The King of Fighters XV – Will Become Best Fighting Games

With The King of Fighters XV, developer SNK took the seed that was KOF XIV, planted it, watered it, and grew one of the best fighting games in recent history. Far more than a new game with fresh skins, KOF XV features a revamped fighting engine that facilitates creative combat, attractive character models, vibrant stages, near-flawless rollback netcode, and many multiplayer options to keep you knuckling up with online rivals for hours at a time. Despite suffering a ho-hum training mode and the occasional screen tearing, this $59.99 PC game ranks among the series’ best entries, up there with the resplendent King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match Final Edition and The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match.

If you’re making the leap from Guilty Gear Strive or Street Fighter V, KOF XV’s basic structure may prove somewhat bewildering or intimidating to the uninitiated. As with past, mainline King of Fighters games, KOF XV features 3-on-3, team-based fighting, so you must learn multiple characters. Unlike Dragon Ball FighterZ, another team-based fighting game, KOF XV lacks tagging, which makes character order just as important as the character selection. The meter you earn is passed down to other teammates as characters are knocked out, so placing your favorite fighter—or a fighter that heavily depends on meter—in the anchor (last) position gives that fighter the most options. More on that in a bit.

The default teams, pulled from across SNK’s many properties are: Art of Fighting, Ash, Fatal Fury, G.A.W., Hero, Ikari, K’, Krohnen, Orochi, Rival, Sacred Treasures, Secret Agent, and Super Heroine. The 39-person roster, featuring a mix of strikers, grapplers, zoners, and other genre archetypes, is large by traditional fighting game standards but on the low side for a KOF title. For example, The King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match Final Edition has 64 characters, while The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match has 66 characters. If some of your favorite characters are missing, keep an eye on SNK’s DLC roadmap. So far, the developer revealed that Team Garou (scheduled for a March release) and Team South Town (scheduled for a May release) are coming down soon.

KOF XIV’s DNA is baked into KOF XV, so many specials, supers, and climaxes carry over, but SNK made major and minor gameplay tweaks to make this new title stand apart from the last one. The two biggest differences are the new Shatter Strike and Max Mode.

Shatter Strike is a new, armored, meter-powered counterattack that crumples ground opponents or wall-bounces airborne opponents, leaving them ready for a big-damage follow-up. Think of it as a KOF blowback attack that leaves a foe set up for a combo, instead of simply knocking the opponent to the other side of the screen (and you don’t need to be in guard to unleash it). Traditional blowback attacks still exist, too.

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