icon Author: Emily_Noire
Mortal Kombat 11 Review
The long running franchise comes back, bigger and better than ever with one of the deepest systems to date, a robust story mode and more, but is it all good? Let's find out!

Beautiful Kombat

Right off the bat let's mention, Mortal Kombat 11 takes the series to new heights with it's amazing visuals and backdrops that put even the last game in the series, Mortal Kombat X to shame. The update in quality for characters is staggering, clothing and armor have great detail to them and are made to pop with the game's new lighting and more saturated color palette in comparison to Mortal Kombat X' more drab and dark palette. Likewise, the backdrops in Mortal Kombat 11 features the best looking stages in the entire franchise history and quite possible among other fighting games too. A LOT of care, detail and vividness was put into the backdrops, one in particular - the Shirai Ryu Fire Garden look downright jaw dropping with a lot of moving leaves and an amazing looking palette that bleeds onto the character models and makes for one of my favorite fighting game stages of all time.  

Animations are also a huge improvement over the older titles' more stiff looking animation work. Character moves now have a good amount of weight to them while still keeping the "janky" look the series has had since MK9. Fatal Blows, this game's "X-Ray Moves" are also made up of visceral detail that make great use of the game's "liquid blood particles" and look just downright brutal and painful, same mention goes to the series' staple Fatalities, which kinda brings me to a small negative in my case - some of these, in comparison to the series history's goofy looking Fatalities - these look a little bit on the extreme side and some are a little hard to watch, personally.

MK11 starts off it's story picking up right after the conclusion in MKX and takes the series in a familiar but still welcoming pace involving time travel but now adding the neat twist of having past selves meet future selves. All this orchestrated by the series' new baddie, a goddess by the name of Kronika, who is displeased with how the timeline has turned out and has made it her mission to take matters into her own hands. Without going into spoilers, the story was a treat and a half filled with cameos from older titles, cool bits of camaraderie, relationships and just cool fights in even cooler backdrops all around. It lasted around 6 or so hours give or take, concluded in a good, but possibly divisive way (I liked it personally) and left me curious as to what may be coming next. Definitely something fans of the series will enjoy a lot, though new fans of the series will likely have trouble following what's going on.

A Bloody Good TIme 

The gameplay is also top notch and a return to form for "Klassic" MK. It takes on a more "footsie" based neutral game where there's no inherently cheap or easy way to get in on opponents. Gone is the "Run" button from MKX and the re-bounce neutral jump hits in favor of a more controlled pressure system that asks you to commit to strings but also be wary of how to punish and guard. Sounds complicated right? No worries! MK11 also features one of the most in-depth tutorials to explain fighting game terminology and the importance of Frame Data and lets you run through some examples using some characters - as in, a specific move is unsafe because it has this much recovery time and this move you can use can punish that move and much more. There's also "Krushing Blows", which are moves that do a lot more damage after fulfilling certain conditions for triggering it, for example, Erron Black gains a Krushing Blow if you land his drop kick a few times on your opponent.

MK11 also does away with the classic meter management and adds in instead 2 different types of meter: Offensive and Defensive. The offensive meter is used as how regular meter back in MK9 and MKX where used. You can meter burn Special Moves to either extend combo potential or increase the move's overall damage and a few others things. The Defensive bar though, is used for a huge amount of tools to escape damage or mixups. You can burn Defense to do Reversals, which are specials you can do after blocking, you can do a "breakaway" move that just lets your character drop out of a juggle state, you can do evasion rolls either forward or back or you could do the standard Wake up attack. The gameplay may seem pretty simple, but because of the variety of ways you can utilize meter (which recovers by itself, you don't have to do damage or take damage to earn it like in previous games) it increases the depth of the overall combat, which can feel overwhelming, but very rewarding once you learn it. A big difference from the previous 2 games though, X-Rays or "Fatal Blows" in this game are not triggered via meter, instead you trigger them by being low health. They do pretty high damage and can be comboable, but if you whiff it, it's usually very unsafe and punishable and if you DO land it, you can only use it once per game.

The Online is also pretty good in itself. It's comprised of the usual Ranked, Player Match games, keeps the usual King of the Hill Mode as well. Ranked only allows you to play with the Standard Variations, however, while Player Games let you rock your custom variation ala Dissidia: Final Fantasy. The netcode is also pretty good, runs pretty smooth and is responsive. The game also has it's own filtering methods to let you further play your way: the game tells you if your opponent is playing on WiFi or Ethernet as well as having a slider for how well their game runs measured in FPS. (PC)

All of this sounds great right? Well, unfortunately, the following parts are a little hit or miss; Spoilers: Was mostly a big miss for me. Now we come up to where you might spend the bulk of your time in the game: The Krypt & The Towers of Time.

Tower of Grind

First off, The Krypt is an amazing, Dungeon Crawler esque puzzle solving game where you can open doors, find secrets and items (as well as a variety of neat cameos, some even tying to the very first Mortal Kombat movie in the '90s!) and of course, the bulk of the game's unlockables. The Krypt in itself was very fun to walk around and explore, you get to find secrets by yourself utilizing items they give you in game, and some that require you to complete certain objectives outside of it to get specific items (like Character Heads) - however it starts to become very grindy early on once it starts requiring you obtain 3 DIFFERENT CURRENCIES to unlock chests, soul cages or special chests and some to even be able to progress, these being Koins, Souls and Hearts. Koins you can obtain by doing Daily Challenges as well as Souls or just playing the game, Hearts however, require you to do Fatalities. With Koins you can unlock the normal coffers scattered around the Krypt or you can spend an amount of Koins at a Shrine to obtain more items, with Souls you can unlock Soul Cages (which give you items and skins) and to progress in specific areas as well as to utilize the Blindfold and with Hearts you can unlock special chests that contain a variety of skins and items for characters.

Now, why did I say this was a miss for me? Obtaining the currency required still takes a LOT of time and most of it you most likely won't even be doing it yourself (more on this momentarily) and you won't obtain everything in one sweep of the Krypt, instead, the game requires you spend a LOT of Koins at the Shrine to obtain more missing Skins and cosmetics for characters and even more Koins to "refresh chests" in the Krypt, additionally, these coffers can also contain a random assortment of "Konsumables" or Crafting Materials that can only be used in the Krypt. There is no real way to just focus on getting stuff for a specific character within the Krypt and that ended up as a big "No" for me, however great and fun exploring the Krypt was.

Now the other part, The Towers of Time itself. So, minor disclaimer here, I played the game BEFORE and AFTER these were patched/toned down and the difference is pretty significant, we're only going to be focusing on the Towers as they are now, post patch. The Towers of Time are divided up by areas the game has, and each tower can change daily, most give challenges and currency rewards for completing them, others can be character specific to unlock more cosmetics for that character - the challenge comes from the Modifiers the towers have. These can range from random missiles, to character assists, to weather that freezes you over time and others, they can be annoying, but are doable. The modifiers are then offset by Konsumables you may carry and use to make the towers much easier, in itself, this can still be pretty grindy and takes a long time (some towers can take 15 minutes +) so the game gives you the option to manually customize a character's AI to perform differently by attributing points to combos, projectiles, rushdown, defensive play, etc which is kinda cool but was done to mostly just let the AI run down the Towers for you making it feel like a Mobile game at times.

Killer Fashion

MK11 has a LOT of customization per character, which is really cool. Each character has a large variety of Skins, at least 3-4 different looking skins with a lot of recolors and 3 separate Gear tabs (usually Masks, a Weapon and some small detail) that each have a long list of unlockables. Variation icons you can use to further customize your character loadout, You can even change your character's Intro and win animations. From this menu you can also adjust the AI for the characters for usage in the previously mentioned Tower of Time mode and a few other cool things. Unfortunately, you cannot just purchase what you want for a character with Koins or other currencies, it has to be done through The Krypt or the Towers.

**The game itself DOES have Microtransactions, but are largely inconsequential. Everything in the game is obtainable with in-game currency even if it is a little grindy and the game actively rewards you with the MTX currency, which is known as Time Krystals. These are purchase-able currencies in their In-Game Cash Shop, which regularly cycles the stuff on sale, but all of it can be found in the Krypt or Towers.

All in all, MK11 provides an amazing story mode as they usually do and is jam packed with a lot of content and stuff to do, however the existence of th Towers and how the Krypt itself works can make the game feel extremely grindy and repetitive if you decide to go for unlockables via the Towers of Time as the rewards obtained from playing online feel kinda minute. Despite that, the Online is really good, the gameplay is deep and engaging with a pretty sizeable roster (and more coming soon) and that just made for a pretty good time.

8.5 / 10

+ Great Story Mode
+ Cool unlockables and Variation/Gear System
+ Deep Offensive/Defensive game
+ Extensive Tutorial Mode
+ Visceral animations for Fatalities & Fatal Blows
+ Improved animations and character models

- Towers of Time feels too grindy
- Towers of Time modifiers
- 3 Different Currencies, all which take a chunk of time to obtain
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