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July 2019

Mortal Kombat 11

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Release Date: April 23, 2019


Switch/PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Mortal Kombat 11'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on April 1, 2019 @ 1:30 a.m. PDT

Mortal Kombat 11 deepens and personalizes the experience unlike ever before with an all new Custom Character Variation System that gives players the creative control of building customized versions of the character roster.

Pre-order Mortal Kombat 11

Mortal Kombat's reboot is one of the most interesting video game success stories. Half-reboot, half-sequel, it took one of the 90's most popular games and updated it more successfully than almost any other game reboot in existence, carefully straddling the line between honoring what came before and making something new. Mortal Kombat 11, the latest in the franchise, is shaping up to be an excellent continuation. Based around a time-traveling villain who brings heroes young and old together, it's a who's who of Mortal Kombat's most beloved — and brutal — heroes. More importantly, it's yet another revision of the popular Mortal Kombat formula, and it's shaping to be the best yet.

On the surface, MK11 has a lot in common with the prior game in the series. However, just from our time with the demo, we can see some significant gameplay differences. MK11 feels slower and more methodical than MKX. Combos are shorter, but damage numbers are significantly higher, and figuring out how to land powerful blows seems more important than incredibly lengthy combo strings. However, the same core gameplay is there, and it's unmistakably still a Mortal Kombat title. Yes, that means both stomach-turning Fatalities and sudden, terrifying Brutalities are still in the mix, as are the Interactables found in Injustice and MKX.

The biggest change to Mortal Kombat 11 is in how it handles meters. Gone is the single "super bar" that's usually found in fighting games. Previous Mortal Kombat games ran into the issue that the fancy super moves were worth far less than meter-burning for enhanced abilities. In MK11, you have a defensive and offensive bar instead. Both are smaller but refill relatively quickly over time. The offensive bar can be spent to power up moves, much as in previous Mortal Kombat titles, giving them increased damage and special attributes. The defensive bar can be used for special dodges, combo breakers, and some character-specific defensive moves. Some moves can even require both the offensive and defensive meters. Meter is more plentiful than in MKX, but using it unwisely leaves you far more open to punishment.

The other change is in how the previously powerful but rarely used X-Rays are handled. In MK11, they've been divided into two different attributes. One is called Fatal Blow, which is an incredibly powerful and lengthy cinematic attack. They only become accessible when the character is low on health, but they have the potential to completely turn around matches. Of all the changes in MK11, I expect this to be the most controversial, as it means quick turnarounds are very possible, and unlike X-Rays, there are no penalties for using Fatal Blows.

The other half of X-Rays is the new Crushing Blow system, which are amplified versions of meter-burning moves. They take a specific move and make it far more powerful, but they can only be used once a match. The trick is that they have specific requirements to use. Some trigger on counter-attacks, some upon wakeup, some on using a move a certain number of times, some on hitting an enemy in a certain state — the variations are many. They are interesting in that they add an extra layer to a fight. Merely hitting your enemy might be worth less than satisfying the requirements for a Crushing Blow, and figuring out how to work CB requirements into your combos is essential to maximizing your damage.

A returning feature from MKX and Injustice 2 are variations, with MK11's being sort of a combination of the two. Characters have pre-defined variations, but by playing the game, you can also unlock new cosmetic outfits and new attributes that allow you to significantly change how the character plays. Some of these add major new moves, alter the property of moves, or can allow for the creation of some truly powerful things. These will likely be rather unbalanced, but like Injustice 2, there will be default variations.

All in all, Mortal Kombat 11 is shaping up to be everything a fan could want. It's clearly taken most of the criticism and complaints about the prior games to heart and is working to make something with simple accessibility and a fair amount of depth. It'll be difficult to determine how it pans out until we get the final version of the game, but there's a lot to like, even in the demo. Fans will get their chance to try the game when it comes out for PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One on Apr. 23.

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