Mortal Kombat’s storied history has spanned nearly three decades since the first game released in August 1992. Twenty-seven years later, and on April 23, the eleventh mainline game in the series will arrive, and it’s built to bring the past and the present together. MK11 promises a lot, but can it deliver what it claims to offer? Well, for all the Kombat Kasts, videos, reveals, betas, and more leading up to this point, we have no reason to doubt that it’s a visceral and competent fighter.
A Rich History Of Kombatants
Mortal Kombat 11’s story picks up where Mortal Kombat X left off. An elder goddess known as Kronika – who holds dominion over time – is attempting to right some wrongs, and that means inviting the past timeline of Mortal Kombat back into the mix. A Liu Kang and Kung Lao from better days will come face to face with their current NetherRealm-leading selves, a more jaded and curt Sonya Blade faces off with a younger cutthroat Kano, and Johnny Cage will deal with the unbearably hokey Johnny Cage from the past. It should make for an interesting setup as we go through Mortal Kombat 11’s story to see how things play out.
Mortal Kombat 11’s line-up is a who’s who from the series’ long history. Most of the must-haves are here, including Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Raiden, and the aforementioned classic characters. Joining them are the likes of fan-favorites like Kabal and Noob Saibot, and newer characters like Skarlet, Kotal Kahn, Cassie Cage, and D’Vorah. All the while, Geras, The Kollector, and Cetrion bring brand-new meat to the series. Curiously absent are regular mainstays like Reptile and Mileena, and other fan-favorite possibilities like Fujin, but the 25-character roster still packs a ton of variety. No doubt, fans and newcomers alike will find characters that suit their play styles.
Mortal Kombat X tested ground with variations on each of the characters in its roster. Each of the variations brought slightly different moves and strategies to the character for which they were attached. Johnny could double his special attacks or empower his fists. Scorpion could access an extra teleport, call out fire from the ground, or strengthen his signature chain attacks. These ideas come back to Mortal Kombat 11 in a slightly different form. Instead of set variations, players can choose from some prebuilt ones, or create their own entirely from a list of moves to customize their character playstyle to their liking.
What does this mean? Baraka can have a forward running slash-fest that can set up combos or a quick command grab leap that is difficult to block. Each character has a lot of options in their available movelists, and making them your own might be half the fun.
The customization doesn’t end at moves, though. Mortal Kombat 11 brings over the gear customization from Injustice 2 and adds even more features. Besides putting all sorts of attainable gear on your characters to make them look cool, you can also mess with their taunts, intros, finishing animations, and player banners to make your characters stand out online and offline. You can even unlock easy-access fatality moves to get rid of difficult inputs.
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Bringing the Karnage
That leads us to the reason why many showed up for Mortal Kombat 11, the spectacle. NetherRealm Studios has always brought the best of the best when it comes to the most gruesome effects imaginable in video games. That said, the fatalities in Mortal Kombat aren’t just definitive statements and game enders. They’re some of the most brutal visual trademarks of the game. Sometimes they can be simple, effective, and even slightly humorous, like The Kollector tearing a foe apart with his bare hands and collecting goodies for his bag. Other times, they’re downright vile, such as Baraka tearing the flesh of an opponent’s face, then the front of their skull, and then skewering their brain to eat as a kabob.
That almost comical carnage extends to gameplay. X-Ray moves return from Mortal Kombat X, but this time they’re just called Fatal Blows. These are desperation moves players can use to do tremendous damage alongside some gut-crushing and bone-breaking visuals. Joining them and all-new this time are Krushing Blows. These are attacks unique to every character that may trigger a quick animation of the X-Ray-like bone-shattering animations if the correct requirements are met during a character’s move. Some are as simple as uppercutting the opponent several times. Others can get complex, like Jax hitting the opponent with a specific attack when his arms are heated. Every one of them does extra damage upon activation, and many are deeply satisfying and devastating to bring down upon your foe.
Full-Circle Mortal Kombat
With so much done in the series, it’s crazy to see how NetherRealm continues to push it further while keeping and improving upon the things that made the franchise famous. With the storyline in such a chaotic and seemingly third-act state, we don’t know where Mortal Kombat goes after this. MK11 looks dynamite in every way, but maybe that’s the point. We’ll enjoy bringing past and present together, laying down the brutal fatalities, and seeing what the best players in the world do with these characters and their variations when it comes to competition.
Mortal Kombat 11 launches on April 23, 2019 on PS4, PC, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
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