The Best Fighting Games To Play In 2018 By Score
The rising profile of fighting games in the last decade has been great for serious competitors and casual combatants alike. There's just something special about the raw conflict of a head-to-head fight that's universally appealing--and sweaty palm inducing. Pick your favorite character, pray you remember your combos correctly, or at the very least that the button-mashing gods look favorably upon your bluff. The mark of a good fighting game? Wanting to go another round regardless of whether you win or lose.
The scene in 2018 was more about quality than quantity. We got some excellent new entries in long-running series like SoulCalibur and BlazBlue, the surprising spiritual successor to Street Fighter EX from Arika, and a Dragon Ball Z fighter that impressed fighting game experts and DBZ fans alike. And although Capcom is struggling with its messaging around Street Fighter V of late, the game itself continues to thrive and grow well into its second year.
We've gathered every review and pulled out every fighting game that scored at least an 8 out of 10 on GameSpot to revisit the year that was in fighting games below. We've got a quick blurb to summarize our thoughts on each game, but be sure to click through to the full review for an in-depth look into the mechanics, rosters, and online modes of this year's best fighters. We're collecting reviews for other types of games as well, including a whopping 30-plus action-adventure games.
All of this and more is available in our Best of 2018 hub. Whether you followed the big releases all year round or took some time off and want to catch up on the biggest topics of the 2018, we've got something for you to close out the year and ring in 2019.
BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle - 9/10
Whether playing through the story mode alone or against hardened opponents online, Cross Tag Battle is an absolute joy with a surplus of possibilities within its wide roster and versatile fighting system. Even with all the ridiculousness of the overarching plot, I reveled in the charm of my favorite characters and embraced the many moments of fan service. It's a masterful unification of styles and mechanics from four different universes that compels you to dig deeper and dedicate the time to getting the most out of the beloved members of this cast. -- Michael Higham [Full Review]
Dragon Ball FighterZ - 9/10
FighterZ is complex and distinct enough to be enjoyed by fighting game competitors, but there's no question that it's been designed to tap into the hearts of Dragon Ball's most dedicated fans, and no doubt those same qualities will win people over who've never given the series a chance. Where past games attempted to get there through huge character rosters and deliberately predictable trips down memory lane, FighterZ has bottled the essence of what makes the series' characters, animation, and sense of humor so beloved and reconfigured it into something new: a Dragon Ball fighting game that can go toe-to-toe with the best of the genre. -- Peter Brown[ Full Review]
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate - 9/10
An inconsistent online mode and situational downers don't stop Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from shining as a flexible multiplayer game that can be as freewheeling or as firm as you want it to be. Its entertaining single-player content helps keep the game rich with interesting things to do, as well as bolstering its spirit of loving homage to the games that have graced Nintendo consoles. Ultimate's diverse content is compelling, its strong mechanics are refined, and the encompassing collection is simply superb. -- Edmond Tran [Full Review]On a pure gameplay level, Fighting EX Layer is an absolute treat. What it lacks in bells and whistles it delivers in pure, fun combat. This is a game made for the sort of people who will spend hours perfecting an impractical, extremely-precise combo in training mode simply for the satisfaction of having done it. If that describes you, then Fighting EX Layer will be worth everything you put into it. -- Heidi Kemps [Full Review]
Fighting EX Layer - 8/10
On a pure gameplay level, Fighting EX Layer is an absolute treat. What it lacks in bells and whistles it delivers in pure, fun combat. This is a game made for the sort of people who will spend hours perfecting an impractical, extremely-precise combo in training mode simply for the satisfaction of having done it. If that describes you, then Fighting EX Layer will be worth everything you put into it. -- Heidi Kemps [Full Review]
SoulCalibur 6 - 8/10
SoulCalibur VI is a fighting game that's easy to recommend. Like all the best titles in the genre, it has a low barrier to entry and high skill ceiling. For those looking to get in a few games with friends it's welcoming and immediately enjoyable. For those committed to ploughing the depths of its systems to get tournament ready, it has plenty to unpack and understand. Better still, those that want to play alone will find SoulCalibur VI has some of the most substantial single-player content in any fighting game today. -- Tamoor Hussain [Full Review]
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection - 8/10
That's more or less the story of the 30th Anniversary Collection. It won't satisfy every specific demand, but it's still a big collection of awesome games and behind-the-scenes content that no Street Fighter fan should miss. Street Fighter is a series worth celebrating and Digital Eclipse has managed to do so in a manner that feels respectful to the series and to the people who keep the spirit of arcade battles alive. -- Peter Brown [Full Review]
UFC 3 - 8/10
EA Sports UFC 3 is a tense, exciting, and dynamic recreation of the stand and bang aspect of mixed martial arts. There's a fluidity to the way it moves, and a satisfying feel and unpredictability to the way fights can unfold that demands your engagement. -- Richard Wakeling [Full Review]