If you were to just follow the bigger names in the genre, you’d think that fighting games had it rough this year- Street Fighter 5’s anticipated launch was a bit of a trainwreck, and drew attention for all the wrong reasons. But you’d be wrong, as you would be ignoring all the other great fighting games that were released this year, as well as the massive strides to improvement that Street Fighter 5 itself made. It wasn’t a banner year for fighting games, but it was a pretty good one all around regardless- and the following games helped make it so.
Street Fighter V
Sure, the launch was a bit of a mess, but the fighting game mechanics in the game even then were sublime, much to the delight of fighting game enthusiasts everywhere. That Capcom have only steadily worked on fixing the game’s problems has led to it being a far more appealing product now than you’d believe from all the bad press this game was once getting.
King of Fighters XIV
The move to 3D rendering may still rankle with a lot of fans, but in the end, none of it mattered when it came to King of Fighters 14– the game is a marvel of technical depth and nuance, and you can lose yourself to simply trying to master all of the game’s mechanical complexities for weeks and months, should you want to.
As great as it was unexpected, Pokken fulfils a long held dream of many series fans of seeing their Pokémon duke it out with each other in real time. The game was largely not expected to be anything special- but the special mix of Tekken with Pokémon, with a healthy dash of new mechanics by the side, made Pokken the surprise fighting game hit of the year.
Guilty Gear Xrd–REVELATOR
A seamless transition of the series’ traditional 2D style into 3D made Guilty Gear Xrd–REVELATOR a favorite of series fans this year- but in the end, the only reason that mattered to most was the game’s staggering depth, which requires literal frame perfect responses and coordination for a player to truly thrive in a competitive environment.
Blazblue Central Fiction
You always know what you’re signing up for with Blazblue, and that didn’t change with Central Fiction. The entire controversy about the game lacking an English dub aside, the game’s emphasis on offensive play and unique mechanics like the ‘Drive’ system made it a fan favorite in a fan favorite series to begin with.
Guilty Gear Xrd–REVELATOR
Look, in the end, a fighting game is defined by a few things- its mechanical depth, meaningful advances it makes to its formula, the amount of content it has, and the community it has. All games on this list ended up getting some or the other of those right- but in the end, only Guilty Gear manages to get all of that down, and for that reason, it deserves to be our Fighting Game of the Year.
Note: GamingBolt’s Game of the Year categories, nominations and awards are selected via an internal nomination, voting and debate process. You can check the rest of categories and the respective winners here.