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.
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
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
What games on this list do you enjoy? What games would you add that aren’t listed? Let us know in the comments! If you enjoyed this list, be sure to check out our list of lists, a hub of all of Game Informer’s recent genre lists, and more!
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