- PCMag India
- Consumer Electronics Reviews, Ratings & Comparisons
- Computer & Console Gaming – Products
- Console Games – Products
The Best PC Fighting Games for 2020 Dead or Alive 6
The fighting game community hasn’t had it this good in a long, long time. The renaissance that began with Capcom’s Street Fighter IV has produced many excellent fighters, and many of them are on the ultimate video game platform: the PC.
Goku still doesn’t realize he’s a bone-headed dad. Scorpion continues his body-crippling blood feud with Sub-Zero, leaving blood, guts, and broken bones in his wake. The stoic Ryu once again dons his gi to obsessively pursue a false sense of purpose. Cerebella and other cutesy, cartoon-like combatants exchange fists, feet, and projectiles against art deco backdrops in hopes of making their wildest dreams come true.
Yes, my fellow digital pugilists, fighting games are back after an extended lull.
Traditionally, the genre has thrived on the home video game consoles, leaving the PC master race feeling rather plebeian. In a bizarre twist that’s not unlike Dhalsim’s limb-lengthening attacks, the Windows PC platform has recently doubled as a dojo for many great fighting games. Yes, fighting games are now great PC games. Anyone hungry for martial arts action has plenty of options, including comical, macabre, 1-on-1, and team-based fighting games.
That said, there are some holes in the library. You won’t find excellent, retro gems, such as Capcom vs. SNK 2 or Darkstalkers (well, at least not legally). Still, there’s enough variety among PC fighting games to please genre fans.
PCMag’s favorite PC fighting games are highlighted below. This isn’t a hastily crafted roundup designed to simply appease the Google gods. Uh-uh. You’ll find links to in-depth reviews, as well as summaries for those of you who are pinched for time. And rest assured that all these reviews are penned by fighting game fans. It’s all love.
We recognize that there are a few coverage gaps. We’re working on that. In fact, this article will be updated with a new fighting game whenever we give one a rating of 3.5 stars or higher. So, please, return. Often. If you really feel jumpy, drop your Steam handle in the comment section, grab a gamepad or fight stick, and catch these refined hands. Or, come see me at Evo.
Oh, yeah, while you’re practicing combos at home, you may want to secure your PC from unsavory types who want to slide into your network for dastardly reasons. We suggest checking out our roundup of the best VPNs for gaming, a collection of PCMag-tested virtual private networks. Explore our reviews to learn about the VPN services that add the least latency to your fighting game sessions.
Dead or Alive 6
Dead or Alive 6, much like its immediate predecessor, is one part fighting game, one part fashion show, and one part schlocky action movie. Individually, each of the game’s widely differing elements might not stand up to scrutiny. After all, DOA 6 isn’t the best fighter, doesn’t offer the deepest character customization, and doesn’t quite reach the Tekken series’ level of story insanity.
Still, Dead or Alive 6 is a fun and surprisingly strategic PC game that offers enough freshness to warrant playing with its new Break Blow and Break Hold tools. Plus, the game’s familiar Triangle System and Danger Zones are highly entertaining, too.
Iron Galaxy Studios’ Divekick is the most hipster fighting game ever created. It’s the product of the indie scene that mercilessly parodies fighting games and their die-hard community, yet demands that you be part of the underground circle to fully get all of the references and in-jokes.
It’s an odd game, but an interesting one if you open your mind to the insane concept of a two-button fighter based entirely on the idea of jumping and kicking. And 20-second rounds. And one-hit kills. And a line of scrimmage. Yes, Divekick is a fighting game freak show, but one worth checking out.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Beside Fist of the Northstar and Jo Jo’s Bizarre Adventure, there are few anime properties that are as intrinsically suited to the fighting-game treatment as the Dragon Ball series. Spanning multiple series, movies, and generations of characters, Akira Toriyama’s manga-turned-anime-turned-game series is all about buff monkey men, humans, aliens, and androids trading blows in actual earth-shattering battles.
The series’ latest video game adaptation, Dragon Ball FighterZ, ditches the Xenoverse games’ arena-brawling model in favor of 3-vs.-3, tag-team fighting on a 2D plane. The gameplay shift is just one of the many reasons Dragon Ball FighterZ is being held aloft as one of 2018’s notable titles. Its beautiful design, intense combat, and accessible control scheme add up to a game that anyone can jump into for Super Saiyan thrills.
Plus, you can kick Cell through a mountain.
Garou: Mark of the Wolves
Upon its 1999 release, Garou: Mark of the Wolves—a surprisingly deep and visually stunning entry in the long-running Fatal Fury series—was hailed as SNK’s wondrous response to Capcom’s Street Fighter III. Nearly 20 years later, SNK has finally given the fighting game the proper PC treatment by releasing it with numerous additional graphics options, leaderboards, and rollback, online versus play.
Despite removing and downplaying some series-specific elements, Garou doesn’t feel any less of a Fatal Fury game, however. It’s set in the Southtown, and it features multiple fighters with classic Fatal Fury lineages, whether it’s blood relationships to, or martial-arts tutelage from, older characters. Kim Kaphwan isn’t in the game, for example, but his sons continue his legacy of swift, combo-heavy tae kwon do kicks.
The result is an excellent game that boasts beautiful animation, Just Defend parries, and the strategic T.O.P. system that delivers increased attack damage, limited health regeneration, faster super-meter build up, and an exclusive special attack when your activate the mode.
Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign-
Guilty Gear is a niche series within a niche genre, one that’s enjoyed a cult following since its first appearance in 1998. With Xrd -SIGN-, developer Arc System Works ditches the series’ 2D sprites in favor of 3D cel-shaded graphics in an attempt to expand its audience. Likewise, series creator Daisuke Ishiwatari sought a more approachable play style that maintains the depth and high skill ceiling that long-time Guilty Gear fans love.
Still, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- keeps the series familiar fighting action (Roman Cancels, Bursts, and Dusts) that enables creative offensive and defensive play.
When Killer Instinct debuted for Windows 10 in March 2016, it represented the latest chapter in the continued PC fighting game renaissance. With its arrival, Microsoft’s one-on-one game of fisticuffs joined the likes of Guilty Gear, The King of Fighters, Street Fighter, and other high-profile series that now grace the personal computer.
Killer Instinct has a combo-heavy engine that caters to both novices and pros, incredibly detailed graphics that boast ridiculous particle effects (everything explodes!), and an over-the-top, NBA Jam-like announcer who screams your accomplishments (“C-c-c-combo Breaker!”) at the top of his lungs.
Even better, Killer Instinct is part of Microsoft’s Play Anywhere initiative. So, if you buy Killer Instinct from the Microsoft Store, you’ll also be able to play it on Xbox One at no additional cost. It has cross-platform play with Xbox One, too, thus expanding the online player base. There’s a Steam version, too.
The King of Fighters ’98: Ultimate Match Final Edition
The King of Fighters ’98—with its hops, rolls, blowback attacks, and meter-filling Advance and Extra modes—is one of the best fighting games ever made, so it’s no surprise that developer SNK has returned to the title many times since the game’s original release.
In 2008, SNK celebrated the game’s tenth anniversary by porting the team-based fighter to the PlayStation 2 as The King of Fighters ’98: Ultimate Match, a game loaded with extra characters (including the almighty ’96 Boss Team!), stages, moves, and gameplay modes. Now, a tweaked Ultimate Match is available for purchase under the title The King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match Final Edition.
This version adds numerous graphics options and good, but not great, online connectivity that lets you battle other KOF fans around the globe in 3-vs.-3 action.
The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match
Like The King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match Final Edition, The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match is a dream match that eschews a storyline so that developer SNK could include as many characters as possible—even some that are canonically dead, like crime boss Geese Howard. As a result, Unlimited Match boasts one of the largest fighting game rosters of all time, with a 66-character strong lineup.
King of Fighters 2002 Ultimate Match continues the series tradition of excellent combat. Although it lacks KOF ’98 UMFE’s three radically different fight mechanics (Advanced, Extra, and Ultimate), Unlimited Match has a lone system that resembles Advanced Mode. This fighting style gives you plenty of offensive (Dash, Run, Hops, Super Jumps) and defensive (Guard Cancel Strike, Guard Cancel Roll Throw) options for setting up or evading traps.
The King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition
The King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition brings SNK’s incredibly dense, 3-vs.-3, team-based fighter to the PC via Valve’s video game marketplace. It’s an all-around excellent fighting game, and one of the best in SNK’s rich catalog.
If you’ve rumbled with friends and foes in the version that appeared on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, you’ll feel right at home here: The intricate combat mechanics, meter management, and the best sprite-based graphics ever seen in a fighting game are brought over successfully in this Steam port.
Even better, The King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition contains all the console DLC and the King of Fighters XIII: Climax arcade features. Similar to The King of Fighters ’98: Ultimate Match Final Edition, The King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition has decent online play, but you can expect some hiccups.
The Last Blade
SNK put weapons-based, 2D fighting on the map with 1993’s delightful Samurai Shodown, but the developer went on to refine the idea of sword-based combat four years later in a somewhat lesser-known Neo Geo title: The Last Blade.
Released to the Steam platform with several contemporary bells and whistles, The Last Blade boasts excellent swordplay, a dozen exquisitely designed characters, and a gorgeous anime- and manga-style presentation that make its 19th-century Japanese setting one of the most beautiful in fighting-game history.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite has taken its fair share of flack since its reveal, and the venom is not at all unwarranted. The initial trailer for the tag-team fighting game featured dull, washed-out graphics, and Capcom highlighted the new novice-friendly, auto-combo options that are designed to help casuals bust out cool-looking moves in an otherwise hardcore genre. As a result, fight fans were highly skeptical of the game, as was I.
Fortunately, my Infinite sentiments changed upon logging several hours with the game. The Infinity Stone hook and the move to 2-vs.-2, tag team action make Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite an incredibly fun PC game to play in both casual and hardcore sessions.
Still, Infinite has presentation and MCU-focused roster issues that prevent it from rising to the very top of the fighting game elite.
Mortal Kombat XL
When NetherRealm Studios released the blood-drenched Mortal Kombat X to consoles in 2015, the one-on-one fighting game continued to evolve via free and paid updates that added characters, balanced the roster, and improved online play. However, the High Voltage Studios-ported PC version of the game received zero post-launch support, much to the dismay of hardcore Mortal Kombat fans.
Thankfully, that changed with the Mortal Kombat XL update, a version of MKX that finally gives PC gamers all the extras that console-based fight fans have enjoyed for some time now. I dislike the idea of paying more money for PC content released long after the console version, but it’s hard not to love the additions, which include even more fighters, stages, costumes, and gore.
Paid DLC added plenty of guest fighters, which has becoming commonplace in the fighting game circle. They include the Predator and Friday the 13th‘s Jason Vorhees.
Mortal Kombat 11
Mortal Kombat 11 is far more than the guts and gore titles on which the series built its fame. The narrative sequel to Mortal Kombat X, Mortal Kombat 11 uses time travel to pit characters against their rivals in the past in order to alter the present. Whatever.
Mortal Kombat 11 continues the series tradition of chop-socky action and otherworldly mysticism to lay the foundation for military operatives, ninjas, gods, and monsters to punch each other squarely in the face. With its character customization, HDR10 support, smooth animations, and new offensive and defensive meters, MK11 is the best Mortal Kombat game to date.
Skullgirls 2nd Encore
Skullgirls 2nd Encore, the update to Reverge Labs’s critically acclaimed original game, takes cues from many highly regarded fighting titles and blends it with the series’ unique, cartoony, art deco-influenced visual style.
However, Skullgirls 2nd Encore’s graphics aren’t all that separate it from the competition. The indie fighter boasts a Capcom vs. SNK-style ratio system that lets you select up to three characters to battle up to three rival characters, as well as a Marvel vs. Capcom-style assist system. The fighter also has a built-in system that automatically stops infinites, those annoying and abusive combos that never end.
The weapons-based combat series has seen its ups and downs over the years, but with SoulCalibur VI, developer Bandai Namco has taken what’s worked in the past—swift, strategic combat and robust character customization—and paired it with the new Reversal Edge and Soul Charge battle mechanics to create an engaging PC fighting game that’ll shine in all sorts of battles, whether they’re between buddies or on big esports stages like Evo.
Combat is crisp and rewarding, with a universal control scheme that makes it a breeze to pick up a new character. Each fighter has a horizontal attack, vertical attack, kick, block, parry, sidestep, guard-crushing Break Attack, and Critical Edge super attack. This control scheme will feel familiar to anyone who’s played recent SoulCalibur titles, and it leads to some tense combat moments as you attack and defend.
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection
Film aficionados rely on The Criterion Collection to take vital classic and contemporary movies and present them in thoughtful, information-filled packages for modern audiences. Until very recently, the 40-year old video game industry lacked its own Criterion Collection, letting important pop culture contributions slip into oblivion due to incompatible hardware and software formats, expired licenses, and plain neglect. Thankfully, the games preservation experts at Digital Eclipse have taken up the task, blessing gamers with titles that celebrate classic titles via accurate emulation and a bounty of production-related extras and modern touches. The company’s first foray into the fighting game genre is Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection.
This collection doesn’t include Street Fighter: The Movie, the Street Fighter EX titles, or X-Men vs. Street Fighter, but you will find all the core arcade releases. The lineup includes Street Fighter (1987), Street Fighter II (1991), Street Fighter II: Champion Edition (1992), Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting (1992), Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers (1993) Super Street Fighter II Turbo (1994), Street Fighter Alpha (1995), Street Fighter Alpha 2 (1996), Street Fighter III: New Generation (1997), Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact Giant Attack (1997), Street Fighter Alpha 3 (1998), and Street Fighter III 3rd Strike: Fight For The Future (1999).
Even better, you don’t just get the games. This collection includes a sprite/animation view, design documents, a historical timeline, and a jukebox. In short, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is a love letter to one of the most important video game franchises of all time.
Street Fighter V: Champion Edition
In February 2016, Street Fighter V arrived on PC with many flaws that detracted from the stellar gameplay, including awful server instability, no true single-player mode, and a surprisingly limited multiplayer Battle Lounge. However, over the course of the last few years, developer Capcom released several updates that addressed (most of) those issues while also adding new stages and playable characters.
Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, with its fresh and returning characters, new fight systems (like the cool V-Skills and V-Triggers mechanics), interactive stages, Cinematic Story Mode, and cross-platform play with PlayStation 4 owners, finally makes the one-on-one fighting game a title to pick up even for gamers who don’t have Evo dreams.
Tekken 7, like the main-line Tekken games that came before it, is a tale of fathers and sons attempting to murder each other to purge the Mishima clan of the Devil Gene, a magical bit of DNA that transforms certain people into hell spawn.
The excellent combat accentuates the narrative ridiculousness. Like its predecessors, Tekken 7 is a fighting game that features simple, limb-mapped controls, massive character move sets, and numerous juggles that let you keep a combo flowing, if you’re skilled enough to input the correct move at the right moment. With Tekken 7, the series receives super moves (Rage Arts) and enhanced, special attacks that can blow through an opponent’s attack (Power Crush).
Tekken 7 is an incredibly tense game of jabs, feints, and sidesteps, because any hit may lead to a long combo sting. Factor in characters with move sets that emulate real martial arts, interactive stages that let you knock people through floors and walls, and terrific slowdown effects that happen when both fighters’ health bars are in the red and they perform close-quarter melee attacks, and you have a fighting game that’s essentially an interactive martial arts flick.
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 pits Marvel’s superheroes against Capcom’s video game characters in a frantic 3-vs.-3, tag team brawl. The 48-character headcount is impressive, but it’s the individual characters and visual aesthetic that truly make the game shine (unlike its Infinite sequel).
Marvel’s side has several popular and obscure characters, including Captain America, Iron Man, Iron Fist, and She-Hulk, and Spider-Man. Capcom’s side mainly comprises characters from the company’s fighting and action games, including Final Fight’s Mike Haggar and Street Fighter’s Ryu. The comic book-style graphics, with their bright colors and heavy black lines, gives Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 an eye-popping look.
In terms of gameplay, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 builds upon its Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds predecessor by including a three-button control scheme, the momentum-changing X-Factor mechanic, and retooled aerial combat.
Ultra Street Fighter IV
Ultra Street Fighter IV marks Capcom’s fourth version of Street Fighter IV and the third version available on the Steam platform. Like vanilla Street Fighter IV and Super Street Fighter IV, Ultra’s combat is centered on Focus Attacks, a move that lets your character tank a blow and unleash a counterattack.
This final iteration adds five new characters (Decapre, Elena, Hugo, Poison, and Rolento), six new stages, a YouTube upload option, Edition Select (which lets you pick different versions of characters, based on their past Street Fighter IV iterations), and Double Ultra (which makes a character’s Ultra Combos available simultaneously, in exchange for reduced damage).
It’s Street Fighter IV’s best and meatiest update, though some balance issues prove a bit irritating in play. Still, Ultra Street Fighter IV is an excellent, competitive one-on-one fighting game.
Check Out Our Non-Fighting Content
- The Best PC Games
- The Best Shooters
- The Best Battle Royale Games
- The Best Esports Games
- Join The PCMag Steam Curator Group