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The King of Fighters XV Review

The King of Fighters XV

Developer: SNK Corporation
Publisher: SNK Corporation
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC
Release Date: 17 February 2022
Price: $59.99 USD / $84.95 AUD – Available Here


New year, new KOF! Well, not exactly, but it sure is good to know that SNK is doing good nowadays. The King of Fighters XV follows the mold set by its predecessors, a 3-on-3 team battle fighting game. The player is able to choose among a cast of 39 fighters. Almost all the fan favorite characters are present, and with a lot more coming on the way in the form of DLC content. Differently from the Marvel vs series by Capcom, in KOF XV there’s no character swapping mid-fight. You pick three characters, select the order in which they’re going to fight, and once their health gauge is depleted, the next one will come into the fray. 

As with happens with most fighting game series, little is changed in the way of mechanics. Developers normally tend to focus on tweaking the game’s systems and graphics to try and match the current technology and trends. With SNK and KOF, this same logic applies: KOF XV is basically a revamped version of the 2016 released KOF XIV: All of its systems are present in this new iteration, with a few changes here and there. This isn’t exactly a bad thing. Few people had the opportunity to enjoy KOF XIV due to its bad online gameplay, something that has plagued fighting games since the inception of online play in the genre. Not even Street Fighter V, currently one of the most populated fighters, is free from inconsistent online play. But things are changing, and for the better.


On the surface, The King of Fighters is a global tournament where the majority of the cast compete for the chance to win fame, money, and the title of the toughest martial artist on the planet. Of course, that’s just a pretense for “evil” characters to plot world domination, resurrection of old gods and the like, just to be stopped by the “good” guys in the end. In the last KOF, a being known as Verse was called into our dimension. His presence caused all manner of time and space distortions that outright teleported in characters from other SNK series whose stories happen hundreds of years before. In the final moments of the tournament, it’s revealed that Verse was a receptacle for a huge amount of souls. Among these souls were previously deceased KOF characters that were resurrected when Verse was finally defeated. Again, a new tournament is about to begin, and with that, a new menace rises…

The meat of KOF’s story isn’t told in the game, but on mangas that are normally released after the game’s development is concluded. It can get a bit complicated, but it’s fun enough to know all the motivations and personalities of the characters involved.


KOF XV is very bare bones when it comes to single player modes. You have the traditional story mode, which play like an arcade mode with cutscenes that tell the main story. Upon defeating the last boss, a couple of still panels will show the ending for the team you chose. Overall, the story mode is implemented poorly: It’s kinda boring, the story isn’t explained well, and it’s played out too much by the numbers. Apart from that, we have mission mode, where you can take on missions that delineate the basic combos of each character, and the training mode.

The developer’s emphasis was obviously implementing a good net code -which makes use of GGPO rollback- and a variety of online modes: In ranked mode, players duke it out to see who’s the strongest. In casual mode, your rank isn’t affected even if you lose. There’s also online training, which is a feature that every fighter should have and allows the player to practice online with a friend. My experience online on the PlayStation 4 version of KOF XV was very satisfactory. The matches flow without hiccups and with low lag. Obviously, the online performance will also be dependent on your connection. For optimal results, always use an ethernet cable to connect your console online.

At first, KOF XV’s system doesn’t seem that different from other fighting games. Each character has their own health gauge and super meter that is used for super moves, but that’s not even scratching the tip of the iceberg. There’s a variety of mechanics that form the basis for the gameplay. Those include hops which are a shorter version of the normal jump, hyper jumps, and rolling backwards or forward which is used for evading attacks. The super meter also comes into play to give the player a number of defensive options: When blocking a hit, at the cost of one meter you can perform a rolling to escape from pressure, or a blow back move which will send the opponent far from you. New to KOF XV is the shatter strike. It’s a tool that can be used both offensively – by cancelling a normal attack into shatter strike – or defensively: Upon activation of the shatter strike, your character will block most attacks before countering with a blow back that stuns the opponent. Max mode -which was first introduced in KOF XIV– now costs two super bars to activate. That’s done by pressing light kick and strong punch at the same time, and can be done in the middle of a normal attack, allowing you to extend combos, or to further apply pressure on the opponent. There’s a tutorial in-game that covers all of these aspects briefly. It’s a good idea to practice them, especially if you decide to hop online and play more competitively.

All of this seems like a lot to learn, but if you’ve played a fighter before and like the genre, all you need is a bit of persistence and consistent playtime. It’s definitely worth it. KOF XV is a very fun and fast game. The characters are well-designed and full of personality. Landing a “Climax” super will surely get a kick out of you, as they’re beautifully animated and deal huge damage.


Although KOF XV is now made using Unreal Engine, it uses the same framework as the previous entry in the series. The overall graphical upgrade when compared to KOF XIV is notable: All characters were redone entirely, with new designs, textures and animations. The stages are vibrant and detailed. Even then, some old animations look untouched, while others were tweaked to flow better. Because of this, KOF XV can be a mixed bag visually sometimes and won’t please everyone. Having thoroughly played KOF XIV, I think that the visuals in KOF XV are gorgeous!


The audio is one of KOF XV’s best asset, especially when it comes to its music. Every team has its own theme, and they’re composed in a variety of musical styles: jazz, rock, folk, and the list goes on. Something on the KOF soundtrack will catch your attention. I want to make a special mention for team Sacred Treasure’s theme: It’s a mix of the themes of Kyo (Esaka), Iori (Arashi no Saxophone), and Chizuru (Fairy). All of these three characters themes come together to form one concise and delightful track. A neat feature that SNK had the courtesy of adding, and without any additional cost, is called DJ Station: It allows you to pick over 300 past KOF tracks to listen to, provided that you unlocked them by completing certain conditions in-game. You can even assign one of these tracks to play in a match online or offline.


While KOF XV isn’t a groundbreaking fighting game and also not the most polished graphic-wise, it’s certainly one of the best in the genre available today. It excels where it matters most for a fighter: Its gameplay is superb, and the online play performance can only be rivaled by that of Guilty Gear Strive.

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.


The newest installment of SNK's flagship series, The King of Fighters XV delivers improved graphics, balanced gameplay, and a fantastic online experience.
Claudio Meira
Claudio Meirahttps://www.capsulecomputers.com.au/
I have been playing video games for 36 years. I should be put in a museum by now, but here I am, writing about them.
The newest installment of SNK's flagship series, The King of Fighters XV delivers improved graphics, balanced gameplay, and a fantastic online experience.The King of Fighters XV Review