Top 10 Fighting Games To Play Right Now
Whether you're looking for a traditional one-on-one 2D fighter, an arena brawler, a platform/party game, or a frantic tag-team affair, the current fighting game genre is diverse and action-packed. Want something balanced and geared for competition? Have friends over and want to play something accessible and approachable? Do you have a nostalgic itch to scratch or want to connect with a popular character in a new way? Fighting games have all of these bases covered. You don't need to be a skilled tournament player to enjoy the games on this list, but the option is certainly there if you'd like. Presented in no particular order is a list that will mold and change as new games release. Here are the top fighting games you should check out right now.
The King of Fighters XV
The King of Fighters XV's impressive roster is just the start of what makes this game a must-play fighting game in 2022. Fan-favorite fighters from throughout the series' nearly 30-year history have been gathered together to, as SNK puts it in the game's marketing, "shatter all expectations." Due to lore reasons from the previous title, many characters who had previously perished, like Ash Crimson, Shermie, Chris, and Yashiro, have returned, making a good chunk of the 39 character base roster faces we haven't fought as or against in quite some time.
KOFXV is a huge step up in visuals compared to XIV, and is as good or better when it comes to brawling in 3v3 team battles the series is traditionally known for. The game feels great to play online as well as offline thanks to the first modern implementation of rollback netcode for the series. This edition of KOF represents a bright future for SNK fighters, and one we hope to see supported for quite some time.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
An offbeat pseudo-sequel to both Persona 3 and Persona 4, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax takes the characters from Atlus' hit RPG series and pits them against each other in fighting game matches. Recently re-released on PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC, this complete version of P4 Arena now features every character released through DLC and two entire story campaigns that continue after the events of Persona 4. Characters battle with their Personas on hand, giving this 4-button fighter two separate button inputs for each tandem team.
The fast-paced combat is reminiscent of Arc System Works' other efforts like Guilty Gear. However, it is far more approachable for newcomers who may be transitioning from the JRPG structure of previous Persona titles. Even though this game is technically a decade old, the new ports breathe plenty of life into this fantastic brawler, and an upcoming summer patch will introduce a hopefully improved rollback netcode for smoother online play. | Our Review
Street Fighter V: Champion Edition
Take to the streets yet again in the newest edition of the gold standard in 2D fighting games. Street Fighter V: Champion Edition features 40 (and five more with DLC) World Warriors to play as in one-on-one battles in Story, Arcade, and local multiplayer and online modes. SFV's innovation for the series comes in the way of V-Trigger and V-Skills, which give players an easy way to activate a character's unique and powerful abilities. Those looking for a place to start with the genre will find a great introduction here, and returning brawlers are sure to feel right at home with Street Fighter V.
Street Fighter V has been around for over five years at this point and has only gotten better with age and updates from Capcom. Since the launch of Champion Edition in early 2020, more characters and mechanics have been added to keep competitive and casual players interested. Recent additions to the cast include past favorites like Dan and Rose, the inclusion of Rival Schools alumni Akira, and a look at the future of Street Fighter with the arrival of Luke. That's all in addition to the V-Shift mechanic. The game is receiving a patch to make it the "definitive edition" full of character balance changes across the board. Fighting game fans have plenty to dig into until Capcom announces its next foray into fighting games.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Few games have as impressive of a roster as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. What started as a series bringing together a handful of colorful Nintendo characters, like Mario, Pikachu, Ness, and Kirby, has transformed into a behemoth cast that includes iconic franchises owned by third-party developers and publishers. These outside additions range from Final Fantasy VII's Cloud, Minecraft's Steve, Banjo/Kazooie (originally a Nintendo property now owned by Microsoft), and fighting game faces like Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter. The unprecedented cast is now complete, with Kingdom Hearts' Sora joining in mid-October, bringing the number of unique fighters to 82.
Everyone is here to brawl it out in a platform fighter for up to eight players simultaneously, with online and offline Smash modes filled with a plethora of memorable stages, music, and items that make matches even more exciting. Smash Bros. Ultimate is a joyous celebration of video games, and it's hard to deny the magic of pitting Solid Snake up against Mega Man or Link versus Simon Belmont. This game is an exceptionally charming smile factory that's as fun to play as it is to think about. | Our review
Guilty Gear –Strive–
Arc System Works' anime-inspired 2D fighter is a downright showstopper visually, and its newest iteration, Guilty Gear –Strive–, makes the gameplay even more accessible for a broader audience. Like its predecessor, Xrd, Strive's art style incorporates beautiful 3D character models that animate as if they were 2D sprites. The illusion is impressive and sets up the mind-blowing camera sweeps, revealing the characters' actual dimensions, while still looking stunning at any angle. For those looking for some additional complexity in a fighting game, Guilty Gear has you covered with its suite of air dashes, complicated character mechanics, and its versatile Roman Cancel system. Strive's most significant improvement for competitive players is the addition of rollback netcode, which provides a smoother, more stable online experience than Arc System Works' previous online endeavors. Currently, Guilty Gear –Strive– is one of the hottest fighting games around, so if you're looking to see the latest and greatest, look no further.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Leave it to Arc System Works to make one of the best-looking fighting games around. Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the greatest interpretations of the Dragon Ball anime and manga, utilizing Arc System's trickery to make 3D models look like 2D sprites. In 3v3 battles, you build your team of Dragon Ball characters to throw fists in fast-paced tag matches. Choose from various Gokus, Vegetas, their Sayian family members, earthborn friends, or even incorporate any of Dragon Ball's diabolical villains into your team. Matching up against specific characters can trigger special animations like Dramatic Finishes that recreate moments from the anime, like the often-memed Yamcha's crater death or the father/son Kamehameha used by Gohan to finish off Cell. Dragon Ball FighterZ is currently the top tag fighter in the competitive scene, so its credentials as a fun fighting game are as strong as its interpretation of the legendary Shonen series it's based on. | Our review
The King of Iron Fist Tournament rages on with the seventh mainline entry in the Tekken series. Tekken 7 continues the tradition of fathers throwing sons into volcanos in its story mode, as well as just being a prime example of a fun 3D fighter. Unlike many of the other games on this list, players have the freedom to move around the arena with three-dimensional movement. They can dodge or attack foes from sides and angles not possible in games like Street Fighter or Guilty Gear. Each limb of a fighter is mapped to a different button, which gives the player control over which side your attacks are coming from.
Tekken's fights are hard-hitting and dynamic, with each character bringing their own brand of martial arts to the battle. You can choose straightforward characters like Kazuya, who uses strong punches, kicks, and sweeps, or flashier fighters like the Capoeira styling of Eddie Gordo. New to Tekken 7 is a dramatic slowdown effect caused by final hits or near misses from round-ending haymakers. The slowing of the action sounds jarring on paper but adds a ton of excitement and edge-of-your-seat moments to the game. Tekken 7 is easily one of the best entries in the series, if not the best, and demands to be added to your growing collection of fighting games. | Our review
Soul Calibur VI
Soulcalibur has always had one big differentiator to other fighting games, and that's its focus on weaponry. Each fighter wields their preferred armament in battle, which provides a suite of unique moves and strategies. Those swinging a massive blade, like Nightmare or Siegfried, have a far reach and hit exceptionally hard, while combatants wielding nimbler weapons like Taki or Raphael resort to quicker strikes and spry movement. Like its Bandai Namco developed counterpart, Tekken, Soulcalibur VI takes place on a 3D plane, allowing for sidesteps and even freely running around the battlefield.
Are you worried about being lost with Soulcalibur VI's place in the series lore? That won't be a problem with this entry, as it serves as both a reboot and sequel to the Soulcalibur franchise. Its Soul Chronicles mode lets players experience each character's events throughout the history of the series, with updated events regarding the tale of this game. Soul Calibur VI certainly sets itself apart from everything else in the genre, but it's easily one of the most fun games available now. | Our review
Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate
Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate is a gory yet beautiful conclusion to the story arc that began in 2011's Mortal Kombat. Netherrealm Studios, also known for its Injustice series, sets a high bar for how a AAA fighting game looks and plays. MK11's crowning achievement is a best-in-class story mode that not only tells a great tale, especially for longtime fans of the series, but is fun to play as well. The story revolves around Kronika, mother of the Elder Gods and keeper of time. She is taking drastic measures to fix an anomaly in the universe's destiny set forth by the actions of Raiden years ago. The resulting battle between beloved Earthrealm warriors and the forces of Kronika is bombastic and cheesy in all of the best ways. Time travel and alternate timeline shenanigans ensue, leading up to a final battle to control all of time itself.
Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate brings everything from the base game and its expansion, Aftermath, into one package. That includes a roster of 37 Kombatants with series mainstays Sub Zero, Scorpion, Johnny Cage, and Shao Kahn, alongside a host of new characters and incredible guests the likes of The Terminator, Rambo, and The Joker. Each character comes with customizable moves and interchangeable costumes elements to further personalize your Kombatants of choice. Those who may be squeamish may want to skip this game, but fighting game fans, in general, should give MK11 a try if you can stomach intense violence. | Our review
Skullgirls 2nd Encore
Originally designed as an homage to the playstyle of tag games like Marvel Vs Capcom 2, Skullgirls lets you choose up to three characters to take in a fight. Though you do have the option to go with fewer, resulting in your team or solo member having more health to account for the lack of partners. This flexibility in team size gives players the choice to embrace the complexity of a tag fighter or hone in and master just one character, a unique feature in the current slate of fighting games. Skullgirls' recent resurgence is partially the result of its implementation of great rollback netcode, a valuable asset since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. The game originally consisted of an all-woman cast, each partnered with a parasite that gives them superhuman powers. Eventually, male characters were also added to the roster.
Skullgirls was recently handed off from now-defunct Lab Zero Games to its new conservators at Hidden Variable Studios. And with new management comes a new business model. While Skullgirls 2nd Encore has been available for a number of years, the hand-drawn 2D fighter is jumping to a season character release structure, breathing new life into the game and ensuring we'll be able to throw down with even more Skullgirls and guys in the future. | Our review