Mortal Kombat 11 is the newest game in the world-renowned series from developers NetherRealm Studios. Within its first week of release, it has been on a roller coaster ride. The tight gameplay, spectacular graphics, remarkable story telling and bone-crunching matches have fan-boys like me grinning ear to ear. Although once the story mode has been completed, the enjoyment for many soon turned to frustration as players dug deeper into the game modes. Series co-creator Ed Boon and his team has been the target of community backlash due to the frustrating grind to customise characters and its ridiculous difficulty within the Towers of Time mode. Currently, two patches have dropped, the first to lessen the grind and difficulty and the other is an in game currency gift for early adopters. So now, what are my feelings on Mortal Kombat 11 after these patches have launched?
The greatest positive of MK11 is the gameplay, as it is brutal, entertaining and as satisfying as ever. The series has returned with some welcomed changes from the previous Mortal Kombat X formula. Gone are the so-called ‘X-Ray’ moves and are replaced with Fatal and Krushing Blows. The Fatal Blow is like the former X-Ray attack with its destruction but it only becomes available when a player’s health drops below 30%, and can only be executed once per match. This creates for some tense battles. Do you use it in an early tight round, or risk defeat and save it for the next round. Krushing Blows create an X-Ray ‘krushing’ connection and are triggered when certain combinations and requirements are met, similar to the returning Brutalities. Once you have learnt a few and some can be complex, these moves are devastating to the opponent. Krushing Blows can take a massive chunk of damage, with some being close to depleting half the life bar, hence why they can also only be used once per match.
Using the RB button at precise moments allows players to modify special attacks that make them longer and produce added damage. Also new to the series is the Flawless Block, which opens a counter window of opportunity if an attack is blocked with precise timing. This and the RB special attack modifier use the new offensive and defensive meters, but I found that both meters fill pretty quickly and generally always available unless you are spamming these moves.
All the changes can be learnt in the extensive tutorial, and I say extensive as I do not think there has been a more comprehensive and well thought out tutorial in any other fighting game. This robust tutorial starts off with simple movement, attacking and blocking. Followed with advanced offense and defence lessons that include cancelling special moves, combos and reversals. Then finally onto detailed frame data sections where split second timing is key. All the information is laid out for the player in a way that makes sense. There are also character specific tutorials that help you go from performing the basics to expert combos and juggles. This tutorial will teach you so much and should be checked out for those wanting to play at their best.
Overall the fighting moves at a slower pace and is more strategic than ever. It definitely feels like a battle for higher ground. Going in guns blazing on the higher difficulties and against skilled opponents will not end well. Combos are also shortened and it has become much easier to string combos and specials with the occasional juggle together. This is welcomed, as it makes it easier to pick up a new character from the broad range of 25 characters.
Very minor spoiler warning during the next paragraph. If you want to go into the story 100% fresh, skip it. Just know the story is spectacular.
The story of this game and two prior Mortal Kombat titles have been its go to mode. This story continues from the previous game, where Shinnok has been defeated and a corrupt Raiden makes some decisions that draw out the newest villain, Kronika, who is Shinnok’s mother and the keeper of time. Kronika is not the most memorable villain but her abilities send the games heroes in a time travelling, action/adventure that includes some of the best cut scenes, match ups, team ups and fight chorography in any game. The cut scenes collectively go over 3 hours, although you will not notice and will likely want more when it’s all over. I enjoyed it that much; I jacked up the difficulty and went through it again.
Once the story is completed there are several modes for players to choose from. The Online multiplayer modes include private games such as 1v1, practice and your own custom lobbies. There is a Kasual mode that includes Versus, AI only, where players fight off their customised characters and King of the Hill being the stand out. I find it compelling to watch people play before you, waiting in line and learning the opposition’s patterns until it is your turn. Win and you take on the next challenger or lose and it is back to the end of the line. There is also Ranked matches and the upcoming Kombat League, starting in 2 weeks. There are leaderboards for every type of online match. The best thing I noticed playing online was the lack of lag on button input and yes. All games flowed freely and I never noticed lag if there was any during my matches. NetherRealm Studios have their netcode on point. Offline multiplayer modes include Tournament, which is 1v1 with tournament settings enabled. AI Battle, similar to AI Only but the player chooses a customised team and my go to mode, Local! For me, I love one console, two controllers, a bunch of mates and an afternoon of beat downs and banter after a Fatality. Note that both Local and AI Battle can be played versus a CPU opponent.
If you’re still after more single player, you do not have to go anywhere. MK11 includes the Klassic Towers, which is basically the old Arcade mode. The player chooses between Novice, Warrior and Champion towers and fight off until you reach Kronika, best her and unlock one of the 25 endings. Klassic Towers also includes Endless and Survivor towers. Survivor where the player needs to beat 25 opponents carrying over your health to each fight and Endless, is exactly that. The other single player mode and NetherRealm Studios is the never ending Towers of Time.
Towers of Time is similar to Injustice 2’s multiverse modes and a cross with MK X’s Living Towers. You complete matches that ramp up in difficulty that add a mixture of modifiers. Modifiers vary from simple to absurd. There is nothing like rockets shooting at you from random positions or the screen turning black for a second, while you have to win two rounds and your opponent only one. It can get frustrating but it is a lot better after the patch. To counter the difficulty, the player can use ‘Konsumables’. These Konsumables are a key mechanic and prior to each fight, you can choose up to three. The player uses the Konsumables by flicking the right thumb stick in certain directions. The Konsumables include health potions, off screen projectiles and even other characters jumping in and helping you like the Marvel versus Capcom games. You can get more consumables by completing matches in the Towers of Time but the majority comes from the Kyrpt, which I will explain. After completing the tutorial towers, the player unlocks seven new towers. Each of these towers have different properties and four have timers, that cease to exist and are replaced when a timer runs down. You cannot choose your difficulty and even though a lot of towers are on medium, it is the modifiers that ramp up the challenge. I suggest starting off with the Gauntlet Tower first, to get more used to the mode and you can also unlock some sweet rewards and koins. The other towers have different restrictions, for example one tower has players joining up and cooperatively to take down one boss type character. There are also Character Towers, specific for each character.
Now, many of you who may have read, watched and listened to earlier reviews with the Towers of Time being unfairly difficult, I am pleased to say that the patch has reduced the difficulty. Keep in mind it can still be ruthless and not just because I suck but as Neatherealm still wants to keep some challenge. In saying that, I am doing a lot better and getting considerably further than before the patch and more importantly, it is significantly less frustrating.
Everything you do creates in game currency and loot. The tutorials, story mode, Towers of Time, online and offline matches all give you some kind of content or currency. The towers also drop a lot of customisation rewards that you can use in the games ‘Kustomisation’ mode. Within this menu, you have a slew of options to personalise your characters. Each character has a large number of skins, though a lot of them are just colour palate swaps. Characters also have 3 items that can be changed, for example Johnny Cage’s changeable items are his sunglasses, belt buckle and gloves, while Shao Khan can change his hammer, spear and helmet. Over time, these items can be upgraded with gems that are also rewarded from playing the game. Introductions, winning reactions and special moves can all be changed. The player can choose from a preset move list or create their own list but there is only a certain amount of moves that can be chosen. This is a welcomed addition to the series, as players can create a character that is specifically for them. The one major issue for customising your characters and it is that is takes a lot of work to unlock content. It was that much of a time issue, that the game has been patched so players earn currency of koins, hearts and souls in larger amounts than originally planned. And once playing before and after the patch, I can confirm that this change is in the game and players best interest.
The Kyrpt is a gorgeous open world representation of Shang Tsung’s island where you wander around in 3rd person, opening chests using koins or hearts and claiming old souls using your souls currency. The Krypt is a wonderful place to explore, searching out items from fallen characters and working out a puzzle or two. It is also a fan-boy’s dream, as players explore areas from past games and the 1995 film. It actually makes me want NetherRealm to make a third person action title in the MK universe. The issue with the Krypt is the loot it self. For every chest or claimed soul, you get random content and there is no ways of knowing what type of content you are getting. The contents can be items used to forge Konsumables, character skins or loot, art-work, level music, fatalities, brutalities and more customisation unlocks like character fight introductions. So if you are after a certain object, lets say Lui Kang’s original headband, you could literally open hundreds of chests, spent hours in the Krypt and over a million coins and still not have what you want. It can get frustrating when you put in 60 plus hours and still have to play the randomisation game.
Mortal Kombat is going from strength to strength and MK11 is another dazzling entry into the series. While early adopters and reviewers shared their concerns, NetherRealm Studios have listened and responded to the feedback. While the randomisation of content and some grinding is still present, the patches have made it feel less of a chore. In saying that, the fighting is vicious, tactical and accessible. The story is a blast, the Klassic towers nostalgic entertainment and the Towers of Time is an endless mode that keeps throwing new challenges at players that will stand the test of time. Throw in the superb online modes, deep tutorials, comprehensive customisation and the Krypt, players have hundreds of hours of gaming in front of them. It can seem over whelming at first but the detail and polish put into each area is a reflection of the love and passion that NetherRealm Studios has for its 27-year-old series. Mortal Kombat 11 is not just the best Mortal Kombat to date; it’s arguably the best fighting game on the market.
+ Draw dropping graphics
+ Entertaining and eccentric story
+ Great roster of characters
+ Easy to pick up and play but hard to master
+ Online runs very well
– Crypt can be daunting
– Can in be intimidating with so much content
Pottsy for One More Game
*Please note that review code was provided for the purpose of this review. All thoughts on this title is that of the reviewer and the OMG team.
Content Warning – As we are gaming parents, I would like to point out that Mortal Kombat 11 is classified R18+ in Australia and is not suitable for anyone under the legal age. Please do the right thing and play behind closed doors.