To me, there are few things more fun in video games than playing a good old fashioned fighter. Whether it’s immersing yourself in some shockingly decent story modes, bringing copy to your mate’s house to thrash them everywhere or even just sinking hours into the training mode to learn combos, fighting games provide depth and complexity often unseen in other genres.
But the question is, which ones are worth your time? For every Mortal Kombat, there’s a Kung Fu Panda: Showdown of Legendary Legends. Fuck me, that game was awful. Like, abysmally bad. Worse than ebola. But enough about that piece of crap, here’s the fifteen best fighting games available on the Xbox One, presented to you in no particular order.
Ultra Street Fighter IV
I did say available on the Xbox One, and last time I checked, backwards compatibility counts. We’re one entry in and already exploiting loopholes. Ultra Street Fighter IV is the definitive version of Street Fighter on the Xbox, at least until Third Strike Online Edition becomes backwards compatible. That’d be the day. Despite the fifth version being available on PC and PS4, Ultra Street Fighter IV retains a healthy enough online contingent, and the robust roster of around 40 characters ensures you’ve got plenty of variety to contend with.
Arguably one of the greatest, or at least most complete fighting games of the current generation, Injustice 2 was proof positive of NetherRealm Studios’ right to wear the crown of fighting game royalty. WIth 28 characters available on launch, along with another 6 currently available as DLC, a fully fledged and engaging story mode, stable online play and the always changing Multiverse mode, Injustice 2 is packed with enough content to make even the most time intensive RPG’s blush. Of course, it helped that the gameplay was bloody fantastic.
The war between Heihachi and Kazuya Mishima has been raging for over two decades now, but Tekken 7 sought to bring the father-son conflict to a final resolution. Though the story mode itself was a bit of disappointment, and the lack of substantial modes diminished longevity, Tekken 7 retained the same addictive 3D fighting gameplay that has been refined and perfected over the years, whilst adding the new Rage Arts and Rage Drives mechanics which added a brand new dimension to your repertoire. If you’ve got fighting game friends, or fans of the old PlayStation games, Tekken 7 is a must-have fighter.
Mortal Kombat XL
NetherRealm’s other big fighting game franchise, Mortal Kombat XL is arguably the pinnacle of the long-running series. The gameplay is the best it’s ever been, the graphics look phenomenal, and the Living Towers mode ensured that there was always something to do. The XL version of the game also included DLC characters like Jason Vorhees, Alien, Predator and Leatherface. If you ever wanted to see who’d win in a fight between Johnny Cage and a goddamn Alien, MK XL had you covered.
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
No longer the most recent Marvel vs Capcom game, but arguably less divisive of the fanbase than Infinite, Ultimate MvC 3 boasted a huge roster of both fan favourite characters and some obscure picks too. At least this game has Wolverine and other X-Men, unlike that piss-poor roster in Infinite. Unfortunately, very few people actually play UMvC3 online any more, and those that do will body you back to the training mode, time and time again. If you’ve got comic book friends, perhaps you should introduce them to Marvel vs Capcom. And by introduce, I mean “destroy them brutally in a virtual fight”.
Now that the major season updates appear to be over, Killer Instinct has become one of the more accessible and content rich fighting games out there. The fact it’s exclusive to Xbox and PC is a huge bonus. Whether it’s the range of modes, the 29 characters currently available, the combo assist mode that aids new players, or the instantly recognisable style and soundtrack of KI, there’s something for everyone. Even the Shadow Lords single player mode is great, which adds a weird X-Com style strategy mode to the game. It’s odd, yet addictive at the same time.
Dead or Alive 5: Last Round
On the face of things, Dead or Alive will likely always be remembered as “that one with the boobs and the bikinis” by people who don’t know their Hadoken from their Wind God Fist. To be fair to those people, they’re not entirely wrong. But if you can look past the flagrant sexualisation and frankly abhorrent DLC costume schemes, Dead or Alive 5: Last Round is one of the most instantly gratifying fighting games there is. Button mashers will be pleased by the lengthy, easy to perform combos and awesome spectacle, whilst the aficionados can get to grips with the intricate counter system. DOA has something for everyone, even those creepy hentai fiends.
If learning entire movelists sounds like a little bit too much effort for you, Divekick is the game for you: fights are controlled by only two buttons. One button handles jump, or dive, whilst the other controls kick. Pressing kick after a dive will result in a DIVEKICK, as your foot hurdles towards your opponent’s face. Divekick is, in essence, the tutorial for the meta of most fighting games, as it teaches you the importance of controlling space via footsies, or footdives in the case, and the always useful application of some mind games. Still, the simple controls allow literally anyone to play the game and enjoy themselves, making it an ideal fighting game to break out at parties.
Soul Calibur II HD Online
We’re going back to the 360 for the next two entries. While the original Soul Calibur is also available on the Xbox Store, Soul Calibur II for many represents the pinnacle of the series as a whole. The Xbox 360 version bundled together Heihachi and Spawn from the PS2 and Xbox versions, whilst adding online functionality to the game. To this day, Soul Calibur II is one of the finest examples of a 3-D fighting game you can find. Simply a must have game.
Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown
Let’s face the facts here, as Curt Hawkins might say: SEGA aren’t making a new Virtua Fighter any time soon. This saddens me, as a large portion of my childhood can be attributed to play VF4: Evolution on the PS2. Boy, that was an outstanding game, and Virtua Fighter 5 was even better. Whilst Final Showdown lacks the extensive Kumite/Quest that the original Virtua Fighter 5 had, it still retained the core gameplay that makes VF so compelling. Who knew you could get such complex and diverse movesets from just 3 buttons?
If 4-player fighting games are more your speed, these next 3 games should be right up your alley. LastFight will be very familiar to those of the Dreamcast era who grew up playing Power Stone. Up to 4 players, in 2v2 teams, utilise weapons and power ups to smack seven shades of shite out of each other. No lengthy combos or complex button inputs, just some classic button mashing. It’s chaotic but enjoyable, and more accessible than most of the games on this list.
Rivals of Aether
Smash Bros clones are practically becoming a sub-genre unto their own at this point, which is fine. Smash has always been a fantastic game for everyone to enjoy, and Rivals of Aether is no exception. The premise is the same; smack your opponent of the platform to win, but Rivals is arguably more tech heavy than Smash. There are more attacks, more unique movesets for the characters and more options for recovery. That might sound intimidating, but there’s an in-depth and informative tutorial to guide you through the basics of fighting to specific character game plans. Rivals is a true case of the “easy to pick up, hard to master” cliche.
Perhaps the oddest addition to this list, Lethal League is like 2D squash on crack and LSD. Maybe. I’ve done neither of those drugs. You and up to three other players must hit a ball that bounces around the screen, constantly gaining in velocity. If it hits you, you lose a life. Last one standing takes the prize. As far as hype generators go, Lethal League is practically unmatched. You won’t be able to stop yourself from getting excited when the ball is rocketing around the screen at 500mph. It’s bonkers stuff, but ludicrously fun at the same time.
EA Sports UFC 2
While UFC 2 probably isn’t making the main stage of EVO any time soon, it absolutely is a fighting game, and a very tactical one at that. UFC 2 is a tough game to fully learn, considering the amount of strikes, transitions, takedowns and submissions you have to deal with. Going in blind without getting accustomed to the controls will leave you grovelling on the receiving end of a full mount ground and pound faster than the commentator can say “HERE WE GO”. Or, you can stick to the Knockout Mode and throw virtual bombs at your mate until they fall over. Game of human chess, my arse.
Blazblue Chronophantasma Extend
The Blazblue series has been around for around a decade now, leaving in its trail a tangled web of characters and lore that are seemingly impenetrable to the common player. But that’s fine, as with a flick of a button on the character select screen, Blazblue Chronophantasma Extend enables simple controls, and you can button mash to your heart’s content. Then, if you’re willing to actually learn the game, you’ll find a thorough and engaging tutorial mode that will guide you through everything you need to learn. You can pick up dirt cheap now too, so if you need a new game for a local gaming night, give Blazblue a shot.