The King Of Fighters XV – Formulaic

REVIEW – Perhaps The King of Fighters (or KoF for short) is the only franchise that hasn’t deviated much from what it was initially in its decades-long history, returning to the basics with the 14th instalment. As a result, there are no outstanding innovations, but if you liked KoF XIV, I guarantee you’ll like this new episode…


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I know it’s an unusual picture to start with, but seeing this roster made me drop the game’s score by half a point on a one-to-ten scale…





King of Fighters doesn’t have 1v1 fights (see Street Fighter, Tekken, Guilty Gear…). It has 3v3 team fights instead. If someone fails a round (we’re talking about one-on-one battles here), that player is eliminated from the team. The match is over when the entire team is defeated. We set the order ourselves, and the gameplay even includes the Max bar seen in KoF XIV, which is shared between all team members. Four bars can be loaded up, and with these, we can use stronger, faster attacks, and if we ‘max’ during a more significant attack, we get even more damaging moves. These will be serious in power and visually. Then there’s the Shatter Strike. This innovation ties in with Max: you can strategically open up more options by breaking through your opponent’s defences if you sacrifice one bar. So, offensive moves will be good for those Max bars, but you should consider what you’re using them for.

The King Of Fighters XV has thirty-nine playable characters, at least at launch. Their movement sets vary, but they are all centred around light and heavy punches and kicks. In other words, you can use all of them in the same way, so in that respect, KoF XV is one of those games where learning the basics is easy, but the bar for mastery is much higher. However, you can’t immediately determine what moves you can string together to hit your opponent with serious combos. Hence, you have to learn a few things for your chosen characters, whether they’re older characters or newcomers (like Dolores or Isla). But if there is no remarkable evolution in the gameplay, where is it? Perhaps in the graphics… yes, there is a leap forward in visuals from XIV to XV: the previous instalment was a leap to a genuinely 3D art style, and the new game has refined this. The environments are also cleaner and more detailed, and while there’s not that much life in the background, maybe you don’t need it; you can still distinguish between the combat areas, so in that respect, it brings the fighting game it needs. The user interface is also a pleasant sight. It felt much more modern than in the previous game.





Still, elements of The King Of Fighters XV haven’t improved significantly (you can include the gameplay here; it didn’t try to be revolutionary, it wasn’t bold enough, although who knows, it might have worked if it at least tried). Character animations include machine-like movements, which you’ll often see, whether you’re fighting against the overly unpredictable AI or other players. The AI is pretty random: in some places, it seemed like it wasn’t even trying to fight me, and in others, it seemed more like it knew in advance what move I was going to elicit. For those who want to experience the story mode, be prepared for both extremes to be present. (Okay, we had this back in the PS1 era, a random example of the story mode is Bloody Roar 2, and Konami won’t be doing a bloody thing with this Hudson IP!)

Anyway, the story mode itself isn’t that elaborate, it could have been better, and sure, the King of Fighters tournament is back, but it’s over after six matches, then there’s a boss fight, but it’s like… I don’t know, a typical amateur approach. No optional character (must be DLC…), and of course, it’s OP. This is what the penultimate boss in Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style was like, maybe. That piece of s… sorry, 20-year-old memories. No saving allowed. You have to go through the whole thing in one sitting. What is this, Bomberman: Act Zero with its hundred stages? And the other thing I would highlight is the picture at the beginning. You can already, in advance, know how many DLC characters there will be. It’s amazing. To say so openly that an entire line is coming, in addition, is not that fair…





The King of Fighters XV gets a seven out of ten because if we look at its basics, it is a good game, but if it had a slightly more serious story mode, maybe dared to innovate a bit more, not to mention the DLC, I might have given it an eight and a half. So that’s good, and I often provide fans of the genre/franchise another rating: I wouldn’t miss this one either. For them, the game is a nine out of ten. KoF XV can march on for now until Street Fighter 6, with its logo that looks like it’s been lifted from the Eastern Bloc era, or DNF Duel arrives in the summer. The gameplay is refined (as there were no significant deviations from the formula). The visuals are enhanced. I don’t see any significant negatives in the audio, but the game won’t change the world. Perhaps it’s good it didn’t want to.



+ Sophisticated gameplay
+ Easy-to-master basics
+ Highly improved visuals


– The gameplay hasn’t been innovative
– The story mode could have been a bit deeper
– We already know how many DLC characters there will be…

Publisher: SNK (in Japan) / Koch Media (=Embracer Group; in the West)

Developer:  SNK

Genres: fighting game

Publication:  February 17, 2022

The King Of Fighters XV

Gameplay - 7.2
Graphics - 7.8
Story - 6.6
Music/Audio - 8.4
Ambience - 7.5



For the fifteenth time, it wants to be the king of fighting games. It is to remain in such a positing in the spring. And after that...?

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Grabbing controllers since the middle of the nineties. Mostly he has no idea what he does - and he loves Diablo III. (Not.)

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