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The Best PC Fighting Games

Scorpion continues his body-crippling blood feud with Sub-Zero, leaving blood, guts, and broken bones in his wake. The stoic Ryu once again dons his hobo gi to obsessively pursue a false sense of purpose. Cerebella and other cutesy, cartoon-like combatants exchange fists, feet, and projectiles against art deco backdrops in hopes of making their wildest dreams come true.

Yes, my fellow digital pugilists, fighting games are back after an extended lull.

Traditionally, the genre has thrived on the home video game consoles, leaving the PC master race feeling rather plebeian. In a bizarre twist that's not unlike Dhalsim's limb-lengthening attacks, the Windows PC platform has recently doubled as the dojo for many great fighting games. Yes, fighting games are now great PC games. Anyone hungry for martial arts action has plenty of options, including comical, macabre, 1-on-1, and team-based fighting games.

That said, there are some holes in the library. You won't find the excellent Injustice 2—at least in the near future. And old-school gems, such as Capcom vs. SNK 2 or Darkstalkers, aren't available on the PC (well, at least not legally), but there's enough variety among PC fighting games to please genre fans.

PCMag's favorite PC fighting games are highlighted below. This isn't a hastily crafted roundup designed to simply appease the Google gods. Uh-uh. You'll find links to in-depth reviews, as well as summaries for those of you who are pinched for time. And rest assured that all these reviews are penned by fighting game fans. It's all love.

We recognize that there are a few coverage gaps. We're working on that. In fact, this article will be updated with a new fighting game whenever we give one a star rating of 3.5 stars or higher; we're very much looking forward to reviewing Tekken 7. So, please, return. Often. And if you really feel jumpy, drop your Steam handle in the comment section. You can catch these refined hands.

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  • 1

    Divekick

    Divekick from Iron Galaxy Studios is the most hipster fighting game ever created. It's the product of the indie scene, and it mercilessly parodies fighting games and their diehard community, yet demands that you be part of the underground circle to fully get all of the references and in-jokes. It's also a lot of fun if you open your mind to the insane concept of a one-on-one, two-button fighter based entirely on the idea of jumping and kicking.

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  • 2

    Garou: Mark of the Wolves (for PC)

    Upon its 1999 release, Garou: Mark of the Wolves—a surprisingly deep and visually stunning entry in the long-running Fatal Fury series—was hailed as SNK's wondrous response to Capcom's Street Fighter III. Nearly 20 years later, SNK has finally given the 1 vs. 1 fighting game the proper PC treatment by releasing it with numerous additional graphics options, leaderboards, and online versus play. The result is an excellent game that boasts beautiful animation, Just Defend parries, and the strategic T.O.P. system.

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  • 3

    Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign-

    Guilty Gear is a niche series within a niche genre, one that's enjoyed a cult following since its first appearance in 1998. With Xrd -SIGN-, developer Arc System Works ditches the series' 2D sprites in favor of 3D cel-shaded graphics in an attempt to expand its audience. Likewise, series creator Daisuke Ishiwatari sought a more approachable play style that maintained the depth and high skill ceiling that long-time Guilty Gear fans love. The result is a feature-packed fighting game that boasts incredible graphics and deep mechanics. Unfortunately, it arrived on PC after many Guilty Gear fans had moved on to the next game in the series: Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator-. So, like The Last Blade, Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- is a game that's worth buying if you don't mind local play and the lack of online competition.

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  • 4

    Killer Instinct

    When Killer Instinct debuted for Windows 10 in March 2016, it represented the latest chapter in the continued PC fighting game renaissance. With its arrival, Microsoft's combo-heavy, one-on-one game of fisticuffs joined the likes of Guilty Gear, The King of Fighters, Street Fighter, and other high-profile series that now grace the personal computer. Thankfully, Iron Galaxy—the development team that picked up the Killer Instinct reins after Double Helix, the original developer, was purchased by Amazon—has delivered a remarkably fun, season-based title that's more than worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as its competition.

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  • 5

    The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match Final Edition

    The King of Fighters '98—with its hops, rolls, blowback attacks, and meter-filling Advance and Extra modes—is one of the best fighting games ever made, so it's no surprise that developer SNK has returned to the title many times since the game's original release. In 2008, SNK celebrated the game's tenth anniversary by porting the team-based fighter to the PlayStation 2 as The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match, a game loaded with extra characters (including the almighty '96 Boss Team!), stages, and gameplay modes. Now, a tweaked Ultimate Match is available for purchase under the title The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match Final Edition. This version adds numerous graphics options, and good, but not great, online connectivity that lets you battle other KOF fans around the globe.

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  • 6

    The King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition

    The King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition brings SNK's incredibly dense, team-based fighter to the PC via Valve's video game marketplace. If you've rumbled with friends and foes in the version that appeared on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, you'll feel right at home here: The intricate combat mechanics, meter management, and gorgeous graphics are brought over successfully in this Steam port. Even better, The King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition contains all the console DLC and the King of Fighters XIII: Climax arcade features. Similar to The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match Final Edition, The King of Fighters XIII: Steam Edition has decent online play, but you can expect some hiccups.

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  • 7

    The Last Blade (for PC)

    SNK put weapons-based 2D fighting on the map with 1993's delightful Samurai Shodown, but the developer went on to refine the idea of sword combat four years later in a somewhat lesser-known Neo Geo title: The Last Blade. Released to the Steam platform with several contemporary bells and whistles, The Last Blade boasts excellent swordplay, a dozen exquisitely designed characters, and a gorgeous anime- and manga-style presentation that make its 19th-century Japanese setting one of the most beautiful in fighting-game history. Genre fans shouldn't hesitate to pick up this excellent title, but the barren online play means most matches will take place locally.

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  • 8

    Mortal Kombat XL

    When NetherRealm Studios released Mortal Kombat X to consoles in 2015, the game continued to evolve via free and paid updates that added characters, balanced the roster, and improved online play. However, the High Voltage Studios-ported PC version of the game received zero post-launch support, much to the dismay of hardcore Mortal Kombat fans. Thankfully, that changed with the Mortal Kombat XL update, a version of MKX that finally gives PC gamers all the extras that console-based fight fans have enjoyed for some time now. We dislike the idea of paying more money for PC content released long after the console version, but it's hard not to love the additions, which include even more fighters, stages, costumes, and gore.

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  • 9

    Skullgirls 2nd Encore

    Skullgirls 2nd Encore, the update to Reverge Labs's critically acclaimed original game, takes cues from many highly regarded fighting titles and blends it with the series' cartoony, art deco style. The indie fighter has a Capcom vs. SNK-style ratio system that lets you select up to three characters to battle up to three rival characters, as well as a Marvel vs. Capcom-style assist system. That said, Skullgirls 2nd Encore's graphics aren't all that separate it from the competition. The fighter also has a built-in system that automatically stops infinites, those annoying and abusive combos that never end.

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  • 10

    Street Fighter V

    In February 2016, Capcom's newest one-on-one fighting game arrived on PC with many flaws that detracted from the stellar gameplay, including awful server instability, no true single-player mode, and a surprisingly limited multiplayer Battle Lounge. However, several updates have since addressed those issues and added new playable characters. The fixes, combined with new and classic characters, fresh and returning fight systems (like the cool V-Skills and V-Triggers), and cross-platform play with PlayStation 4 owners, finally make Street Fighter V a game to pick up even for gamers who don't have Evo dreams.

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  • 11

    Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3

    Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 pits Marvel's superheroes against Capcom's video game characters in a frantic brawl. The 48-character headcount is impressive, but it's the individual characters that truly make the game shine. Marvel's side has several popular fighters, such as Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man, as well as once-obscure characters that have gained recognition thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, such as Doctor Strange and Rocket Raccoon. Capcom's side mainly comprises characters from the company's fighting and action games, including Final Fight's Mike Haggar and Street Fighter's Ryu.

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  • 12

    Ultra Street Fighter IV

    Ultra Street Fighter IV marks Capcom's fourth version of Street Fighter IV and the third version available on the Steam platform. This final iteration adds five new characters (Decapre, Elena, Hugo, Poison, and Rolento), six new stages, a YouTube upload option, Edition Select (which lets you pick different versions of characters, based on their past Street Fighter IV iterations), and Double Ultra (which makes a character's Ultra Combos available simultaneously, in exchange for reduced damage). It's Street Fighter IV's best and meatiest update, though some balance issues prove a bit irritating. Still, Ultra Street Fighter IV is an excellent, competitive online fighter.

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