Hey you, I heard your breath smells like a fart. What are you gonna do about it? Fight me!? Excellent. I was hoping you’d say that, because I’ve put together a list of the 10 best fighting games on PC, and it would be fantastic if you came and had a look, gave your thoughts, and maybe elbowed me in the teeth while you’re at it. Finally, a decent reader willing to dropkick me. Matchmaking is hard.
All right, let’s take this outside, where the top 10 fighting games are waiting. How exciting.
Like most of our lists, we go in with a broad definition. So these fighting games are not limited to the one-on-one knucklecrackers you might find in an arcade (as if you’ve found an arcade). Those traditional face-smackers are well represented, don’t worry, but don’t be surprised to see a couple of different kinds of thumpfest too.
Hit the page links below to navigate through this definitive list.
10. Mortal Kombat 11 (2019)
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros
It’s a krunchy one this, in more ways than one. Mortal Kombat’s latest eye-gouger has its problems, including trashy modes filled with loot boxes and unfair AI fights that demand the use of irksome “konsumables”. But when you push aside all this extraneous fluff and land in an actual fight, it is a brutal, reflex-testing dungeon of ad hoc intestine removal. In other words, punching an insectoid opponent in the belly feels really good.
This is a fighter that delights in the special moves of its cast. From teleporting firebreather Scorpion who warps from one side of the screen to the other, to metal-armed grenadier Jax whose arms glow with added damage for every knuckle sarnie he serves up, there are tricks aplenty to bring online, and that makes this one of the better bust-ups to jump into today, even despite the krap.
Notes: It also has a pretty good tutorial, and is a decent jumping-in point if you want to understand fighting games in general.
Where can I buy it: Steam.
What else should I be playing if I like this: Injustice 2 for superhero flavoured fisticuffs by the same studio. Or Killer Instinct if you want to see a Battletoad boot a robot in the gut.
9. Gang Beasts (2017)
Publisher: Doublefine Productions
You didn’t think this would be a whole list of Street Fighter wannabes, did you? Gang Beasts is a fighting game, and if you disagree, let’s scrap on the scaffold hanging from the 21st floor of this office building. Not so confident now, are y-- hey, let go of me! You’ll kill us both, you fool!
Gang Beasts is about proving your physical superiority over three other players, even though you all fight like drunk baseball mascots. You fall and grab and fumble and flail your way through the matches, chaotic wrestlemanias in daft places, like the tops of speeding lorries, or in the heat of industrial furnaces. It is a fighting game for civilisation’s truest warriors: children. But don’t let that stop you from joining the dog pile.
Notes: It is set in Beef City, after the “Great Beef Crash of 1979”, according to its creators. “Yeah, the game is set in the eighties,” they once told us. “We haven’t really explained that.”
Read more: Our hands-on with an old version of Gang Beasts said: “Every single scenario could be the climax of an action film, if all of the actors were replaced by slightly deflated sentient Space Hoppers”.
What else should I be playing if I like this: Human Fall Flat will let you play as similar drunken playdough people, cooperating instead of hurting each other (well, you’ll still hurt each other, just not on purpose).
8. Dragon Ball FighterZ (2018)
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Your Dragon Ball fightz might not contain the intensity of pro matches but this is still an overwhelming flurry of anime thumps and clouts. All the bottomless extravagance of the TV series is there in the fights, with asteroid collisions and more multicoloured flames than a live Lady Gaga concert.
The developers toned down the complexity of their Guilty Gear series in places, but replaced it with other features. This is a 3 v 3 tag team battle for one thing, meaning you’ll be flipping between characters at as frantic a pace as you’ll be blocking tail whips. There’s a story mode too, although it’s a little removed from what you might remember from the show.
Notes: Like a lot of these wallopers, Dragon Ball FighterZ is throwing a big bucket of DLC into the ring, with six extra fighters.
What else should I be playing if I like this: Other fighting games by the same studio, Arc System Works, will make you happy. Basically, the BlazBlue and Guilty Gear games.
7. Absolver (2017)
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Absolver is an saunter through a ruined world which also happens to be a stellar fighting game. It’s the only punchfest on this list that captures the spirit of a Shaolin monk, learning to fight for the sake of learning, not to burst eyebrows. You get new moves by successfully blocking or countering an unfamiliar attack by enemies, which results in both meditative drilling with AI punchbags and the odd lesson from a fellow human player, when you stumble across them as you travel.
And when you are knocked down by another player, they’ll often pick you up again. This is a fighter with a surprising politeness to it, full of catwalk-attired martial artists, where the best fights feel more like a choreographed routine than a battle for dominance. It’s not all tea and cakes, of course. Absolver’s most insulting move is a slap to the face, and in the ultrarare instance you are knocked out by this weak, patronising blow, you have suffered the ultimate disgrace.
Notes: It has been updated since release with a new dungeon-diving mode that you can do as a trio of brawling pals, and the same update brought a new Bruce Lee inspired fighting style.
Read more: The joy of Absolver’s social fight clubs. Our Absolver review was disappointed by the small world and bugs, but also said it was “challenging and full of unexpected comebacks and knife-edge duels”.
What else should I be playing if I like this: For Honor offers less polite 3D duels. And Ashen isn’t a fighting game, but it shares a similar skinny look and feel.
6. Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator (2016)
Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Arc System Works
Hope you like the circus, because you’re about to get juggled, clown! There you go, that’s something you can say aloud to taunt your opponent in Guilty Gear. You’re welcome. This 2D fighter is all about slapping and reslapping your foe until they are a helpless airborne idiot barely even visible on the screen. It’s not unique in that, but if you want that flavour of one-on-one battering, you can do much worse than koshing someone over the bonce with a giant cigarette lighter in this tight-as-duck’s-bum sequel.
It has a characteristically oddball cast too. There is a guy who is simply called “That Man”. There is a spikey robotic bed with a comatose woman strapped to it. Hopefully this gives you an idea of the bonkers lore to be found in its story mode. The developer, Arc System Works, also prides itself on thorough tutorials, and there’s an exhaustive (and arguably exhausting) gauntlet of learning exercises, making this a fighting game for folks who want to jump straight into something mostly traditional with lots of flashy, anime pugilists.
Notes: You can also play as Faust, who may or may not be the doctor of classic German legend. It’s hard to tell with the paper bag on his head.
Read more: Watch technical director Junya Motomura talk at GDC about how Guilty Gear walks the line between 2D and 3D character animation.
What else should I be playing if I like this: The King Of Fighters XIII is a 2D anime fightblast you might fancy if you grasp all these counters and counter-counters.
5. Soulcalibur VI (2018)
Developer: Bandai Namco
Publisher: Bandai Namco
You should play Soulcalibur VI for the character creator alone. It lets you make horny lizards, or a nightmarish Sonic, or even a unknowable cubic rainbow. It is a character creator with real class, and it helpfully comes with a very good fighting game attached. A fighting game featuring a zombie pirate, an armour-wearing demon, and Geralt from The Witcher. Super.
Every fighting game on this list is essentially an extended game of Rock, Paper, Dropkick but Soulcalibur VI makes that explicit in its “soul reversals”. These are brief cinematic moments in which you’re forced to commit to a high-powered attack at the same time as your opponent. A tiny, dramatic mind game that can occur multiple times in any dust-up. Which makes it a great 3D fighter for lesser mortals who want a big button marked “whoa slow this down for a sec while I get my knives in order”.
Notes: The developers released 2B from Nier: Automata as another guest character in some DLC.
Read more: Our Soulcalibur VI review called it a “a rampant, fun-loving arena of swordplay and silliness”.
What else should I be playing if I like this: Tekken 7 for similar 3D side-stepping and character daftness.
4. For Honor (2017)
Set during the famous period of history in which samurai, knights and vikings fought a bitter war for the same three castles 1 million times, For Honor is a top fighting game masquerading as a dunderheaded multiplayer action game. You can still duel people online in a tense bash session, pitting your axe-wielding Norse berserker against their eerily calm samurai swordsman, or your mace-whirling medievalist against their Scottish clansman. But it is the grand 4 v 4 kerfuffles where the brutal joy of this kill ‘em up really appears.
You have to capture points on a map, and cut down bothersome AI soldier boys, all while keeping an eye on your team’s overall score. Fights can therefore break out anywhere on the battlefield. You might be crowded by three drooling murderers all at once, and get headbutted off a castle wall. Or you might be impaled by a Roman gladiator who leapt from the crow’s nest of a ship onto your skull. This is a fighter that relishes in moments that might seem unfair to newcomers. But once you too are headbutting and slicing and impaling with reckless abandon, it becomes clear that “unfair” is just a word for people who don’t know how to use a good bear trap. Even if you aren’t great at swinging the axe, it’s still a great place to learn all about this bloody era of unrest. For some reason it’s hard to find any books about it.
Notes: There are players in For Honor who manipulate the game’s emotes to create funny skits. Others love to suggest new execution animations, through the noble medium of MS Paint.
What else should I be playing if I like this: The medieval sword-swinging of Chivalry and Mordhau should appeal to you, if gleeful first-person decapitation is what you seek.
3. Nidhogg (2014)
Nidhogg is sublime. It is as pure as a fatal duel between two combatants who want to be swallowed by a Norse dragon can get. You each have a fencing rapier. You can hold it high, low, or mid-height, and you can thrust it forward like an accusatory finger. But you can also throw your sword at your opponent, or dive-kick them, or jump over them, or roll between their legs and stab them from behind like an unscrupulous cur. The real goal is to get past your foe, not kill them, because you want to get to the final screen to win. Your dead opponent will respawn in your way, creating a multi-stage tug of war in which all your progress might be snatched away by a misjudged stab.
It is the delightful duel from The Princess Bride made into a game. And the only reason it’s not higher on this list is because its online multiplayer is shoddy and you won’t find many strangers playing this long after release. But if you and a friend are hanging out in disgusting reality, and you want to test your ripostes and exercise your diaphragms at the same time, Nidhogg is still the bloodspattered king.
Notes: You could also throw down in Nidhogg 2, which brings a new art style and a bunch of extra weapons to the poke fest. But our Nidhogg 2 review decided the pixelly fighting game lost something in becoming more complex.
What else should I be playing if I like this: Dark Souls 3 has many PvP murderers who love a sword fight. Again, Mordhau has plenty of informal duelling servers where you can suffer similar humiliations.
2. Street Fighter V (2016)
What a good decades-long pummel party Street Fighter has thrown for us. Yes, this is the vanilla fighting game. But it is not the vanilla of a multipack Tesco yogurt. No, it is the smooth, creamy vanilla of an inordinately expensive gourmet gelato produced by a Florentine ice cream dynasty. The bops and pokes of Ryu and Ken, the hummingbird kicks of Chun-Li, the electrical bowling ball body of Blanka. If fighting games had a bible, these characters would be Old Testament. And Street Fighter V is ready to preach.
Clarity of purpose, depth via simplicity, mastery through instinct, that’s the Street Fighter way and it’s still here in the big V. Coming from more complicated fighting games, it can be surprising to see how few tools each Streety has. A few fist-digs here, a few toe-pokes there, a handful of special moves, all of which seem to fit that character perfectly. Street Fighter V is as succinct, direct, and pure as a ball of fire conjured in the hand. It is as much a fighting game for diehards as it is a proving ground for the unbroken.
Notes: It had a bit of a false start on release, with server woes among other problems, but the Arcade Edition of today is much improved. Apart from when the developers added opt-in adverts to the character’s costumes, which was … ugh.
Read more: Our Street Fighter V review said: “when you’re learning, improving, competing and winning – there are very few games that even come close”. Blanka Slate is a three-part feature on re-learning Street Fighter as Blanka. The problem Pip had with Street Fighter V.
What else should I be playing if I like this: Basically any 2D fighting game. Skullgirls is often touted as another great entry point for newcomers.
1. Tekken 7 (2017)
Developer: Bandai Namco
Publisher: Bandai Namco
In Tekken 7 you can fight as a cybernetic ninja who stabs himself through the belly just to hit his opponent with the tip of his sword. You can brawl as a possessed man with a 2000s-era tribal tattoo and a pair of wings. You can play as a bear. Tekken 7 is very stupid, and very good. It does not change anything fundamental about the 3D skullcracker, but it gets those fundamentals so right, it would be a churlish punching fan who demanded anything more.
It is the ultimate all-rounder, more solid than an iron fist. Flailing boots, merciless headbutts, and harsh faceslaps are all animated with a graceful fluidity, which means you don’t have to be a frame data scholar to know which attacks are slow and powerful, and which are nippy and light. And yet the serious crowd can still go there if they want. The upper echelons of ranked fights are full of monsters who can backdash with unnatural speed, but learning just one combo with one character can go a long way to the laybiffer. If a good fighting game is measured by how welcoming it is to all levels of button masher, Tekken 7 gets a big broken thumbs up.
Aside from the multiplayer punchbagging and fun character dress-up menus, it also continues the Tekken custom of having a story mode that is purified guano, ie. totally batshit. The plot includes waves of robots, laser satellites, an unending feud between daddy and son, and an unexplained cross-dimensional visit by Akuma from Street Fighter. The principal characters adhere to the proud family tradition of throwing a relative into a volcano. I can think of no better way to learn the basics of a fighting game than by committing homicide by lava.
Notes: In the Tekken World Tour of 2018 (a big months-long competition) a player won the grand prize using a panda, and it was wonderful
What else should I be playing if I like this: Dead Or Alive 6 is sometimes defended as a strong fighting game, but also takes the genre's bad habit of teenage wankbait to characteristic extremes. Soulcalibur 6 is probably your best shout for 3D movement and utter ridiculousness.
Hello backdashers, here is the full list.
1. Tekken 7
2. Street Fighter V
4. For Honor
5. Soul Calibur 6
6. Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator
8. Dragon Ball FighterZ
9. Gang Beasts
10. Mortal Kombat 11
11. Your favourite fighting game
Thanks for reading. There are a lot of fighting games out there, boxing each other in the mouth to assert dominance. We probably left your favourite out, but don't worry it's number 11, see? Please tell us about your recommendations in the comments - remember to say why you think Skullgirls is so good, or why Brawlhalla should have got its own entry. Share the joy of a good biff, fight fans. And remember to bow when you’re done laying in.