The Best Fighting Games of 2021

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2021 has been a fairly great year for fighting games. Online major tournaments, upcoming new titles, and even rollback netcode have blessed the many fighting game communities worldwide.

While there have been plenty of fighting games to choose from, some stand out for the quality of their updates, their ease of getting into, and the promise of even better things to come in the future. These are the best fighting games of 2021.

Guilty Gear Strive Happy Chaos Deus Ex Machina Overdrive
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Guilty Gear Strive Happy Chaos Deus Ex Machina Overdrive

Guilty Gear Strive

Since its release in June, Guilty Gear Strive has been at the forefront of online fighting games thanks to its rollback netcode. The online experience in GGS is impeccable, as players can still fight each other with a 200ms ping and even take on foes from other countries. This game has definitely set the trend for the next level of online play in fighting games, even though other fighting games got the rollback feature much earlier.

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GGS is currently getting a lot of updates that will extend well into the first few months of 2022, and, best of all, it's a great game for newcomers to the genre, despite its rapid pace and momentum-based gameplay.

Street Fighter 5 Luke Win Pose
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Credit: Source: Capcom
Street Fighter 5 Luke Win Pose

Street Fighter 5

After Luke's release November 29, Capcom confirmed that Street Fighter 5 has received its final content update. While the last update looks like a sure sign that players are about to leave a game, Capcom has teased that Luke will be central to the events of the next Street Fighter game.

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Currently, though, Street Fighter 5 is in a good spot to hop into. The new second V-Skill, V-Trigger, and V-Shift dodge move help the game to feel fresh, even though it's been around for 5 years. New and returning players alike can fight on even ground due to these updates. It's the best time to play Street Fighter 5, especially if you want to play the next entry after 2021.

Dragonball Fighterz Trunks Dramatic Finish
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Dragonball Fighterz Trunks Dramatic Finish

Dragonball FighterZ

Dragonball FighterZ surprised its fans with one of its major patches. The Season 4 update introduced major character overhauls and intense universal mechanics changes. These updates gave some of the underperforming characters to have some interestingly powerful tools and other fun changes that allow them to finally go toe-to-toe with the best picks of past Seasons.

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Along with that big patch, Bandai Namco and Arc System Works introduced a new system that unlocks some of the unowned DLC characters. Players with few to no DLC packs installed can have a taste of the Ultra Instinct Goku, Gogeta, Vegito and other post-release characters added to the roster. The free DLC unlocks change weekly, which is excellent for letting new players try out Dragonball FighterZ without worrying to buy anything else other than the base game.

Blazblue Centralfiction Game Trailer
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Credit: Source: Arc System Works, Aksys Games
Blazblue Centralfiction Game Trailer

Blazblue Centralfiction

Hot off the heels of the announcement that the BlazBlue Alternative: Dark War gacha servers are shutting down, Arc System Works had another in store. After the Guilty Gear Strive grand finals in the CEO 2021 tournament, the developers have confirmed that rollback netcode will be officially added to BlazBlue Centralfiction and BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle in February 2022.

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As of now, the beta version of the BlazBlue Centralfiction rollback netcode is now available on PC through Steam. Players who want to experience strong rollback netcode implementation on yet another Arc System Works title can pick up BlazBlue Centralfiction on Steam up until the next game arrives. In short, while BlazBlue might not have the exciting updates that DBZ and Street Fighter did, it's more accessible to more people, and that makes it worth recommending.

Granblue Fantasy Versus Lancelot Super Skybound Art Pose
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Granblue Fantasy Versus Lancelot Super Skybound Art Pose
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Granblue Fantasy Versus

Cygames and Arc System Works' project has long been troubled. Thanks to COVID-19 and a series of misjudged updates, many Granblue Fantasy Versus fans saw character patches heavily stifle their top picks. Cygames introduced characters fans weren't keen on, but Granblue still has its merits. There's a simple learning curve that lets players pick up characters fast, focusing on the decision-making part quickly.

Beginners looking to learn fighting games at a base level will have fun picking up this title. Better still, support continues for Granblue Fantasy Versus. Post-launch support will continue into 2022, while Cygames released a player survey to determine what fans want to see. Players interested to see a redemption arc or a beginner-friendly title's last hurrah can pick up Granblue Fantasy Versus, and see where this game ends up.

Honourable Mentions

Other than these picks, the long-running Tekken series and French Bread's rollback netcode title Melty Blood Type Lumina are other titles to look out for the next year. For now, we'll have wait for 2022 if these games will continue their momentum in the following years.