Publisher: Koch Media
Reviewed On PlayStation 5
Also Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S
After a tumultous decade and a half, The King Of Fighters finally got things back on the right track with The King of Fighters XIV in 2016. While the fighting game was visually dated, it brought back tight fighting mechanics and a solid foundation for the series to build off of. Now, The King of Fighters XV takes advantage of the opportunity and makes the most of out of the solid mechanics while giving a visually impressive update to graphics.
The story of The King of Fighters XV picks up where the previous game left off. The current story arc comes to a close by the end of this game, setting the franchise up for the future. Following the events and destruction of the previous tournament, The King of Fighters XV sets the characters up for a new tournament with a new sponsor. Old and new fighters, as well as fighters that were previously thought to be gone forever are now here to take the prize.
Of course, most players won’t care much for The King of Fighters XV‘s story. It’s mostly all about how well the fighting plays out. Anyone who has played the previous entry will quickly realize that very little has changed when it comes to gameplay. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either. The systems that are already in place are highly technical and are sure to delight even the most hardcore fighting fans. What looks like a simple 3V3 4 button fighting game is full of depth. Short hops, hops, blocks, evades, super hops, and tons of attack input combinations will be sure to fill the brains of players.
The King of Fighters XV is a game of chess due to the 3V3 battles and the way that meters carry over. Some characters generate meter better than others, which will make players consider their character fight order. There aren’t any fancy switches like Marvel Vs Capcom, so outside of the considerations of when a character should fight, a victory will mostly come down to who can play their characters better. Still, there is plenty of value in picking a team that complements each other, even if they can work together for massive combos.
The game’s roster is nothing short of impressive. With 39 characters to choose from, players won’t run into trouble with building their team of 3. The roster includes classics like Mai and Terry and exciting newcomers like Isla who bring tons of new ways to play to the game. There is also a 1v1 mode, though it doesn’t feel as polished and enjoyable since this game’s systems were clearly made for longer matches with multiple fighters involved.
Everything comes together to bring an experience that truly feels good to play. The King of Fighters XV has a high difficulty ceiling that genuinely rewards players for taking the time to learn the ins and outs of their three characters. Newcomers might find themselves overwhelmed by how technical The King of Fighters XV is. There is a tutorial, but it doesn’t offer much depth. It simply explains how to do a move or input, or how to use a gauge. A more in depth tutorial that teaches situational awareness would be welcome to make The King of Fighters XV more accessible.
Returning fighters won’t find much new, which may frustrate some. There are new changes that make the aerial game more enjoyable from both an offensive and defensive perspective, and a couple of changes with the MAX mechanic that allows for players to deal more damage. The biggest new feature is the Shatter strike, a new mechanic that enables players to counter enemy attacks. Otherwise, this is the same game with a new coat of paint.
While it’s just a coat of paint, it’s hard to deny how nice that coat is. The King of Fighters XIV was woefully bland visually, relying only how the solid gameplay to carry the experience. This time, The King of Fighters looks like a series that belongs in the current generation of fighting games. As the fighting game that essentially brings the genre to the new generation and year, this is absolutely welcome. It’s still not the prettiest fighting game out there, but the implements to the lighting and the character models go a long way towards making The King of Fighters XV look stylish outside of static screenshots. The framerate is as smooth as the gameplay is, making this a fighting game that looks as good as it plays while in motion.
Outside of the story mode, there isn’t too much content for players who prefer to play solo. There are individual challenges for each character that will allow for players to truly learn how to play their favorites efficiently, but that’s about it. This will disappoint many, but The King of Fighters XV has always been about the multiplayer bouts. The only runs smooth, and I never encountered any severe issues, which is huge for any game in this genre.
During my time with The King of Fighters XV, I found myself delighting how great the game feels once I learned the ins and outs. It’s an incredibly daunting fighter that punishes those who don’t take the time to learn it. Despite this, it feels great to be even a middling player, and sometimes that’s all it takes to feel like the King of Fighters.
The King of Fighters XV
The King of Fighters XV brings new visual improvements to bring the series into the new generation of fighting games.