From high-fantasy warriors to real-life MMA fighters, combat-based video games let gamers clobber each other however they prefer. With franchises like Mortal Kombat and Soulcalibur reigning above all, fans tend to forget the more lifelike side of hand-to-hand combat. Then there’s the market for superhero-inspired fighting games by Marvel and DC.
We’ve put together a list of the best fighting games for Xbox One from all walks of realism. Choose your fighter!
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Mortal Kombat has been known for over-the-top blood and gore since 1992. The franchise has put out over a dozen stand-alone titles, multiple films, and a few animated series since. Mortal Kombat 11 is the most recent title in the series and by far the most impressive. Released in April of 2019, Mortal Kombat 11 has put out a slew of updates and expansions. As of November 2020, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate provides players with a free next-gen update, allowing those who purchased the game on Xbox One to upgrade digitally to the Xbox Series X|S version. Developers describe the Ultimate update as the definitive Mortal Kombat experience.
Mortal Kombat 11, like most reputable fighting games, follows the same 2D blueprint. While players control 3D models, they move left, right, up, and down. Mortal Kombat 11’s most unique feature is its blood-soaked finishing move engine. Each fighter has their special finishing moveset meant to ramp up the gore like never before. Dismember, disembowel, dissolve, and decapitate the competition by pressing the correct button combinations when prompted upon winning a match.
Soulcalibur has always been Mortal Kombat’s T-rated little brother. The most recent game in the franchise, Soulcalibur VI, saw the edition of Geralt of Rivia, the Witcher series protagonist, and portrayed by Henry Cavill in the Witcher Netflix Series. Bandai Namco’s flagship combat series has been around since 1995, when the first Soulcalibur was released. There is little talk of a new game being developed anytime soon, and Soulcalibur VI still sees routine updates. They’ve adopted the same “season” mechanic popularized by titles like Call of Duty and Fortnite.
One key feature to note in Soulcalibur VI is the edition of Reversal Edge, a sort of parry mechanic added to the game. Time your opponent’s attacks to deflect and counter during a slow-motion animation. Additionally, Soulcalibur VI supports 100 custom character slots and an immersive character customization screen. While you’ll be modeling custom characters around base weapon and move sets, the combinations are endless. Soulcalibur VI has a base roster of 21 characters, with more added through DLC.
Dragon Ball FighterZ (pronounced “Dragon Ball Fighters”) is a team-based 2D fighting game that features all your favorite characters across the Freeza, Cell, and Boo sagas. Many players hear this and think, “Great, the same Dragon Ball Z game I’ve been playing since Budokai 2.” However, they’ll be surprised to find Dragon Ball FighterZ to be a unique experience, different from what they’ve come to know. The best way to describe FighterZ is Dragon Ball meets Super Smash Bros. in the sense of pure 2D combat in a limited space. Past games would have players flying all over a 3D map; FighterZ simplifies movement and focuses more on pure combat combos and dodges.
Dragon Ball FighterZ’s most unique feature is the “assist” mechanic. Players will go into each fight with a team of three characters of their choosing. During the fight, players can call upon their teammates to deliver a quick attack on their opponent in an attempt to deal extra damage or set them up for a lethal combo. Do this by tapping the left bumper or trigger (tailored to each teammate). Holding the bumper or trigger will swap characters entirely, so be sure to only tap the button.
The follow up to Injustice: Gods Among Us, Injustice 2 is pure DC Universe fighting fun. Players control their favorite DC heroes and battle on a 2D plane. Injustice 2 features map transitions triggered by throwing or forcing an opponent toward the map boundary. Doing so will trigger a cinematic animation and damage the player being thrown. Injustice 2 was praised for its immersive storyline, as players battle The Society, a newly arrived supervillain group. The game is told through Batman’s perspective, as he gathers fighters to combat The Society. It sounds like Injustice 2 beat Zack Snyder to the punch.
Injustice 2’s most unique feature is its RPG-like loot system. Defeating enemies will force loot drops containing both cosmetic and upgrade pieces for each character. The more you play the game, the more gear you can unlock and the stronger your heroes can become. However, critics have criticized the random loot mechanic and the game’s microtransaction system.
On the other side of the superhero street lies Marvel. While Injustice 2 falls on the side of realism, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite takes on more of an arcade aesthetic. Like Dragon Ball FighterZ, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite pits teams of fighters against one another on a limited 2D plane. Tag your partner in to finish off weak enemies, or tag them out to recover a little bit of health. Players can choose from a roster of 19 Marvel characters, like Black Widow and Ironman, and 17 Capcom characters, like Chris Redfield and Monster Hunter.
Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite allows players to choose one of six Infinity Stones before the match begins. Each stone grants its team unique moves called Infinity Surges and Infinity Storms that can be executed after filling your Infinity Meter to a certain percentage. Think of your Infinity Storm as your special move outside of your character’s hyper moves. Like every other fighting game on this list, each character in Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite has a unique set of special moves tailored to their lore and backstory.
Fighting games are not just limited to the world of high fantasy and superheroes. EA Sports has been cranking out fighting games alongside their popular sports titles like Madden NFL and NBA Live. UFC 4, released in August 2020, is the most recent title among its UFC series. UFC 4 features a base roster of 229 different fighters and a user-friendly career mode meant to teach new players the basics of MMA. Once they’ve learned how to survive the octagon and create their fighter, players will begin their quest to become the GOAT. A choice-based campaign will have you accepting and declining fights, which will have future implications for your career.
UFC 4 also takes players into the world of underground MMA, as they can compete in backyard fights. The game features multiple multiplayer modes, like Blitz Battles and Online World Championship. Blitz Battles are rotating mini-game modes that feature unique rules. For example, Minute to Win It is a one-round/one-minute fight in which players have to knock out their opponent within the time limit. If not, it comes down to the judges to determine a winner.
While the rise of MMA is undeniable, boxing sits as the current king of hand-to-hand combat entertainment. Unfortunately, Fight Night fans haven’t received a new boxing game since Fight Night Champion was released in 2010 for the Xbox 360. Champion received a backward-compatibility upgrade for the Xbox One in 2018 and still has playable value today. The game dives into the grittier, dirty side of the boxing world as the story mode follows Andre Bishop’s career. He must overcome corrupt promoters, dirty fights, and even prison to rise in the boxing world’s ranks.
Fight Night Champion‘s most notable feature is the addition of Full-Spectrum Punch Control, which has players using the right stick to throw various punches instead of just pressing buttons. If you’ve ever played a Skate game, you’ll know what this entails. However, if stick punching isn’t your preference, you can still throw every punch in the game with button inputs. Rumors of a new Fight Night installment are floating around the internet, though developers from 2k Sports have not given us anything concrete to go on. However, boxing fans can look forward to the release of eSports Boxing Club, hopefully, in 2021. Developmental setbacks have delayed the game multiple times.
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