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. During the next few years, other classic fighters would enter this eternal tournament, most notably Mortal Kombat with its motion-capture gore, and both Virtua Fighter and Tekken would take the genre into 3D.
Fighting games would grow out of favour in the 2000s, but thanks to the revival of the Street Fighter series, followed by the more recent rise of esports and, to a lesser extent, the global pandemic, we now have access to some of the best PC games. They’re infamous for being tough to learn, but with the help of video tutorials, there’s never been a better time to get into these highly competitive multiplayer games. So grab your favourite controller, fight stick, or whatever control method you desire to use, and get to practising your favourite character’s combos.
Here are the best fighting games on PC:
Street Fighter V: Championship Edition
Street Fighter V didn’t have a perfect launch. The fundamentals were there from the start with its 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.
Underneath the hood, though, this is still Street Fighter, 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. This series 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 playing online. That’s a big advantage over many fighters on this list since most players tend to compete on consoles. You can check out our Street Fighter V PC review for more info on the game when it was first released, but over the years, new features have been added, including a full-blown story mode and several seasons’ worth of characters.
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. We recently saw Street Fighter 6 World Tour mode in action, so the future is bright.
With Tekken 7, we’re coming to the end of the saga that began when the Mishima Zaibatsu’s leader, Heihachi, threw his son, Kazuya, off a cliff. Cinematic flourishes of its long, sometimes ridiculous, Tekken 7’s story mode seeps 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. It remains the most competitive 3D fighter, 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 outside of Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Akuma from Street Fighter, Geese from Fatal Fury, Noctis from Final Fantasy XV, and bizarrely Negan from The Walking Dead are all playable fighters. 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.
This year marks the last year we’ll likely see Tekken 7 on the main stage at Evo 2023, as the next game in the series is coming very soon. Check out our Tekken 8 release date guide to learn more about the follow-up to Tekken 7.
The King of Fighters XV
The King of Fighters XV is the best KoF game in quite some time. The series 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. Fights against other players online feel as close to being in the arcade as possible, thanks to improvements to the netcode, particularly with the PC version. Likewise, battles against other online players 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 appear throughout 2023, and it’s been selected as one of the Evo 2023 main-stage games, so it’ll be exciting to see how they change the meta.
Guilty Gear Strive
Arc Systemworks may be well known for anime-style fighters such as DNF Duel, Granblue Fantasy Versus and DragonBall FighterZ, 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’s structure 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. We’re excited to see the top players in the world duke it out at Evo 2023, as it’s one of the main stage tournaments at the fighting game event.
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. You’ll find plenty of puzzles to solve and items that unlock new areas here. 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. It’s still hugely popular, and with the selection as one of the games at Evo 2023, we’re in for some thrilling matches.
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 perfect. 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 host of DLC characters, including film villains like Cooler and Broly and more recent inclusions from Dragon Ball Super. 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. It has been an Evo stable since its release, featuring on the main stage at Evo 2023. The anime fighter is also getting a rollback netcode patch soon, meaning your connection to your opponent will be more reliable.
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.
NetherRealm Studio has ping-ponged between Mortal Kombat and the DC superhero universe for the past decade. Though there are apparent differences exclusive to MK and Injustice, they’re 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 will fight each other. The broad roster includes superpowered favourites and some delightfully obscure picks, offering authentic powers in richly strategic matches filled with combat options and spectacular destruction.
NetherRealm games 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, mainly 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 vast 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. This is definitely one to play with a friend if you can.
This recommendation comes with a huge caveat: the game is about to go offline. You can still download and enjoy the game against friends when you play locally, but from June 25, the game’s online functionality will disappear until next year.
However, despite this, this is an entertaining platform fighter. Since the PC is unlikely to get an official version of Super Smash Bros, we must turn to clones to satisfy our platform fighting game cravings. 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 upfront cost, making it accessible to just about anyone. 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. Unlike the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, the best news is that every game included in the package 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 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 from two of the most beloved companies and their franchises. 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. So much so that it’s one of the main stage games at Evo 2023, getting the slot as one of the games that defined fighting games and the esport scene in general during its early years. It’s a well-deserved legacy.
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 fabulous!
Thems Fighting Herds is a four-button indie game with silky smooth animations and an engaging 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 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 practising in training mode. By the time you’re ready, there’s plenty of competition to find out there.