Xbox Game Pass is home to a wide variety of genres, but one that perhaps doesn’t get as much love as the others is fighting games. Perhaps that’s because the genre isn’t as popular as multiplayer shooters, RPGs or roguelikes, or because there aren’t as many fighting games on Game Pass compared to other genres, but there’s still some fighting game gold to be found on Xbox Game Pass.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best fighting games available on Xbox Game Pass. Admittedly, there’s not a lot of fighting games available on Xbox Game Pass at the moment, with some big hitters like Tekken 7 having been added and then removed over the years. Still, the selection that is available is well worth your attention. Here’s the best fighting games on Xbox Game Pass across Xbox Series X & S and Xbox One.
The Best Fighting Games On Game Pass
10. Rare Replay
NOTE:for Killer Instinct Gold specifically.
Developer: Rare Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Seeing Rare Replay occupying this list alongside some genuine fighting game royalty might seem like a weird pick, but stick with it.
A package of 30 classic titles from one of the most legendary game developers in history is a tantalising prospect at the best of times, but there’s a bigger reason why it’s mentioned here: it includes an all-time classic in the form of the N64 fighting game Killer Instinct Gold.
A console port of arcade hit Killer Instinct 2, KI Gold is perhaps the best iteration of the older version of the series. We’ll get to the remake. Often thought of as just a Mortal Kombat clone, Killer Instinct Gold boasted a unique art style, larger-than-life characters and a combo system as satisfying now as it was back then. Still, there’s no denying that the game is a bit dated compared to more modern offerings, which is why it’s lower on this list.
9. Lethal League Blaze
Developer: Team Reptile Publisher: Team Reptile
Fighting games don’t just have to be a case of wailing on an opponent with punches and kicks until their life bar depletes, as there’s room for experimentation and unique gameplay mechanics within the genre. One of the more unique fighting games you can play is Lethal League Blaze, and while its non-standard gameplay might put some people off, you definitely shouldn’t sleep on this game, though keeping up with its pace might be a tall order.
Instead of fighting in the conventional sense, Lethal League Blaze plays like a combative game of 2D squash. Up to four players control one of several different characters, each with their own abilities, and they each try to whack a ball into their opponents.
With each whack, the ball increases in speed until it reaches nigh-on lightspeed, making each match tense, strategic and thrilling in equal measure.
8. UFC 4
NOTE: EA Play/Xbox Game Pass Ultimate required to play.
Developer: EA Vancouver Publisher: EA Sports
Some people might not think that sports sims should be considered fighting games, but there’s a reason why the “F” in UFC stands for fighting.
While it might not have the same arcadey, pick up and play appeal of games like Soulcalibur or Tekken, the UFC games are still some of the most comprehensive and enjoyable fighting games you can play. UFC 4 is no exception, bolstered with more options and ability to create your own personal fighter.
UFC 4 captures both the stand-up, ground and grappling aspect of mixed martial arts effectively, allowing players to play the fighting game they want to. If you’d rather get in the pocket and throw bombs at your opponent’s head constantly, that’s an option, but you can also rag them around the cage, throw them to the mat and snap their arm. Both are valid, and both are incredibly fun.
7. Injustice 2
Developer: NetherRealm Studios Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Seeing our favourite superheroes and villains knock seven bells out of each other is a spectacle that’ll never get old, so it’s no surprise that Injustice 2 is one of the best fighting games on Xbox Game Pass. DC’s resident heavy hitters (and Captain Cold) show up for a massive slugfest that features stellar gameplay and a healthy smattering of modes, ensuring that your attention will be held for a long time.
Continuing the narrative from the first game, Injustice features one of the best story modes in fighting game history as a fractured Justice League tries to reunite in the face of an invasion by Brainiac.
On top of a brilliant story, Injustice 2 features a great roster of iconic characters and lots of modes, making it a great addition to the library of fighting games on Xbox Game Pass. It’s a shame the DLC isn’t included, but the base game is still one of the best.
6. Fight Night Champion
NOTE: EA Play/Game Pass Ultimate required to play.
Developer: EA Vancouver, HB Studios Publisher: EA Sports
We’ve already made the case for MMA, and we’ll do the same for boxing, as Fight Night Champion stands as the best boxing game ever made that isn’t Punch-Out.
If you want to throw bombs with some of the biggest names in boxing, Fight Night Champion is the game for you, though the fact that the game is 10 years old at this point doesn’t do it any favours. We’ll take that new Fight Night game to go, thanks EA.
Fight Night Champion truly nails the feeling of the sweet science that is boxing, with intuitive controls that allow you to bob, weave and counter punch with the best of them, but for the contingent who’d rather walk chin forward and get themselves into a devastating slugfest, Fight Night Champion is just as fun that way too.
With a refreshingly great story mode for good measure, Fight Night Champion is definitely worth checking out.
5. Gang Beasts
Developer: Boneloaf Publisher: Boneloaf
Fighting games as a whole is a social genre, pushing players to compete against each other in the pursuit of improving each other’s skill. A good amount of the fighting games on this list are suitable for even lonesome players, but that’s a distinction you can’t give to Gang Beasts, the party game for up to 8 players.
It also is unquestionably a fighting game, and we will fight you if you try to argue otherwise. You punch people in the face and throw them about — that’s a fighting game right there.
Gang Beasts is about as simple as video games get, in concept anyway. I imagine creating the engine and levels of a game like Gang Beasts to be an incredibly complicated process. A physics-driven Royal Rumble homage, players control adorable little blob people, and try to beat the crap out of their opponents and throw them off whatever stage they’re currently fighting on.
With a wide array of customisation options, as well as plenty of stages with their own special hazards, Gang Beasts is one you and your friends can enjoy for a good while.
3v3 tag fighters can be some of the more demanding types of fighting games to learn, as you need to learn multiple characters at once. Tag fighters based on a specific licence or franchise find a way of mitigating that, as you can just start with the characters you recognise and go from there, and what’s more iconic or recognisable than Power Rangers? Battle For The Grid takes that energy and channels it into one of the best fighting games on Xbox Game Pass.
Players pick from different Power Rangers characters from across the wide range of the franchise, doing battle in a game that’s easy to learn yet challenging to truly master. For fans of games like Marvel Vs Capcom, Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid will feel like a return home, but new players are sure to find plenty to enjoy with the game’s wide variety of modes and characters.
If you want to dip your toe into fighting games, Power Rangers: BFTG is a great start.
3. Mortal Kombat 11
Developer: NetherRealm Studios Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Mortal Kombat 11 might be one of the greatest fighting games of recent memory, but it’s unfortunately not the best version of MK 11 you can play, with MK 11: Ultimate offering the definitive edition of such a stellar brawler. Xbox Game Pass only offers the base version of the game, which means it slides down a spot or two on this list, though the original version of Mortal Kombat 11 is still worthy of your attention.
Perhaps one of the most customisable fighting games ever made, Mortal Kombat 11 gives players the ability to completely control their character’s look and moves through the variation system, allowing players to stamp their own identity onto already existing characters while increasing the game’s potential match-ups exponentially. Lump that in with an excellent story mode, the constantly refreshing Towers of Time mode and some (fairly limited) cross-play, and MK11 is one of the best fighting games on Game Pass.
2. Dragon Ball FighterZ
Developer: Arc System Works Publisher: Bandai Namco
Everything we said about Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid could be applied to Dragon Ball FighterZ, in the sense that it’s a 3v3 tag fighter that leverages a recognisable franchise with an accessible, engaging and rewarding fighting game experience that demands your attention. Though Game Pass doesn’t quite unlock everything this game has to offer, there’s still plenty to sink your teeth into.
Dragon Ball FighterZ sees the popular anime and manga characters from across the length and breadth of the series’ history join together for one almighty ruckus. Players can form their own dream teams, and with the game’s accessible and simplified controls, hit the ground running when it comes to learning what everyone is capable of.
Never has the power of being a Super Saiyan felt this good, as Dragon Ball FighterZ is not only a brilliant fighting game, but one of the best DBZ games ever made.
1. Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition
Developer: Double Helix Studios, Iron Galaxy Studios Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
We’ve long maintained that the Xbox One version of Killer Instinct is one of the most underrated fighting games of all time, so it makes sense that it’d top this list of Xbox Game Pass fighting games. For our money, it’s the most satisfying, feature complete and rewarding fighting game on the service, and if you’re only going to play one fighting game from Xbox Game Pass, it should be KI.
The Definitive Edition of Killer Instinct includes a brilliant roster of around 30 characters, plenty of stages, multiple different story modes, including one that feels like a fighting game take on XCOM, and an in-depth tutorial to help players grasp the ins and outs of KI’s intricate combo system.
There’s few feelings on Game Pass greater than nailing a 100-hit Ultra Combo on some poor, unsuspecting sap online, and considering that KI still has the best netcode in fighting games, you’ll want to do it again and again.
Now let’s hear about Killer Instinct 2 for Xbox Series X & S, Microsoft.
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