2021 had some redemption compared to 2020. We’re still living in a pandemic, but things are slowly but surely beginning to open up again for offline tournaments.
This year we’ve witnessed several releases such as Guilty Gear -STRIVE-, Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown (aka Virtua Fighter eSports), Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, and Melty Blood: Type Lumina. In addition to that, we’ve witnessed the final three characters joining Smash Bros such as Pyra/Mythra Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Kazuya Mishima from Tekken, and the most fan-requested character to join the roster: Sora from Kingdom Hearts. We also witnessed the end of support for Mortal Kombat 11 and Tekken 7, as well as seeing Guilty Gear’s Baiken making a guest appearance in Season 3 of Samurai Shodown (2019).
There were some memorable FGC moments that we can look back to, such as Rick “TheHadou” Thiher becoming the new General Manager of EVO going forward, offline tournaments coming back in full swing, and many others.
2021 may have been a weird year since it had both good and bad moments, but now it’s time to talk about the upcoming fighting games we’ll see for this year.
Last year, we began to see more information about the latest entry in the KOF series, such as returning characters, new characters, and brand new teams being formed. Thanks to the various trailers and two open betas, we get more information on the gameplay.
The King of Fighters XV brings back the MAX Mode which was seen in the previous game, which now costs two bars of meter instead of one. EX Specials now cost half bar of meter, and it incresases the strength of both their attack and Guard Crush while MAX Mode is activated. Players can also activate MAX Mode (Quick) once they land a hit or guard against an incoming attack. KOF15 introduced a new mechanic called Shatter Strike, which is performed by QCF+HP+HK. This mechanic is used for both defensive and offensive situations, similar to Street Fighter IV’s Focus Attacks. The single button “Rush” combo from KOF14 also returns, but this time it makes performing combos and super moves a lot easier to a point where you can now do a MAX Super move.
There are 13 teams of 39 characters that’ll be part of the base roster at launch, with six other characters planned for DLC in the future. This also marks the first KOF game to have all four protagonists from four different sagas in the same game, such as Kyo, K’, Ash Crimson, and Shun’ei. The story of KOF15 focuses on how Verse, the previous boss from the last game, caused destruction and mayhem and it’s up to the Three Sacred Treasures: Chizuru, Kyo, and Iori, to once again prevent this from happening. In addition to that, previous characters who died or were erased from existence from previous sagas ended up returning due to Verse’s appearance.
The King of Fighters XV will be released on February 17, 2022 for Steam, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S.
When we first heard about DNF Duel back on Christmas Day 2020, we only saw one teaser trailer and that’s it. The game was radio silent until recently in December 2021 where we not only saw character trailers, but was also granted an Open Beta that happened on the same weekend as KOF15’s.
Published by Neople and developed in collaboration with Arc System Works and Eighting, DNF Duel is based on the well-known beat ‘em up MMO, Dungeon Fighter Online. The gameplay is simple yet enjoyable for all skill levels. All attacks will deal both red and white damage whether it is on hit or block, similar to Steet Fighter V. Red damage is permanent and cannot be recovered, while white damage recovers over time as long as you're not being hit or guarding.
You also have an MP meter used for Special moves, meaning that you have to spend meter wisely during matches. There are three ways on how you can recover MP: you can either do nothing, let the meter recover naturally, or you can land an normal attack (hit or guard) or throw. Lastly, you have the Conversion system in which you can use the white health and convert it into MP. Anything can be canceled into a Conversion, whether it's attacking, dashing, jumping, etc. It can lead to some serious combos if done correctly.
The characters are named after their class archetype instead of having a fleshed-out background story. So far, ten characters are confirmed on the base roster, which are Berserker, Ranger, Grappler, Striker, Hitman, Inquisitor, Dragon Knight, Kunoichi, Crusader, and Vanguard.
DNF Duel will be released this summer for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Steam. And yes, this game will have Rollback.
Phantom Breaker: Omnia is a remake that contains both 2011’s Phantom Breaker and 2013’s Phantom Breaker: Extra. Omnia will have English and Japanese dual audio and other content yet to be revealed. The game will not have rollback netcode due to limiting budget, which causes concerns in regards to online play. Phantom Breaker: Omnia will be released on March 15, 2022 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is returning once again to consoles and PC, just in time for the 10th Anniversary of Persona 4 Arena. The game will be based on the version 2.50 update, which was only released for the arcades. While Atlus confirmed that the game won’t have rollback netcode on launch, they will add it in after the release. The game will be released worldwide on March 17, 2022 for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Steam.
Metal Revolution is a game that was revealed in 2018 and it takes several influences from games such as Rising Thunder for example. While the game is currently out for mobile devices, it will receive a worldwide launch in the first half of 2022 for PlayStation 4, Steam, and iOS.
Breaker’s Collection is a compilation of two classic NeoGeo games from the ‘90s: Breakers and Breaker’s Revenge. The game was supposed to be released last year, but both this game and Phantom Breaker: Omnia (no relation) were delayed. Although the game is receiving a closed beta on Steam, it is still slated for an early 2022 release on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series S/X, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam.
MultiVersus is a Smash Bros.-styled fighting game published by WB Games and developed by Player First Games. The game currently features 12 players from different franchises such as Finn & Jake from Adventure Time, Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, Steven & Garnet from Steven Universe, Batman, Superman, Harley Quinn, and Wonder Woman from the DC Universe, Tom & Jerry, Arya Stark from Game of Thrones, and Bugs Bunny from Looney Toons. Reindog is the only original character in the game. More characters and content will be added in the future after the game’s release.
The game also features dedicated servers, rollback netcode, and voice acting. An open beta for the game recently took place last month for players that want to try the game out. MultiVersus will be released this year for PlayStaton 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and Steam.
Guilty Gear -STRIVE- is about to release the next character, fan-favorite Baiken, sometime this month. In addition to that, there is one more character yet to be revealed in the Season Pass expansion later down the road, as well as a story expansion. Because of the game’s success, it’s easy to say that we might see a second Season Pass in the future.
While Street Fighter V is done with the final update, especially with the recent launch of Luke back in November, there’s not much to discuss for this game. What we do know is that Luke will receive a bigger role once Street Fighter VI is announced sometime in the future. In recent events, Capcom canceled the upcoming Capcom Cup 2021 event due to rising cases of COVID-19 and replaced it with another online season final event which includes the winners that qualified for the Capcom Cup. In addition to that, Street Fighter League: World Championship 2021 is also canceled due to the rising cases of COVID-19.
Dragon Ball FighterZ recently announced another DLC character out of the blue, which is the Lab Coat version of Android 21. In addition to that, Tomoko Hiroki, the game’s producer, announced that they’ll “keep powering up Dragon Ball FighterZ in 2022”, hinting that we will see further updates this year.
Skullgirls will be celebrating their 10th Anniversary this year and for the first time ever: Skullgirls: 2nd Encore received their first Season Pass last year after Lab Zero dissolved and formed Future Club, who are now the current developers of the game as of 2020. While Annie and Umbrella (who is still in Early Access) are currently available, two more characters: Black Dahlia and an unannounced character, are scheduled for a 2022 release.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl was released at the tail end of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s life cycle and it made quite an impression in the FGC. In recent events, Garfield was the first DLC character released for free on consoles and PC last month, alongside alternate costumes for the cast. More characters will join the roster in the future and voice acting was hinted to be included in future updates.
Arc System Works recently announced rollback support for both BlazBlue Central Fiction and BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle.The rollback beta for Central Fiction is now available on Steam and the full update will be out in February. Meanwhile, Cross Tag Battle will also get the update on both Steam and PlayStation 4 later this year.
Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown (aka Virtua Fighter eSports in Japan) was released as part of SEGA’s 60th Anniversary celebration back in June, and players were glad to see a new entry in the series. SEGA recently released a Yakuza Collab DLC bundle which includes 19 Yakuza-themed costumes, Yakuza BGM for all 20 stages, VF3 arranged soundtrack, and the returning Type D costumes with more customization items. Thanks to the game’s exceeded expectations, it’s safe to say that we will see more content and events coming to VF5US in 2022. Since VF5US is a JeSU (Japanese eSport Union) game, they are currently on their next entry of their Challenger Cup series in which the first two players will be awarded with a JeSU Pro License.
Lastly, Them’s Fightin’ Herds released their first DLC character, Shanty, last year and there’s more content coming for the game. According to the developers, they announced that they are working on something big for 2022, but we don’t know what it is yet. It’ll be revealed soon enough at Frosty Faustings.
2022 is another big year for fighting games with new games, upcoming DLC & updates, as well as anniversaries such as the 35th Anniversary of Street Fighter and the 30th Anniversary of Mortal Kombat for example. Even though the world isn’t getting any better due to an ongoing pandemic, here’s hoping that we can do offline tournaments normally in the future.
Until then… Train Up, Fighters!