It seems like the PS4 has become the official home of fighting games on consoles, with plenty of games for players to sink their teeth into, whether they like their brawling retro or modern, one on one or as part of a team.
With plenty of games to choose from, it was hard to nail down a top 15, but here we are. As is tradition with these kind of lists on Cultured Vultures, there’s no particular order to these games, so no moaning in the comments that your favourite game didn’t get the number 1 spot. It means nothing.
1. Guilty Gear Xrd: Rev 2
Definitely not the last you’ll be seeing of Arc System Works on this list, Guilty Gear Xrd: Rev 2 is the definitive version of the latest in the long-running Guilty Gear series. In terms of presentation, you can see what Arc System Works learnt about graphics and a killer soundtrack applied to another game on this list, but the real hook with Rev 2 is the addictive gameplay, combined with a comprehensive tutorial designed to bring you up to speed quickly.
2. Under Night In-Birth: Late(st)
Not many people are aware of Under Night In-Birth: Late(st), with its biggest claim to fame being that it’s one quarter of Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle. We’ll get to that, by the way. Still, Under Night has a lot going for it too, sharing plenty of similar concepts with a typical Arc System Works game. There’s a massive tutorial, plenty of interesting and unique characters (Enkidu for life), and the game’s mechanics actively encourage aggressive play. No laming it out like it’s Street Fighter X Tekken here.
3. Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle
Told you we’d get to it. And look, more Arc System Works. Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle is a combination of franchises like Blazblue, the aforementioned Under Night, Persona 4: Arena and RWBY, and it just works. Though we found contention with how the game handles its DLC practices, you can’t argue with how much fun the game is to play or how accessible it is for new players. Even if you’re a casual player only interested in RWBY, Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle might just be your gateway to the fighting game genre.#
4. Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition
One of the best comeback stories in recent fighting game history is that of Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition. After a much-maligned launch back in 2016, it’s taken two years for Capcom to finally deliver the Street Fighter V experience players always wanted.
The Arcade Edition version of the game comes with 28 characters, 34 if you include the recently concluded Season 3. SFV retains the same gameplay the franchise has been known for, but retools plenty of characters, giving them more combo potential and options. If you were put off at launch, give it another chance.
5. Mortal Kombat XL
If you’re the type of fighting game player who loves single player content, Mortal Kombat X has you covered. On top of the frankly excellent story mode, MK X also includes the “Towers” mode, which are an ever changing collection of fights designed to push the limits of your abilities. You’ve even got a Faction system, with players picking one of five teams in a global effort for domination. Of course, you could just ignore all that and rip someone’s spine out online, which is just as enjoyable. Plus, MK XL has the Xenomorph and Predator, which is fantastic.
6. Injustice 2
The other fighting game franchise from the fine folks over at NetherRealm Studios, Injustice 2 brings together some of DC’s biggest and best characters together for an almighty brawl. Like Mortal Kombat before it, Injustice 2 is filled to the brim with regularly updated content, joinable guilds that offer further rewards and an intricate loot system that lets you truly customise your characters. All of that, plus the great online play and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as DLC. Injustice 2 is definitely worth checking out.
7. Dragon Ball FighterZ
Currently the most in demand and popular fighting game on the market today, if EVO 2018 viewership and sign-ups are any indication, Dragon Ball FighterZ is taking the FGC by storm, and rightly so. While the simplistic controls and universal inputs for each character makes the game easy to learn for all players, the 3v3 tag mechanics give the game the depth that’s made it 2018’s smash hit. With 6 DLC characters already available, 2 more on the way and, given the popularity of the game, a second season not outside of the realm of possibility, Dragon Ball FighterZ should keep you occupied for months. Maybe even years.
Who cares about Smash Bros when you could be playing Brawlhalla? The free-to-play platform fighter, Brawlhalla combines fast paced, over-the-top gameplay with cute cartoony visuals to create an experience that caters to both skilled players and those that just like to button mash. With plenty of characters and weapons to choose from, you’ll be hard pushed to find a playstyle you don’t like. It’s worth checking out, especially considering it’s free.
9. Dead Or Alive 5: Last Round
A series arguably more well known for its usage of certain “assets”, the DOA series is still one of the best 3D fighters available, if you can look past the massive amounts of sexy costume DLC anyway. God, that shit is awful. Beyond that, many people associate DOA with lazy button bashing combos, but there’s enough depth in the mechanics to easily separate the good from the crap. If you can master the counter system, you’ll be able to take on the world.
10. Tekken 7
The “epic” conclusion to the Mishima Saga, with a story mode that wasn’t really that epic beyond the fistfight in a volcano, Tekken 7 built upon the core foundations of the well-known series, introducing some new mechanics like Rage Arts, Power Crushes and Rage Drives. Instead upsetting the core formula of the game, these new additions helped improve gameplay and made tense moments more hype. Plus, we’re getting Negan from The Walking Dead as part of Season 2’s DLC, which is still blowing my mind.
11. Fighting EX Layer
The April Fool’s joke turned real, Fighting EX Layer is the result of a long history between Capcom and Arika, one that saw Arika develop the Street Fighter EX series for Capcom, combining classic SF characters with original characters like Skullomania. When that relationship soured, the Arika characters were left in limbo, until the team decided to just make their own game. Retaining the same gameplay as the EX series, albeit with a faster pace, Fighting EX Layer is a brilliant nostalgia trip for fighting game fans.
12. Ultra Street Fighter IV
Perhaps overshadowed now by Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, Ultra Street Fighter IV is still one of the best SF iterations out there. Street Fighter IV took things back to basics after Third Strike, giving players an experience more akin to Street Fighter 2 and its updates. With each re-release, Capcom added more SF IV until it became Ultra. With 44 characters, each available to play as previous versions or with the silly Omega movesets, USFIV is a fine addition to any fighting game fan’s library.
13. Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
The byword for tag fighters, and still a much better game than the disappointing Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, UMvC 3 is the definitive version of one of the finest crossovers in gaming history. With a massive roster, untold combo depth and potential and a decent tutorial for each individual character, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 is still fantastic after all these years. Besides, where else are you going to see Virgil team up with Iron Man and Captain America?
14. Skullgirls 2nd Encore
Another tag fighter, Skullgirls 2nd Encore is essentially the Arcade Edition version of the 2012 hit, introducing new mechanics and new modes to the game, along with all previously released DLC characters. Skullgirls shared a lot with other tag fighters, specifically Marvel vs Capcom 3, but introduced some new and innovative ideas into the mix, including the ability to choose how many team members you want, or being able to customise your assists. Tag fighting fans should definitely give this a whirl.
15. Street Fighter: 30th Anniversary Collection
We’re going for the classic “12 games in 1” entry to close out this list, but in all honesty, there’s only one reason why the Street Fighter: 30th Anniversary Collection is on this list, and it’s called Third Strike. Despite being almost 20 years old at this point, Third Strike still represents fighting games at the absolute pinnacle, and we can’t get enough of it.