2022 may not have been the best year for fighting games in recent memory, but it still saw the release of solid competitive games and brawlers that let fans have a great time and made the wait for the return of beloved franchises more bearable. Like the previous year, however, 2023 will only see the return of one of the most popular fighter franchises ever made. Still, even those who aren't into the Street Fighter series will have plenty to enjoy throughout the year, thanks to the release of some very interesting projects.
Here are our most anticipated fighting games launching in 2023.
Blazing Strike (Spring)
The 90s are rightly considered the golden age of fighting games, a time when developers like CAPCOM and SNK released what many still consider the best entries in series, such as Street Fighter, The King of Fighters, and Fatal Fury. These games are still so popular that they influence upcoming titles, such as Aksys Games and RareBreed Makes Games' Blazing Strike.
Blazing Strike looks and feels like one of the many fighting games released in the early 90s, sporting colorful 2D pixel art visuals and catchy soundtracks that wouldn't have looked, or sounded, amiss in a CAPCOM or SNK 2D fighter. This, however, doesn't mean that Blazing Strike will not offer anything more than a nostalgia-inducing experience, as the four-button system and the Rush Meter mechanics which allow players to unleash powerful combos if they manage meter well, give the game a distinct, modern identity.
With a plethora of play modes and online play powered by GGPO rollback netcode, Blazing Strike has the chance of becoming a success among those players who believe fighting games died in the early 2000s when it launches sometime during Spring 2023 on PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch worldwide.
Die By The Blade
Die By The Blade by Triple Hill Interactive and Toko Midori Games has become a staple of our most anticipated fighting games lists for a couple of years, as the game missed its scheduled release window multiple times. However, the long wait hasn't dampened our enthusiasm for the game, as its unique mechanics will set it apart from most modern fighting games, no matter when it releases.
Die By The Blade, much like its main inspiration, the Bushido Blade series by Square Enix, is a 1 versus 1 weapons-focused fighting game where matches can be ended with a single swing of the sword. The lack of a health bar vastly influences gameplay, making positioning, blocking, and parrying way more important than in most modern fighting games, turning each fight into a tense affair where players are always one step away from death.
With a single-player campaign set in a unique samurai-punk world, movesets defined by the weapon of choice, ample character and weapons customization features, and online multiplayer, Die By The Blade will be the game to get for those who are ready to follow the way of the samurai when the game launches on Steam sometime in 2023.
God of Rock (April 18th)
Many classic fighting games come with amazing soundtracks that helped them become iconic quite a bit, but other than enhancing the experience, music doesn't influence mechanics much in the genre. In 2023, however, this will change with God of Rock, a fighting game that combines the typical mechanics of 1 versus 1 games with rhythm game features.
In the game developed by Modus Studios, players take part in intense and over-the-top musical battles where hitting notes on screen in time with the music will allow them to build up the meter to unleash EX and special moves that do way more damage than regular attacks. While things start easy enough, tracks will scale in difficulty as the match progresses, so things will get more intense the more players rock out to the game's 40 original songs.
With 12 unique characters, a single-player branching story mode, a Track Editor, and local and online multiplayer, God of Rock is gearing up to be not only one of the best fighting games of 2023 but also one of the most unique video games of 2023 when it releases on PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch on April 18th.
While fans of traditional competitive fighting games have had a lot to be happy about in the past couple of years, those looking for a more laid-back experience haven't had many new games to play. As such, Recreate Games' Party Animals has been on many players' radars since its announcement in 2020, and it seems like they will finally be able to enjoy the game in 2023.
Party Animals' premise is incredibly simple. Picking one of the many animals available in the game, ranging from cute puppies to wacky dinosaurs, players will have to defeat their opponents by knocking them out of the map. As each map will come with different gimmicks, players will have a lot of options at their disposal, including allying with some of their opponents to take out another. There are so many ways to mess with other players that fun and laughter will always be guaranteed.
In a world where games sometimes take themselves too seriously, a title like Party Animals is a breath of fresh air that even those who aren't into fighting games will surely enjoy. The party will begin sometime in 2023 on PC and Xbox consoles.
Street Fighter 6 (June 2nd)
Among the fighting games releasing in 2023, Street Fighter 6 is undoubtedly the most anticipated by the vast majority of players for a few reasons. CAPCOM seems well aware of this, and it is putting in some real effort to make the game one that both diehard fans of the series and newcomers will enjoy.
Learning from the Street Fighter V launch fiasco, the Japanese developer is not leaving anything to chance this time, focusing on the single-player and competitive components to deliver the ultimate Street Fighter experience. Those who like the series' lore and characters will experience more of them in World Tour mode, allowing them to create their own custom characters, complete mini-games, and fight against all sorts of opponents. At the same time, those who aim to climb through the rankings and become the best players in the world will get all the tools they need, such as an improved Training Mode with tons of learning tools and more. The inclusion of new control options, including the one-button Dynamic Mode, ensures that players will always have fun with Street Fighter 6 regardless of their skill level.
With these features and an online experience that is setting out to be among the best, Street Fighter 6 has the chance of becoming one of the best entries in the series once it launches on June 2nd, 2023, on PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S worldwide.
Plenty of other fighting games are releasing throughout 2023, starting with NetherRealm Studios' unannounced next game, which deserves to be mentioned despite the lack of details, given the usual high-quality of the games developed by the studio. Lacking a release window, Riot's Project L, Bandai Namco's Tekken 8, and SNK's next Fatal Fury / Garou haven't been included in the list, but if any of them release in 2023, they will turn next year even more into one to remember for all fans of the genre.