Is 2016 the year of the fighting game?
In recent years, fighting games started to accumulate some serious momentum… once again. Both the developers and publishers are getting more and more interested in esports and pay more attention to the PC platform than ever before. This means that now it doesn’t matter if you own a console or a PC – you can fight against each other on the same servers without any obstacles.
But let’s try and figure out what exactly turned the tide in the other direction. Why does 2016 suddenly look to be the year of fighting games?
Well, the answer lies in the rising popularity of competitive scene, which attracts millions of young and passionate gamers. Today, it makes sense to revive the good old genre that thrived in the 90s and the proof of this is the overwhelming number of fighting games coming out this year.
Here are the biggest titles you should be following, if you either want to take part in the dedicated tournaments or watch them with your friends on Twitch.
The Major Players
No doubt that Street Fighter is at the turning point of its popularity and it is now the most influential series in the genre. But there are a few others that can steal the crown from the Capcom's prime title. Here are three biggest fighting games of 2016.
Street Fighter V
Obviously, the number one fighting game of the year is Street Fighter V. Its predecessor Street Fighter IV had a huge success both at gamers’ homes and at events like Capcom’s Pro Tour and EVO 2015.
The new game is better in many ways and adds some important additional mechanics, such as V-skills that have their own dedicated gauge. Street Fighter V keeps staying consistent with its trademark 2.5D graphics and still manages to look better than any other modern 3D equivalent.
But the main advantage of the Street Fighter franchise is a huge fanbase that keeps pushing the title onto the highest spots of fighting game lists. Although there have been a few serious problems at the launch of the game this February, it still looks like Street Fighter V is going to be the most sought out fighting game of the year.
Tekken is probably the only other title that can stand equally beside the Street Fighter series. The new installment was announced back in 2014 at that year’s EVO, and since then Tekken 7 has been delayed multiple times.
Recently the news from Japan made it clear that we shouldn’t expect the console version to be released in 2016 either, so the closest possible release period should be the first quarter of 2017. However, it still makes Tekken 7 one of the most discussed games in the community.
The main reason behind another delay is the lack of the story mode, which the developers want to finish before the official release, unlike Capcom that decided to ship Street Fighter V with lots of holes in the content.
The King of Fighters XIV
The King of Fighters is another title from the 90s that may not be too popular these days, but at one point it was a true contender for the best fighting game. The new installment will have 50 characters at the start and will add more in the following DLCs.
The huge number of characters is a distinct feature of The King of Fighters title and it has an interesting mode that allows players to perform an unlimited amount of EX special moves – Max Mode, which replaces Hyper Drive mechanic from the previous installment.
Additionally, you will be able to set up team battles, which is a logical step for developers since the game will have such a thick roster of characters. Also, in order to appeal to younger audiences that are not as proficient in the fighting genre, The King of Fighters XIV will have special rush moves that makes the execution of the combos much easier.
The Promising Contenders
Everyone wants their piece of pie. Thus, you will see a number of fighting games appearing throughout the year that will fight for their place in the competitive scene alongside giants like Street Fighter and Tekken. So, let’s see what’s coming this way.
Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator
Guilty Gear is a huge arcade hit and will now move onto the PlayStation consoles this spring. The developers promise 20 characters both old and new ones, a number of upgraded game modes and several refined mechanics.
Guilty Gear became famous for its use of simplified combos that require only one button to execute – an excellent selling point, don’t you think so?
Killer Instinct: Season Three
This reboot of the cult Killer Instinct fighting series from the 90s is gaining more popularity with each new season. No surprise that it was chosen for the EVO 2016, especially after the game was ported to PC. So, now you can play it both on your Xbox One and Windows 10 platforms.
Microsoft also promised to review and eventually re-balance certain mechanics in the upcoming season and add some new exciting characters.
BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extend
BlazBlue is another arcade hit in Japan that slowly, but surely shifts to the western markets. This year you can try out the PC port of its latest installment in an extended format that includes several new characters and some technical updates.
If you like Pokemon and Tekken, you should pay attention to the release of the new hybrid fighting game for Wii U – Pokken Tournament. It combines the characters from the Pokemon universe and puts them in a battle against each other on various arenas. The initial release will include 16 characters and this list will be updated with the upcoming DLCs.
Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4
This is the closing part of the fan favorite Ninja Storm series that is now available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. It includes the largest number of characters to date and at the same time incorporates all the familiar mechanics, such as character swap outs, elemental damage, armor breaking, etc.
One Piece: Burning Blood
One Piece is a famous manga series that focuses on the fighting aspect of its universe not too often. However, this time the developers chose to go with the typical 1v1 arena fighting game due to the rising demand of fighting games this year.
One Piece: Burning Blood is set to be released on May 31, 2016, and will surprise the newcomers with an exceptional art style and unusual fighting mechanics.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven
Another manga breakthrough aimed at the western audiences - JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is bizarre indeed. It features some already familiar elements that you might have seen in the Naruto Shippuden games, but the story of the JoJo is unusual, to say the least. There is no need to spoil the plot, just try it out when it gets released this summer.
Of course, some of the new titles on the market won’t do as much noise as the already established franchises. For example, Mortal Kombat XL is typically above any competition. The new edition includes such exciting characters like Alien, Predator, and Leatherface, which makes the game even harder to compete with.
The other usual suspects, albeit having no new titles this year, such as Super Smash Bros., Marvel vs. Capcom and Dead or Alive keep receiving regular upgrades and getting full support from their massive fan communities. So, it’s clear that fighting games are coming back in full force this year, and it looks like the developers are not planning to stop. Expect more innovative fighting titles in the near future!
Share your thoughts on your favorite fighting games in the comments section below.