Let’s get something out of the way: this is a personal list. Fighting Games (FGs from now on) have been a major part in my life. I’ve been playing them for almost twenty years now. X-Men vs Street Fighter was probably the first one I ever watched, and since then I have never stopped trying new series. Luckily, the PS4 has a quite interesting catalog for shoryuken-lovers like me. You will notice some relevant absences—where is Soul Calibur VI, dude—however, these are the FGs that I really liked and the ones that will stay in my memory for the years to come.
Dragon Ball Fighterz
I find it difficult to believe you didn’t try Dragon Ball Fighterz if you like FGs. Goku and company came out in this astonishing 3vs3 and conquered the scene. The most requested game in EVO (the most important FG tournament in the world) and the slayer of the mediocre Marvel vs Capcom Infinite, DBF became 2018’s undisputed king in the genre. It isn’t only one of the best thorough adaptations of a worldwide beloved franchise with a stunning visual design. Fighterz presents an easy to jump combat system, with basic combos performed by just pressing one button a number of times. It helps players in learning the fundamentals of each character and the future possibilities of the battles. However, the insanity of the battles when two trained players are participating is outstanding. You should watch SonicFox and GO1 Grand Finals to experience what I mean.
With a numerous roster of 24 base characters and 8 extra available as DLC (and eight more coming for next year), Fighterz has plenty of room for experimentation and creating your favorites teams of three. It can be complained that there are too many characters with the “same” (four different Gokus, counting DLC) and regular players won’t notice big chances between them, except some special moves. The devil is in the details, and more experienced players will learn the slightly but crucial nuances in these “clone characters.”
It has been almost a year since Fighterz has released, but its future looks bright without big rivals on the way. At least until Marvel vs Capcom 4 is officially announced and only if it doesn’t suck.
Mortal Kombat XL
Mortal Kombat “9” (2011) was one of the best comebacks in the fighting genre. I’d say it’s one of the best in video game history in general, but let’s chill out for a moment. The return to pure 2D, the fast paced combat and the iconic violence—fatalities, sweet fatalities—were the keys of its success. So what did MK X do? It took almost every good element of the previous one and improve them at unexpected levels. The risky decision of introducing whole-new characters, the successors of all time classics fighters, ended up being one of the greatest decisions. Takeda, Kung Jin, and Cassie Cage have become some of my favorite fighters in the series. Furthermore, the addition of three different styles for every character created a depth the franchise never had before.
My only issues has to do with the story, because I enjoyed 9’s campaign much more. I believe X is shorter and less funny. Putting this “detail” behind, MKX is a tremendously entertaining game, perfect for playing against friends in the same room. You should pick the “XL” version, with all the DLC. This edition includes nine extra characters, with special guests such as the handsome Leatherface or the lovely Xenomorph from Alien.
My relationship with the Tekken series is weird. I played the first ones for several hours on my beautiful PSOne, but I didn’t touch any on PS2 or PS3. I got the opportunity to play this last entry and it was fantastic. Technically is breathtaking, and gameplay-wise it doesn’t disappoint.
When I started in the series at an early age, I always thought the combat system was awkward, with randomness in every corner, combos that seemed completely incoherent and artificial, and a combat system that lacks. Sitting and taking my time with the seventh installment, I realized I was always wrong. In fact, Tekken 7 is one of the most profound and exciting FGs I’ve ever played. The number of possibilities in a single match is surprising, with a wide variety of moves for every character. New features like the Rage Arts—basically, a “ultra combo” or “super move” that delivers a cinematic attack—create a new dynamic for this long-lived series. Expect the unexpected could be the perfect description of what Tekken is.
With a vast roster of 36 characters, with special guests like Akuma from the Street Fighter series, three DLCs fighters and three more coming in the second season pass— including Negan from The Walking Dead —Tekken 7 has the biggest roster of all the games in this list. Add the customization options, full of cosmetics for every character, a brief but quite entertaining campaign mode and the online modes. You have guaranteed content for a long time.
Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2
Arc Systems Works’ Guilty Gear is well known for being a complex series. The amount of moves, tricks and systems you need to learn can be pretty overwhelming for new players. You could argue that any FG requires patience and dozens of hours to master, but with GG or BlazBlue—a more recent creation from ASW—this is a golden rule. But when you are over the first frustrating hours and you start learning how the combat works, I have to say, Guilty Gear really delivers a satisfactory experience like few other video games give in any other genre.
What I always loved about GG or BB, is the fact that they might offer a tight number of characters—do you remember when the first BlazBlue came out with only 12 fighters?—but they are extremely different between each other. The appearance of “clone characters” is a common “issue” in the FGs, even from the most acclaimed series like Street Fighter. However, this has nothing to do with Guilty Gear, with each character presenting a unique style and mechanic, basically a way of playing that no other character in the roster has. And I selected the REV 2 version for you because it includes the remarkable number of 25 characters, so there can’t be complains.
Besides the regular offline and online modes, the series presents a story mode with loads of dialogues, cinematics, and an exciting story to follow. While I prefer the more intricate BB stories, this is one is also worth the try.
Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition
Yes, Street Fighter couldn’t miss this list. It’s my favorite FG series of all time, and SF III: Third Strike is probably my favorite entry. While I believe SFV took some steps back from what SFIV had achieved with its updated versions, the fifth major installment in the saga is fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, the first release of SFV (2016) was a disaster. The reduced roster (16 characters vs 39 from SFIV Arcade Edition), the lack of modes like arcade, design choices—Ken and his hair made of bananas—general issues, and gameplay decisions were serious low points. However, I can’t say I didn’t find a compelling combat system, with some new interesting mechanics like the V-Trigger system. It’s basically a gauge that enables you to reject the rival or perform a unique ability/power-up when it’s full.
Notice that I chose the “Arcade Edition.” I can’t say now it’s perfect, it probably will never be. But the game has made some huge quality jumps between this version and the initial one. Thirty-four fighters, an additional V-Trigger (one of the main new combat mechanics), new maps, modes, and a lot of balanced patches have been added these two years. I won’t imply there isn’t broken character every season—hello, Abigail and Rashid—but the improvements can’t be denied. SFV is better than ever, and it’s a solid FG for both newcomers and hardcore players.