official Frost Gameplay Reveal Trailer)
The tenth installment in the saga was widely considered as one of the best fighting video games of all time and was a massive hit. Therefore, it is no wonder that the upcoming release of Mortal Kombat XI creates such a buzz in the gaming world and the game is highly anticipated. It seems that in the final deadly fight for the position of the best fighting video game, Mortal Kombat games will always have the higher ground.
- Exceptionally violent and gore-filled gameplay
- Surprising depth of mechanical complexity
- Different variants of classic characters allow you to explore your favorites fully and let two players enjoy the same character in very different ways
3, 2, 1, KNOCK-DOWN!
Fighting games are a fantastic genre of games with a wide variety of titles to satisfy both hardcore, very competitively-minded gamers and casual players alike. More than anything, between various characters and mechanical depth of combat, there’s a whole lot of genuine content here which can carry you for a long, long time, especially if you factor in online and local multiplayer.