With Mortal Kombat 11, some fans may be worried that the blood-soaked fighting game franchise may have run its course. But somehow, despite the franchise consistently releasing new entries since 1992, Mortal Kombat 11 is as great as ever, and is arguably one of the best Mortal Kombat games so far, with smooth gameplay, the most reliable online implementation in series history, and a great roster of fighters.
At launch, Mortal Kombat 11 features 25 characters, with 24 available to all players, and Shao Kahn as a pre-order bonus (who can also be purchased separately as DLC). Hardcore Mortal Kombat fans may still be upset that MK11 is missing Mileena, Reptile, Smoke, and other fan-favorite characters, but the roster is solid enough that most won’t miss them.
We’ve spent extensive time with each character on the Mortal Kombat 11 roster and found everyone to be a viable option. There isn’t a single bad character in the lineup, and while Mortal Kombat 11 tier lists commonly rank characters like Cassie Cage and Kitana at the bottom of the pile, they’re still fun to play and effective in the hands of the right player.
For those wishing to play Mortal Kombat 11 competitively, the game offers some of the most comprehensive tutorials that we’ve seen in a fighting game. The lessons are ordered in a way where each one builds off the last, and by the end of it, players should have a much deeper understanding of the gameplay, potentially helping new Mortal Kombat players hold their own against seasoned vets.
Players can put their Mortal Kombat 11 fighting skills to the test in a variety of game modes, with the game more content-rich than past titles. There are standard Towers to complete, with each character on the roster having a unique ending, as well as the Towers of Time, which is where players will spend most of their time when grinding for currency. And of course, there’s always the option to fight other players on the couch or online.
The online experience in Mortal Kombat 11 has been one of the best online fighting game experiences we’ve had to date. Many fighting games struggle with delivering reliable online modes, and in a genre that requires absolute precision to be truly competitive, lag is just unacceptable. Based on our time with the game, Mortal Kombat 11‘s online rarely has connectivity issues and is near-perfect. We have had virtually zero problem in any of the different online game modes, minus some minor connection problems on launch day.
Of course, there’s also the Story Mode, which has become a focus since the 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot. Mortal Kombat 11 serves as a direct sequel to Mortal Kombat X, with Kronika, the Keeper of Time, looking to undo the events of that game. The result is a time-traveling Mortal Kombat adventure that lets past versions of popular characters like Johnny Cage and Liu Kang interact with their present-day selves.
Though the setup is interesting, Mortal Kombat 11‘s story mode can be a mixed bag. The ridiculous B-movie plot is full of fun moments and creative, over-the-top action sequences, though some of the scenes can run a little long and overstay their welcome. Plus, the voice acting work of Ronda Rousey as Sonya Blade is so flat it’s distracting, robbing many of her scenes of any emotional weight that they would have carried otherwise. Despite these problems, Mortal Kombat 11‘s story is still entertaining enough that fans should play through it at least once.
Story mode may not represent Mortal Kombat 11 at its best, but the game shines in all of its other offerings. The core fighting is fast-paced and as brutal as ever, with compelling new gameplay additions to push the series forward. For example, x-ray attacks from Mortal Kombat X have been replaced by Fatal Blows, which players can activate when their health bar is low. Mortal Kombat 11 players only get one Fatal Blow per match, and so deciding when to use it adds an extra wrinkle of strategy to the fights that wasn’t there before. Fatal Blows also give less-skilled Mortal Kombat 11 players more of a chance to win in some scenarios, making the game more accessible than some of its predecessors.
Purely from a gameplay standpoint, Mortal Kombat 11 is a top-tier fighter, but its excellent gameplay has been overshadowed by controversy over its microtransactions and unrewarding progression. It’s true that at launch, Mortal Kombat 11‘s progression rewards were anything but rewarding, saddling players with a miserable grind to get most of the unlockable content, which some felt was NetherRealm’s way of pushing players to buy microtransactions. Since then, NetherRealm has taken steps to address the Mortal Kombat 11 grind, making the Towers of Time easier and gifting players with free in-game currency so that they can dive deeper into the Krypt without spending hours building up their Koins in other game modes.
The grind is also more forgivable when one considers that the content that actually impacts gameplay, like Fatalities, don’t actually have to be unlocked to be used. As long as Mortal Kombat 11 players know the proper button inputs for their character’s second Fatality, they can still use them in fights without finding them in the Krypt.
The Krypt itself is a treat for longtime fans of the franchise to explore, and it even has some puzzle-solving elements to keep things interesting. Hosted by Shang Tsung, the Krypt is stuffed with nods to past games and characters, and it turns out to be much more than just an excuse to open a bunch of chests to get loot. While some may have preferred a more straightforward way to unlock content in Mortal Kombat 11, the Krypt does its job well enough and has become far less frustrating since launch thanks to already-implemented balance changes.
Mortal Kombat 11 may catch some deserved flak for its microtransactions and Ronda Rousey’s bland voice acting, but the core fighting is so entertaining than those issues will hardly to matter to most. Mortal Kombat 11 is simply full of things to do and will keep fighting game enthusiasts busy for quite some time. Future updates will hopefully continue to make progression more rewarding, but we’ve already seen enough of an improvement to wholeheartedly recommend Mortal Kombat 11 to both fans of the franchise and fighting game fans in general.
Mortal Kombat 11 is out now for PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One. Game Rant reviewed the game on PS4 and Xbox One.