Hit 'em where it hurts: the 15 greatest punches in Xbox history

You’ve trash-talked someone online and now they want to beat you up, so what do you do? Learn some moves from our list of Xbox’s greatest knuckle sandwiches, that’s what.

15. Open-palm Strike – Overwatch

There’s a lot going on in Overwatch, what with the giant mechs, freeze-rays and explosion selfies, so it can be hard to miss the elegance of a simple punch hidden among the chaos of the arena. Though there’s nothing quite like surviving ‘high noon’ and giving McCree a swift smack in the face for his transgressions. He doesn’t deserve the prestige of your fanciest moves, so shame him by using your bare hands. Hanzo is the ultimate choice for this, delivering an open-palmed strike that’s straight and true into the face of his enemies.

14. Plasma Pistol Punch – Halo Series

Halo's Master Chief sure is handy in a gunfight or behind the wheel of a Warthog, but he’s not exactly well known for his hand-to-hand combat skills. So you’d be forgiven for not knowing that he can deliver one hell of a mean punch. Not only that, he can do it while holding onto a gun in his other hand. Pick up a plasma rifle and as well as a steady stream of lasers, you’ll be able to deliver straight punches with your free hand for those times when you really want to let someone know that you’re completely owning them.

13. Fist of Havoc – Destiny

The Bungie developers really know how to represent in the fisticuffs department in Destiny 2. This time it’s the Titans who are feeling punchy, with an entire subclass dedicated to introducing their fists to your face. They lean more heavily towards the melee side of things, culminating in their super ability, the ‘fist of havoc’, which sees them punch the ground so hard it produces a field of arc energy. This can hit several players at once in its initial shockwave for heavy damage, but it’s also so powerful it leaves a damage- dealing field in its wake. Truly the toughest punch in all of space.

12. Panda’s Paws – Tekken 7

Sometimes when you want to win a fight your best bet is to channel the inner- strength of a wild beast, and there is none better than the bear. But that’s highly uncivilised, so as a compromise you’ll do well to learn a thing or two from Tekken 7's Panda and her stylish purse. She may have brutishly large paws to batter opponents with, but she also strikes with finesse. No matter the situation and the beastliness you feel, there’s always time to add some flair to your punches. Growing your nails out like claws also helps.

11. Crotch Punch – Duke Nukem Forever

Everyone has a weak spot, be it a pulsating angry red orb, or a convenient crack in an otherwise all-encompassing armoured carapace. Some are a little more... dangly and exposed than others, and there’s no shame in exploiting that if a demon has you cornered when all you want to do is head home and eat ice cream in your underwear. Follow Duke Nukem’s lead and go for a hard crotch punch to swiftly debilitate your adversary and leave them crumpled on the street caressing their plums while you continue on your merry way. No need to feel guilty, they were asking for it.

10. Superman’s Cloud Uppercut – Injustice 2

This Injustice 2 entry might be cheating. A normal person doesn’t exactly have super powers at their disposal that turn them into a god among men, but you could stitch your own cape if you really wanted to accompany an arm-thump like this one. Simply angle your body and lift your fist at 60mph to launch your chosen thug into the air. Then, above the clouds, slap them about a bit, fly in front of them to catch them by the face, then push them into the ground at the speed of sound. So easy even a Superdog could do it.

9. Paul – Tekken Series

If you spend years training to get really good at it, you too could grow your own hair tower like our next candidate Paul. All that practise combing hair upwards is a surprisingly good workout for your forearms, so you get the pleasant side benefit of being able to punch things really well too. Every punch of his is approaching a work of art; in fact they’re so good he has to wear extra padding on his fists to stop him from doing too much damage. So next time you’re brushing your hair, be like Paul and aim upwards, and you too could be a star of the ring.

8. Renegade Sheppard – Mass Effect Series

No matter how rude or annoying someone is you still really shouldn’t punch them. Mass Effect. It’s not considered to be good etiquette. No matter how much you fantasise about knocking out that one annoying dude at work/school who keeps talking over you when he doesn’t even know anything about the subject, and even if they tell you to calm down when you already are perfectly calm damnit, you still shouldn’t hit them... unless you’re playing your life on renegade. Then you’re totally justified to bash away.

7. Punching Nazis – Wolfenstein

While you really shouldn’t punch people, sometimes someone just really deserves it. Like Wolfenstein 2's Nazis. Nazis will never not deserve to be punched in the face. While there may be a worrying surplus of them in modern society lately, they’re still relatively hard to come by when your righteous fists of fury need a workout. Luckily BJ Blazkowicz has got your back, letting you live out your Nazi-punching needs through his meaty digital fists. Being a beef-brick of a man he hits satisfyingly hard even without his arsenal of insane weaponry.

6. Asura – Asura’s Wrath

You know what’s better than one fist? Having six in Asura's Wrath. Just think of the striking opportunities! To be fair, Asura does have a bit of an unfair advantage in this list, what with being a hot-headed demigod that can come back from the dead and destroy gods that are larger than a planet, but his sheer rage and striking speed is something to be admired. Why hit someone once when you can do it hundreds of times a second with your six overly muscled arms? He deserves a prize for ultimate punching efficiency.

5. Ali – Fight Night Champion

Punches don’t get more classic than Fight Night Champions well crafted fists. Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee as the Muhammad Ali. Every punch of his deserves to be studied, so you can replicate his legendary technique. He was truly one of the greatest fighters of all time. Though if you have arms like wet noodles like us jolly folk at OXM then at the very least you get to give yourself a thumb workout while playing as him in this Xbox 360 gem. You’ll even get to try out punching Mike Tyson. Just don’t think it means you can do it in real life as that won’t end well for anyone.

4. Batman – Arkham Series

Always gruff and with a cave-load of gadgets, Batman has a lot going for him. You’d think that taking away his bat-gel and grapnel gun would leave him pretty vulnerable, but not good ol’ Bats – in the Batman Arkham series he’s brilliant at the basics, ie he knows how to ruin a bad guy’s day with nothing but his bare hands. Not only can he string together moves to clobber multiple clowns at once, he’s got one hell of a downwards strike. Getting gravity to help power-up your punching is smart thinking from the world’s greatest detective.

3. Johnny Cage’s Crotch Punch – Mortal Kombat

Yet another hit to your personal undercarriage here, but it’s such a classic move it deserves to be on this list twice. After many years of striking people in the giblets, Mortal Kombat X's Johnny Cage has perfected the art of the nutcracker: he lowers himself to eye level with the sausage beast to get the most power out of his punch. On a good day he can even strike it with such force that it’ll make your head rocket off your own body and fall into a blood pool on the ground. Lovely. If you feel more at risk after reading this list may we suggest investing in a cup for increased protection?

2. Shoryuken – Street Fighter 4

Not content with a normal, straight uppercut like everyone else, Street Fighter 5's Ryu puts a twist on a classic... It’s a deceptively simple manoeuvre, adding a jump and spin to supercharge his punch into launching his opponents skywards. It’s also a devastating blow, able to throw the likes of the highly skilled Chun-Li for a loop, and even capable of knocking the levitating nuisance that is M Bison flat on his square butt. It really is the epitome of the perfect punch in terms of form. However, there is one other that can outdo him...

1. Punching God Into The Sun – Bayonetta

Not only is hair-witch extraordinaire Bayonetta exceptionally good at kicking things with her gun shoes, she’s also the proud owner of one of the most powerful punches in the whole of the gaming universe. Throughout the entirety of the game she can pull off combos that lead to her creating a portal for a giant fist made from her own hair to punch angels. That’s already top five material, but then she goes and ramps it up a notch in her final battle with Jubileus the Creator. At the climax of an insane showdown, she weaves her magic hair with her friend Jeanne’s mystic mop to summon demon Queen Sheba, who then proceeds to deliver a punch so forceful it launches Jubileus through space and into the warm, incinerating embrace of the sun. Now that’s a mean right-hook!

This article originally appeared in Xbox: The Official Magazine. For more great Xbox coverage, you can subscribe here.

Freelance Writer

Daniella is a freelance consultant, writer, and editor, who was formerly deputy editor at Official Xbox Magazine before its closure. Her words have appeared on the Guardian, Eurogamer, PC Gamer, and GamesRadar, among others. She's a Final Fantasy 14 aficionado.