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The best fighting games of all time

Of all the confusing naming conventions associated with video games, fighting games are perhaps the most notorious. With most franchises receiving countless re-releases, ports, and sequels, it can be hard to know where to get started. That’s why we’re here to count down the best fighting games of all time.

In order to not highlight one series too heavily over another, we’re only giving a single slot to any individual game in a franchise. Super Smash Bros., for example, has Melee and Brawl, but we’re only dedicating one slot to Ultimate.

Tekken 7

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Tekken has a long history of being a viciously competitive fighting game, and Tekken 7 is the latest in that lineage. The first game to use the Unreal Engine and last game in The Mishima Saga Story, Tekken 7 introduces a variety of new mechanics, making the game more accessible for newcomers while retaining the competitive nature of the community that surrounds it.

Although lacking in content upon release, Tekken 7’s roster of characters has grown substantially. Returning favorites like Jin Kazama and Kazuya Mishima are present, as well as newcomers in the form of Fahkumram, Shaheen, and Devil Kazumi.

Since launch, Bandai Namco has also partnered with various other studios to bring third-party characters into Tekken 7. Those include Akuma from Street Fighter, Geese Howard from Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters, Noctis Lucis Caelum from Final Fantasy XV, and, strangely, Negan from The Walking Dead.

Read our full Tekken 7 review

Killer Instinct

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Killer Instinct is an old, but fairly niche, fighting franchise. Developed originally by Rare in 1994, the series only received three games, one of which was an arcade exclusive. After Microsoft’s acquisition of Rare, however, it decided to reboot the franchise, launching alongside the Xbox One in 2013.

Developed by the original co-designer of Killer Instinct and a slew of fighting game veterans, including former competitive players and tournaments organizers, Killer Instinct truly is a fighting game created by the fans, for the fans. Although the first season of competitive play was met with some disappointment, Killer Instinct has grown into one of the better fighting games around.

Further, it’s free, or at least, free to download. The base game only comes with a single fighter, and you can choose to either upgrade to the full version of the game or buy fighters a la carte. If you’re an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, however, you get everything for free, which is why Killer Instinct is one of the best games on Xbox Game Pass.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

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Super Smash Bros. is a marvel of game design, allowing players interested in button mashing to have as much fun as competitive players. Although the Smash Bros. series doesn’t have the knuckle-busting combos of other competitive fighting games, it’s still a nuanced and fast-paced brawler.

Ultimate is the most expansive title in the series, too. Although Melee is often hailed as the epitome of the Smash Bros. series, Ultimate offers a lot more content. The base game features 69 fighters, with fan-favorite Nintendo characters like Captain Falcon and Ness, as well as third-party fighters like Cloud from Final Fantasy VII and Snake from Metal Gear Solid.

This is one of the best Switch games you can buy, pairing perfectly with the console. No matter if you’re jumping into a few online battles on the go or sitting down with some friends to duke it out, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate provides the same experience. Not only is Ultimate the biggest Smash game to date, it’s also one that can fit in your pocket.

Read our full Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review

Street Fighter V

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Street Fighter might be the most well-known fighting franchise around, with the original game releasing in 1987. Street Fighter V is the biggest game in the series to date, though, and like many other entries on this list, was met with negative criticism upon launch.

Released in a mostly unfinished state, fit with controller issues, network problems, and little in the way of single-player content, Street Fighter V was considered a cash grab more so than the masterpiece that was Street Fighter IV. Still, Capcom stuck with the game, and it has improved considerably.

Since launch, Capcom has released two major updates to the game, the Arcade Edition and Championship Edition. Although a common practice for the Street Fighter series, Capcom made these updates available as a free download to all Street Fighter V owners. With the new content, Street Fighter V is even more balanced and diverse than Street Fighter IV, reaching a new high for the series.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

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Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is a sequel to Persona 4 Arena, originally released exclusively in Japanese arcades before being ported over as a PS3 game and Xbox 360 game in 2014. Of the various spinoffs from the Persona series, the two Arena titles may be the best, with Ultimax improving nearly every aspect of the original.

In it, you can play as characters from Persona 3 and Persona 4, each with their own special moves and Persona abilities. Although much more focused on fighting than mainline Persona games, Arena Ultimax keeps some of the life simulation aspects of the main titles intact. Outside of battle, players can build social links that can help them in battle.

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax includes all of fighters from the original Arena on the roster, as well as eight new characters. Each of these fighters has a “shadow type,” too. These shadow versions of characters have lower normal attack damage but can maintain their SP over multiple rounds, allowing them to build up special moves.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

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Dragon Ball games have a spotted history, with no truly bad games, but very few truly good ones. Thankfully, FighterZ fits into the latter category, ditching many of the RPG elements of the Xenoverse titles that came before in favor of a strict brawler. That focus pays off, with FighterZ having some of the most engaging battles the franchise has seen.

The game takes place in the Dragon Ball Super timeline but is a side story from the main series. In it, you face off against Android 21, a human turned machine by the Red Ribbon Army. After awakening Android 16 and using the Dragon Balls to bring back Nappa, Cell, Frieza, and the Ginyu Force, 21 develops a system for linking human souls to machines.

Of course, the roster of iconic Dragon Ball characters is intact, with Goku, Gohan, Piccolo, Vegeta, and Trunks. Since launch, Arc System Works, developer of Dragon Ball Super, has supported the release with various fighter packs, showcasing alternative versions of Goku and Vegeta, as well as new additions to the roster, such as Broly and Android 17.

Read our full Dragon Ball FighterZ review

Injustice 2

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Since 2011, one studio has dominated the fighting market in the West: NetherRealm. A rebranded subsidiary of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, NetherRealm has led the charge on the last three Mortal Kombat games, which are considered some of the best in the series. It also created a new franchise with Injustice.

If you’re unaware, Injustice is a fighting game based around the DC universe, allowing you to take Batman, Superman, Joker, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and more into battle in this superhero game. In addition to the roster of DC heroes and villains, Injustice 2 features fighters from other franchises, including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hellboy, and Sub-Zero.

Compared to the first entry in the series, Injustice 2 has a much more compelling single-player mode. Following the events of the first game, Injustice 2 pits Batman versus Superman, with Superman taking extreme measures to punish criminals. With DC characters joining both sides of the battle, Injustice 2’s story feels like a true clash of superheroes.

Read our full Injustice 2 review

Mortal Kombat X

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NetherRealm Studios initially proved their fighting game prowess with 2011’s Mortal Kombat, before moving on to launch Injustice: God Among Us. Like Injustice 2, Mortal Kombat X improves on the game that preceded it in almost every way, with increased visual fidelity, more characters, and more refined mechanics.

Introduced in NetherRealm’s first swing at a Mortal Kombat game, X features the X-Ray special moves, slowing time in the battle to showcase your opponent’s bones breaking with each of your hits. X also allows you to interact with the environment like you can in Injustice, either to get to a different point in the stage or hit your opponent.

Mortal Kombat favorites are present on the roster of Mortal Kombat X, including Johnny and Cassie Cage, Reptile, Scorpion, Sonya Blade, and Sub-Zero. NetherRealm has done various crossovers with other franchises since launch, too, adding Jason Voorhees, Predator, an Alien franchise xenomorph, and Leatherface.

Read our full Mortal Kombat X review


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With staples of the genre like Street Fighter and Tekken hogging the limelight, it’s hard for an original IP to break into the fighting game genre, especially in the West. Skullgirls managed to do the impossible, however, releasing for just about every platform under the sun upon release and eventually being ported to modern consoles.

The title’s main claim to fame is its art style. It features a “dark deco” style, that being a similar animation style to Batman: The Animated Series. The title blends aspects of art deco, an early 1920s visual design often associated with the film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, with noir-style elements, creating a dark but high-class feel.

In the context of a fighting game, the visual style works excellently, with beautiful hand-drawn characters and mesmerizing finishers. Skullgirls is a game with a lot of heart, with the passion of the developers showing through each frame.

Soulcalibur VI

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Soulcalibur VI doesn’t throw out the formula the series has been going with since 1998, rather iterating on the title that came before it, much like other entries in the series. It boasts a decent roster, though not on the level of Smash Bros. or Cross Tag Battle, and the competitive scene is decent, though not as bustling as Tekken. Still, Soulcalibur VI stands out.

That’s mostly thanks to its gameplay. Like previous titles, VI battles take place in a 3D arena, one where you can move around using its eight-way run. There are some new additions in VI, however. The most interesting is Reversal Edge, which is a technique that essentially allows you to parry incoming attacks.

In addition to some new mechanics, Soulcalibur VI has two story modes, one of which outlines the backstories of all the characters on the roster and another that allows you to create your own custom character to serve as the protagonist. Between the two, you’re looking at around 10 hours of single-player content, which is four times as much as the previous entry.

Read our full Soulcalibur VI preview

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

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Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a re-release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, adding 12 new playable characters while keeping the core gameplay intact. Unlike the other entries on this list, you choose a team of fighters whenever you start a battle. Although the fights are one-on-one, you’ll need to defeat all three fighters on your opponents team to win the match.

The game comes into its own when you start switching characters, though. As the battle progresses, you can tag in another fighter from your team. With them, you can perform an air combo with the character you’re switching in if you time it right, breaking your opponent’s posture and leaving them vulnerable to attack.

Backing up the team-based battles is an excellent roster of 48 characters. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 features all 36 characters from the base game, including Chris Redfield, Iron Man, Viewtiful Joe, and Deadpool, as well as 12 new characters. Those include Ghost Rider, Rocket Raccoon, Frank West, Nemesis, and Phoenix Wright.

BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle

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BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is a spin-off from the BlazBlue series, developed by Arc System Works. Instead of just featuring BlazBlue characters, Cross Tag Battle features characters from four different franchises: BlazBlue, Persona 4, Under Night In-Bitch, and RWBY.

Battles are fought in teams of two, so your primary character will have a side-kick under their command. Parallel to the rules in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, you can call on your sub to relieve you mid-battle. You can also use their assistance for certain special moves. Gamers initially criticized BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle upon release for lacking certain fighters, but it’s come a long way since then, now featuring 40 playable characters through DLC.


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MUGEN stands out as an anomaly due to its authentic format, garnering a hip reputation amongst gamers. Released for Windows in 1999, MUGEN is a fighting game engine rather than an actual fighting game. It provides you with the bare-bones foundation for a fight and expects you to provide the pivotal details. You can add your own characters, graphics, and stages, essentially building a custom fighting game. If you don’t have programming knowledge, don’t worry – MUGEN has some built-in gameplay modes, too.

Keep in mind that MUGEN doesn’t provide the fierce competition and well-rounded fighting match experience that you would expect from a paid game. What you will get with MUGEN is a game created by the people for the people that you can access at no additional cost with a little something for everyone. The customization is the best part of the game, as you’ll gladly entertain yourself for hours falling down the internet’s rabbit hole in search of the quirkiest pair of fight contenders.

Editors' Recommendations

Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
Video game voice actors are poised for a strike after successful SAG-AFTRA vote
The Last of Us 2 Ellie Gun

Hollywood is currently in the middle of a significant actors strike, and the same could potentially happen soon in the video game industry as well. SAG-AFTRA members voted to authorize a game actors strike, setting the stage for a potential disruption in the industry if current negotiations with publishers don't go according to plan.

The SAG-AFTRA union represents actors across all entertainment mediums, but the strike that's been active since July excluded the game industry. The game industry's separate contract with the actors' union is almost up, so SAG-AFTRA is in the heat of negotiations with companies like Activision Blizzard, Take-Two Interactive, and WB Games to create a better contract for its workers. If those negotiations fail, video game actors can go on strike to disrupt the game industry for failing to adequately meet their demands. A strike like that needs to be authorized by a majority of the union's members, though; thankfully for SAG-AFTRA, internal support was overwhelming.
A total of 34,687 SAG-AFTRA members cast ballots in a vote to authorize a strike, and 98.32% of them supported a strike authorization, according to a SAG-AFTRA press release. This doesn't mean video game actors are now on strike, just that they're willing to go on one if negotiations fail. SAG-AFTRA says these game studios "have refused to offer acceptable terms on some of the issues most critical to our members, including wages that keep up with inflation, protections around exploitative uses of artificial intelligence, and basic safety precautions," which is why a strike was organized.
SAG-AFTRA and these video game companies are in bargaining sessions between today and September 28, so we'll soon see what impact this successful strike authorization vote will have on the video game industry. 

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All gestures in Lies of P and how to get them
Pinocchio with a blue electric arm.

Even though there's no multiplayer component in Lies of P, there are still plenty of ways you can express your version of Pinocchio. Most people will be interested in getting all the outfits, but there are also plenty of different gestures to unlock that let you perform different little actions around the world for some fun. Being a puppet, it kind of makes sense that you need to learn how to do these poses, but even so, you can't learn them all in a single playthrough. Many are tied to just going through the main story, but most are locked behind sidequests, letters, and how you answer certain questions. Here's the truth behind getting every gesture in Lies of P.
How to get all gestures

There are 17 gestures in total to learn, with one of them specifically locked to one NPC. We will note any requirements or ways to miss a gesture in their description.
Available by default.
Show off clothes
Speak to Antonia at Hotel Krat.
Read the Frozen Man's Letter found in Elysion Boulevard Entrance.
Stalker's Promise
Defeat the Survivor you can find in Workshop Union Culvert after meeting Red Fox and Black Cat.
Unlocked when you first speak to Venigni in his control room.
After you beat King's Flame, Fuoco, keep talking to Venigni until he runs out of dialogue.
First, speak to Sister Cecile in St. Frengelico Cathedral Library with the Holy Mark. After this, defeat Fallen Archbishop Andreus and return to where she was to collect Cecile's Written Confession letter. Read it to learn the gesture. If you do not, also bring the Holy Mark to Cecile before beating this boss.
Learned after beating The Eldest of the Black Rabbit Brotherhood boss.
After defeating the prior boss, bring the Portrait of a Boy into the Black Rabbit Brotherhood's hideout.
This is the reward for finishing Julian the Gentleman's sidequest. This can only be obtained if you lied to Julian.
Collect the Saintess of Mercy Hall Key from Simon Manus and use it to open the gate at the greenhouse and interact with the statue.
Give Red Fox and Black Cat some Gold Coin Fruit when they ask at the Grand Exhibition Conference Room stargazer.
Go back to Hotel Krat after beating the Puppet-Devouring Green Monster of the Swamp and talk to Antonia.
Talk to Antonia after beating the Corrupted Parade Master.
Talk to Subject 826 at the Arch Abbey Outer Wall.
Go to Sophia's bedroom after beating Laxasia The Complete and speak to her to learn the final gesture.

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The best Legion Arms in Lies of P
A puppet showing a mechanical arm.

Being a puppet in Lies of P offers you plenty of advantages that more organic creatures like us don't have access to. Somewhat like Sekiro, your mechanical boy has multiple prosthetic arms that can be swapped out to give you access to different powerful abilities alongside your standard weapon. Each prosthetic, called Legion Arms, can completely change up your strategy and how you approach encounters and can be upgraded to be even more potent. Upgrades, of course, aren't free. Since you can't realistically invest in all the Legion Arms in the game, we'll run down the best ones in Lies of P so you can crush your foes and finally reach the ending.
Best Legion Arms

We begin with a simple Legion Arm, but one that can't be denied as at least one of the best, no matter the situation. Aegis lets you whip out a shield to deflect an enemy attack, but it doesn't end there. Any enemy foolish enough to hit it will also get an explosion in their face as retaliation. Through upgrades, you can even make it so you're free to attack while still holding up your block. Unlike many other arms that are more situational, Aegis is great whether you're fighting regular mobs or a boss.
Falcon Eyes
Your ranged options in Lies of P are normally very limited, to say the least. While even this great arm can't turn the game into a third-person shooter, Falcon Eyes can certainly help soften up, or even clean up, enemies from a nice, safe distance. By default, you will shoot an explosive bullet at whatever you're targeting and can upgrade it to simply fire more. So long as you can get some distance from an enemy, this is another Legion Arm that will serve you well in nearly all scenarios.
While everyone has their elemental preferences, it's hard to deny that the Fulminis doesn't make electricity feel like the absolute best in the game. After charging up this arm as much or as little as you want, you can dish out a bolt of lightning that chains between enemies and even paralyzes them. This is a short-range, shotgun-like blast but very effective. After upgrading it, you can even charge while moving to make landing a full damage blast easier.
Puppet String
There are no strings on you, but you can put them on your foes with the Puppet String arm. Functioning like the popular Snatch move from other action games, this grappling hook lets you yank enemies towards you from afar to attack with your primary weapon. This isn't only fun and satisfying, but useful in breaking up groups and isolating enemies. If you upgrade it, you can reverse the function by pulling yourself toward an enemy instead.
Acid is a tricky thing in Lies of P, but if you can master it with the Pandemonium it will serve you quite well. This arm squirts out a pool of acid that will damage anything standing inside it, making it potentially great for chipping down at entire groups or a single large, slow target's health. You can upgrade it to shoot further, plus explode once the acid pool evaporates. It's harder to make work all the time, but well worth it when you can.

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