Best Fighting Games 2018: 12 of the best brawlers

Fighting games have come a long way from the early days. Unlike the early pixellated, 1v1, duelling days of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat modern fighters offer a variety of matches and mechanics.

In today’s market you can get everything from big medevil war sims to big team, 6v6 matches as well as the more traditional dual setup. The mechanics have also had a spruce, with most modern fighters including attack, defence, counter, combo and super mechanics that can take lifetimes to fully master.

On the one hand the sheer variety is great, as when done well there’s nothing more satisfying than a decent fighting game. Nothing can come close to the euphoria you’ll feel after going full on Conan and conquering your enemies in a chaotic blaze of glory in a well made fighter.

But its also a two edged sword, as the world of fighting games is not one for the weak hearted. Go into a hardcore brawler unprepared, or pick a game with badly deployed mechanics and its all to easy to send the controller flying across your lounge in a fit of rage.

Here to help save your controller, and bank balance, we’ve tested all the big fighting games on the market to offer you a definitive list of the best currently available.

Related: Xbox One X vs PS4 Pro

 

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Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Fighter Z is a team 3v3 fighting game from Arc System Works, the studio behind the stellar, but uber complext Guilty Gear series.

Set in the iconic Dragon Ball Z universe the game’s beautiful graphics have been painstakingly tweaked to make hte game look just like the original source material.

The studio’s also done stellar work toning down some of the Studio’s more challenging combat mechanics, while leaving enough meat to ensure hardcore gamers and newbies alike will find something to like. The end result is a combat system that feels a lot like the classic Marvel vs Capcom 2’s, which is all about team and air combo attacks.

Add to this a stellar original story mode that adds a new chapter to the Dragon Ball universe and a wealth of arcade and compeititive matchmaking options and FighterZ justifiably earns its place as one of this year’s top brawlers.

Read the full Dragon Ball FighterZ review

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Platforms: Nintendo Switch

Pokkén Tournament DX is an enjoyable fighter that provides plenty of fan-service for hardcore and casual fans of the beloved franchise. It’s also a surprisingly deep experience, now equipped with more fighters and stages than ever before on Nintendo Switch.

Order Pokkén Tournament DX from Amazon UK | Amazon US

While the solo campaign isn’t what it could have been, Pokkén Tournament DX makes up for this shortcoming with excellent local multiplayer and an impressive suite of online offerings.

And this is probably the only game in existence where you can see Pikachu pull off a Stone Cold Stunner.

 

Read the full Pokken Tournament DX review

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Platforms: PS4, Xbox One and PC

Fans of the Marvel vs Capcom franchise were up in arms when the game first launched, as it made a number of key changes to the series’ classic gameplay. But it’s still a brilliant fighter game.

At its core, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is a game that offers a fresh spin on the series’ tag-based combat that makes it far more accessible than past entries into the series. Make no mistake this is another top-tier Marvel vs Capcom fighting game, it’s just a little easier to get into.

Buy Marvel vs Capcom Infinite now from Amazon UK | Amazon.com

It’s a shame that it doesn’t have the visual fidelity or single-player content of some of its competitors because it knocks the shine off what is otherwise a really fun, deep and varied fighting game.

Read the full Marvel vs Capcom Infinite review

Injustice 2

4 of 11

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Platforms: PS4, Xbox One

Injustice 2 was one of the finest fighting games of 2017. By making incredible use of the DC license with a huge cast of playable heroes and villains, NetherRealm Studios has crafted one of its best creations in a long, long time. The combat system is rewarding for both veterans and newcomers, boasting an incredible amount of customization through a dastardly addictive loot system.

Buy Injustice 2 from Amazon UK | Amazon US

The comprehesive solo campaign makes things even better, pumping out a more convincing story than any films in the fumbling DC Cinematic Universe. Comic book fans will find so much to love here, especially those who are looking to trounce their friends as everyone’s favourite caped crusader.

Read the full Injustice 2 review

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Platforms: PS4, PC

Street Fighter 5 had an incredibly rocky launch, and suffered in the months following as Capcom desperately scrambled to make amends. But speak to any dedicated eSports brawler and they’ll tell you that Street Fighter 5 in its current state is one of the finest fighting games in existence. After plenty of tweaking and balancing – as well as adding significantly more content which should have been included in the base game – Street Fighter 5 can now go toe-to-toe with the best in the business.

Buy Street Fighter 5 from Amazon UK | Amazon.com

It certainly helps that the cast of characters and moves are so instantly familiar. Along with the likes of Ryu and Ken, you get dragon punches and hurricane kicks. It’s like a nostalgic journey for the modern day.

Evolving and improving the graphics engine of Street Fighter 4, the visuals are stunning, making every fight pure spectacle, too. It may not reach the heights of its predecessor, but it’s still very much a darling of the dedicated brawlers.

Related: Best PS4 Games

Read the full Street Fighter 5 review

Street Fighter 2

6 of 11

Platforms: Everything – HD Remix coming to Nintendo Switch

There are so many versions of Street Fighter 2 that it’s hard to keep count. What’s easy to remember, however, is the impact it has had on the industry. Arriving in 1991, the second game in the franchise was so far ahead of its time that it instantly popularised the entire concept. Making stars out of its fighters and inspiring children the world-over to try to summon balls of fire from their palms, it established many tropes that the genre still relies upon today.

Buy Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers (Switch) from Amazon UK | Amazon.com

A huge reason for this was how forward thinking it felt. While it’s hard to understand now, the sheer number of moves and slick animation was unheard of back in the early 1990s. It was revolutionary.

Street Fighter 2 also benefited hugely from the excellent port that took it out of the arcades and onto the Super Nintendo. Fans couldn’t believe they could now experience Capcom’s fighter at home, and this idea alone was paramount to its success.

 

It’s the reason behind the SNES itself offering a Street Fighter bundle and why it sold in the millions. Plus with the remake now coming to the Nintendo Switch, younger players will have a chance to experience it all over again.

Related: Best Nintendo Switch Games

Tekken 7

7 of 11

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Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC

After five years away Bandai Namco has brought the Tekken series back in style with Tekken 7. A bonkers story, great online play and a huge cast of varied brawlers, this is the best it’s been since Tekken 3.

Buy Tekken 7 now from Amazon UK | Amazon.com

For casual fans and newcomers alike, there’s plenty here to enjoy and new combat features in the form of Rage Arts and Drives as well as Power Crushers, all aimed at turning the tide of battle if you’re struggling.

There’s a VR mode for PlayStation VR players, but it feels entirely throwaway, so feel free to ignore that.

Read the full Tekken 7 review

Mortal Kombat X

8 of 11

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Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Developer: NetherRealm Studios

Making a huge impact when it was first released, the original Mortal Kombat was most definitely style over substance. Getting everyone’s attention by, essentially, embracing the art of killing, the controversy was enough to turn it into a global phenomenon. But it spawned a series which has become a staple of the fighting genre, and the latest entry is up there with the best.

Buy Mortal Kombat X from Amazon UK | Amazon.com

Mortal Kombat X does something very few modern fighting games do: offer an engaging and engrossing single player narrative. Told via pre- and post-fight cutscenes, players can enjoy a story which involves every fighter on the roster, and is especially enjoyable for those who simply enjoy beating the hell out of their opponents without an intense focus on frame-counting and input commands.

If you’re a more casual fight fan, Mortal Kombat is an excellent starting point, as long as you’re not squeamish…

Related: Best Xbox One Games

Read the full Mortal Kombat X review

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Formats: PS4, PC

Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 is one for the more dedicated fight fans of this world, however the developers have gone to great lengths to make this one more welcoming to new players.

Buy Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 from Amazon UK | Amazon.com

For starters this game offers some incredibly deep tutorials that not only teach the basics but also some of the more intricate aspects of the game and the genre, which is great.

It’s also one of the most stunning fighting games you’ll ever play. So even if for the spectacle, this is certainly worth checking out.

Read the full Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 review

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Formats: iOS

Infinity Blade set the graphical bar for mobile gaming when it released in 2010, only for the sequel to surpass it in almost every way. Powered by Unreal Engine 3, the second game in Chair Entertainment’s acclaimed series boasts accessibility to match its beauty.

Your capacity to explore is limited — you can only tap the direction you’d like to follow — but an intuitive and addictive combat system will more than keep you going. The simple block, dodge, and attack mechanics fit mobile wonderfully, with some light RPG elements sweetening the deal even more.

Related: Best iPhone Games

Read the full Infinity Blade II review

Nidhogg

11 of 11

Platforms: PC, PS4
Developer: Messhof Games

Disclaimer: we don’t necessarily recommend settling your disputes with violence. However, if that’s what it descends to, duelling and falling down ditches only to be eaten by a massive worm, is probably the weirdest way you can have a scrap.

Nidhogg is a curiously compelling 2D sidescroller in which you can prove your sword fighting skills against pretty, pixelated backgrounds. Movement across each 16-bit environment is slick with a range of jumps and slides, and the gameplay is satisfying with a selection of stances and attacks.

Related: Best PC Games

With a dearth of couch co-op titles out at the moment, this is definitely the best one featuring a giant mythological worm.