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The 2015 Fighting Game of the Year

While there were plenty of new fighting game content released in 2015, the number of actual new games was tiny. This makes deciding the fighting game of 2015 a difficult task, as many of the major titles have adopted gradual methods of content distribution, via DLC and season models. 

With all that in mind, here are the top fighting games of 2015. 

Runner up: Dead or Alive 5: Last Round

The third iteration of Dead or Alive 5 didn't launch as smoothly as it should have. However, once things were fixed, Dead or Alive 5: Last Round showed just how rapidly the fighting genre is changing. The previously $60 game has become a free-to-play title with a pretty generous free portion, and additional characters, costumes, and modes can be purchased.

While the F2P model may not be everyone's cup of tea, it's here that Tecmo-Koei have carved out their own niche with plenty of additional themed costumes, many of which are crossovers or collaborations with other franchises. With the third season adding a new character it seems they may wrap up the title's string of DLC with its strongest showing yet.

Read our full review of Dead or Alive 5: Last Round for more of our thoughts on the game. 

Runner up: Killer Instinct (Season 2)

Though the game first released in 2013, Killer Instinct kept up the new content via their seasonal model throughout 2015. From January through May there was a character added every month to complete the second season, and Microsoft and Iron Galaxy didn't stop there.

From August to December, Killer Instinct added:

  • Story Mode
  • Shadows mode: Best described as the Drivatar from Forza in a fighting game, taking your gameplay and creating an AI from it to fight other players. Losses are just as important here as wins, so your AI isn't constantly aggressive.
  • Rash: The character from Battletoads was added over the summer for a month as a preview of the upcoming season three that will launch in March. Rash wasn't complete, but he was playable -- and it's always fun to get early access content early.
  • Shadow Jago: The evil version of Jago from the Xbox Live Day One 12-month card was finally given his own moveset, and an exclusive finisher called the Ultimate.
  • Updated HUD and Combo assist: Combos are slightly easier to execute, with the option to remove the need for move motions in order to learn timing better.

All of this made for a purchase that served up new content all year long, and cemented the season format for the fighting game.

And the Golden Crate goes to...

Mortal Kombat X

Netherrealm's newest fighter wins Fighting Game of the Year by a long shot, considering it was the only truly new traditional AAA release in the genre this year.

However Mortal Kombat X would be a pretty good contender even if it came out in years with much more competition. This year's Mortal Kombat exceeded the content that Mortal Kombat 9 provided and advanced on that game’s combat foundation to become a solid contender against the other 2D fighting games, while still maintaining its own brutal identity.

With each fighter having 3 different fighting variations, the meta-game of Mortal Kombat X expanded greatly. Everyone is bound to find someone in the cast they can enjoy if they put in a little effort.

Want a Grappler? Choose Kano or Jax.

Want to Zone? Choose Jacqui or Quan Chi.

Want to see your character deny the opponent victory by killing themselves? Choose Kotal Kahn.

See, not only did Mortal Kombat X make the meta-game deeper, it also bought the series' reputation for secrets and urban legends back in a time where games are just about fully dissected through the Internet and press instantly upon release. While plenty of the game's content was dripped out slowly over the months leading up to release, Netherrealm threw in a number of things that weren't shared in advance, such as the numerous finishers.

Thought Reptile's Acid Spit Brutality simply suffocated your opponent? Did you know that you can actually enclose the opponent’s head in a floating spit bubble by holding a direction while landing the final hit? It's the small details like this that give the game an edge that allows the series to constantly outsell its competition, to the point where Capcom has to be taking note.

Even Mortal Kombat X's Kombat Pass went the extra mile with its content. $30 got you four characters, half of which were guest characters and costumes that even changed voice actors when chosen. With another Kombat Pass due early next year, it will be interesting to see what Mortal Kombat X will do to keep players in 2016, when new Street Fighter and Tekken games emerge as real competition.