Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

The best fighting games for PS5

There’s an entire generation of gamers out there who cut their teeth in the old arcades. Standing side by side with your opponent was the only option for real player-versus-player competition back in the day, and the king of the competitive genres was undoubtedly fighting games. The simple premise of two fighters squaring off against each other spawned some of the most popular and successful gaming franchises of all time. To this day, games that once made their debut in arcade cabinets are releasing new sequels for your home consoles to play from the comfort of your own sofa.

Whether against the computer, online, or playing locally on your couch, fighting games offer a pure test of skill that many compare to games like chess. Unlike chess, though, each fighting game has its own rules, systems, matchups, and more to learn. Factor in things like pure 2D versus 3D fighters, extra modes, and character rosters, and any two fighting games can look almost entirely different. Plus, there’s always the art style to consider, too. The PS5’s hardware is perfect for running fighting games, which demand rock-solid performance, and it’s home to all the biggest franchises, from legacy series like Street Fighter and Tekken to one-offs like Dragon Ball FighterZ. If you want to throw down in a one-on-one test of skill, there are the best fighting games for PS5.

Guilty Gear: Strive

Guilty Gear: Strive
93%
T
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Arcade, PlayStation 5
Genre
Fighting
Developer
Arc System Works
Publisher
Bandai Namco Studios, Arc System Works America, Arc System Works
Release
June 11, 2021
Guilty Gear has always been seen as a somewhat second-tier fighting game series below the major names among the general masses, but those who know the series have been singing its praises for years. Guilty Gear Strive hit after Ark System Works finally broke into the mainstream with the perfect pairing of their anime art style with the biggest anime franchise of all time, Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball FighterZ would probably have made this list before, but now that Guilty Gear Strive is out, there’s no denying this is the better game. Sure, you don’t get 10 versions of Goku to play as, but some consider that a plus. Just looking at this game is almost unbelievable. Arc System Works has always been a wizard when it comes to making 3D character models look like near-perfect 2D ones, and Guilty Gear Strive is perhaps the most impressive yet. The animations are unreal, fluid, and brimming with more detail than you can even perceive. The cast is wildly varied, with no “clones” in sight. Arc System Works has refined its easy-to-pick-up, hard-to-master gameplay in fighting games here. The only weak element that has to be pointed out is the single-player component. The story mode is essentially just a series of cutscenes that won’t mean much, or even make a lot of sense, to anyone who isn’t familiar with the frankly absurd and convoluted Guilty Gear lore.

Street Fighter 6

Street Fighter 6
87%
4.5/5
T
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Fighting, Arcade
Developer
Capcom
Publisher
Capcom
Release
June 02, 2023
Ah, there’s nothing quite like the old, familiar, and reliable fighter. Street Fighter set a new standard in fighting games way back with Street Fighter 2, and with incremental improvements and features, it has held strong as the most iconic game in the fighting game genre. That being said, after the series made a revival with Street Fighter 4, the next iteration didn’t come out in a state many were happy with. At launch, Street Fighter 5 was quite bare. The roster was limited, mechanics and online were not quite up to standard, and essentially, there was no single-player content whatsoever. There wasn’t any form of story mode at all until later down the line. Thankfully, Capcom learned from this and made Street Fighter 6 the complete package and more. You have a great roster of new and familiar faces, a lengthy and deep World Tour single-player mode, character creator, deep training modes, and all the online functionality you could ever want. Add in the new modern control method and it’s never been easier or more rewarding to enter the ring of Street Fighter.
Street Fighter 6 - Announce Trailer

Tekken 7

Tekken 7
78%
5/5
T
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Arcade
Genre
Fighting
Developer
Bandai Namco Studios
Publisher
Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release
February 18, 2015
Tekken has a very distinguished style that makes it at once incredibly addicting and also so mechanically deep and free-form that you will continue to feel like you’re learning how to play dozens of hours in. Tekken 7 follows the very toxic and dysfunctional Mishima family yet again, with a new story mode. It does its job, swapping you between all the main characters and stages, but the story’s content and delivery aren’t worth writing home about. Still, it is at least another option for single-player content in a game that isn’t too robust in that regard. Tekken was, and in many ways still is, notable for being a fully 3D fighter. We don’t just mean having 3D characters, but actually utilizing 3D arenas to fight. That means positioning is more complex than just moving closer or farther from your opponent — you need to consider sidestepping as well. The way you attack is also uniquely Tekken and sticks to the well-established roots of the series but adds on top of them some new features like Rage Arts and Power Crushes. Plus, the feature of the game slowing down to slow motion on dramatic moments sounded like a terrible idea when we first heard it but actually does a really good job of highlighting tense moments. We can’t wait to see how Tekken 8 pushes things even further.

Mortal Kombat 1

Mortal Kombat 1
77%
3.5/5
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Fighting, Adventure
Developer
NetherRealm Studios
Publisher
WB Games
Release
September 19, 2023
Another arcade phenomenon that has somewhat quietly become the best-selling fighting game series of all time, who could forget the bloody, mature, violent, and intentionally misspelled Mortal Kombat? Granted, this series has been going on for a long, long time and has arguably had more bad games than good. The transition to 3D in particular was not kind to the MK games up until NetherRealm decided their long, overly obtuse narrative needed a reboot just as much as the gameplay. Mortal Kombat 9 retconned the entire franchise back to the start, cutting the roster down and focusing on what made the game fun while also setting a new standard for fighting game stories. After two sequels to that, we have another semi-reboot of the story with Mortal Kombat 1, but not in terms of mechanics or content. The fatalities are more brutal than ever, the story short but sweet, and the fighting mechanics polished to a sheen. How much you love the game will ultimately come down to how you feel about Mortal Kombat‘s unique input and “stiff” style of play, but if that’s your thing, Mortal Kombat 1 will rip out your heart (in a good way).
Mortal Kombat 1 - Official Announcement Trailer

SoulCalibur VI

SoulCalibur VI
82%
T
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre
Fighting
Developer
Project Soul
Publisher
Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release
October 18, 2018
If you want a fighter that’s more weapon-focused, Soul Calibur 6 is the clear winner. Aside from the actual gameplay, which we’ll certainly speak to, the Soul Calibur series has one unique feature that no other major series has really attempted to replicate. That feature is a ridiculously robust character creation system. This is more than just a simple reskin of an existing character. With Soul Calibur 6, you can not only fully customize your own character’s appearance, but also give them their own combos and weapons. Yes, most of these will be taken from the existing roster, but the level at which you can mix and match moves leads to characters that feel completely new. Perhaps where Soul Calibur 6 stands above every other entry on this list is in single-player content. Aside from making your own character, there’s a deep progression system to get into, a pretty good story mode that’s tailored to each character, mission mode, and arcade mode. Versus mode is naturally where you’ll spend the most time, and it remains solid as ever. The focus on weapons makes you approach each fight differently, which lends itself perfectly to it utilizing full 3D space. Just watch your positioning so you don’t get knocked out of the ring! And, since fighting games seem to be mandated to have some level of crossover characters, you can even play as Geralt from The Witcher games and 2B from Nier: Automata. 

Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late(cl-r)

Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late(cl-r)
T
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Genre
Fighting, Arcade
Developer
French Bread
Publisher
Aksys Games, Arc System Works, PQube
Release
February 20, 2020
No, that’s neither a typo nor me having a stroke while writing out a game title. Under Night is one of the few game series that can outmatch the Kingdom Hearts series for most ridiculous titles. Names aside, this is the newest entry in this series that is essentially the poster child for “anime fighters.” It’s so anime that it isn’t just a fighter, but the story mode is essentially just a visual novel. Seriously, Chronicle mode is a full 23-chapter visual novel that dives deep into the characters, their histories and relationships, and the entire plot of this bizarre game. Thankfully the Arcade mode is more of what you expect from a fighting game story mode. Speaking of modes, Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late(cl-r) has almost too many modes. You’ve got Arcade, Chronicles, Versus, ranked and unranked online matches, local, Score Attack, Time Attack, Survival, Training and Tutorial, and more. The game has a respectably sized cast of 21 default characters, and each one is lovingly detailed and animated. Seriously, this game is second only to the output of Arc System in terms of showing off beautiful anime-style characters. There is a lot to learn in this fighter, but the game has more than enough tools to get you going thanks to the in-depth tutorial mode. If you wanted an alternative anime fighter that makes you feel like you’re playing your favorite shonen show, don’t be late(cl-r) for this one.

Brawlhalla

Brawlhalla
68%
E10
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, Android, iOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre
Fighting, Platform, Indie, Arcade
Developer
Blue Mammoth Games
Publisher
Blue Mammoth Games, Ubisoft
Release
April 30, 2014
There’s really no substitute for Super Smash Bros. Many have tried, but there’s no game that can match that game’s free-flowing, expressive fighting system with the roster of iconic characters. That’s why Brawlhalla decided to forgo attempting to outshine Smash in star power, and instead delivered a refined, tight, and most of all solid gameplay experience even when playing online. Oh, and did we mention they don’t even charge you to play? That’s a big point in their favor. That being said, if looks are important to you, then you might feel a little disappointed with this one. Brawlhalla does look like a free game, for better or worse. All that being said, Brawlhalla is doing a lot of things right. Aside from being free, the game has full crossplay between PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch, PC, and even mobile. The simple art style and character designs have let the roster grow to more than 50 characters so far. You can play with up to eight people locally or online in various modes, including ranked 1 v 1 and 2 v 2 modes, and wacky side modes like Brawlball, Capture the Flag, and Kung-Foot. Like Smash, the core game itself is a simple platform brawler where you duke it out on stages floating above pits with or without item drops. The community around Brawlhalla is so strong that it even has its own Esports league, meaning there’s no limit to how far you can go with this game.

Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown

Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown
T
Platforms
PlayStation 4
Genre
Fighting
Developer
Sega, Ryu ga Gotoku Studios
Publisher
Sega, Sega
Release
June 01, 2021
Virtua Fighter used to be one of the big names among the fighting game titans like Street Fighter, Tekken, and Mortal Kombat. However, it’s been years since the series got any new entries. While not the brand-new entry fans have been craving, Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown is a welcome return for this classic fighter. Originally released in Japan in 2006, this updated, and upgraded, edition shows that the core formula of this series is as solid as ever. It was even re-released in 2010 on the PS3 as Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, but this ultimate version manages to up the ante even more. Every character looks better than ever, though you’d have to squint a bit to make them look current-gen, especially if you stare at the backgrounds too closely. What the game lacks in graphical powers, though, it makes up for in performance. The game is rock solid, and the online portion even got some new additions like tournaments, spectator modes, and a league feature. Like Tekken, Virtua Fighter games are built for those who want to dive deep into a game’s mechanics. Every move has its perfect time, place, and distance to be used, as well as combo potential. Each character in the game can feel completely different to fight if given to two different players. If you’ve got the ambition, this is a game that will reward your time investment like a few others.

SAMURAI SHODOWN

SAMURAI SHODOWN
75%
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Arcade, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, Google Stadia
Genre
Fighting
Developer
SNK Corporation
Publisher
Athlon Games, SNK
Release
June 25, 2019
If you want a different misspelled type of showdown, Samurai Shodown is another series that seemed like it might’ve been forgotten until recently. This game is arguably the most brutal fighter on the list. And we’re not talking brutal in the Mortal Kombat sense. No, Samurai Shodown is brutal in the sense that one mistake probably means death. Unlike essentially every other fighter, especially Mortal Kombat, this game tries a little harder to be realistic in how a fight between two Samurai would play out. Rushing in, swinging wildly, would probably end in a quick death, which is exactly how this game functions. Samurai Shodown’s gameplay is far deeper than it may look if you just watched a couple matches based on how quickly they go. I mean, seeing one heavy strike deal about 30% of an opponent’s life bar, and special moves doing around 90%, would probably make you think the game is more like Nidhogg. But there are systems for attacking with your weapon, while unarmed, kicking, clashing, guards, parries, guard breaks, counters, blade catches, and more. With plenty of post-launch support, including three seasons of DLC characters plus crossover characters with SNK, this is a full package. For the calm, observant, and patient fighters who like to outthink their opponents, Samurai Shodown is that mood distilled.

Granblue Fantasy: Versus

Granblue Fantasy: Versus
80%
T
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4
Genre
Fighting, Role-playing (RPG)
Developer
Arc System Works
Publisher
Cygames, XSEED Games, Sega Games
Release
February 06, 2020
Arc System Works strikes again, and this time with another adaptation. Turning the Granblue Fantasy RPG into a fighter proves to be another critical hit for anime-style fighting games, and will soon have its successor in Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising in 2024. Until then, Granblue Fantasy Versus is still a complete thrill to play if you like fast-paced, high-combo, flashy fighters. Just like Arc’s other games, this has some great accessibility options to make the more difficult inputs easier for newcomers while keeping things balanced for those who prefer to do things the traditional way. Aside from your normal matches, you can also go through a little story mode that is a fun 2D beat ’em-up adventure, but the real star here is the silky smooth one-on-one bouts.
グランブルーファンタジー ヴァーサス/GRANBLUE FANTASY Versus PV#01

Editors' Recommendations

Jesse Lennox
Jesse Lennox loves writing, games, and complaining about not having time to write and play games. He knows the names of more…
Best PS5 game deals: discounts on the best games of 2023
Ellie pets a giraffe in The Last of Us Part I.

For those who have just picked up one of the excellent PlayStation deals and want to start building up their library, you'll be happy to know that there are a lot of great video game deals you can take advantage of. That includes everything from the latest and best best PS5 Games to some older stuff that still stands the test of time and is a perfect opportunity to pick up, given that older games tend to be heavily discounted. While you're here, it's also worth checking out some of our favorite PS5 deals for other consoles, games, and gear that you can grab at a discount.
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales -- $31, was $50

If you're a fan of Spider-Man, then you should absolutely grab yourself a copy of Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales if you haven't played it already. Not only is it one of the best Spider-Man games out there, but it's an absolute blast to play with a much more engrossing story with a deep narrative. The gameplay is also a lot more fun, with the spider-web swinging mechanic being very fluid and one of the best in any Spider-Man game, so it's well worth grabbing if you've always wanted to live the Spider-Man fantasy.

Read more
Best PlayStation deals: PS5, controllers, headsets on sale
PS5 and DualSense art.

The latest Sony PlayStation 5 is packed with power and while it took a little while to really take off, now that we're a few years down the line, things have improved considerably when it comes to the library. Of course, not everybody has picked up one of the consoles, and if you've been waiting for the best time to pick one up, there are quite a few good deals you can take advantage of. You can also check out some other great gaming console deals if you're not set on the PS5, or if you already have one, check out these excellent PS5 game deals.
Sony PlayStation 5 Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 bundle — $450, was $600

If you’re looking to get your hands on a PlayStation 5 console with a game to get you going, try this bundle with Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. This console features the PlayStation 5’s slim design, yet still has 1TB of solid state storage built in. It also comes with one DualSense Wireless Controller, and of course, a digital voucher for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.

Read more
Best video game deals: PlayStation 5, Xbox S and X, Nintendo Switch

While PC gaming is still quite dominant, a large portion of the gaming community games on consoles like the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch. To that end, if you're looking to pick up some new games, we've gone out and hunted some of our favorite video game deals, and some of these include items on our list of best PS5 games, best Xbox Series X games, or best Nintendo Switch games. Of course, if you only have one of the consoles and just want to focus on game deals for that, then check out our individual collections of our favorite PS5 game deals, Xbox game pass deals and Nintendo Switch deals.

Best PS5 game deals
Deathloop -- $25, was $60

Read more