The most anticipated fighting games of 2018

Welcome to the fighting game renaissance.

 A few years ago the genre seemed to be slowing down, but after a few major releases in 2017, it’s bounced back with more energy than ever before, so it makes sense to expect 2018 to be a massive year for the fighting game genre.

For the first time in ages, there were more upcoming games than could reasonably fit on this list. Is this the fighting game utopia we have all been looking for, or will oversaturation continue to cause the fighting game market to rise and fall in waves? Whatever the case, there can be no doubt that every fighting gamer will have something to play in 2018.

Here are the titles we’re most looking forward to in the upcoming year.

Street Fighter: 30th Anniversary Collection

Do you like Street Fighter? Good! Here’s every Street Fighter game worth mentioning in one package.

This is the ultimate collection for the die-hard Street Fighter fan. The collection features twelve games including Street Fighter, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Street Fighter III, Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, and Street Fighter III: Third Strike.

Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha 3, and Street Fighter III: Third Strike will all have online play featuring ranked and casual matches, lobbies, and leaderboards. The collection will also feature gallery modes, sprite viewers, lore dumps, and more. Street Fighter: 30th Anniversary Collection will release in May 2018 for all consoles and the PC.

Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition

If you aren’t into the retro scene, then look to the future with Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition. Available as a standalone game or a DLC update, SFV:AE will include all the DLC and balance adjustments for Street Fighter V so far and will give each character brand new moves and V-Triggers to play around with. The U.I. will be updated, new stages will be added to VS. mode, bonus stages will be added to single-player modes, a new “Extra Battle Mode” will be introduced with exclusive challenges similar to Injustice 2’s multiverse, and of course, six new DLC characters are being released for Season 3. Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition will release on January 16, 2018 for the PC and PS4.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT

Square has taken the original Dissidia combat system and supersized it. Huge three on three battles, a new summon mechanic, new defensive maneuvers, and a cast of Final Fantasy’s most iconic characters make Dissidia Final Fantasy NT a must play for Square fans. It may not be the hardcore fighting game of the year, and it certainly won’t see play on the main stage of EVO any time soon, but as a fast and frenetic crossover fighter featuring JRPG characters, of all things, this is definitely a title to watch out for.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT will release worldwide for the Playstation 4 on January 30, 2018.

Blade Strangers

What makes Blade Strangers worth looking forward to? Well, it’s another crossover game featuring indie game icons from titles such as Cave Story and Code of Princess. It’s a technical fighter with an interesting combo system that is built in the traditions of 2D anime air-dashers. Its gameplay system is very accessible, meant to allow newbies to hop in and play with minimal barrier to entry. But the real reason to get hype over Blade Strangers are these three words: The Nintendo Switch. Blade Strangers is one of the few fighting games to be coming to the Switch this year. If you don’t have a Switch, you can also get it on the PS4. Blade Strangers will release on March 21, 2018.

Fantasy Strike

If you’re a fighting game newbie, then Fantasy Strike is your game. Based off David Sirlin’s Yomi property, Fantasy Strike boils down fighting game fundamentals to just a few simple buttons presses. All specials and supers are performed with just one button. Health bars are short and rounds are played to five wins. Combos are easy to learn and execute, even for people who have never played a fighting game in their life. Yet, despite this simple to access system, all the depth of traditional fighters has been left intact. Play footsies, cross-up your opponent, do everything you would do in Street Fighter at the push of a button. Fantasy Strike will release for the PS4 and PC in 2018, though you can play an Early Access version on Steam right now!

Fighting EX Layer

Fighting EX Layer is, quite possibly, the greatest April Fool’s joke of all time. Arika, the company behind the Street Fighter EX series, announced on April 1 that they were going to be making a new game featuring all their original characters (but none of Capcom’s.) Then they said “April Fools.” Then they said “Psyche! Double April Fools! We are actually making this!” It’s an incredibly fast and frantic fighter with a weird “gougi” system that gives your fighters insane bonuses like infinite hyper meter. It’s also full of late 90s styled music and horrible PSX era voice acting… on purpose! When will this fantastic joke of a non-joke of a joke of a fighter come out? April 12018 of course, or at least that was the original expected release date.

At this point, we will likely see it delayed. Fighting EX Layer is, so far, announced for the PS4 only. Who else is ready for the grand return of Skullomania!?

Soul Calibur VI

It’s been six years since the release of Soul Calibur V, and fans aren’t pleased. The decision to remove all of the series’ staple characters and replace them with younger characters with less personality caused the game to be released to a lukewarm reception. Then the franchise just went silent, until now.

Soul Calibur VI is hopefully going to fix the mistakes of Soul Calibur V by rebooting the series. Yes, it appears as if the tale of souls and swords eternally retold is going to be… er… retold.

Sporting a new defensive mechanic called “reversal edge,” a new revamped super bar mechanic, a sectioned health meter, and more, we aren’t quite sure exactly how Soul Calibur VI will play in its final incarnation, but we do know one thing. It has to be better than Soul Calibur V and that alone is worth looking forward to.  Soul Calibur VI will release for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One sometime in 2018.

Under Night: In-Birth EXE: Late{ST}

The sequel to the most Japanese of all fighters, Under Night: In-Birth, is finally coming to American shores. Featuring four new characters, a comprehensive balance patch complete with new moves for returning favorites, a massive tutorial mode and combo challenge mode geared toward getting new characters acquainted with the game’s systems, and a full story mode that details the Under Night universe, Under Night: In-Birth EXE: Late{ST} appears to be better than the original in every way. As excited as we are for Under Night: In-Birth EXE: Late{ST}, it’s release is a little awkward since Under Night characters are going to be showing up in another big 2018 fighting game release.

BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle

Looking to one-up Marvel vs. Capcom, BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle is a crossover between Blazblue, Under Night, Persona, and RWBY. Also, developer Arc System Works said they might just throw in characters from other games as well. This is perhaps one of the easiest to access tag games ever, featuring just two attack buttons (both mapped to auto combos) and a dedicated overhead/sweep button. Don’t let this simplicity fool you. There is a ton of depth here which unfolds through the game’s tag and assist systems. Causal fighting game fans may not know much about any of these characters, but the dedicated otaku in the crowd will get hype at the ability to play teams made of Yu and Hyde, Tager and Waldstein, and Yukiko and Weiss, and more. BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle will release on the PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch sometime in 2018.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Mark my words, this is going to be the fighting game event of the year. Dragon Ball FighterZ combines the fast based 3-on-3 gameplay of titles like Marvel vs. Capcom with the insanely popular Dragon Ball IP and the beautiful 2.5D graphics of ASW games such as Guilty Gear and the result is nothing short of pure fighting game art.

DBFZ has everything you want from fighting games and then some: A varied cast of characters, full story, extensive tutorial, deep fighting system, and more. It even features “dramatic finishes” which allow fans to see scenes taken straight from the anime if they fulfill certain match conditions. Defeat Frieza with Goku on an exploding Namek and you’ll actually see your characters recreate the final scenes of the Frieza saga. This might not mean much to people who aren’t Dragon Ball fans but trust us, hordes of otaku are going to be drooling over this game.

And that’s what is so exciting. A lot of the games on this list will only appeal to hardcore fighting game aficionados. However, the Dragon Ball IP is so mainstream and ASW is so good at creating content geared toward beginners, that Dragon Ball FighterZ might have a more universal appeal. That’s exactly what the fighting game genre needs to survive, to appeal to people who otherwise wouldn’t touch the genre. This is the poster-boy for the current fighting game renaissance, the model that all other fighters should follow: a fusion of hardcore mechanics and welcoming content with characters everyone knows and loves.

I know I will be excited to try out my all-star team of Yamcha, Krillin, and Mr. Satan.

Hardcore Dragon Ball fans know exactly why I chose that team and come January 26, 2018, you will too. DBFZ will release for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One.