Fighting Games are some of the oldest esports titles, and had the first competitive ecosystems we had for video games. Decades on, we are still getting new releases that rise to the top, and old titles that are staying maintained.
The fighting game genre has changed quite a bit in recent years. In-person events are back, EVO 2023 is going to be big, and the entire season is shaping up to be the biggest one ever. Some of the most popular fighting games right now have been out for less than a year!
Here are the top 10 Fighting Games in 2023.
|1.||Super Smash Bros. Ultimate||Nintendo Switch|
|2.||Street Fighter VI||PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox X/S, Arcade|
|3.||Tekken 7||Arcade, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One, BL6|
|4.||MultiVersus||PS4, PS5, Xbox One, X/S, PC|
|5.||Mortal Kombat 11||PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One/X/S, Nintendo Switch, Stadia|
|6.||Dragon Ball FighterZ||PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One/X/S, Nintendo Switch|
|7.||Guilty Gear -Strive-||PS4, PS5, PC, Arcade, Xbox One/X/S|
|8.||Melty Blood: Type Lumina||PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One|
|9.||GranBlue Fantasy Versus||PS4, PC|
|10.||Skullgirls 2nd Encore||PC, Arcade, PS 3/4/5/Vita, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One/X/S|
Best Fighting Games
Many of the top series have origins stretching all the way back to the olden arcade days when gaming genres were just emerging. The best fighting games of all time have grown from those early days, but the high skill level and tense action of a match have remained.
Let’s get our countdown going..
1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Despite most of Nintendo’s games being famously cute and non-violent, Super Smash Bros Ultimate is one of the most popular fighting games out there. This is the latest instalment in the Smash series which usually has two different games occupying the top fighting game tournaments. Ultimate is special though, it has by far the widest-reaching roster of any Smash games.
Its impact has been huge, winning loads of awards for best fighting games. In esports, it has developed a pretty lively scene. While difficulties in organization caused some problems in 2022, the game is bouncing back in 2023. The top Smash Bros players are some of the best fighting game players as a whole. Events with talent like MKLeo and Sparg0 competing are regularly some of the most watched fighting game esports events, and for good reason.
Watching a professional Kirby cornering Cloud Strife is a delight. Ultimate is more open than ever too, with Majors being won by characters like Steve from Minecraft, Sonic the Hedgehog, and more. Melee might be one of the best fighting games of all time, but Ultimate is coming up on its heels. You can enjoy the best Super Smash Bros. Ultimate matches during the Genesis, EVO, Genesis, and more. Just last year, Smash had two different huge year-spanning circuits running at once.
2. Street Fighter VI and SFV
Synonymous with fighting games everywhere, this Capcom title is one of the oldest series here. First released in 1987, you still can’t have a list of fighting games without Street Fighter. The series is gearing up for a new release, Street Fighter VI. If the running beta is anything to go by, this is going to be huge game, and one of the best fighting games already.
Street Fighter 6 is going to include more modes and a better online, but core gameplay is still building on the traditional Street Fighter formula. This looks like it’s going to be big for esports. The top players have already elevated the game to impressive heights in the beta.
Without a doubt Street Fighter is one of the most popular fighting game series out there. Just about every major tournament carries something for Street Fighter. It also has the Capcom Cup, a dedicated tournament series running year-round for the best Street Fighter players.
Alongside that, it’s one of the main stages at EVO too! Street Fighter betting has also turned out to be increasingly popular; as it offers a wide catalogue of tournaments and a highly professional competitive scene with over 10 years devote pro-players.
3. Tekken 7
The latest release in the Tekken series came out in 2015. The highly rated Namco title is part of several big-name tournaments, including being an EVO mainstay. Tekken is a long-running series that first debuted in 1994 as an arcade game.
The titles quickly found their way onto the consoles from the arcade, before making it to all consoles and eventually PC. The game has an impressive spread of esports events. It’s part of East Coast Throwdown, Combo Breaker, DreamHack, and Defend the North.
Tekken 7 is going to be followed up this year with the next installment. The series has had some big reveals at events in 2022. Fans will have to wait a bit longer to see how the new game affects things for Tekken 7 esports though. With a history of competitive action like Tekken has had, the next game is sure to be one of the best fighting games too.
MultiVersus is the newest addition to the most popular fighting games. In terms of raw player numbers though, it might have claim to be the most popular. On release MultiVersus broke records for the genre on Steam.
MultiVersus is a fighter that takes more than a little inspiration from Super Smash Bros. It’s got similar platform fighting gameplay and also involves characters from loads of different worlds crossing over. MultiVersus focuses on characters from Warner Bros properties though, not just the world of gaming.
MultiVersus has gotten a jump start on the world of competitive gaming. It’s already had plenty of tournaments in its early access stage, including a huge event at EVO. It looks like MultiVersus is here to stay, we’ve got MultiVersus roster leaks for years’ worth of new fighters! MultiVersus is one of the most exciting titles to see where it goes, but it may end up one of the best fighting games of all time too.
5. Mortal Kombat 11
This is one of the most famous fighting game sagas, and the first to really embrace the gore. Mortal Kombat is a great franchise to look at for fans of competitive fighting games. It’s another game that’s come up from arcade machines, starting in 1992. Local competitive Mortal Kombat events have been running since its very start. In 2023 it’s one of the best fighting games for esports.
Since the MK11 title was launched with esports intentions, the company behind the game has thoroughly followed its competitive scene development. We can find Mortal Kombat 11 in tournaments such as the Fighting Games Challenge, Versus Fighting, Kustom Kombat, Final Kombat, EVO, and Frosty Faustings.
Mortal Kombat 11 hasn’t been out as long as titles like Street Fighter V and Tekken 7. We don’t quite expect a follow-up just yet. However, 11 still has a lot of life left in it. The competitive scene is still pushing the title to new heights. Most Mortal Kombat games are on the more popular side of any list of fighting games, 11 is sure to stay central to the FCG for a while.
6. Dragon Ball FighterZ
This 2D fighter is one of quite a few from Arc System Works that could contend for the best fighting games of all time. It’s the biggest anime-fighting game for esports in quite a while. Far beyond just being a tie-in game, this Dragon Ball title has become an esports mainstay.
The game takes Dragon Ball’s huge roster of characters with unique powers and moves, then it puts them into a 2D fighter. The mechanics of this game are tight. You could strip away all of the Dragon Ball content and this would probably still be one of the best fighting games.
The title is available on the PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. It has drawn both fans of the manga/anime franchise and general fighting gaming fans in. The game’s roster of characters draws from the original Dragon Ball manga, but it’s received additions over time to keep up with the ever-expanding Dragon Ball Super canon. The game’s popularity has even been acknowledged in the source material itself, with a cameo for its original character Android 21 in the latest Dragon Ball movie.
FighterZ is a fixture at fighting game tournaments. Many players from Marvel V Capcom have made the move over thanks to the similarity in mechanics. You can find it at pretty much all main FGC events like EVO. It’s also got its own dedicated tournament series though, the Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour
7. Guilty Gear -Strive-
Guilty Gear -Strive- is the second game from Arc System Works to make the most popular fighting games! This is a title that’s been around since 2021, with decent sales pushing it to the top of most people’s minds for competitive fighters.
The game follows on with the overall Guilty Gear story, but even if you’re new to the franchise there’s a lot to like. The fighting mechanics are just as well developed as other Arc Systems games. Instant Kill is gone from the series, but new stage transition combos have been introduced. It’s not the only Guilty Gear featured at esports events, but -Strive- is one of the best fighting games.
Guilty Gear makes appearances at most of the major tournaments, like East Coast Throwdown, Ultimate Fighting Arena, and EVO.
8. Melty Blood: Type Lumina
Melty Blood: Type Lumina is on the smaller side, once compared to the other entries in our best fighting games list. Featured smaller tournament at events like the Capcom World Cup and Genesis, it does have a huge following and some of the best fighting game players use this title.
It’s another 2D fighting game, and another with anime-style visuals. There’s plenty to differentiate it from the competition though. It has a unique combo system, Rapid Beat. There are also Moon Skills and Moon Drive which can alter a character’s options in gameplay.
Melty Blood features rollback netcode, a new innovation that helps to make online games a lot smoother. Most of the best fighting games in 2023 have had to deal with online after a few years without in-person events. In a list of fighting games, Melty Blood is one that’s really stood up to the test, and it’s maybe even the best online fighting game this year. It plays fantastically for in-person esports events, but also for playing at home.
9. GranBlue Fantasy Versus
GranBlue Fantasy is a renowned RPG game which even got an anime in recent years (you can watch in on Netflix). This particular title was launched in February 2020 as a fighting game and quickly escalated when extended to the PC platform in March.
The fighting game itself, features amazing cinematics, a great combo system and, of course, the best anime fighting game feel. Currently available on both PS4 and PC, GranBlue Fantasy Versus has reached the highs of being listed for the mourned EVO 2020 tournament among competitive fighting games from all times.
Now, it will also be part of other tournaments throughout the year such as EUnite and Fight, the Brussels Challenge, and the official launching event of the game.
10. Skullgirls 2nd Encore
Skullgirls is yet another 2D fighter on this list, that was a bit of an underdog when it hit the market. Positive reviews and a quickly growing fanbase helped this game along to success. It was featured in several different fighting game tournaments around the globe last year.
Skullgirls 2nd Encore is an enhanced version of the original game, coming to wider platforms this time around. The game has all DLC and additions to the original Skullgirls release for a much more expansive experience.
It is currently featured at most of the major fighting game events. Last year we had tournaments at CEOtaku 2022, Combo Breaker, and even EVO.
Those are some of the best fighting games of all time and particularly those still played heavily in 2023! This is one of the widest communities in esports though, with loads of titles sitting side by side at major events.
Honorable Mentions for the Best Fighting Games in 2023
There are many more fighting games worthy of praise. Here are some other titles that just missed out on being one of the top 10 fighting games listed above.
King of Fighters XV
King of Fighters is one of the most expansive fighting game franchises, and been around since the early 90s. It possibly has more entries on a list of fighting games than anything else, with tons of spin-offs. The game is regularly featured alongside other fighting games at events. Character from KoF are even making their way into Smash Bros and Tekken. The latest release is more alive than ever too, with a new batch of content coming in 2023 with King of Fighters XV Season 2.
Marvel VS Capcom 2
Just like whisky, the Marvel VS Capcom franchise has re-marketed an old title which took everyone’s nostalgia to sit up. The game itself is the same as it was in 2000 when it first launched, but due to many reasons, being listed for the EVO 2020 one of them, Marvel VS Capcom 2 turned out to be one of the best fighting games of this year. The game still gets enough watching hours on twitch and a selling price that matches newly released gaming titles.
Injustice Gods Among Us
Injustice is a 2D fighting game with mechanics similar to Street Fighter and the others listed here. Its roster features characters pulled in from DC comics. It has many fans for its fun storyline, but also for its high-skill mechanics that reward repeated play. It doesn’t have as many tournaments as some others here, but it’s one of the most popular fighting games.
SoulCalibur 6 is the latest in another popular series. The series is known for its highly polished mechanics. It’s a 3D fighter with a focus on melee mechanics, which makes it stand out from the other best fighting games. While not as big as other entries on this list, the Soulcalibur series that debuted in 1995 as another arcade game is popular as well.
Samurai Shodown or Samurai Spirits in Japan, is the most recently released title on this list, having only come out in June this year. The 12th title in the series that debuted in 1993, this title is quite popular worldwide. Unlike many on the list, it’s a 3D fighting game, rather than a 2D one.
Dead or Alive 6
Yet another popular series with quite the history, this game was released earlier this year. First released in 1996, Dead or Alive is well-known for its revealing character designs and fast-paced gameplay. With spin-offs including a separate non-fighting series featuring the same characters and even a movie, Dead or Alive is definitely a big deal in the fighting world.
BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle
Finally, latest in a series of fighting 2D games, featuring particularly imaginative and colorful characters, this Arc Systems game has incredibly good reviews and an ever-growing fan base in the west. In fact, it’s so popular that an arcade version of it was released last year, as a throwback to the 80 arcade games that pioneered the genre.