Editor’s Note: There are no previous winners listed since this was not a category we voted on last year.
2018 was an incredible year for fighting games. From high-profile releases such as Soulcalibur VI and Dragon Ball FighterZ; to small under-the-radar releases such as Million Arthur Arcana Blood, Blade Strangers, Fighting EX Layer, and Koihime Enbu RyoRaiRai; and everything in between, there’s been something for everyone, no matter your tastes or skill level. There’s been all manner of major ongoing events and world tours such as the ArcRevo World Tour and those for Tekken 7 and Dragon Ball FighterZ, not to mention the ever-growing Western scene for anime fighters such as this year’s Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] and BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle. With it having been such an important year for the genre, and more on the horizon for 2019, it makes sense to go down our favourite fighting games from 2018.
BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle
NA Release Date: June 5, 2018
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Steam, Nintendo Switch
While it may be a bit of an oddball of a crossover, pitting BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth, and RWBY against each other (along with the still-unrevealed fifth fate), BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle sets itself apart as a beast all of its own, with enjoyable and unique tag gameplay and quite an extensive cast now that all the DLC is available. It’s been keeping its momentum since release, even if it doesn’t have the power behind it that Dragon Ball FighterZ does, bolstered by the DLC and the promise of more to come, along with another balance patch and an arcade release. It shows that there truly is no escape from crossing fate.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
NA Release Date: January 26, 2018; September 28, 2018 (Switch)
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam, Nintendo Switch
Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of those ideas that’s destined to be successful: a fighting game developed by the respected Arc System Works, with their signature cel-shaded visual style, based on one of the most popular franchises of all time. It worked, too; Dragon Ball FighterZ is the fastest-selling Dragon Ball game, and even surpassed the juggernaut Street Fighter V at EVO 2018 in terms of number of entrants. It’s well-deserved; it has incredible visuals and tight gameplay to keep its dedicated fans coming back, as well as a robust cinematic story mode. It’s been kept strong with DLC through its FighterZ pass, and looks to be trying to keep its momentum going into 2019 with a new patch and its second season of DLC.
NA Release Date: October 19, 2018
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam
After the lukewarm reception of 2012’s Soulcalibur V, Bandai Namco was looking to do right by fans with Soulcalibur VI. It builds upon the mechanics of the previous games along with the new Reversal Edge mechanic, adding a new cinematic element to the already-exciting combat. It also comes with its own host of guest characters as per Soulcalibur tradition, with The Witcher’s Geralt of Rivia present at launch and Nier: Automata’s 2B as DLC, not to mention its robust character creation and story modes. There’s more to come for it as well, alongside new patches to keep things fresh and hopefully more support at events going forward.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
NA Release Date: December 7, 2018
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Everyone saw this coming, right? Whether you consider Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to be a true fighting game or not, it was one of the biggest competitive games of 2018. With its roster of over 70 characters (and counting), Super Smash Bros. Ultimate does its best to live up to its lofty title. It adds back all the characters and some features removed from previous games, attempts to create faster-paced and more aggressive gameplay, includes a new story mode of sorts with the World of Light, and combines the Classic mode from previous games with a regular fighting game’s Arcade mode, with set, themed routes for each character.
And, taking the tournament with the reset in grand finals:
The battle is over. Show respect for the fallen, who fought so bravely.
Soulcalibur VI was a return to the stage of history in excellent form, appealing to legacy fans while drawing in new fans such as myself, even though I don’t consider myself a fan of 3D fighting games in general. Whether you’re there for the tight gameplay, the extensive and often hilarious character customization, the deep story, or even just the guest characters, there’s something there for you, and it has the oprainfall staff’s stamp of approval. The future is bright for fighting games and the FGC, and here’s looking forward to an equally strong 2019.
Thanks to Brandon and Brodie for the awesome Featured Images