There’s something viscerally satisfying about the basic fighting game. Whether you’re battling AI opponents on an arcade ladder or thrashing a friend while they complain that you’re cheating, fighting games are great fun, and they’re well-represented on every major console generation and PC as well. Xbox Game Pass is a slightly less well-populated fighting game repository; while there are certainly fighting games to enjoy, you’ll have to work a little harder than you would for shooters or platformers. Still, there are more than enough to keep fans happy, so here are the 10 best fighting games on Xbox Game Pass.
1. Injustice 2
Netherrealm Studios have proven themselves masters of the one-on-one fighter time and time again, and Injustice 2 is yet another expression of their mastery over the genre. It’s a hoedown featuring all of your favourite characters from the DC universe, and some you might not have heard of. That means you can have the standard punch-up between Batman and Superman, of course, but you can also pit Gorilla Grodd against Firestorm or Atrocitus. If you’ve ever loved “who would win in a fight” conversations, Injustice 2 will help you settle them. Just try not to look at the microtransactions.
2. Mortal Kombat 11
Another Netherrealm game makes the list. Mortal Kombat 11 is an excellent experience, and while its story may be somewhat lacking, the brutal, gory fighting engine more than makes up for that deficiency. The roster contains all the characters you’ve come to know and love; Liu Kang, Jax, Kano, and others all make appearances, and there are new characters represented here too, like Geras and Kollector. If you pick up the DLC, you’ll boost the roster enormously, giving you access to third-party cameos like Robocop and Rambo.
3. Dragon Ball FighterZ
Have you ever wanted to recreate the high-octane, zippy battles you’ve seen in the Dragon Ball anime? Dragon Ball FighterZ lets you do just that (as long as you’re playing on an Xbox console, of course; it’s not available on PC). Dragon Ball FighterZ lets you pit pretty much any character from the anime against one another, including Goku, Vegeta, Trunks, and plenty of others. As you’d imagine, there’s also a Story Mode that’s almost as rich and compelling as the narrative of the actual Dragon Ball plot. Make sure to grab this one if you love ridiculous, over-the-top anime battles.
4. Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
Just like Dragon Ball FighterZ, Battle for the Grid lets you loose on a childhood classic, allowing you to fight with a range of characters from the Power Rangers universe. The classic Power Rangers lineup is here, including Tommy Oliver, Jason Lee Scott, and Kimberly Hart, here represented as the evil Ranger Slayer. You’ll also find plenty of baddies like Lord Zedd, Goldar, and Scorpina, as well as a robust story mode that’s based on the comic books. Grab this one if you love Power Rangers and you want to see it done justice by a game at last.
5. Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition
Rare’s revival of the excellent Killer Instinct series made a comeback in the esports and streaming scenes in 2020, and it’s not hard to see why. This version of Killer Instinct updates the laughably dated graphics of the SNES version, revamping and rehauling all the characters but losing none of the brutal edge it had back then. That iconic theme tune is back, albeit reworked by Doom composer Mick Gordon, and Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition justifies Gordon’s work by being an effortlessly technical and compelling fighting game.
6. Streets of Rage 4
We’re cheating a little bit here, because Streets of Rage 4 isn’t actually a fighting game. However, it does have plenty of brawling gameplay, a colourful roster of varied characters, and a multiplayer mode, so it certainly shares a lot of its DNA with fighting games. Streets of Rage 4 is an almost achingly beautiful experience; just looking at it animating in a passive sense is enough to bring a tear to the eye. Luckily, it’s also an excellent game in its own right, with plenty of bone-crunching combat and difficult boss fights to take on.
7. Gang Beasts
If you want something to play with your buddies that’s just a little less confrontational than the classic fighting game experience, you should check out Gang Beasts. It’s a wobbly, profoundly silly physics-based battler that lets you and your friends loose on one another and asks you to beat each other senseless with your limbs and the environment around you. The Gang game mode is where the fun is at, but there’s also a more direct Melee mode that is perfect for settling arguments you’ve had while playing the Gang mode (ha ha).
8. Lethal League
Just like Gang Beasts, Lethal League is a fighting game with a difference. Instead of beating each other up with bats, you’re using those bats to hit balls at just the right angle to clock your opponent. There is a plot – something about anti-grav ball being illegal in the future – but for the most part, Lethal League is a tactical battler that will make you reassess your relationship with classic fighting games. Give it a shot and don’t be surprised if it supplants the likes of Tekken in your competitive circulation.
9. Worms Rumble
Although it’s not a classic fighting game series, Worms Rumble transposes the classic strategic turn-based action of the Worms series into a chaotic real-time system that will come as a shock to you if you’ve ever played a Worms title. Classic weapons like the bazooka, the sheep launcher, and the shotgun are all here, and there are plenty of new weapons to get to grips with as well. Try this one out if you want something on a bigger scale than your classic one-to-one fighter.
10. Yakuza 5 Remastered
Again, Yakuza isn’t a fighting game, but its combat is very strongly influenced by fighting games (and more specifically brawlers like Final Fight). Yakuza 5 might not be the best place to start – its labyrinthine narrative takes in characters and locations from the previous series and doesn’t really introduce them with much ceremony – but it does have the chunkiest, most satisfying implementation of the series’ core combat, so start here if you just want some rewarding fighting gameplay.