What are the best fighting games on PC? It may be one of the oldest genres in gaming, but it wasn’t until unintentional glitches gave birth to combos in Street Fighter 2 that the first boom took hold in arcades during the 90s. It’s here that the key players would make their presence known. Capcom and SNK would stick with hand-drawn sprites in future Street Fighter games and The King of Fighters series, respectively. Meanwhile, Midway would make parents everywhere panic with Mortal Kombat’s fatalities, as both Sega and Namco (now Bandai Namco) instead wowed everyone by taking the leap to 3D with Virtua Fighter and Tekken.
Many others would also try to make their mark over the years, but thanks to the rise of esports and, to a lesser extent, the global pandemic, we now have access to PC versions of the best fighting games, as they’ve mostly been console exclusive. While these are some of the best PC games around, they 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 these highly competitive multiplayer games. Grab the controller or fight stick of your choice, practice your favourite character’s combos, and get ready for the best PC fighting games.
Best fighting games on PC
Here we have a mix of 2D and 3D fighting games, from ultra-competitive 1v1 bouts to crazy team brawls. We even have games that bring many popular characters together under one roof for a spot of fisticuffs.
Here are the best fighting games on PC:
The King of Fighters XV
The King of Fighters XV is the best KoF game in quite some time. King of Fighters has experimented with various drastically different mechanics since the original game in 1994, and the same is true in the newest instalment of the long-running 3v3 fighting series.
KoF XV introduces the Shatter Strike defensive option that counters any attack at the cost of a power gauge. In addition, returning mechanics from previous games have been tweaked to make them more usable for newer players. For example, Max Mode now has two versions: one for increasing your fighter’s attack and guard crush strength and one that immediately cancels any attack you land into a new combo that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.
Its online offerings are impressive, with multiple options for playing against others, including an online training mode where you can connect with other players to learn from them. Improvements to the netcode, particularly with the PC version, means that fights against other players online feel as close to being in an arcade as possible. There’s a fair bit of legacy skill involved, so KoF veterans will likely stomp all over newcomers, but that’s something you can always work on with practice. New fighters will be appearing throughout 2023, so it’ll be exciting to see how they change the meta.
Guilty Gear Strive
Arc Systemworks may be well known for Dragonball FighterZ or the myriad of other anime-style fighters, but the flagship game has always been Guilty Gear. The Xrd generation introduced us to gorgeous 3D models on a 2D plane. Guilty Gear Strive is more refined with its combat, presentation, and fully voiced stage music for every character – some of them are genuinely decent songs in their own right, but all work nicely as stage music.
It has two robust tutorials and training modes, an arcade mode that ends with a two-on-one boss encounter with a friendly AI (or a one-on-one ultra-hard boss battle if you’re good enough), and a story mode that’s a decent offering for fans of the series. Unfortunately, however, it’s just a movie with no actual gameplay. In addition, new characters are now appearing in the game, giving players even more fighting styles to master.
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But what makes Guilty Gear Strive stand out is its online mode. Confusing and convoluted lobbies aside, it’s one of the most stable fighting games today thanks to its bespoke rollback netcode, helping online tournaments thrive throughout the pandemic and into the foreseeable future. As a result, we managed to maintain a stable connection while battling players on the west coast of America from the UK.
Mortal Kombat 11
While Midway has long since gone, the original creators, now under the NetherRealm brand, still to this day set a high standard for gore and crunchy combat in its long-standing Mortal Kombat series. With a devilish smirk, we are happy to say that Mortal Kombat 11 smashes those expectations harder than Scorpion piledriving Sub-Zero with one of the countless Mortal Kombat 11 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. Still, it makes those moments you get up close and personal all the better to savour.
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However, it’s not all just throwing hands, as The Krypt makes a sparkling return. Here you’ll find plenty of puzzles to solve and items that unlock new areas. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a grind, and a lot of it does involve going out of the Krypt, but that’s okay – as we have a handy Mortal Kombat 11 Krypt walkthrough to aid with that part.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Dragon Ball FighterZ may not be the first good Dragon Ball game, but it’s undoubtedly the first truly 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, this anime game is a slick tribute to the series, from its gorgeous anime aesthetic to the matchup-specific intro and finish cutscenes – Yamcha’s signature death pose is absolutely 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.
If the base roster isn’t enough, there are a whole host of DLC characters, including film villains like Cooler and Broly and more recent inclusions from Dragon Ball Super. Heck, even the much-panned Dragon Ball GT got some love, with the last characters for season three being Super Baby and Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta.
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. In addition, 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 Kamehamehas in no time. A recent patch makes the game somewhat imbalanced, but it also makes it even more fun. That’s what counts.
Street Fighter V: Championship Edition
Street Fighter V did not have a perfect launch. The fundamentals were there from the start with its fun core fighting system, but a dearth of content and characters meant it felt like an incomplete game. But while it took too long to get there, 2018’s Arcade Edition release saw the game finally achieve its full potential, and the Championship Edition solidified the game’s legacy in the future.
That said, this is still Street Fighter and Street Fighter is still the standard all other fighting games are measured against. So 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 else who’s playing online. That’s a big advantage over many fighters on this list since most players tend to compete on consoles.
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Dan, Rose, Oro, Akira (from Rival Schools), and Luke are now playable in the game, and they are the last characters in Street Fighter V as Capcom is now gearing up for the Street Fighter 6 release date.
Tekken 7 is billed as the end of the saga, and the cinematic flourishes of its long, and at times ridiculous, story mode seep into the actual fights. 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 the bombastic story mode that makes Tekken 7 great, as it remains the most competitive 3D fighter out there, 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 7 one of the most exhilarating fighting games on the planet.
It’s also secretly one of the biggest crossover games out there, with Akuma from Street Fighter, Geese from Fatal Fury, Noctis from Final Fantasy XV, and bizarrely Negan from The Walking Dead. In addition, season four gives players Kunimitsu and a new character: Lidia, so there’s plenty of stuff to return to if you’ve missed it.
It might be better to read this entry as ‘whatever the most recent NetherRealm game is.’ The studio has ping-ponged between Mortal Kombat and the DC superhero universe for the past decade. Though there are clear differences exclusive to MK and Injustice, they’re certainly building on the same formula, but it’s getting closer to perfection with each iteration. As a result, 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 favourites and some delightfully obscure picks, all offering authentic powers in richly strategic matches filled with combat options and spectacular destruction.
NetherRealm games truly 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 customise your fighter’s stats and appearance. Even if Mortal Kombat 11 has supplanted Injustice 2, this is still one of the most complete fighting game packages you can get, particularly if you prefer Batman to Iron Man.
SNK has a long history of making fighting games, but we think its best effort was the soft reboot of Samurai Shodown. So many fighting games rely on flashy combos with massive hit counters to generate excitement. Samurai Shodown is almost the opposite.
This is because the cult classic fighting game from the arcades is a weapon-based fighter where every hit taken has the potential to lop off huge chunks of your health. It’s great if you’re looking for a fighting game with more emphasis on ‘footsies’ (basically using movement and knowledge of hitboxes to sneak in hits, but it’s way more complicated than that) than flashy moves. It’s more old-school in its feature set than most fighting games.
But if we’re honest, the main takeaway is that we think the incredibly tense fights are worth investing time into. You could be one hit from losing, only to make a spectacular comeback with just a handful of well-timed strikes. Also, new characters are coming to the roster, with the latest being Baiken from the Guilty Gear series. Definitely, one to play with a friend if you can.
Since the PC is unlikely ever to get an official version of Super Smash Bros, we have to turn to clones to get our platform fighting game fix. While there are many pretenders, the current king of the sub-genre is Multiversus.
This free PC game gives everyone a rotating roster of characters to try at no cost, making it accessible to everyone. However, should you wish to spend money, it already has a sizable character list ranging from DC Superheroes, such as Batman and Wonder Woman, to characters from Warner Bros’ massive cartoon library, like Bugs Bunny and the Tasmanian Devil, or Shaggy from Scooby Doo.
With simple controls, it’s an easy game to learn but a tough one to master, as the meta is constantly changing thanks to frequent balance updates and new characters shaking up the status quo. However, with such an extensive roster, it might be worth checking out our Multiversus tier list to find our picks for the top-ranked fighters if you can’t decide who you like the most.
Capcom Fighting Collection
While plenty of companies are cashing in on the retro trend, none quite go to the extremes that Capcom Fighting Collection does. It’s a near-complete archive of the best games that Capcom made for arcades in the 1990s. The best news is that, unlike Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, every game here is playable online, giving you an easy way to fight against other players worldwide.
For one lump sum, you get Hyper Street Fighter 2: The Anniversary Edition, all five games and revisions from the Darkstalkers series, Cyberbots: Fullmetal Madness, and the first official home port of Red Earth – a fantasy fighting game with RPG progression mechanics. Puzzle game fans also get Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo to satisfy their falling-block puzzle itch and Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix if they’d rather see these chibi-style fighters duking it out. That’s a total of ten classic arcade games, and they’re all must-haves for any retro fighting game fan.
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
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 favourites 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 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. After nearly two decades, Soulcalibur 6 finally manages this feat. The weapon-based fighter is a delight to play at every skill level, making it one of the best sword games on PC. So whether you’re 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 6 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 fights for every character on the roster.
Thems Fighting Herds
Look, we know what you’re thinking. A list of the best fighting games on PC includes the one animated by Lauren Faust – the creator of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Why? We’ll tell you: it’s really good!
Thems Fighting Herds is a four-button indie game with silky smooth animations and a fabulous magic system to extend combos. It features a unique cast of characters, including unicorns, dragons, and the most adorable alpaca. It also uses GGPO for online matchmaking, which is still one of the better delay-based net codes.
When you’re not fighting against real people, there’s also a neat little story mode with challenges that use the fighting game engine in odd ways, like a platformer or dodge projectiles fired from enemies in the background.
The best fighting games on PC have already won more than a few rounds in our hearts, but there’s always more. From upcoming PC games like Street Fighter 6 or Tekken 8 to beloved old games like those in the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, there’s a rich tapestry of fighters to square off against. For now, you can grab one of these top picks, load up a combo video, and get into training mode – you’ll find plenty of competition out there.