EVO 2017: Your guide to the new games at the world’s biggest fighting game tournament

We are entering something of a second fighting game renaissance. The newest fighting games are becoming more accessible than ever, and the popularity of e-sports combined with revolutions in fighting game net code have catapulted this once niche genre into mainstream popularity.

Perhaps nothing is more indicative of the sudden popularity spike in fighting games than the whopping eight new titles that will be showcased at this year’s EVO fighting game tournament, running from July 14 through 16. These are the upcoming titles that you will be playing in late 2017 and early 2018.

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite

Of course MVCI was going to be at EVO this year, but what will it have to show us? Rumor has it that we are going to see more roster reveals, new Infinity Stones, and a couple of new mechanics as well. Let’s hope the rumors are true, because if Capcom simply parades around the E3 build again, we are going to have a lot of really angry fighting gamers on our hands. Capcom will also be running an MVCI tournament, allowing the pros that couldn’t get to E3 a chance to try out a much superior build to the downloadable story demo.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Building up to EVO, it appeared as if Bandai Namco and Arc System Works were going to grant us a brand new build of DBFZ that included Trunks as a playable character. Unfortunately, it does not appear as if he will be finished in time for EVO, so there won’t be a lot of difference between this version and the E3 build. What we will get to see, however, is how the game plays on a joystick, considering the E3 build only had pads available. We will finally get to see if special attacks like the flurry and pursuit attack can easily be executed with button combinations, or if you need to map them to extra buttons on your stick. We are also going to get to see the first ever genuine tournament run for the game, so it will be interesting to see how the professional crowd takes to it.

Pokken Tournament DX

Nintendo is making a surprising push toward e-sports with the Switch, and Pokken Tournament DX is one of their biggest e-sport titles. Though the original Pokken Tournament unfortunately missed out on being included in EVO’s major tournament lineup, the Nintendo booth will show off the Switch version’s new characters and mechanics and will give attendees a chance to sign up for the new “Pokken Tournament DX Academy.” While Nintendo will not be holding a side tournament, pro gamers will be scoping out the Nintendo booth to see if Pokken Tournament DX will bring the Pokken tournament scene back to life.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT

Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy fighting game is certainly a much-anticipated title, but unfortunately they have been very tight-lipped about it. No rumors or leaks about the title have come down the pipe since its E3 appearance. In fact, it appears as if the EVO build will be practically identical to the E3 build. That’s not to say we won’t get any important information from its tournament appearance. Square-Enix does appear to be running a side tournament for the title, which will tell us a lot about its viability as a competitive title and, at best, an e-sport.

Fighting Layer EX

This strange game by Arika started as an April Fools joke. “Hey! Wouldn’t it be cool if the guys who made Street Fighter EX made a spiritual sequel complete with some of the old Street Fighter EX characters?” Hahaha, jokes on you. It’s real! We haven’t heard anything about this game since the original gag trailer and EVO promises to show us an expanded roster and a close look at the mechanics, including the EX series’ iconic super canceling mechanic. Fighting Layer EX looks like it’s going to be a professional-grade e-sport-worthy fighting game, but it’s going to have a lot of competition from some of the other titles on this list, especially MVCI and DBFZ.

Punch Planet

Punch Planet is a really interesting new 2D fighter that uses time mechanics at the core of its gameplay. By spending time meter you can “go back in time” to produce a variety of special effects. You can, for example, get hit, but then go back in time to avoid the hit and continue attacking back. You can perform a move, go back in time, and perform a different move to create a mix-up. You can dash at the opponent, go back in time, and make it so that you punch the opponent instead. While many of these effects are reminiscent of other fighting game mechanics, such as parries or rapid cancels, the time travel twist and execution is unlike anything we have seen out of fighting games so far.

Omen of Sorrow

Omen of Sorrow is sort of the black sheep of EVO’s upcoming fighting game lineup. This little indie game is about the umpteenth title to feature the trope of “movie monsters fighting against each other.” But it’s not its premise that makes Omen of Sorrow a title to watch out for; it’s its mechanics. Omen of Sorrow says that it will be incredible accessible, featuring easy combos and moves, while at the same time supporting a deep mechanical system focused on spacing and movement. It also uses GGPO netcode, some of the best rollback netcode on the market. Not sold yet? What if I told you the werewolf fires laser beams out of its mouth?

SNK’s New Classic NEO GEO Project

Finally, we have the game that is, to be frank, shrouded in mystery. Revealed in a tweet the day before EVO started, all we know is that it’s a “Classic NEOGEO project,” it’s a fighting game, and it will be fully playable. What could it be? Samurai Showdown? Garou: Mark of the Wolves? Waku Waku 7!? We will have to wait to find out.