Dead or Alive‘s beautiful characters may fool people into thinking that the franchise solely revolves around fan service. While that element certainly makes itself known in spin-off titles like Paradise and Xtreme, the series’ best features lie in its accessible fighting game mechanics. Since the first entry on Sega Saturn until today, developer Team Ninja has placed special emphasis on allowing genre newcomers the ability to pick up a controller and play, no matter their skill level. With this in mind, the following is a list of Dead or Alive‘s best characters so far based on their ease of use and battle style.
Best Dead or Alive fighters | Tina Armstrong
One of the most balanced fighters throughout the Dead or Alive series is Tina Armstrong. The daughter of the greatest professional wrestler who’s ever lived, Tina’s move sets are usually characterized by mid kicks and high punches, making her quite unpredictable in the ring. Though she’s slower than most other female fighters, catching an opponent with one of Tina’s throw executions can yield devastating results. She’s fun personality-wise, too, as she constantly encourages players to pursue their dreams through her catchphrase “success breeds success.”
Best Dead or Alive fighters | Bayman
Almost every fighting game out there features a mercenary or professional assassin of some sort. In the Dead or Alive franchise, that distinction goes to Bayman. Originally hired by Victor Donovan to murder the head of the Dead or Alive Tournament Executive Committee, Bayman is now out for Donovan’s blood after he’s left unpaid. The character is best used as a mid to long range fighter, as his offensive holds are powerful but do require some wind up time. Thankfully, he’s also agile and excels at defensive moves. Bayman’s style makes it clear that he’s a meticulous criminal who prefers to get his assassinations done quickly.
Best Dead or Alive fighters | Christie
Dead or Alive features not one, but two playable assassins. Christie is similar to Bayman in that she’s fast and agile, though she’s better suited for close range attacks. Her stabbing moves are almost always guaranteed to strike first. Each one of these “pokes” is also quite powerful, allowing Christie to construct long combos of over a dozen hits. Though she’s cold and callous toward other characters throughout the franchise’s overarching narrative, players may find her to be one of the most straightforward fighters to use in battle.
Best Dead or Alive fighters | Hayate
Kasumi’s older brother, Hayate, is the eighteenth master of the Mugen Tenshin shinobi clan. He’s respected by virtually everyone in the franchise, including villains like Bayman. His moves have certainly highlighted his array of skills throughout the years, as he’s able to attack opponents from any distance. His wind dashes are particularly potent, as he can move forward and backward at a moment’s notice. Similarly to Christie, Hayate is both fast and powerful, making him great to use for newcomers.
Best Dead or Alive fighters | Hitomi
Hitomi is best suited for aggressive players, as her arsenal contains the strongest punch techniques of any female fighter in the Dead or Alive franchise. This is appropriate considering the fact that she was under her father’s martial arts tutelage since she was a small child. Though she’s friendly, cheerful, and energetic, Hitomi’s medium-damage strikes can quickly dwindle an opponent’s hit points down if chained correctly. Additionally, her counters can stagger quickly and leave foes wide open for long periods of time.
Best Dead or Alive fighters | Ayane
Though she lacks the ability to teleport like the other franchise’s other shinobi, Ayane’s speedy, combo-based attack style more than makes up for it. She can be deadly in the right hands, especially when players learn precisely when to execute her more powerful moves. Many of Ayane’s attacks can be performed when her back is turned, which makes her harder to read when up against other human-controlled opponents. While she may not be the very first character to choose for newcomers, she’s definitely worth trying out once one has gotten a good feel for the game’s mechanics. This former outcast is certainly worth noticing, especially for those fans who plan to join the tournament scene.
Best Dead or Alive fighters | Kasumi
The franchise’s mascot, Kasumi, is paradoxically the character that’s least willing to fight. From the original game to Dead or Alive 5 Last Round, she’s repeatedly expressed her desire to avoid confrontation, be it in each entry’s narrative or in brief statements made before matches begin. Despite her peaceful nature, Kasumi is a powerful fighter thanks to her balanced stats and simple input commands. She’s a deadly aerial fighter that can juggle opponents in a flurry of combos. Though not as fast as her half-sister, Ayane, Kasumi is easier to use for those that aren’t experienced with the franchise’s gameplay.
Best Dead or Alive fighters | Ryu Hayabusa
Ryu Hayabusa’s strengths lie in his holds and throws. His unbreakable Izuna-Otoshi, for instance, deals a lot of damage and can be performed in a variety of ways. Like Ayane, he’s not the most accessible fighter in the franchise. This being said, once players learn how to execute Ryu’s attacks correctly, he becomes a top tier character. While the fighter belongs to his own franchise, Ninja Gaiden, his moves are certainly welcome in Dead or Alive. He’s a natural fit given the series’ focus on shinobi. He also just looks pretty badass.
While the Dead or Alive franchise hasn’t enjoyed the same success as Street Fighter, its newest entry, Dead or Alive 6, may be worthy of attention. Team Ninja’s games have consistently managed to carve a niche for themselves during each console generation, even when the market seems inundated with fighting games. Realistic damage and a new counter system called Fatal Reversal may be two features that set this fighter apart from the rest, though curious fans will have to wait until March 1 to know for sure. Of course, they’ll have characters like Ryu, Kasumi, and Ayane to look forward to as well.