Mortal Kombat 11 may not have been out long, but highly competitive players are already hard at work puzzling out which fighters have the edge in a brawl – myself included. And with twenty-four playable characters kicking off the roster at launch, we've definitely had our work cut out for us.
The first thing that I want to point out is that NetherRealm Studios really put in the effort when it comes to balancing the roster. Almost any character can be a strong contender if you're willing to put in the work, learn the combos, and study their frame information in order to learn when you're pulling a risky move and when you're wasting an opportunity.
That said, the balancing act isn't exactly a perfect one, and players are already reaching a pretty thorough consensus concerning which characters are coming out on top more often than not. If you're striking out with your chosen fighter and are wondering which one to try out next, get over here and check out my take on which characters have the biggest advantages. Here's every Mortal Kombatant that's currently in the game, ranked from fatality fodder to S-tier champions.
As I'm sure I've mentioned many times before, any character can be competitive with enough practice and skill. But when choosing Baraka, you're going to need plenty of both if you want to be competitive. That said, he's a simple character that's easy to pick up and run with.
While damaging, Baraka's move set leans a little on the slow side. That isn't to say that he's without great moves and advantages, however, as his overhead attack has an incredible range to it, catching the opponent off guard more often than not.
23 Shao Kahn
I'm not sure what the deal is with the Mortal Kombat universe's former big bad. Perhaps I haven't seen him put to good use as of yet. But Shao Kahn's heavyweight move set and sluggish combo sequences don't really impress me.
He's capable of doing some tremendous damage, and even has some pretty sweet zoning options with his various hammer and spear tosses. But so far, it's really rare that I see him pull off a lopsided victory outside of being in the hands of a tremendously skilled player.
While I love speedy characters with lengthy strings and combos, there's some pretty solid reasoning behind players often rating Kitana near the bottom of the roster in terms of effectiveness.
While she can definitely dish out the hurt, she's lacking in options, and relies almost purely on long strings of attacks in order to keep pace with her opponents. This is great for people that have mastered the art of the input, but also saddles her with an incredibly uncomfortable learning curve.
Major Jackson Briggs is a returning favorite, and his fans are likely to be pleased with his performance. Big bruiser characters are not my particular style, and I'll be honest, I just suck at playing them. Heavy moves with a lot of open air present too many drawbacks that aren't comfortable to work around. That isn't to say that they're bad, but I feel like more balanced characters with quicker combos tend to be more competitive.
One of the more unique aspects of playing Jax comes in the form of the heated arms mechanic – as he lands punches, his arms will glow and "heat up," increasing his punch damage, and also enabling crushing blows on some attacks. If his arms are glowing red hot, then you need to be on your guard.
Surprise addition Cetrion allows players to step into the slippers of an Elder Goddess, and she's certainly got a lot to show off, but she's also got quite a few risky, unsafe moves that leave her wide open for reprisal.
We've got to talk about her tentacle grab, which can be initiated at range and is one of very few moves in the game that will actively track your opponent, striking from underneath wherever they happen to be at any given moment. It has an incredibly long recovery if you miss or hit a block, but is otherwise an incredible attack to pull on a movement heavy opponent and then immediately follow with a combo.
Geras is another big wrestling archetype that relies heavily on grapples and big, bruise worthy hits. It's usually not my style, and there's a lot of opportunity for countering and blocking with big telegraphs. But he's not without his surprises, that's for absolute certain.
His Titan Tackle grab is incredibly useful for backing your opponent into the corner, as he'll pick them up and travel a considerable distance before actually finishing it. His Big Fist is also super effective in this regard, safely capping off his combos with a big smash that will almost always send the other opponent into the corner of the arena.
Mortal Kombat X's resident creepy crawler is back, and her bevy of unique and unconventional moves can be an incredible nuisance for players that are used to being pit against the more "regular" fighters in the roster.
She can afflict opponents with damage-over-time, and her Widow's Kiss special is amazing when it lands. Firstly, it's a teleporting move, which can be hard to telegraph and deal with already. Amplifying it will spin a web around the opponent, freezing them in a way that's similar to Sub Zero's freezes, leaving them completely open for a very damaging follow-up.
17 Cassie Cage
I feel like Cassie's sorely underrated by most players. She's incredibly versatile, making her a great beginner character. And you can make a strong case for her zoning capabilities being the best in class, as they're surprisingly damaging under the right circumstances.
She also comes with drawbacks, however, as she doesn't exactly excel in terms of combo potential and mix-ups. This can cause a significant shortfall if the player behind her doesn't know how or when to keep their distance and rely on her ranged arsenal to keep things even between her and the opponent.
16 Jacqui Briggs
Jacqui's quick, but my biggest issue with her is that she's too "normal" of a fighter. Most opponents are going to know what to expect when confronted with her, and those playing her might themselves bored out by the very conventional tactics involved with playing her.
That said, she's an in-your-face, high-pressure character that is great at controlling the fight. She can create distance incredibly well with most of her finished combos, but you'll want to continuously close the gap while your opponent's recovering because she truly excels up close.
15 Kotal Kahn
I tend to dislike heavy characters, but Kotal's got some major selling points that I feel like a lot of players miss out on, as well as some pretty rad and underutilized utility moves that can really set the match when used properly.
His slower basic moves can leave him pretty vulnerable to quicker characters that easily string together extended combo sequences. But at mid range, his weapon-heavy style excels, unleashing punishment on opponents that don't want to commit to the fight. In special abilities, Tecuani Maul really needs to be mentioned as an incredible, rarely anticipated attack to close the gap. It really has a knack for surprising your opponents.
Jade is practically a weapons character this time around, putting her staff and glaive to extensive (and effective) use. The staff, in particular, is central to her whole strategy – keeping her opponent at mid-range and utilizing her reach advantage to maximum benefit.
Her overhead using the staff, while slow, has an almost insurmountable range that will absolutely catch people off guard. However, incredibly aggressive opponents that are well aware of her reach will keep inside of it, rendering a lot of those moves inadvisable as they'd be incredibly risky to even attempt.
13 Sonya Blade
Sonya's voice acting leaves just a little bit to be desired. I mean, Ronda Rousey's cool and all, but I don't see much of a future in voice acting here. Anyway, we're here to talk about how she fights, so maybe we should do that.
Sonya plays like a faster, better version of Jacqui, shining up close and delivering impressively lengthy combos that can really turn around an underdog situation. Her zoning is also pretty good, but I've seen players almost effortlessly bust out fifteen to seventeen hit combos and easily wipe out nearly half of an opponent's health bar.
12 Kung Lao
While he has some great abilities, particularly his throws, Kung Lao doesn't quite measure up to his Shaolin counterpart Liu Kang when held up side by side. He falls pretty solidly in the middle of the pack, but still has some points that absolutely need to be mentioned.
A lot of Kung Lao's arsenal revolves around lightning quick multi-hits and combos, unleashing machine gun barrages of punches that will stack up damage very quickly. Speed, unfortunately, isn't everything, and you need to rely very heavily on incessant, very close range strings in order to keep your opponent in check.
11 Johnny Cage
Johnny's a considerable opponent that can be difficult to telegraph, but he's lacking in overhead options (I'm pretty sure the only one he really has is his hop attack), which puts a real damper on his mix-up potential.
But he's got some great throw options, his Shadow Kick is a wonderful closer and his famed nutcracker is super easy to include in a combo or to exploit a hit confirm. A lot of people seem to be really into his zoning fireballs but being honest, I don't find them much better than average. There are quite a few characters that do it much, much better without sacrificing a whole lot.
Being one of my favorite characters, it was really difficult for me to knock Sub-Zero this far down the list. I mean, he's one of the original ninjas, an absolute classic. But he can be a little tricky to master, especially concerning his combo possibilities.
One major advantage to mention is that Sub-Zero has a pretty solid set of zone attacks, and in casual play, can be customized to almost exclusively perform a fusillade of icy projectiles, seriously crippling opponents that aren't good at closing the gap. This is especially apparent with the icicle barrage, which can deal out insane amounts of chip damage even with the opponent holding a block, forcing them into playing more offensively.
Kabal's got great reach on most of his basic moves, allowing you to open up combos at ranges that your opponents won't expect. Another massive benefit he's got going on for him is the ability to extend combos using his dash special without having to amplify it and use up your offensive meter.
This makes him an incredibly popular choice for competitive play, so you'd be wise to learn how to counter him if you're looking to get into high-level competition.
I harbor a pretty thorough dislike for Kano, but I've got to give the man credit where it's due. He's incredibly tough to fight against, and his learning curve isn't that high - meaning there's a wider base of players that can absolutely wreck you with him.
Kano's rewarding for aggressive players, excelling when he stays up close and personal. His special Black Dragon Ball is tremendous when it comes to closing distance and countering zoning tactics, it's easy to cancel into, can be performed from the air, and can be amplified. That thing alone is almost enough to kick him up this high on the list.
Frost is likely one of the most complex characters that's currently on the roster. And to complicate things even further, she's incredibly fast and precise with the button inputs, so you really need to be on top of things to play her. Still, while she might be tricky learn, she's highly competitive.
Her move set, while easily categorized in terms of fighting games, is incredibly varied and quirky. She doesn't really have a great overhead, but she has a special (Arctic Barrage) that opens with a great overhead, then follows up strongly when amplified.
Would it really be a Mortal Kombat game without the Thunder God himself? Raiden's probably the most well-rounded character in the game, as he can do a little bit of just about everything.
He's got moves with great reach, incredibly effective mids, some good responses to zoning, can teleport and has great specials. I mean seriously, the man has everything, so what's not to love? If there's any particular way that you want to play Raiden, chances are that you can do it. Within reason, of course.
I'm gonna be real with you, I don't like Kollector. Everything from this Slimfast-Goro look to his wacky move set is just flatly unappealing to me. Unfortunately, he's probably one of the strongest contenders in the game.
It's really difficult to nail down precisely what he does, because he seems to be a lot of character archetypes mashed into one. He's really strange, unpredictable, and ultimately frustrating to take on. One cool thing that should be highlighted here is his ability to absorb projectiles and turn them around on his opponents.
4 Liu Kang
The decidedly better half of the Shaolin duo and canonical tournament champion is sure to delight his fans, performing excellent combo sequences and possessing of some of the most solid and satisfying specials.
He's not hard to use effectively, but there's a pretty high skill ceiling that will cement his place in competitive play. His specials are among some of the most reliable and useful, with his Bicycle Kick being particularly notable considering it can be amplified not just once, but twice, eating away your enemy's health bar and backing them up across the arena.
3 Erron Black
You'd look at Erron and expect a character that relies heavily on zoning. And you'd be... half right, almost. It's hard to nail down precisely what Erron Black does, because he's actually got a very wide variety of capabilities. But that's exactly what makes him dangerous.
He's great at creating distance to set up his ranged arsenal, but can just as easily close it with his slide and perform several sets of blistering combos. His throws are also incredible, and any time he pulls out a stick of dynamite you know you're in for a laugh.
Ah, Scorpion. There's a man that needs no introduction. Everyone's favorite antihero ninja is probably one of the easiest fighters to learn, but that doesn't seem to detract from his competitive potential in the least. A skilled Scorpion player is an absolute nightmare to fight against.
Between Hell Port and Spear, his combo potential is borderline absurd if you're not incredibly diligent about reading his telegraphs and knowing when to block and counter. If he gets you into a corner, you'd may as well put down the controller and call it a match.
1 Noob Saibot
This might be a controversial pick, but if you look at the AI battle rosters while you're looking for a match, you'll likely see Noob Saibot on nearly every single one. And he's very likely to have his Kombo statistic maxed out in that scenario. There's a very good reason for this.
Noob's combo sequences are, for lack of better terminology, absolutely stupid. And I mean that in both the best and worst possible ways, depending on whether or not you're on the receiving end of them. This also makes him an incredibly popular choice for farming currency using the AI fighter functionality, as he'll reach incredibly high levels of the Endless Tower with absolutely no player input outside of confirming between matches.