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What Fighting Game Should I Buy?

A quick guide to which fighting game will be the best fit for you.

Since the release of Guilty Gear: Strive in 2021, the past few years have seen a resurgence of the fighting game genre. And because of this, your choices for which game to pick up have become much more complicated. Knowing this, we've decided to breakdown some of the top games in the genre and hopefully make your choice a lot easier. 

I'm a total beginner, I have no experience: Street Fighter 6

If you're totally new to fighting games then it's probably best that you start at the foundation of them. Street Fighter is the granddaddy of fighting games and just about every mechanic, trope and design element in the genre borrows from Street Fighter 2 in some way. 

What makes the game good for beginners is that learning Street Fighter typically means you'll get a feel for nearly every 2d fighter out there. Outside of Mortal Kombat, nearly all of the skill you learn in Street Fighter ports over to other fighting games. So in many ways a good foundation for the genre begins and ends at SF.

I love getting deep into mechanics and/or I love anime: Under Night In-Birth II Sys: Celes

The Uni series is an "anime" fighter that's carved out a nice little niche corner of the FGC due to its fast gameplay and unique mechanics. But one claim to fame it has, is that it's training tools are some of the best on the market. 

Unlike other fighters, UNI 2 (and its predecessors) take a more scholarly approach to their tutorials than other games. Not only does it give you the most basic information, but it also guides you through even some of the more theoretical concepts of fighting games like "Oki", "Mix-Ups" and "Block Strings". If you've ever heard FGC match commentary, you may have heard these terms but not really understand what they mean. Uni 2 will teach you and that knowledge will help you in a multitude of matches.    

Just a fraction of the lessons in UNI 2's tutorial.

Just a small fraction of the lessons in Uni 2.

I want a game that doesn't have long complex combos: Guilty Gear Strive

Even for fighting game veterans, super long strings and "touch of death" combos can be frustrating. Not only can it be tough to play against, these complex techniques can often discourage new players from dipping their toes into the FGC. While many recent games have steered away from lengthy combos, none have done it more than Guilty Gear Strive.

Strive is typified by lower life totals and shorter combos on nearly every character. This means it's a bit easier to grasp the cadence and flow of combos. Certain characters like Goldlewis and Nagoriyuki have the power to end rounds in just two or three interactions. So if you're looking for a game that's got a lower skill bar for entry (and that's no diss its designed that way), then Strive could be your jam. 

I struggle with choosing a main/favorite character: King Of Fighters XV

KOF at one point was the actual competitor to Street Fighter (as opposed to Mortal Kombat) in terms of gameplay. They had similar systems, they had characters that made fun of the other series and eventually collaborated on the lauded Capcom vs. SNK series. But the cool thing about KOF is that it's always been a 3v3 game, years before Marvel vs. Capcom made it cool.

KOF's 3v3 teams means you get to play more characters per match.

KOF's 3v3 teams means you get to play more characters per match

In KOF, you're rewarded for your breadth of character knowledge. Because the game is 3v3, you should be learning as many characters as you can before nailing down a solid team. And the best part is you can create a team that compliments your play styles or covers weak points of other characters. 

I love games with great stories: Mortal Kombat 1

Some might say that the Mortal Kombat film in 1995 was the first halfway decent video game movie ever made. Sticking with that ethos, the folks over at NetherRealm have retained that cinematic feel and put loads of time into the single player campaign.

While almost every fighting game has some sort of story mode, since MK9 the series has really taken their story to the next level. The cutscenes and voice acting are some of the best in the genre and there's always meme-able moments that come from MK. Even if you aren't big fan of MK's gameplay, the story is almost always worth a playthrough. 

I can't stand anime: Tekken 8 

Tekken, along with MK, is probably the least anime of all the fighting games (well that was until the T8's story mode but that's another thing). But in terms of the art style and aesthetic of Tekken, it couldn't be farther away from many games on this list. So if big anime eyes and hot-blooded protagonists aren't really your thing, then Tekken is a great game for you.

Fighting game inputs make my hands hurt: Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising

While there is most certainly some absurdities to be had (see Kuma/Panda/Alisa), Tekken tends to root itself in a more contemporary setting. The fighters all tend to have more realistic proportions and attacks and don't often venture too far into the supernatural outside of the Mishimas. 

Granblue is know for building its entire system around simple inputs which is great for those that struggle with fighting game technique. Instead of having to do quarter circle rotations or 263 dragon punch motions, in GBVS all you need to do is press a cardinal direction and the special button for a special move to come out. It also lets you do this without having to change modes or movelists. So if just one particular move is frustrating you, you can use the simple input for that one move and the more difficult standard fighting game inputs for the rest.

In other games, you're penalized heavily for using the simple controls. Either your movelist is severely truncated or you get hit with a damage penalty. In GBVS, the simple commands are considered the default and there's virtually no drawbacks from using them. However, you're rewarded for using the more complicated inputs with a small damage increase. 

For many years, Vs. games and Smash were the pinnacle of competitive fighters. Marvel vs. Capcom 2, in particular is such a transformative game that in many ways it's a cornerstone of the modern FGC. It's a high execution series that requires some of the most demanding combos and doesn't shy away from that. When you think of "infinite combos" and "touch of death", it's MvC you're thinking of.

Smash operates almost in its own world. Due to being both commercially successful, accessible, and highly competitive, there's always some one to play. However, Smash demands incredible skill to play at a high level. And because it's a platform fighter, there's an entire different set of skills that you need to master to play it. Things like "edge guarding" simply do not exist in other games. So while it may seem like Smash is the most casual game there is (and you're not wrong) if you want to play a game that takes a lot of mechanics to play well then why not dust off the Smash U?

Other Games

Even with these choices, there's still even more to chose from. Samurai Showdown's strong neutral game focuses on high damage and patient play. DNF Duel's hyper stylish combos and characters allow for some great player expression. Melty Blood and Skullgirls are still being supported and Killer Instinct still provides Ultra combo satisfaction. In short terms, you're spoilt for choice when it comes to fighting games in 2024.