With the franchise having recently celebrated its twenty-seventh birthday, Mortal Kombat has just kicked its eleventh mainline chapter onto shelves. Wow, think about that. Twenty-seven years. Take a minute to appreciate the fact that its humble, and comparatively innocent, debut in 1992 sparked an incredible wave of controversy concerning its edgy content.
Let's just say we've come a long way since then - as I'm sure any more than five seconds of exposure to Mortal Kombat 11 would send the censors of that era into cardiac arrest. That said, it's definitely still Mortal Kombat. We knew what we wanted, and we knew what we would get. Not only does it fail to disappoint, it's brought a whole new set of interesting toys, game modes and quality-of-life improvements to its tried and true formula.
So whether you're a seasoned Mortal Kombat veteran or new to fighting games in general, there's plenty to discover, learn and master. If you want a head start on that process, then stick around and check out twenty-five things we wish we'd known before we started playing Mortal Kombat 11.
Returning from Injustice 2, the AI battle system is quickly becoming one of my favorite additions to Mortal Kombat. I'm not sure why it's so addictive, but it is. Getting started is simple, all you need to do is open the "AI Battle" tab, and you'll be prompted to select your three defenders. These will be the three fighters that opponents confront when they attack you.
After your defense is set up, you go attack other players, selecting whichever three fighters you think are best matched up against your opponent's defenders. Then you either watch the match happen in real time, or fast forward your way through it to see the results and collect your rewards.
There's an impressively deep amount of character customization in here for a Mortal Kombat title. Each character features a base skin and three different pieces of gear that can be equipped, with an impressive number of variations for each slot.
In terms of single player and AI battles, your gear can actually have a slight impact on your character's abilities, which we'll talk about when we get to augments. But for all sorts of online versus modes, your character's gear is purely a cosmetic consideration. And that's probably for the better.
Another incredibly useful addition to Mortal Kombat 11 is the lengthy and in-depth series of tutorials, covering everything from basic movement to primers on frame advantage. There's even a specialized tutorial for each and every fighter taking you through their advantages, special moves and styles of play.
They're concise, yet detailed, and even pretty fun to work through. But if upping your game isn't enough incentive, completing each series of tutorials will reward you with Koins and Time Crystals. You can even unlock a unique announcer voice by completing all of them!
There's an even deeper level of character customization in the ability to switch out some of your fighter's abilities. There are basically two categories of them - special attacks and moves that get added to your character's arsenal, and abilities that augment or replace one of your existing special attacks.
You get three slots to play around with, and every ability has a value of one or two slots, so you can mix and match them at your leisure until you find a combination that you like.
Though you can customize your fighters' move sets to a degree, the ranked and competitive modes will only allow you to use the balanced competitive presets for each fighter.
But if you're wanting to practice fighting other players using competitive settings without all the pressure of a ranked match, you're still in luck. You can actually restrict your Kasual matchmaking to competitive rules only with a simple press of the button before you start searching for opponents to practice your competitive game against.
And they're no longer called X-Rays. Instead, they're called "Fatal Blows." You unlock them when you're low on health, and they're still big, lengthy combo attacks that deal incredible amounts of damage while looking absurdly cool.
You only get to use one per match, though. And that means the entire match, not the round. If you whiff or get blocked, you didn't quite blow it, as you'll get the opportunity to use it again after a short cooldown. However, since you're already low on health, surviving that cooldown period can be a lot easier said than done. And if your opponent's very low on health as well, it may be worth saving for the next match.
While meter management is far from being a new concept with fighters, MK 11 has refined the formula a little to put its own spin on things. So whether you're new to the genre or not, you can expect to be learning a little bit on how to handle these appropriately.
The resource meter in a match of Mortal Kombat is split into two sections with two bars each. You get a defensive meter, and an offensive meter, so you can likely guess which special actions will drain which meters. Using a breakaway to get out of an opponent's juggle combo, for example, will deplete your defensive meter.
If random matchmaking isn't your style and you're looking for a more involved, community-based approach to finding sparring partners, then Mortal Kombat 11 has still got you covered with this feature.
Just navigate to the "Rooms" tab under the online menu, and from there you can open up a list of active channels to hop into. Or if you'd rather make your own, just select the option to create one and give it a relevant title to bring people in.
Whether you're sending your AI fighters off to duel with those of other players, or you're gearing one up to grind their way through a Tower for you, you don't want to overlook the fact that you can tweak their behavior to play more towards their individual strengths.
You get sixty points to divide across six different behaviors, with each point increasing their likelihood to engage in that style of play. Putting points into "combos" will increase their likelihood to pull off lengthy and damaging combos, for instance. Or you could pump up their zoning and they'll use more ranged, projectile oriented moves while keeping their distance from opponents.
You can pick up Konsumables to use while you're conquering Tower fights, which are usable items that have various effects on the match, or temporarily grant you special abilities. You can pick them up as rewards or from plundering the Krypt.
The Healing Krystal, for example, restores half of your fighter's health. As you can imagine, this is a pretty big deal for Endurance towers. Others will call in off-screen help in the form of projectiles, protect you from damage, or grant you immunity to particular environmental hazards.
Augments break down into five different "classes." One of these classes is assigned to the augment slot in a piece of gear, once you unlock it. At that point, you can equip augments of the specified type into that slot to get a small bonus for your character in single player and AI activities.
Gear slots will accrue experience and gradually unlock as you leave them equipped during fights. Augments drop as rewards for almost any activity within the game, including AI Battle, Towers and opening chests in the Krypt.
After getting your hands on Shao Kahn's hammer in the Krypt, your first instinct is probably going to involve something along the lines of swinging it at every object that looks even remotely fragile.
And as it turns out, indulging that base impulse is actually pretty rewarding. Almost every breakable object, from clay pots and skeletons to... crows, I guess, will dispense a small trickle of koins to tuck away into your wallet. It's just a few per smashed object, but still, they add up pretty quick.
Mortal Kombat 11 has adopted crafting by adding the Forge to the Krypt. However, you'll want to dig some crafting recipes out of the treasure chests first, because just experimenting with different materials until you make something can get expensive very quickly.
The Shrine, on the other hand, is a little more straightforward. You donate koins, you get rewards. Quite simple. However, convincing yourself to actually part with your precious currency can be a little more complicated.
More of a general rule of thumb to keep in mind than anything, but keeping your guard up even when you have the advantage will spare you from some humiliating and frustrating defeats.
Most characters have access to combo strings that can potentially eat through half of your health gauge if you let them pull it off. Then, of course, there's the Fatal Blow - if they haven't used theirs up for this match, remain wary and be prepared to block it. There's no easier to way to even the score than managing to land one at the right moment.
While there are a lot of advanced tactics that are necessary to learn in order to get competitive, one of the key basics to start practicing if you're new to the formula is how to utilize special move cancels.
When executing a basic attack or combo, you can "cancel" the animation of the last move into a special attack, allowing you to pull off combos you otherwise could not, or extend the combo and do much more damage. This makes a whole world of combo variations possible, all that's needed is good timing and a little practice.
You take varying amounts of chip damage when blocking, so it isn't something that you want to rely on. It's more useful for setting up counters and punishes. And while the idea of chip damage isn't something that should be blowing your mind if you're a veteran, there are a few additional intricacies to keep in mind.
When you're on Kritical health, you can block up to two attacks without taking any chip damage whatsoever. The second block, however, will put you on "Last Breath" status. At that point, you can be knocked out and defeated by chip damage, so go all out on your offense and hope for the best.
Each character has several moves that can result in a Krushing Blow under specific conditions, resulting in different or additional effects for that attack. Also, it applies a cool X-Ray animation with crunching bones and all that fun stuff.
The most common and easily utilized example is with the classic uppercut, since any character can perform one. If you manage to use it as a counter while an opponent is preparing an attack, the uppercut performs a Krushing Blow that launches your opponent up into the air, leaving them open to be followed up on with a juggle combo.
It may seem like a bit of a cop out, but since Mortal Kombat 11 can be a little grindy when it comes to progression and unlocks, this can be a pretty welcome feature at some points.
Whether you're looking to get through a particularly problematic Tower of Time, trying to grind out some currency to blow on loot chests in the Krypt, or simply want something cool going on in the background while you're doing something else, this is definitely the way to do it.
The game isn't without its flaws, and one of the biggest drawbacks is the incredible amount of grinding necessary for unlocks, gear, and cosmetics. Players have been a little more than vocal about this one.
Research into the necessary cash shop funds or time sunk into grinding for some of the unlocks has yielded completely absurd results. Luckily, these complaints aren't falling on deaf ears, and we've been promised some patching aimed at the Krypt's economy and balancing the grind fest in the very near future.
If you're getting cold feet about testing your skills against online opponents, it's worth noting that beyond trying to keep a level playing field with their matchmaking, the game will tell you quite a bit about who you're fighting before you accept or decline the match.
You'll get to see their win/loss ratio as well as a rough calculation of your odds of winning once you're matched. After that, you can simply accept or decline, with the latter immediately cycling you through to another opponent for you to consider, so there's no need to worry about being completely outmatched without you knowing about it first.
Special moves can be amplified to produce different or additional effects. For a lot of them, this difference can be crucial in setting up or extending an incredibly damaging combo.
One good example would be Scorpion's classic spear move. The normal version will pull your opponent past you, causing you to switch facing and immediately follow up with knockdown strike. If you amplify it by pressing the mapped button (usually a right shoulder button for consoles) just as the spear hits them, the special will instead stop them short with an elbow smash instead of pulling them past and knocking them down, making it much easier to transition into another combo or special move.
For those of you growing increasingly agitated with the industry's shift towards more online components over single player components, there's no need to worry here. You've got the campaign, local versus, and of course, Towers - in several different flavors.
Of particular note are the Towers of Time. These time sensitive challenges swap out themes occasionally, and you can even get into special character specific towers if you're gunning for unlocks on a specific fighter. Fans have been pretty vocal concerning their immense difficulty, and we've been promised a patch to balance them out very soon.
You get rewarded for your offensive AI victories immediately after the match, but the matches your defense team fights are a little different. Since you aren't necessarily around when they're fought, you'll need to check in to your Battle Log under the AI Battle section on occasion.
Any defensive AI battles that you've obtained rewards from will transfer to your inventory as soon as you open it. As a cool note, you can also watch replays of these battles from here, since you didn't get to see the action the first time around.
More a word of warning for anyone that's just now getting into Mortal Kombat or fighting games with this one, but the game's not known for its riveting plots, complex storytelling or convincingly delivered voice acting.
The campaign is a crazy, chaotic, silly and self-aware roller coaster from start to finish. And fans are going to love every minute of it. But for those that are new to the series, well, just scale your expectations and know what to expect. You should end up having a great time!
It's always frustrating when an opponent quits out of a match just when you're getting the upper hand on them. Mortal Kombat X implemented an entertaining solution for that frustrating occurrence with its infamous "Quitalities," which would dispose of the quitter's character in a hilariously over the top fashion.
Thankfully, Mortal Kombat 11 decided that they were hilarious and rewarding enough to keep, so rest assured that you'll still get some form of gratification out of it when a particularly salty opponent tries to snatch the satisfaction of victory from your grasp with the time-honored tradition of rage quitting.