Biggest Upcoming New Fighting Games of 2021 & Beyond
There are few genres more competitive or fun than fighting games. Matches are a tense back and forth affair, as you try to establish mind games, bait out your opponent’s attacks and punish them with some devastating combos. Alternatively, you can also slap your palm against the controller haphazardly in order to perform something ludicrous, and have just as much fun. I guess fighting games are whatever you choose them to be.
Anyway, there’s a number of exciting fighting games to look forward to over the next 12 months and beyond, including some debuts, reboots and long-anticipated sequels to some legendary fighting game franchises. You just might have to look a lot harder to find them. Let’s take a look at the biggest fighting games of 2021 and beyond on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Switch.
New Fighting Games of 2021
Guilty Gear Strive
PC, PS5, PS4
April 9th, 2021
Phantom Breaker: Omnia
PC, PS4, XB1, Switch
The King of Fighters XV
Virtua Fighter x Esports
Guilty Gear Strive | April 9th, 2021
Developer: Arc System Works Publisher: Arc System Works, Bandai Namco Platform(s): PS4, PS5, PC
Arc System Works have made a name for themselves as one of the premier fighting game developers on the market, particularly with hits such as Dragon Ball FighterZ and the Blazblue series, but their bread and butter has always been the Guilty Gear series, a franchise they’re returning to for Strive in 2021, and it could be the best entry in the series yet.
Strive is somewhat of a soft reboot for the game’s system, making the game more accessible to casual players while retaining that high skill ceiling for those online lobby monsters that want to flex on some noobs. Strive also boasts some of the most beautiful graphics ever shown in a fighting game, or any game for that matter, and with Arc System at the helm, the gameplay is going to be top notch to boot. Keep an eye out for this one.
The King of Fighters XV | TBC 2021
Developer: SNK Publisher: SNK Platform(s): Unconfirmed, though KOF XIV was PS4 exclusive
The King of Fighters series, along with SNK fighting games as a whole, have never really cracked the mainstream in the same way that the likes of Street Fighter, Tekken and Mortal Kombat have, but the tide might be changing in that respect, just in time for King of Fighters XV to launch in 2021.
2019 was a brilliant year for SNK, with the Samurai Shodown reboot being a huge success for the brand, and SNK characters Haohmaru and Terry Bogard appearing in Soulcalibur VI and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. More eyes than ever are on SNK, so hopefully that’ll lead to the best KOF yet. Hell, it was announced back during EVO 2019, but only now have we finally seen gameplay. Still, it looks like SNK used the time to cook up something special. Unfortunately, there are also eyes on SNK because a majority share in the company was purchased by a Saudi charity linked to the country’s history of human rights abuse, so that’s not great.
Phantom Breaker: Omnia | TBC 2021
Developer: MAGES Inc. Publisher: Rocket Panda Games Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
This one is for anyone who fancies another anime fighter as Phantom Breaker: Omnia is an anime fighter at its most anime, complete with Japanese schoolgirls street fighting each other with giant swords. If nothing else, Phantom Breaker: Omnia is unapologetic in what kind of game it is and what value it offers, and that level of dedication has to be commended.
Phantom Breaker: Extra has been available in Japan since 2013, but Omnia is the series’ debut over the West. The game will include a roster of 20 characters, including Makise Kurisu from the popular Steins;Gate series, along with 3 fighting styles to ensure there’s a varied amount of characters and abilities to play around with.
It won’t achieve the level of mainstream success that fighting games like MK 11 have, but it could be a lot of fun all the same.
Project L | TBC
Developer: Riot Games, Radiant Entertainment Publisher: Riot Games Platform(s): Unconfirmed, though probably PC at least.
Alright, I’ll level with you: there’s not been much in the way of information regarding upcoming fighting games. We know the next couple of games are on the way, but as for gameplay features or a release date, your guess is as good as ours. Either way, let’s talk for a little bit about Project L. We probably know the most about this game, honestly, and it doesn’t even have a proper name.
Project L is the League of Legends fighting game that’s being developed by Rising Thunder devs Radiant Entertainment. Arguably, Radiant are the perfect devs for a fighting game version of League, for two main reasons. Firstly, their prior game, Rising Thunder, relied on easier inputs and special move cooldowns, similar to how League’s gameplay works.
Secondly, Radiant was founded by the Cannon brothers, who created the GGPO netcode system, regarded as one of, if not the best online matchmaking system in fighting games right now. With that kind of pedigree behind Project L, it’s possible that we’ll get a fighting game that not only does justice to the League franchise, but also plays like a fantastic fighting game to boot.
Virtua Fighter x Esports | TBC
Developer: SEGA, SEGA AM2 Publisher: SEGA Platform(s): TBC
SEGA seems to have remembered that Virtua Fighter exists, as this year they teased, well, they teased something that had VF poster boy and shoulder bash aficionado Akira Yuki in it. The title of the YouTube video is called “Virtua Fighter x esports”, which suggests a more competitive focus for the series going forward, but that’s it.
This could be a fully fledged Virtua Fighter 6, with all the characters from the previous game, plus a couple more thrown in besides, or this could be a more stripped back reboot for the series. Who knows at this point? SEGA might know, but I’m not entirely convinced to be honest with you.
NetherRealm’s Next Project (Probably Injustice 3)
Developer: NetherRealm Studios Publisher: Warner Bros. Platform(s): Let’s see if it’s actually real first, eh?
From the hard confirmed but lacking in gameplay footage to the “we assume they’re working on something”, NetherRealm are likely winding down development on Mortal Kombat 11 now that they’ve released 3 DLC packs and a content bundle with the subtitle Ultimate. That’s usually a decent indicator that something else is on the horizon, so let’s look forward to NetherRealm’s next project, which will most probably be Injustice 3.
Over the past decade, NetherRealm have alternated between releasing Mortal Kombat and Injustice every two years, and with MK 11 launching in 2019, perhaps we’ll see Injustice 3 debut in 2021. Again, this is speculation, and it’s possible that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected production to the point that NetherRealm won’t be able to launch a game in 2021, but we’ll be seeing something from them soon enough, I reckon.
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