Combat mechanics typically make or break action-packed games. Players who don’t find the core fighting systems enjoyable will drop the game. As such, developers spend several hundred hours on average perfecting combat systems. Here are ten games where the combat flows well, and controls feel organic.
1. Sifu (2022)
State-of-the-art animations and smooth fighting sequences elevate Sifu to a whole other level. Simply put, this game is second to none regarding hand-to-hand combat. Players must combo, parry, and punch through many enemies before taking on one of the many bosses. Sifu also incorporates replayability as a core gameplay mechanic. Dying in-game means the primary character ages, thus losing health but gaining strength.
2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (2019)
Sekrio’s combat is well-known amongst the Soulslike community for its brutality and unforgiving nature. Regular enemies in this game easily take players down and pack a punch. Taking down bosses requires high skill, loads of practice, and no short number of retries. Despite its challenging nature, Sekiro’s combat is one of the best in sword fighting. Some fights play out cinematically and entirely immerse players.
3. The Last of Us Part II (2020)
Speaking of cinematic combat, the fighting in The Last of Us Part II is lifelike and frantic. Ellie isn’t a powerhouse; players must utilize her agility and stealth. Successful combat encounters in this game require planning beforehand, especially in higher-difficulty settings. Players must think on the fly and make split-second decisions when things go wrong, and they usually will.
4. Deathloop (2021)
While Deathloop’s combat isn’t entirely lifelike or complex, it’s enjoyable. There are many ways to take down enemies and several paths on each level. Players love the amount of powers and arsenal of weapons available to them. We have the most fun teleporting behind enemies and kicking them off hills.
5. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2019)
At the beginning of Jedi: Fallen Order, players are still novices figuring things out. By the end, they are a complete powerhouse and a menace not to be messed with. Taking down Stormtroopers and other creatures has never been this fun. Players pick and choose which ability to unlock to streamline their combat encounters. Over time, players unlock more stances, such as the ability to dual-wield Lightsabers to wreak havoc.
6. Hades (2018)
Hades is a roguelike title that relies on players failing and retrying the same levels until they succeed. The combat systems in this game are addicting and variable according to different playstyles. As players progress through the depths of hell, they unlock more weapons and powers. Each level of hell has unique enemies and boss fights. Despite starting from scratch every run, the combat doesn’t get stale.
7. Returnal (2021)
The combat systems in Returnal are similar to Hades, albeit in the third person. This time, the primary method of attack is futuristic weapons that devastate enemies. Returnal, being a PlayStation 5 launch title, boasts impressive visuals. The particle effects, in particular, stand out and are in a league of their own during combat. Progressing through the game means accessing better-quality weapons and gameplay modifiers. Players can get curses that boost one aspect while diminishing another.
8. God of War (2018)
The soft reboot of the God of War franchise shifted the perspective to the third person. Kratos’s fighting feels more grounded and rugged compared to the arcade-like structure of previous entries. The highlight of this game is the spectacular boss fights. The game begins with a boss fight that is difficult to top within the first hour.
9. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 (2023)
Insomniac’s latest offering is also their best yet. Spider-Man 2 improves upon its predecessors in almost every way, especially the combat. Peter and Miles have their separate skill trees and moves. Players pick and choose which moves to assign each character. Peter focuses more on his technical suit capabilities, while Miles utilizes his elemental effects. Without diving into spoilers, the combat significantly improves the farther players get in-game.
10. Horizon Forbidden West (2022)
Forbidden West takes players back into a post-apocalyptic America where humans share the world with feral machines. Aloy has a handful of weapons and consumables to use in combat against humans and machines alike. Learning the attack patterns and weaknesses of each enemy is vital to succeeding. Later sections get more challenging yet provide no less satisfaction in taking enemies down.