Hands-on: Mortal Kombat 11 – A Brutality is on its way and none of us are ready

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Mortal Kombat 11 proves that NetherRealm Studios is once again about to re-invent the series, but for the better. This time, we aren’t disappointed in the overall experience.

In 2011, we saw Mortal Kombat come back to life, reintroducing itself with a self-titled soft reboot of sorts. The entry took us back-to-basics by going back to the side-to-side combat we’d come to know and love, ditching the 3D arenas and the ability to kite our opponents up and down and all around.

Since its reboot, I’ve found my love for the series becoming reinvigorated. I’ve come to love the series just as I had when I first encountered it as an arcade machine in 1992. Only years later, Mortal Kombat X would follow with a more robust roster, a deeper and darker story, but also a second coming of what made the series continue to stand out as it had in previous years.

Fighters would be improved upon even more thoroughly, each getting a unique fighting style that would come with its own exclusive abilities, allowing for players to find a style they liked and master it, ensuring that no one encounter would ever be the same. Over the course of this past weekend, I got to once more experience the future of Mortal Kombat 11 ahead of its launch thanks to the closed beta.

During this beta, most of the game’s modes were made inaccessible; limiting players to Klassic towers, Online, and Kustomize. The roster was slim pickin’s, letting players only experience five returning fighters: Scorpion, Jade, Skarlet, Baraka, and Kabal, with a hint of a rather large starting roster. Each of these fighters could be fully edited through Kustomize, allowing you to change their appearance with various items, support items, masks, and full body kostumes.

Along with the kosmetics (can we just replace C’s with K’s for this article?) comes the ability to also choose what abilities you would like to use. Some of them taking up two of your three allotted slots, and some even require a specific ability that enhances it or the other way around. When done, I was able to take my kustomized fighter to the Klassic Towers or even the Online modes, allowing me to familiarize myself with some of the fighters making their latest appearance.

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“The controls felt a little too stiff and were taking a bit of adjusting to get used to.”

When taking to Klassic Tower or the online modes, I found something a little off compared to previous titles. The fighters in Mortal Kombat 11 came off stiff, slower than they had in previous titles, and it took me a bit of effort to adjust to. Perhaps this is for balancing purposes, or they wanted to go back to the more classic feel of previous entries.

While the consensus is much the same on social media, it doesn’t mean the controls are actually bad. Once I got used to them, combat became fluid, executing combos even more-so fluid than ever before. I was able to execute brutalities, fatalities, and devastating combos than ever before, but even at the back of my head, there was still a voice, and it kept whispering, that the controls felt a little too stiff and were taking a bit of adjusting to get used to.

While I did eventually acclimate and become non-complacent, I shouldn’t have to have done this in the first place, even though NetherRealm Studios has already stated they are looking into the controls and are planning to update them ahead of launch. Regardless, I was still able to chain combos with abilities using Jade and Skarlet, smashing my opponents about the map before either having my head popped off or me returning the favor as a match came to an end.

But there was a learning curve here. I couldn’t play how I was used to due to the pacing of this game. I had to learn how to time my hits, when to block, and when to grab. I couldn’t just spam an ability as I could as a kid (I seriously tried for entertainment value) before actually trying in the numerous online matches I enjoyed. It honestly means one thing: Mortal Kombat 11 is about to re-invent the will. They want to add new intricacies we’ve never before experienced, they want us to consider every attack before we make it, and know each character inside and out so that we can counter them to the best of our ability.

However, one significant change I’m unsure of is the removal of XRay movies, which have been replaced with Fatal Blows, which can only occur if a player has sustained a high amount of damage and can unleash this powerful attack. If landed, these devastating attacks are just as gory as you remember from previous entries.

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“Mortal Kombat 11 is by far the goriest yet, but somehow, I expected nothing less.”

Outside of combat, which in itself is enjoyable despite the stiffness that’s being readjusted, Mortal Kombat 11 continues the status quo of being one of the most violent games to date. Every attack results in a spray of blood erupting from an opponent. Critical strikes or combos will go into an animated sequence, revealing just how devastating your combo or ability was by panning in on that body part and crunching away at the bone and tissue underneath.

Execute a moved timed just right in the final round and a brutality is likely to occur. I’ve had numerous occasions online where I’d use Scorpion and ignite my opponent as if they were made of kindling while others I’d pop there head off like a cork from a bottle. Fortunately enough, this is where the comedy relief comes out to play. It’s all tongue-in-cheek humor due to how ridiculous some of these attacks actually are. I found myself laughing a couple of times when watching Skarlet turn an enemy into a pin cushion before gouging their eye out with one of her bloodcicles.

Surprisingly enough, the game is by far the smoothest experience I’ve had with the franchise in online matches. It went smooth, smoother than smooth really, and I’d only experienced a single match where a player disconnected due to an error or simply quitting out. Oddly enough, I’d rarely ever had a time in a queue that lasted no more than fifteen seconds. Matchmaking itself was smooth, transitioning rather smoothly between queue times to an actual fight, leaving out unnecessary load times to be dust in the wind.

If you enjoy online fighters as I do, then you’ll find Mortal Mombat 11 to by an absolute delight with and delivering a healthy serving of online fights that will not disappoint. But even as a fan for the past 27 years, the game didn’t leave the old-school fan in me in the dirt.

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“Mortal Kombat 11 already promises quite a bit of content for those not looking to fight in online matches.”

There’s already plenty of hints that Mortal Kombat 11 is going to deliver quite a bit of offline content through the means of Story and Towers. With the ability to offer daily towers, hourly towers, and even more – Injustice 2 veterans have some idea what the game has to offer.

With unlockables already on their way, there’s no doubt that there will be timed-exclusive outfits that will allow for players to stand out from the rest. With the possibility to unlock new weapons, clothing, and even skin types – the offerings are already quite impressive. the idea there could be content locked behind Towers and the story mode, I’m already quite excited for Mortal Kombat 11 and what it could have to offer moving forward.

To be quite honest, Mortal Kombat 11 already promises quite a bit of content for those not looking to fight in online matches. The game itself already seems to be building on the very foundations that made Injustice 2 such an amazing title. It was great for online fighting and offline fighting experiences. It offered plenty of content for those looking to experience a truly well-designed fighting game altogether.

Even in Injustice 2, I found myself digging through the trenches, taking on every Metaverse challenge that I could, beating my way through hundreds of fights I never knew I could enjoy. That same hope applies to Mortal Kombat 11, which seems that it’ll be following in those very steps, allowing us to gear up as we please and work our way through the offline/online content drops as they become available.

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“Mortal Kombat 11 is by far one of the smoothest Mortal Kombat experiences on the market. It’s a visual eye candy I can never get enough of.”

For 27 years, Mortal Kombat has been the series that has pushed current generation technology as far as it absolutely can. Whether it was classic Mortal Kombat motion-cap or polygonal figures, I’ve not been able to help myself in appreciating what NetherRealm has done over the years. Even as they reinvented the series, the graphics got better, and better with every game.

Now, we’re on the cusp of what feels like a brand new turning point for the series. They’ve begun using new shaders, lighting elements, and even particle effects, which in truth, is absolutely amazing when said and done. It’s a beautiful thing when it all comes together, bringing Mortal Kombat 11 to life in ways we’ve never before experienced. Whether it’s the dirt kicking off the ground with every move or body particle effects from when a hit connects; it’s all exhilarating and it adds to the level of immersion players will experience.

To be quite honest, Mortal Kombat 11 is by far one of the smoothest Mortal Kombat experiences on the market It’s a visual I can never get enough of. At a buttery smooth 60 fps on a PlayStation 4 Pro with a targeted 60 FPS on Nintendo Switch, I can only imagine just how far Mortal Kombat 11 will go from where it came. The only thing I can imagine is the path to success has already been paved and when the full title launches, those experiences will improve tremendously in the upcoming days.

But it’s hard to not ignore a simple fact. The closed beta was meant to test the online portions of Mortal Kombat 11. It was merely a stress test and performance test to ensure quality and quantity among those who opted to pre-order the game or were granted a key via press access to the game. The only downside to this version is quite clear: Clunky controls, which are being fine-tuned ahead of launch, and the question of what offline elements will be offered outside of the story and the Towers.

To be honest, with launch so close and this being an earlier build of the game, Mortal Kombat 11 is a rather polished title, standing out among all of the recent Closed Beta’s I’ve had a chance to experience. To be honest, I can safely say that NetherRealm has a title with tons of potential on the way and it’s already becoming a clear winner in an era where games are being critiqued even harder than ever before.

My only question. Are you ready for Mortal Kombat on April 23rd, 2019 on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Writer(s):


Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.


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  1. Pingback: Mortal Kombat 11: The roster so far | Blast Away the Game Review

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