[Top 20] Best Beat ‘Em Up Games For PC

I love Beat ‘Em Up games.

There is nothing as therapeutic as beating up random gangsters and bullies whilst scrolling through a beautiful map. The stories might always be similar and the gameplay a little repetitive but there is nothing better than having a good bash and trying to keep a long enough health bar for the ultimate, ultimate boss.

There are so many fighting games on the market so what makes a beat ‘em up game worth the time and money? Coming from the arcade world, beat ‘em up games focus on hand to hand combat travelling through stages (sometimes referred as levels or chapters) in a map that leads you to the final boss one way or another. There are some specific characteristics that don’t all have to be there to make it a beat ‘em up but without these then where is the fun?

Characteristics of a beat em up game: 

- Melee style combat - you have to be able to beat them up
- Simple controls - not all button mashing but simple enough to keep you - going
- Multiple enemies at once - that's where the fun is
- Power Ups or items - ie weapons, new abilities
- Progression - there has to be a goal that must be reached 
- Boss battles - best bit when you can defeat the boss and save the day
- Story - whilst maybe not mandatory, I can’t see the fun in a beat ‘em up if there is no hero to save the day.

A beat ‘em up is a classic always, they are the games you play with friends to show off your skills or alone to blow off some frustration. They are always there for us and there are so many to choose from so I’ve listed what I think are the top 20 beat ‘em ups.


20. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth Japanese Title Page

A modern take on the beat ‘em up games, Like a Dragon is sequel to the Yakuza: Like a Dragon and the ninth instalment in this super fun RPG series that has something for every gamer. You can pick a great fighting team with some superpowered characters to defeat as many enemies that come your way. Fighting through the chapters you play as Ichiban Kasuga trying to find his biological mother and continue his fathers legacy. 

A twist to the usual beat ‘em up games, each battle uses a turn-based combat style which is atypical of the move and punch games that are traditional to the beat ‘em up genre, but the core mechanics are the same and the stunning graphics and interesting interactive 3D map keep you hooked through the whole game. You’ll be playing through the night and still want more!


19. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot

Dragonball Z Kakarot Title Page

When you think of anime, you think of Dragon Ball- RIP Akira Toriyama. The classic anime has led to a great immersive universe with multiple games, stories, and characters that hit us in our hearts. An RPG openworld game, you travel through areas to fight enemies following the story of Goku and friends as they try to find the Dragon Balls. 

Being able to not just enjoy the anime but actually play it through adds lore and depth to the story as well as giving you the chance to fight the enemy yourself - how many people can say that they have defeated Freeza and saved the universe? The gameplay is similar to the other Dragon Ball games with enemy detection as you travel through the areas but boasts fun extras such as fishing/hunting and cooking. The side stories and interesting NPCs will keep you entertained long after you have completed the story-mode and the plethora of fun and funky characters will have you laughing for years to come.


18. Batman: Arkham Knight

I am obsessed with Batman so when the 2015 fighting game Batman: Arkham Knight came out, you know I was staying up all night to try and complete the story in one go. Taking you into another immersive universe, Batman: AK is a RPG openworld where Batman is trying to save Gotham City from the Scarecrow, Arkham Knight, and Deathstroke as they try to annihilate him and take over all on Halloween Night. Though at first the PC edition was a bit buggy, it has just improved and excelled over time, getting players to come back time and time again.

The new location and larger 3D map make this game more riveting, adding more actions and layers. Like most beat ‘em up games, it is in third person perspective keeping in with the genre and uses melee combat as the primary fighting style. You do have the addition of being able to drive the Batmobile, every Batfan’s dream car, and have access to the toolbelt of amazing gadgets. Batman: AK has all the best bits of beat ‘em up games with fun add ons and crazy storylines that have kept people talking for years since.


17. Sifu

Second game from indie French company Sloclap, Sifu takes the best of beat ‘em up games and all our favourite tricks from Jackie Chan and creates the ultimate kung fu universe. The story follows the child of a Sifu (Bak Mei master) on their journey of revenge, fighting enemies until they reach the ultimate boss and have to make a decision that could change everyone’s fate forever.

Fans of Samurai Jack and Rumble in the Bronx will love this game's expansive map and use of over 150 unique attacks. The Sloclap team took time to meet with real life Bak Mei master Benjamin Colussi to ensure authenticity with the combat and developed a realistic learning sequence. This is not a game for button mashers, the complex levels and intricate storyline mean that this is a game that will take concentration and dedication to complete but the satisfaction on completing will leave you on a high for weeks.


16. Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Miles Morales might be the new Spidey-kid on the block but he has stolen hearts and created a whole new love for many Spider-Man and Marvel fans. Picking up from Marvel’s Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Miles Morales follows Miles Morales as he tries to shoulder the role of Spider-Man on his own in the new location of Harlem. He grapples with balancing his lives as  Spider-Man and Miles all the while trying to uncover and defeat the new criminal group Underground.

Smaller expansion to Marvel’s Spider-Man, the core game-play is the same, based in the same openworld but you do have the additions of new gadgets and new powers. The best addition is the smartphone crime app meaning that you always know what is going on in the city. Marvel’s Spider-Man was credited for having true to life interactions with the NPCs and other characters that make the game more enjoyable and realistic for the player and you can expect the same with Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Taking our favourite hero story further, this game gives us all the lore and depth that we have been desperate for.


15. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2

Another amazing game from the Dragon Ball universe, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is once again a fighting RPG that delves deeper into the characters and universe. Sequel to the hugely popular Dragon Ball Xenoverse, you play as Time Patrollers to help Goku, Tokitoki and friends try and save the Past and Future of the universe. Fighting through the different areas you go through different events in time, some from the previous games, others from the show, and try and correct the outcomes of fights to keep the Timeline in balance.

The gameplay is similar to the previous Xenoverse game, you are based in a new openworld with the hub city being 7x larger than Toki Toki City - a HUGE upgrade from the old game. The game supports character customisation and has the fun extra of race-specific quests and minigames. Don’t worry though! If you had a character you loved from the previous game you can import them even across different gen consoles. With the game's multiple timelines, there are different endings so you have so many futures to choose from, keeping you entertained for longer than ever.


14. Evil West

I know what you're thinking, Evil West isn't a beat ‘em up game it's a shooter! Well allow me to take a little liberty because this game deserves to be on this list and is just awesome all round. Evil West follows the story of Jesse Rentier, a cowboy vampire hunter as he tries to save his father, the supersecret supernatural agency, and the president of the United States of America from the vampires - a lot of work for just one guy. Set in the late 19th century, you work your way through various areas of America, fighting any vampires you meet while trying to find missing and hidden items.

Whilst the game is advertised as a 3rd person shooter, the gameplay uses a lot of melee combat thanks to a special gauntlet created by the agency. Like with many beat ‘em up games, you have the ability to use your 3D map to your advantage by throwing enemies in traps, through walls and over cliffs. You also have to fight boss characters at the end of areas before moving on and as you progress you will gain skills and experience to help you defeat D’Abano, his daughter, and the legions of the undead. Evil West is a genre defying game, perfect for fans of God of War, Devil May Cry and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.


13. Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name 

The 18th game from the Like a Dragon universe, what initially started out as a side story developed into a deep and layered game following the life of Kazuma Kiryu. The openworld game focuses on the entertainment district in Sotenbori, Osaka, with the story picking up after a few years after Kiryu faked his death in 2016. Now an undercover secret agent, Kiryu is compromised and has to work with old faces from his past to save his future. 

The gameplay follows the beat ‘em up style that the  Like a Dragon series is known for, your character has two fighting styles that they can switch between, both having unique moves and abilities that give you the edge in a fight. Like in other games in the series you have access to different minigames such as karaoke, circuit racing and several Sega Master System games such as Alien Syndrome, Fantasy Zone, and Motor Raid. Another masterpiece on the Like a Dragon shelf, Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man WHo Erased His Name is a uniquely styled story that takes the player on a journey of emotions.


12. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 

We have all been searching for the One Piece right? If you haven’t then you’re missing out! One Piece is an internationally popular manga and anime so you already know that the games from that universe are going to be epic. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is the fourth game in the One Piece franchise and follows the story arc of Wano with an original ending. 

The gameplay follows classic action adventure beat ‘em ups, keeping in with the combat style of the previous games but with a few funky updates. The new features such as giant characters and special attacks give the game that fun anime style that keeps us watching the show. Following the Wano story arc, Luffy and the Straw Hats have to work together to try and defeat Kaido, Blackbeard, and Big Mom to save the Wano people. The series and game may have slightly different stories with different endings but you will be thrilled with the innovative gameplay in this  return to the series.


11. Yakuza 0 

Another great game from the Like a Dragon universe (yes, I really like this series, shoot me!), Yakuza 0 is a prequel to the rest of the series set in 1988. The RPG open world game follows two well-known characters, Kiryu and Majima  alternating between them,  as they try to regain power and position in the Tojo Clan all the while fighting to save an innocent woman’s life. The story takes its time to give us new lore and history about both Kiryu and Majima adding a whole new context to the series.

The gameplay follows with other games in the series adding a few updates such as new minigames and side businesses that help players farm money. The most exciting new feature is the multiple fighting styles both characters can switch between midfight, these combat styles can be levelled up and after completing certain quests new skills can be unlocked. Yakuza 0 is the product of years of perfecting the story and gameplay built into the Like a Dragon universe. A triumph for the Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio and SEGA, Yakuza 0 is the best game to start your Like a Dragon journey.


10. Castle Crashers

The 2008 indie game Castle Crashers has been loved by many an arcade player over the last 16 years. The simple but effective gameplay has made it an addictive beat ‘em up with beautiful hand drawn art and hilarious scenes. Unlike many games on this list, Castle Crashers encourages cooperative gameplay with similar features to those in the SuperMariofranchise. The story follows 1 to 4 knights as they try to save the kidnapped princesses from the Evil Wizard and his cronies. You travel through stages defeating fun and unique baddies until reaching the boss character holding the princess. Outside of the story-mode there are minigames that are just as entertaining. A laugh riot of a game that has kept players coming back for years and the remastering has introduced so many new players to the game.


9. Yakuza Kiwami 2 

A remake of the highly loved gameYakuza 2, Yakuza Kiwami 2 is an intense high action RPG in the Like a Dragonfranchise. As a remake the main story is identical, a year after the events in Yakuza Kiwami Kiryu is called back to his ex-clan when the chairman is murdered by assassins. Kiryu has to find a new leader for his former clan, putting him in conflict with the clan that ordered the assassination in the first place. New for this game though is a secondary storyline focusing on Goro Majima and how he came to leave the yakuza life.

The gameplay and combat are based on the games predecessor Yakuza 6, with a few updates to moves and enhancements. Yakuza Kiwami 2 was made to clear up any confusion within the Like a Dragon timeline, creating a seamless interlude for fans of the franchise. Though the story may not be original, the updated acting, graphics, and combat makes it an enjoyable game for everyone.


8. Paint the Town Red

Have you ever wished that Minecraft was a bit more violent? If so, Paint the Town Red is the game for you. The über violent melee combat game has three modes for players to let you pick what suits you in that moment. Want a bit of mindlessness? Have fun in Scenarios. Want to release some rage in an even match? Try your luck in the Arena. The best - well in my opinion - is the Beneath, an extreme, confusing adventure that takes you through the tunnels and bridges to defeat zombies and other monsters arriving from different dimensions. 

A surprisingly gory game, there is so much to do within the Paint the Town universe, South East Games has given into the rage, making almost every object usable as a weapon and amazing Voxel characters. The perfect rage mode game, this is not something I would give to the kids, I will be keeping for myself!


7. Red Dead Redemption 

Another genre defying game, Red Dead Redemption may be primarily a 3rd person shooter but the melee combat in this game is so good that it deserves to be on this list. The game follows the story of former outlaw John Marston. Marston has left the dark world of crime but to keep his family and future safe, he is sent across Mexico and the Wild West to capture or kill his former gang members. 

The open world map allows you to freely roam, completing missions as you come across them and avoiding law enforcement. The plethora of weapons available mean you are never defenceless and you can utilise trains, carriages, and horses if and when needed. Red Dead Redemption gives you the chance to be an outlaw and experience the Wild West we all saw in the movies. It's a crazy game with so many missions and stories to follow, you will never be lost for something to do.


6. MADNESS: Project Nexus 

Based on hit flash animations Madness Combat, Madness: Project Nexus is a super brutal beat ‘em up game that encourages its player to go crazy and button mash to their heart's content (perfect for me!) Playing as Hank J Wimbleton, you fight your way through different arenas in the 3D map uncovering the secrets of Project Nexus. Sequel to Madness: Project Nexus (Classic), this game has updated to new 3D graphics, but keeping in with the cartoon style of the previous game and animations.

Gameplay is the same as your traditional beat ‘em up with a move and punch style. As with most beat ‘em up games, you do have the option of using weapons. What makes Madness: PN different is their Playground mode, when logged into the Playground you can play God and spawn almost anything. If you ever wondered how many enemies it would take to defeat your favourite character? In Playground you set the rules, the weapons, even the music, to create your own perfect wacky adventure to fight through. An unique but wildly entertaining game, Madness PN ticks all the right boxes for a beat ‘em up.


5. Wrestling Empire

Wrestling Empire is a classically styled wrestling game by MDickie, where you get to pick from over 350 different wrestlers to become the ultimate wrestling champion. The MDickie wrestling games may have started on smartphones but he has branched out into consoles and PC, making his games some of the hottest tickets in the wrestling world.

Operating like other MDickie wrestling games, Wrestling EMpire is a  traditional beat ‘em up, with a move and punch combat style you also have some grappling and throwing moves. You can play either in the career or bookingmodes, both unlocking specific characters as you progress. The game’s use of the WWE world and highlighting the goofy aspects of wrestling entertainment make it a fun all rounder that doesn't take up too much brain space to have fun.


4. Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise Of The Dragons

For lovers of Streets of Rage and classic Street Fighter, Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise Of the Dragons will tickle all the right taste buds. The modern update to the classic 80s arcade game, DDG follows Billy and Jimmy Lee as they try to drive the gangs out of their beloved New York City. Keeping the simple gameplay style from other games, DDG uses the 8-bit art style that fans have come to love to bring a sense of nostalgia but the smooth mechanics of the game get you hooked as you fight hordes of enemies and the evil new mayor.

With boss evolution and extravagant arenas, the beat ‘em up game is truly at its best getting the players to work out the best tag team combos to make it through to the final boss. A layered game with a story that just keeps giving, Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise Of the Dragon will make you wish there was a gang uprising so you and your best friend can save the city.


3. Midnight Fight Express 

A true modernisation of the beat ‘em up game, Midnight Fight Express is a single player game where you play as a former gang member lured back into the dark world of crime to try and save the city from a criminal takeover. With 100 weapons available you fight through 41 levels until you face the final challenger. The beautiful map and arenas have you using your surroundings to your advantage but you have to be careful not every level will give you the edge.  

The 3D graphics and isometric POV make this game stand out in the beat ‘em up category as you use melee combat style based on real martial art moves. The use of motion-capture creates a depth and style of ingenuity not usually seen in a beat ‘em up but creates an artistic style to the combat scenes that will leave you in awe. A simple but effective game Midnight Fight Express deserves the no.3 spot.


2. Punch Club 

A fun quirky boxing game, Punch Club is unlike other beat ‘em ups but its individuality is what makes it so fun to play. The player is in control of an unnamed boxer who is out for revenge for their father’s murder. You are in charge of training, feeding, and resting the boxer, all the while following clues to find out who murdered their father. Making sure to keep a good balance in the boxer’s personal life, the amount of time spent fighting might be a bit lower than usual but that makes when you do opt to send the boxer for a fight all the more exciting. 

With choices you make affecting which storyline you follow, this arcade style game becomes addictive with the murder mystery storyline and interesting combat sequences. Having to equip the boxer with moves and skills means you have to think ahead and work out what are your opponents weaknesses making sure that you don't leave the boxer exhausted or underskilled. Punch Club is definitely a bit different but it's fun style and out-of-the-box characters makes it super popular and deservedly so.


1. Streets of Rage 4

No matter who you are, when you think of beat ‘em up games you think of Streets of Rage 4. A side scrolling classic, there is no game like it and I don't want there to be. Taking place 10 years after the defeat of Mr X and the Syndicate, the story follows Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding as they try to uncover the new crime empire rumoured to be led by Mr X’s children. The game brings back old faces but gives us new characters such as Cherry Hunter (Adam Hunter’s daughter) and Floyd Iraia (apprentice to Dr. Zan). 

Keeping the classic art style from the previous games, the movements and mechanics of the gameplay are smoother with updated abilities and powers for each of the playable characters. As always there are multiple modes to play including a training and Survival mode where you can face an endless wave of enemies. The fun map and scrolling locations allow you to use your surroundings to your advantage and take you to new locations in the series. Streets of Rage 4 is the ultimate beat ‘em up game with everything you need to fight your enemies and team up with your friends. There is nothing like it.

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A traveler to many realms, I dedicated my time to reaching the other worlds and telling their stories. A gamer and longtime lover of the world, I am excited to travel the gaming world further.
Gamer Since: 2009
Favorite Genre: PVP
Currently Playing: His Master’s Pupil
Top 3 Favorite Games:Avatar: The Last Airbender, Stardew Valley Bachelor Ratings (All Stardew Bachelors Ranked Worst To Best), Borderlands 2

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