The best things about 'Mortal Kombat 11,' the brutal but beautiful new addition to the iconic fighting game franchise

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios‘Mortal Kombat 11’s’ Cassie Cage is a real heart-breaker.

Since the series launched in 1992, “Mortal Kombat” has been synonymous with video game gore, earning legions of fans with over-the-top violence, edgy character designs, and an attitude that’s almost too savage to be taken seriously.

Despite its reputation for gratuitous violence, the franchise has become an iconic part of pop culture, inspiring feature films, an esports tour for professional gamers, reality TV shows, and tons of fan-created content. “Mortal Kombat” strikes a careful balance between casual fun and hardcore fighting mechanics while preserving the irreverent tone the series is known for.

Read more: The new ‘Mortal Kombat’ game is the bloodiest yet – take a look at every gruesome ‘fatality’

While violence has always taken center stage in “Mortal Kombat,” the fighting game surrounding the gore has steadily improved through the years, thanks to a blockbuster budget and a passionate team of developers. Ed Boon, one of the original creators of “Mortal Kombat,” still leads the game’s development team at NetherRealm Studios.

NetherRealm has worked to develop the characters they debuted nearly 30 years ago, acknowledging both fan appreciation and the need to progress beyond the stereotypes of the ’90s. The game’s time-travelling storyline exemplifies how the series has grown from its arcade roots into a perennial blockbuster.

Here’s everything you need to know about “Mortal Kombat 11,” the latest entry in the brutal fighting game franchise:


“Mortal Kombat 11” is ultra-violent, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

“Mortal Kombat 11” certainly glorifies violence, but it doesn’t celebrate evil. Even the most sadistic characters in the game are undermined by a tongue-in-cheek humour that makes sure you’re not taking the violence too seriously.

In interviews, Boon has said he wants the game’s fatalities – the violent finishing moves used to kill opponents – to be outrageous enough to spark a response, but never realistic enough for someone to emulate.

“Mortal Kombat 11” also has the benefit of being designed and tested by former professional “Mortal Kombat” players, who have helped refine the gameplay to its essentials. The new game is easier to understand at a basic level than “Mortal Kombat X,” while incorporating more advanced mechanics for hardcore players to learn over time.

For casual players, there’s tons of unlockable content, options to customise your fighter’s appearance and moveset, and an endless number of challenges in the game’s single-player game modes.


The graphics and visual effects of “Mortal Kombat 11” are nothing short of beautiful.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

NetherRealm Studios continues to improve its character models; every member of the cast looks unique, and their facial expressions are more realistic than ever.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

Impressive blood splatter and particle effects give the game’s outrageously violent attacks some extra flair.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

The violence can be stunning at times; grotesque but captivating.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

Visually, “Mortal Kombat 11” is a masterpiece in motion.


“Mortal Kombat” is still a 2D fighter, so you’ll battle head-on with no side-stepping. The game still feels similar to prior games in the series, but the more advanced battle mechanics have been totally rebuilt.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

You’ll choose from a roster of 25 cold-blooded killers. NetherRealm plans to add more characters in the future as well.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

Each character in “Mortal Kombat 11” has a range of combo strings and special moves that require specific commands. Luckily, “MK11” lets you tag the inputs and keep them on the screen so you can learn while you play.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

Cinematic Fatal Blow attacks replace the X-ray moves from “Mortal Kombat 9” and “Mortal Kombat X.” They can only be used once per match when your character is at low health.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

The X-ray effects still show up during punishing attacks, which are called Krushing Blows. Each character has specific moves that trigger Krushing Blows.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm StudiosLike Fatal Blows, each Krushing Blow can only be triggered once per match.

Like the last 10 “Mortal Kombat” games, winning a match will give you a chance to perform a finishing move on the opponent.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

“Mortal Kombat 11” features dozens of new fatalities, the cinematic signature moves used to kill enemies after a match. Each character has at least two fatalities, but you’ll have to learn the right inputs to execute them.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

There are other types of finishers, too; brutalities can automatically kill the opponent if certain moves hit at the end of the match.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

“Mortal Kombat 11” builds a unique atmosphere with distinct environments, intriguing character designs, and haunting music. It feels like the franchise has a living, breathing world beyond the fighting.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

And honestly, that detailed world makes it even more absurd and hilarious when someone gets their brain slapped out of their head.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

Learning the game is easy, thanks to the well-designed tutorials. Every character has its own set of lessons, and completing the guides will earn you rewards.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

It took me about four hours to complete the story mode in “Mortal Kombat 11,” and at least half of that time was spent watching cut scenes.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

While there are a lot of characters involved, the basic story is pretty simple: A villain named Chronica distorts time, bringing the original “Mortal Kombat” characters about 30 years into the future.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

Some characters are forced to confront their past selves, while others find out that they don’t have a future. Fighting ensues.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm StudiosScorpion was an undead revenant until he regained his humanity in ‘Mortal Kombat X.’

The time-travel story works because “Mortal Kombat” has taken its history seriously over the years. Longtime fans of the series will definitely appreciate seeing how much their favourite characters have evolved since the 90s.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm StudiosIn the last 25 years, Johnny Cage has gone from Hollywood superstar to respectable military dad.

The story also does a good job of introducing the cast for new players, even as it builds on the plot of past “Mortal Kombat” games.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

There are more single-player modes, too, like the classic tower mode. Players climb towers by beating AI-controlled fighters, unlocking rewards as they go. Some towers give enemies power-ups and set specific win conditions.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

Online play gives “Mortal Kombat 11” infinite replay value. Like most fighting games, you can play ranked or casual matches, start a lobby with friends, or spectate others.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

All of the game’s unlocks are tracked with an online server, so you’ll need to have a consistent internet connection to check-in and earn your rewards. You can also take on daily challenges to earn extra rewards.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

Players can customise their fighter’s appearance and moveset to suit their taste. You can even choose different intro and outro cutscenes for before and after a match.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm StudiosSub-Zero’s style change didn’t alter his attitude.

There are hundreds of customisation items, but you’ll need to unlock them. The amount of detail gets pretty ridiculous.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

Customising your moves can make a character’s play-style drastically different. “Mortal Kombat 11” has some preset builds if you don’t want to spend the time, and ranked online modes require you to use presets.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

Unfortunately, most unlocks are randomised, so it may take a while before you can unlock the items you want.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm StudiosStory mode and certain challenges will net you specific rewards.

If you don’t have the time to unlock everything, the game does have an option to equip random items in versus mode, including ones that haven’t been unlocked.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm StudiosTo play as classic Liu Kang, you’ll have to unlock the skin, or play with randomised gear in tournament mode.

Unlocking things gets even more confusing thanks to the Krypt mode. Players enter the Krypt to unlock rewards using “koins” and other items earned while playing. The problem is, you have to spend your koins to open chests before knowing what’s inside.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm StudiosThe Krypt is essentially a mini-game about spending money. It’s sort of stressful, if I’m being honest.

“Mortal Kombat” has a second currency, Time Krystals, that let players unlock specific customisation items from the in-game shop. You can unlock Time Krystals by playing, but they’re extremely rare.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm Studios

Some fans are upset that Time Krystals can be purchased with real money, and offer the most direct route to the items they want. NetherRealm says they will regularly tweak the frequency of item drops to give players more rewards for their playtime.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm StudiosDon’t let micro-transactions knock you over the head.

NetherRealm Studios will add nine more downloadable characters to the roster of “Mortal Kombat 11,” starting with Shang Tsung. Characters can be purchased individually for $US6, or you can buy the $US40 Kombat Pack to get all nine at a discount, and some exclusive unlockables as a bonus.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm StudiosShang Tsung was the boss of the original ‘Mortal Kombat,’ and in this game, he’s played by the actor from the 1995 ‘Mortal Kombat’ movie.

You can play “Mortal Kombat 11” on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Just know that if you play me online, I won’t be showing any mercy.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’/NetherRealm StudiosMercy is a secret finisher that lets you give your opponent another shot at winning. It must be nice to feel so confident!

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