It’s finally December, which means we’re closing in on 2018 faster than the gaming community hits back at EA for all their pay to win garbage. Of course, that means there’s no better time than now to start looking towards the future, to see what kinds of gaming goodness is looming over the horizon. Hopefully, with no loot boxes in sight.
One genre in particular had a strong year in 2017: fighting games. With the releases of Injustice 2 and Tekken 7, which both featured in our Best Games of 2017 list, along with the announcements of all the fighting games in this list, 2018 has a lot to live up to. Let’s take a look at the most exciting fighting games of 2018.
Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition
Technically not a new fighting game, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition warrants an inclusion on this list for the amount of content being added. Arcade Edition looks set to improve on vanilla Street Fighter V in every way, with new single player modes, new moves and costumes, along with the inclusion of characters from seasons 1 and 2. Better still, Capcom aren’t segregating players between the base game and Arcade Edition players. If you own Street Fighter V, you’ll get the new modes and updates too. You’ll still need to buy the characters though, no freebies for you.
Effectively, Arcade Edition has given Capcom a much needed opportunity to rebrand, remarket and relaunch Street Fighter V. 2016’s launch of the original game was disastrous, to say the least, but now the game has been given a second chance to make a good first impression. With the amount of improvements on offer, Arcade Edition could restore Street FIghter’s place atop the fighting game mountain. Right before this next game knocks it back off again anyway.
Arguably the most anticipated fighting game in recent memory, Dragonball FighterZ sees the franchise return to a more traditional type of fighting game. The days of the 3D arena fighting and the ability to hit supers from the next area code over are gone, in favour of a 2.5D 3 vs 3 tag fighter akin to the likes of Marvel vs Capcom. Dragonball FighterZ is being developed by Arc System Works, who know a thing or EVERYTHING about making a great fighting game, and this game is no exception.
We’ve already covered the gameplay, graphics and our overall impressions of the game before, but we can summarise our feelings in three words: it’s fucking fantastic. With all the character trailers, story details and gameplay reveals since its announcement back during E3, Arc System and Bandai Namco have done an excellent job maintaining everyone’s collective hype for the game. Not only that, but they’re staying true to the anime whilst introducing moves never before seen in normal fighting games. Ginyu’s body swap super could prove to be both satisfying and salt-inducing in equal measure. Needless to say, January 26th can’t come soon enough.
Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle
The second Arc System Works game on this list (told you they know what they were doing), Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle looks to bring together Blazblue, Persona 4: Arena, Under Night In-Birth and Rooster Teeth’s RWBY. Essentially, this is the anime style fighting game equivalent of Marvel vs Capcom, Capcom vs SNK, Alien vs Predator, Freddie vs Jason and WWE vs WCW.
Whilst there’s no solid word on a release date or how the differences in gameplay between the three games and RWBY, it’s clear that Cross Tag Battle will live up to its name. It’s a 2v2 fighter with tag team elements similar to the likes of Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite or Tekken Tag Tournament 2. With plenty of characters already confirmed, and more likely on the way, Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle could be the fighting game sleeper hit of 2018. Or it’ll pass most people by because they’ve never heard of RWBY or Under Night In-Birth. Either or, really.
Fighting EX Layer
The little April Fool’s joke that could, Fighting EX Layer was revealed on April Fool’s Day of this year by ARIKA, the team behind the Street Fighter EX series. While most originally thought that the debut trailer was an elaborate prank designed to tug at those nostalgic heartstrings, news quickly broke that this was indeed serious. ARIKA were finally resurrecting the original characters from SF EX, like Kairi, Darun Mister, Doctrine Dark and Skullomania. Though the game has had a few playable builds pop up at events around the world, the actual title of Fighting EX Layer was only decided a few weeks ago.
Those who have played the game at events have said that the game is very similar to the Street Fighter EX framework, with systems like Super Cancels making a return. The key difference in the Gougi system, which appears to be inspired by the Gem System from the oft-maligned Street Fighter X Tekken. Performing certain feats mid-fight unlocks a symbol in your Gougi deck, granting you buffs like increased damage or super armour, both of which should mesh well with Darun Mister’s grapple based attacks. Though the animation and graphics might look odd when compared to the slick presentation of something like Tekken or Injustice 2, Fighting EX Layer looks to be an enjoyable trip down fighting games memory lane.
The most un-traditional fighting game on the list, Dissidia NT is an arena brawler utilising the Final Fantasy cast of characters. Ever wanted to see Cloud and Noctis have a fight? Dissidia gives you that opportunity. Whilst Dissidia has been available in Japanese arcades since 2015, the enhanced PS4 version, titled Dissidia NT and launching in 2018, was only announced this year. Similar to Tekken 7, it’ll contain all the up to date characters and updates from the arcade version along with all new story content.
The gameplay could best be described as organised chaos, with special moves and classic summons flying around the battlefield. Actual combat consists of Brave Attacks and HP Attacks. Brave Attacks reduce your opponent’s bravery whilst increasing your own, whilst HP Attacks deal damage based on your bravery level. Reducing an opponent’s bravery to zero results in a Bravery Break, which significantly increases your bravery and allows you to go in for the kill. It’s a system that takes some getting used to, but one we enjoyed during our time with it at EGX. Its affiliation with the Final Fantasy franchise might put off some players, but this could be one to watch.
You ever just think that “boy, there are too many complex button inputs in fighting games”? Fantasy Strike could be the game for you. There are no huge combo strings or intricate motions for special moves. The game is boiled down to one button presses to perform attacks, specials, throws and supers. It’s similar train of thought to the likes of Divekick, as it forgoes the inputs to allow players to focus on other aspects of fighting games, such as timing, spacing, zoning and strategy. As the official website says: “The hard part should be deciding if you want to do a move, not in getting it to happen once you’ve decided.”
With a varied and vibrant cast of characters, accessible gameplay and plenty of modes and unlockables, Fantasy Strike could be a serious contender for both casual players and fighting game veterans alike. Though the game is available right now on Steam via Early Access, the game is scheduled for a full release next year. Colour us excited.