The latest entry in the long-running King of Fighters series is just around the corner. The King of Fighters XV, the fifteenth major game in the fighting game franchise, will launch on Feb. 17, 2022. It’s been a long time coming for KoF fans who have waited since 2016 for the continuation of the series. Soon, we’ll be able to dive back into the arena as all their favorite SNK fighters — with a handful of new ones joining the fray as well.
The history of The King of Fighters XV
The King of Fighters first hit the scene in 1994 with The King of Fighters ’94 for arcades and the Neo Geo / Neo Geo CD. Combining an original cast and select entrants from SNK’s other fighting games, the game centers around the titular King of Fighters tournament which brings fighters together from around the world. The game was a success, and so it received a new sequel every year until The King of Fighters 2003, where mainline releases became more sporadic — and dropped the year-based naming convention.
Following the launch of The King of Fighters XIV in 2016, SNK focused on other games and franchises like 2018’s SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy and 2019’s Samurai Shodown. The company officially announced KOF XV in 2018 with a tentative 2020 release planned. KOF XIV director Yasuyuki Oda stepped into the role of producer this time with Eisuke Ogura taking the creative director’s chair.
The developers later announced that The King of Fighters XV was to come out in 2021. However, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the game’s release back to Feb. 17, 2022. SNK have released a number of gameplay and character trailers which have gotten fans hyped to jump into this next title.
Get back into the ring
Many gameplay features of previous KOF titles return — so fans of the series should know what to expect. MAX Mode returns from KOF XIV albeit with some tweaks; it now costs two bars of meter instead of one, and EX Special Moves can now be performed outside of MAX Mode. In addition, a new parry system called Shatter Strike helps players counter and defend against opponents while giving them an attack opportunity.
To the delight of many, SNK also revealed that the game will be the first in the franchise to feature rollback netcode. Specifically, The King of Fighters XV will utilize GGPO to make online play smooth and seamless. SNK fans had been clamoring for this feature, so it’s awesome to see that the company is introducing this essential upgrade.
The King of Fighters XV is built in Unreal Engine 4, the first title in the series to utilize the engine. (It was previously used for 2019’s Samurai Shodown.) The graphical improvements, especially in the colors and shading, make these fighters and environments look better than ever.
See a full 15 minutes of gameplay below, courtesy of IGN on YouTube.
Fighters old and new
The King of Fighters XV comprises the second part of the current KOF story arc, the Shun’ei Saga. The story concerns the creature known as Verse, the villain of the previous game, wrecking havoc at the latest King of Fighters tournament. Shun’ei, a new main character for KOF XIV, returns as the protagonist this time around. According to the website, the KOF story will “reach its climax” here — but what this means exactly, we don’t know yet.
Plenty of characters return for this installment, including several canonically dead fighters which SNK has resurrected. Newcomers include Shun’ei’s rival Isla, psychic Earth priestess Dolores, and mysterious man with a shapeshifting arm Krohnen.
SNK has confirmed that 39 characters in 13 teams will be in the game at launch. An additional two teams are planned for the Team Pass 1 DLC which will bring the roster up to 45. It seems that additional Team Passes will be available later as well, though that hasn’t been confirmed.
The current roster, broken down by team, is below:
- Hero Team: Shun’ei, Meitenkun, Benimaru Nikaido
- Scared Treasures Team: Kyo Kusanagi, Iori Yagami, Chizuru Kagura
- Fatal Fury Team: Terry Bogard, Andy Bogard, Joe Higashi
- Orochi Team: Yashiro Nanakase, Shermie, Chris
- Art of Fighting Team: Ryo Sakazaki, Robert Garcia, King
- Ikari Warriors Team: Leona Heidern, Ralf Jones, Clark Still
- Secret Agents Team: Vanessa, Blue Mary, Luong
- Super Heroines Team: Athena Asamiya, Mai Shiranui, Yuri Sakazaki
- Galaxy Anton Wrestling Team: Antonov, Ramón, King of Dinosaurs
- Rivals Team: Isla, Dolores, Heidern
- K’ Team: K’, Maxima, Whip
- Ash Team: Ash Crimson, two unannounced characters
- Unannounced Team: Krohnen, two unannounced characters
- Confirmed characters with no assigned team: Kukri, Ángel
So where can you pre-order The King of Fighters XV?
The King of Fighters XV is developed by SNK and published by SNK and Koch Media and will be released on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Microsoft Windows via Steam, Epic Games Store, and the Microsoft Store. The game will launch on Feb. 17, 2022. Retail prices are $59.99 USD for the standard edition and $84.99 USD for the deluxe version, which will include the base game plus Team Pass 1.
Watch the game trailers below!