Fighting games have a reputation for being tough to learn, but with the rise of video tutorials and guides on all the basics, there’s never been a better time to get into this highly competitive genre. Even if you’re far from competing at Evo, there are plenty of ways to enjoy these titles – from online Street Fighter matches to the full single-player content of games like Injustice and Soulcalibur.
We’ve focused on many competitive games with the most active communities here, but you’ll also find a few classics and curve balls in the mix. So get your fight stick, practice those fireballs, and prepare for the best PC fighting games.
Here are the best fighting games on PC:
NetherRealm sets itself a high standard for gore and crunchy combat in its long-standing Mortal Kombat series. It’s pleasing to say that Mortal Kombat 11 smashes those expectations harder than Scorpion piledriving Sub-Zero with one of the countless MK11 fatalities.
The moment-to-moment combat is hard-hitting but methodical – meaning that fighting feels considered and landing a blow feels sweet. Tossing projectiles at foes in the name of zoning is prevalent as ever, but it makes those moments you get up close and personal all the better to savor.
It’s not all just throwing hands, but The Krypt makes a sparkling return. Here you’ll find plenty of puzzles to solve and items that unlock new areas. It’s a bit of a grind, and it involves going out of the Krypt, but that’s okay – as we have a handy Mortal Kombat 11 The Krypt walkthrough to aid with that part.
Dragon Ball FighterZ may not be the first good Dragon Ball game, but it’s undoubtedly the first great one. Arc System Works has leveraged its experience in some of the market’s most technically complex fighting games to build a sumptuous title that keeps the depth of the best brawlers while staying accessible. And the studio did it with one of the most beloved series in anime, showing plenty of love and care to every character in the Dragon Ball FighterZ roster.
For Dragon Ball fans, FighterZ is a slick tribute to the series, from its gorgeous anime aesthetic to the matchup-specific intro and finish cutscenes – Yamcha’s death pose is perfect, for example. But all that care and craft is evident even if you don’t know your Goku from your Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Goku.
While DBFZ has the aerial combo-driven freneticism of Marvel vs. Capcom, it’s much more accessible for newcomers. Simple, universal combos let you make effective basic attacks across every character in the roster. The system is flexible enough to let you quickly start working in tags and specials for your attacks – which means you’ll be driving foes through mountains with Kamehameha’s in no time.
Street Fighter V did not have a grand launch. The fundamentals were there from the start, with a great core fighting system, but a dearth of content and characters meant that it felt like an incomplete game – a criticism series producer Yoshinori Ono has copped to. But while it took too long to get there, 2018’s Arcade Edition release saw the game finally achieve its full potential.
That said, this is still Street Fighter, and Street Fighter is still the standard all other fighting games are measured against. If you want to understand fireballs, combos, and specials – never mind footsies and frame data – you start with Street Fighter, and V continues the traditions we’ve been building since the World Warrior hit arcades all those years ago.
Street Fighter V on PC also has cross-play with PlayStation 4, which means you can compete against everyone playing online. That’s a significant advantage over every other fighter on this list since most players tend to compete on consoles.
Tekken 7 is billed as the saga’s end, and the cinematic flourishes of its extensive – and ridiculous – story mode seep into the actual fights, too. Slow-motion close-ups punctuate each battle’s tensest moments, and the series’ stony-faced cast of fighters are just as grimly determined to throw each other into volcanoes as ever.
But it’s not just about the vocabulary. Tekken remains the most competitive 3D fighter, with robust tactical battles that reward strong technical play with impressive combos and insane damage. That beautiful combination of high-drama visuals and deep, complex mechanics makes Tekken one of the most exhilarating fighting games on the planet.
GUILTY GEAR XRD REV 2
Guilty Gear is most commonly known as an ‘anime fighter.’ While that partly refers to the Japanese animation aesthetic common to most Arc System Works games, it also describes the highly technical aerial combat the studio’s titles emphasize. In a genre renowned for being tough to learn, anime fighters are among the toughest, but Guilty Gear bridges the gap between newbies and experts in an impressive way.
The latest edition of the series features 3D characters cleverly crafted to look like lavishly-animated 2D sprites. The effect is entirely convincing until a special emerges, and the camera swings around to show the full depth of the visuals. There’s a case to be made that Xrd is not just the best-looking fighting game but one of the most visually impressive games ever.
Of course, there’s much more to praise here than fancy visuals. Every character has many options for getting around the screen, and building up your combos to keep opponents helpless in mid-air means mastering a complex set of inputs and keeping them straight amid the frenetic pace of the fights. A great tutorial system means that getting the basics down isn’t quite as intimidating as it first appears.
It might be better to read this entry as ‘whatever the most recent NetherRealm game is.’ For the past decade, the studio has ping-ponged between Mortal Kombat and the DC superhero universe. Though there are differences exclusive to MK and Injustice, they’re building on the same formula, but each iteration is getting closer to perfection. This isn’t just one of the best fighting games on PC; it’s also one of the best superhero games.
Injustice 2 is a grim take on the DC universe that rebalances the sides of good and evil – which is just a fancy way of saying Superman and Batman are going to fight each other. The broad roster includes superpowered favorites and some delightfully obscure picks, all offering authentic powers in richly strategic matches filled with combat options and spectacular destruction.
NetherRealm games genuinely shine in their content offerings, and Injustice 2 is no exception. There’s a best-in-class cinematic story mode, a Multiverse full of gameplay challenges and unlockables, and a whole gear system full of ways to customize your fighter’s stats and appearance. Even if Mortal Kombat 11 will probably supplant Injustice 2 in a few months, this is still one of the complete fighting game packages you can get.
We’ve seen all kinds of crossover fighters in the past, but none quite so absurd as Cross Tag Battle, which brings together the likes of BlazBlue, Persona, RWBY, and Under Night In-Birth. If you’re not familiar with some of those franchises, that’s okay – the primary thrust is that it’s a lot of anime, all tied up in a colorful, fast-paced fighter that’s joyous no matter how much of the roster you recognize.
The tag system makes your character choices matter with unique sets of assist moves to throw out, but the roster remains accessible thanks to a selection of universal moves and combos. That takes some of the burden of memory off beginners, so you can get right into the action and quickly wrap your head around the flashy combat system.
This one’s almost unfair to all the others. Collecting multiple decades’ worth of the greatest fighting games of all time (and the original Street Fighter), the 30th Anniversary Collection brings together 12 Capcom classics that chart the series’ history up through Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike.
Yes, you’ll probably only want to spend your time with the best revisions of each game, and that’s probably why Capcom only bothered to invest in bringing online play for Hyper Fighting, Super Turbo, Alpha 3, and 3rd Strike. But the vault of historical content – from all the arcade revisions to the original concepts and pitches – makes this package a must for fighting game fans or those looking to catch up on the most critical series.
The fighting game community tends to move on when a new entry in an established series is released, no matter how rough the transition might be. However, that didn’t happen with Marvel vs. Capcom. In part, that’s because the latest title, Infinite, was pretty poorly received – but it’s got more to do with the fact that Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is so damn good.
It boasts a robust roster that draws from two of geekdom’s most beloved stables. Then there’s the art that treats all those fan favorites just right. And, most of all, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has a wondrously complex tag team fighting system as deep and varied as any game in the fighting game community canon.
Its 3v3 battles, rich with tags and assist moves, can get so wild with destructive combos that it’s tough for laypeople to follow the action – but that’s what gives UMVC3 its appeal. That cacophony of combos and specials is a rich ballet that rewards mastery in a way few other games can match.
The Soulcalibur series has always struggled to recapture the magic of the original home release on Dreamcast. Still, after nearly two decades, it seems that Soulcalibur VI is the game to do it finally. The weapon-based fighter is a delight to play at every skill level, whether mashing through your attacks or building the most intricate combos. There’s a generous helping of content to keep you going even when you’re not competing online.
That includes the Soulcalibur VI character creator, which has provided some of the most incredible (and terrifying) homespun creations we’ve seen in ages. You can take your custom fighter into a lengthy campaign complete with RPG-style upgrade systems and a nearly limitless supply of side missions or take on a full story mode with bespoke dialogue and fight for every character on the roster.
MUGEN is the most excellent fighting game. It’s also the worst fighting game and every measure of quality in between. MUGEN encompasses all things. Do you want to see the Street Fighter roster take on Mortal Kombat finally? You can. Do you want to build a roster of the most obscure fighting games in history alongside Homer Simpson? That can be done. Do you want a group of fighters so pornographic we can’t even describe them here? MUGEN does not judge. MUGEN is.
MUGEN is a freeware fighting engine developed over the past two decades – technically, not even a game. A vast enthusiast community has kept the engine updated, repackaged, and rereleased over the years. Nearly any fighter you can imagine has been part of some roster.
Perhaps most famously, MUGEN serves as the basis for Salty Bet, a 24/7 stream of random fighting matchups where viewers bet digital currency on the outcomes. It’s the insanity that aptly demonstrates what MUGEN’s community has bred – a place where anything is possible.
The best fighting games on PC have already won more than a few rounds, but there’s always more. From upcoming PC games like Mortal Kombat 11 to forgotten old games and obscure indie games, there’s a rich tapestry of fighters to square off against. You can grab one of these picks, load up a combo video, and get into training mode – you’ll find plenty of competition out there.
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