It’s no secret that fighting games are one of the toughest genres out there to really get into, with a lot of complicated inputs and mechanics to wrap your head around. While genres like shooters or puzzle games can be quite intuitive, the fighting game genre tends to be more than just slapping your opponent until the letters “K.O” appear on screen. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t fighting games for beginners to help them find their way into the genre.
With fighting games enjoying a new golden age right now, there are more games available than ever that allow players to dip their toe into the genre, find out what it’s all about and then apply those skills to more games. The issue is knowing which games they are, but luckily, we’re on hand to tell you about the best fighting games to play if you happen to be a bit of a beginner.
Honourable Mention: Guilty Gear Strive
Developer: Arc System Works Publisher: Bandai Namco Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5
Normally, we try to avoid honourable mentions, but for a list like this, it’s almost a guarantee that someone will mention how amazing the tutorial systems are for Guilty Gear Strive.
The game treats the tutorial like a fully fledged mode, with a host of scenarios and situations that are designed to help new players understand all of Guilty Gear’s intricacies. There’s even a Combo Maker mode, where players can share combo data online with new players, bolstering the knowledge of everyone who plays. The only real issue is that there are a lot of mechanics in play with Guilty Gear, making it harder to recommend to new players. Consider it the next stepping stone after the following games, if nothing else.
The Best Fighting Games For Beginners
10. Tekken 7
Developer: Bandai Namco Publisher: Bandai Namco Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Truthfully, the majority of fighting games that are easy for new players to learn are 2D fighters, and while that’s fine for the most part, there’s a whole subset of fighting games that have the potential to remain elusive for a lot of players. 3D fighting games tend to require more from the player, with movement being even more important than ever. However, for those hoping to take their brawling to the third dimension, there is one game that is perfect for new players: Tekken 7.
Tekken 7 offers easy to grasp controls, with just four buttons controlling all attacks, along with a simple to execute comeback mechanic in the form of Rage Arts that give new players a fighting chance. Just because the game’s easy to understand at a base level though, doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge amount of depth for players looking to get better. Considering that Tekken 7 is one of the most popular fighting games out there, it means that there’s always some fresh competition. Iron sharpens iron and all that.
9. Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid
Developer: nWay Publisher: nWay, Lionsgate Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Stadia
One of the easiest ways to make the transition into fighting games much easier is by opting for a game based on an established licence, using your enthusiasm for a franchise to push you to learn. There’s a host of games which fit that description, and we’ll cover some of them here, but one franchise most will have some kind of knowledge about is Power Rangers. With Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid, you’ll get both recognisable characters and a great introduction into tag fighters.
Power Rangers: BFTG is a 3v3 fighter, which typically demands more from a new player than regular fighting games. Having to learn three new fighters at once in order to have a viable team instead of just one can be a large barrier to entry for some, but Battle For The Grid does a lot to help make sure new players can get up to speed.
With multiple seasons of content and updates too, along with full crossplay, there’s never been a better time to jump in.
8. Them’s Fightin’ Herds
Developer: Mane6 Publisher: Maximum Games Platform(s): PC
Just because a fighting game looks cute doesn’t mean it isn’t a mechanically sound and satisfying fighting game, which is absolutely the case with Them’s Fightin’ Herds.
Originally designed as a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan game, the developers Mane6 were hit with a cease and desist from Hasbro. Fortunately, MLP’s show creator Lauren Faust personally volunteered to create new characters for the game which would become Them’s Fightin’ Herds, a great starter game for those looking to experience fighting games.
Them’s Fightin’ Herds utilises a four button control system of light, medium, heavy and magic, with each of the game’s seven characters having their own moves and combos. Because the roster is small compared to most fighting games, the dedication needed to learn and ultimately succeed isn’t as intensive, and with full tutorials, it’s a decent entry point into an otherwise hard to breach genre.
Developer: One True Game Studio, Iron Galaxy Publisher: Iron Galaxy Platform(s): PC, PS3, PS Vita, PS4, Xbox One
It’s no secret that fighting games can be incredibly overwhelming, which is why a game like Divekick is so refreshing. Instead of focusing on huge, complicated inputs, Divekicks boils down fighting games to their bare essentials: one button is used for vertical jumping, or “diving”, while the other is used for attacking, otherwise known as “kicking”. Using kick in the air moves you forward while attacking but kicking when grounded performs a “kickback” where you jump backwards, allowing for players to have full freedom of movement with two inputs.
With just two buttons, Iron Galaxy and One True Game Studio created a fully fledged, accessible and ultimately competitive fighting game, as the roster of over a dozen characters each utilise different angled kicks and mechanics, making each fighter truly unique despite the limitations of just two buttons. Divekick is a great training tool for new fighting game players, teaching the values of spacing and meter management, but admittedly, Divekick is kind of like the fighting game community’s inside joke, with much of the humour being specific, and the community isn’t as big as most games.
Still, if you’re looking to introduce a fighting game into a family or friends game night, Divekick’s unique simplicity makes it an intriguing concept for players of all skill levels.
6. Fantasy Strike
Developer: Sirlin Games Publisher: Sirlin Games Platform(s): PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch
The barrier of execution is a real issue for players who want to experience the thrill of fighting games but don’t have the time, patience or even dexterity to learn how to reliably hit the dragon punch motion. That’s where a game like Fantasy Strike comes into play, which utilises simple inputs and a block-based health system to make Fantasy Strike, and subsequently fighting games as a whole, much easier to understand. If that doesn’t sound great already, the game’s free to play and features in-depth video tutorials to help new players understand the roster.
Instead of using quarter circle inputs or other motions for special moves, Fantasy Strike maps its special inputs to just regular buttons and direction inputs, similar to Super Smash Bros. To counteract this, special moves rely on a cooldown timer, ensuring players can’t just spam the same button and hope for the best.
Veterans might consider Fantasy Strike to be somewhat basic when it comes to the wider fighting game pantheon, and it’s not the most popular fighting game ever made, but there’s few games better for new players than Fantasy Strike.
5. Dragon Ball FighterZ
Developer: Arc System Works Publisher: Bandai Namco Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Once again, adopting a fighting game based on a known franchise is a great way to get started, as you translate your already established goodwill into learning a game’s mechanics. Quite frankly, there’s few licences quite as big as Dragon Ball, so it’s no surprise that Dragon Ball FighterZ, a fighting game based on the popular anime/manga, sold like gangbusters.
On an even better note, the game is also perhaps the easiest Arc System Works game to get to grips with, making it an easy title to recommend for new players. Recognisable characters mixed with easy controls — what’s not to love?
Another 3v3 tag fighter, Dragon Ball FighterZ eschews the typical barrier to entry that comes with learning three new characters at once by having each character use the same command inputs. While each character on the roster has their own moves and utilities, the inputs needed to control them are the same throughout, meaning you just need to practice your execution.
With huge, elaborate combos and the ability to summon your fellow fighters for assists, there’s a high skill ceiling for players looking to grind, but the universal inputs guarantee a low skill floor too. Easy to learn, but hard to master.
4. Mortal Kombat 11: Ultimate
Developer: Netherrealm Studios Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Platform(s): PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S, Nintendo Switch
With brand recognition that’s nigh-on universal, pretty much everyone who’s even mildly acquainted with video games is aware of Mortal Kombat.
The series has always prided itself on being appealing to everyone, with simplistic controls and universal inputs for certain moves like the uppercut and sweep, meaning new players can get stuck into the action without worrying too much. The most recent entries have upped the technical aspects of the game by a large degree, but that doesn’t mean the game isn’t friendly to new players.
The Ultimate version of Mortal Kombat 11 in particular is worth checking out as a new player. The tutorial and character primers are all informative and helpful, while the amount of action movie guest characters gives the game that franchise loyalty other licensed fighting games rely on.
Most importantly, however, is that Mortal Kombat 11: Ultimate is probably the most feature complete fighting game ever made, with a huge amount of modes to play with. The real meat of the game is the online play, but there’s so much single player content to gorge on that new players could be happy with that alone.
Developer: HiFight Publisher: HiFight, Slickage Platform(s): PC, Mobile
In order to get better at fighting games, you’ll need to learn “footsies”.
Learning your massive, 50 hit combo means nothing if you’ve got no ability to set it up from neutral, using spacing, whiff punishing and other elements of footsies to get the advantage over your opponent. It’s a concept present in pretty much every fighting game, but it can be a hard concept to wrap your head around, so it’s highly recommended that you play FOOTSIES, a game designed to teach this very concept.
FOOTSIES comes from the same school of thought as Divekick, boiling fighting games down to their essentials and creating magic from it. The game sees two players control the same character, who has access to just a couple of moves and special moves.With the same tools at each other’s disposal, FOOTSIES becomes a test of skill and patience, as you try to bait out an opening in your opponent’s defence to crush them.
If you want to succeed across other fighting games, mastering footsies is essential, and FOOTSIES is the game to help you do it.
2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Developer: Bandai Namco, Sora Ltd, Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Nintendo’s flagship brawler, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the king of the platform fighter genre, and while you could obviously enjoy Smash as a chaotic party game, there’s a case to be made that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is one of the most competitive fighting games you could ever play. The beauty of Super Smash Bros. is that both are true.
With items and up to 8 players, you’ve got a recipe for utter bedlam, but turn the items off and switch to a 1v1 fighter, and you’ve got an experience as tense and thrilling as they come.
For those looking to learn, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is mostly incredibly easy to learn, with a universal input system for the game’s roster of characters. Like Dragon Ball FighterZ, the game quickly becomes about learning what each character is capable of instead of their different inputs, simplifying the process for new players.
Characters like Ryu, Ken, Terry and Kazuya, all borrowed from traditional fighting games, also use modified versions of movesets from their original games, with those inputs preserved in Smash, allowing Ultimate players to become familiar with Street Fighter, King of Fighters and Tekken.
If you want a great starting fighting game, it’s hard to do better than this one.
Is Street Fighter V: Champion Edition the most friendly game to new players? That’s debatable, but the fact remains that Street Fighter is the undisputed lord of the fighting game genre. It is the alpha and omega, and while there’s differences and oddities across all the fighting game subgenres, knowledge gained in something like Street Fighter V can be utilised across all fighting games. If you want to experience the absolute pinnacle of fighting games as a beginner, dive right into Street Fighter V and you’ll be able to see for yourself if the genre is for you.
Right now, Street Fighter V includes dozens of characters, each with different selectable V-Triggers and V-Skills that means there’s plenty of room for experimentation and growth. There’s a lot to learn, but with in-depth tutorials for the game’s mechanics and for each character, you’ll have access to all the tools you’ll need to succeed.
Learning to play Street Fighter in general will ensure you have a good solid foundation to branch out into other fighting games, making it a brilliant choice to learn first.
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