Mortal Kombat, from the creative minds of Ed Boon and John Tobias, is a legendary and infamous arcade fighter that’s been shocking the world since its debut in 1992. The series has seen its highs and lows across various media, but it’s always been a pop culture icon in its 30-plus-year history. After the closure of Midway and the MK franchise being picked up by Warner Bros., NetherRealm Studios was born to carry on the legacy by rebooting the series, bringing it back to its roots, and leading to newfound success. The 12th game takes the series through its second reboot in the form of Mortal Kombat 1, soon to be released on Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Taking place after the events of Mortal Kombat 11, the new God of Fire, Liu Kang, with control of the Hourglass, creates a new timeline in hopes of neutralizing the threats and dangers that had come before, and allowing every being an opportunity to find peace. Of course, finding that peace is never that simple, as a new threat emerges that the God of Fire could never have anticipated.
It does feel odd that Mortal Kombat is going through a second reboot, but both times were done in ways that also acknowledge the past, and the new story becomes more and more interesting as more details are revealed. With the way Mortal Kombat 11 ended, starting over again does seem to be the best way to go and the unusual title of Mortal Kombat 1 instead of Mortal Kombat 12 makes sense as well. When it comes to fighting games, Mortal Kombat has, so far, been the best storyteller, and there is still much more story to be told. Mortal Kombat fans worldwide will be eagerly awaiting the game’s release next month to find out more.
The overall gameplay feels very much like the past three games, but there are a lot of differences and additions. It seems to be bringing back all the best elements from past games that fans have been requesting. After spending several hours on the beta, the Kombat mechanics so far feel like the best they’ve ever been, even with some minor balance issues that can of course be fixed before its release.
The Kameo Fighters is the latest addition and newest gameplay element unique to MK1, working similar to the tag system from 2009’s Mortal Kombat, as well as the Marvel vs. Capcom games. The Kameos add a whole new dynamic to the Kombat mechanics by extending combos and keeping the opponent guessing.
So far, 19 playable characters and 13 Kameo fighters have officially been revealed, with even more on the way via DLC in Kombat Pack 1. In this beta, only Sub-Zero, Kenshi, Kitana, Liu Kang, Li Mei, and Johnny Cage were playable, plus Frost, Kano, Sonya Blade, and Jax as the Kameo fighters. Even with a small selection of characters, there is a lot to experiment with for each Kombatant’s combos and mixing them up with the Kameo fighters, which only hypes up the game’s official release even more, where players will be able to try all the characters with different Kameos.
Mortal Kombat 1 has been digging through its huge library of characters and bringing back some long-forgotten and highly requested fan favourites as part of the main Kast and Kameos. So far Ashrah, Li Mei, and Havik have finally made their returns since Mortal Kombat: Armageddon in 2006, plus Darrius, Sareena, and Stryker are included as Kameos with more to be announced.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Mortal Kombat game without Fatalities, and Mortal Kombat 1 will have no shortage of them. Not only can the main Kast of characters perform their own unique Fatalities, but also the Kameos as well. What we’ve seen so far in Fatalities will no doubt shock anyone as we watch all the creative ways each fighter dismembers their opponent. A lot of the Kameo fatalities we’ve seen so far have been throwbacks to the Klassics from the earlier MK games, which will no doubt bring back a ton of nostalgia.
With Mortal Kombat 1 being exclusive to the latest generation of consoles, the graphics are looking the best they’ve ever been. Everything from the texture of everyone’s skin, the fabric of their clothing, and the strands of hair, plus all the effects of energy blasts, ice, fire, and of course, the blood and guts. Only 2 stages were available to fight in; the Tea House and Johnny Cage’s mansion, and while neither are your typical Mortal Kombat stages, both look fantastic with an incredible amount of detail.
Stage interactions aren’t included this time, but there is still plenty of interaction, such as items falling off the shelves and other debris rolling around while the fights unfold. The other stages seen in trailers and other footage have that real Mortal Kombat feel that fans know and love, but it’s also nice to see the variety of different stages that MK1 is going for.
While I haven’t actually seen what the Nintendo Switch version looks like, since nothing seems to come up when I search online for it, it isn’t going to match the graphics power of the other consoles. That’s not to say it’s going to be bad, and if it can look and play as good as Mortal Kombat 11 did on Switch, it’ll be a fantastic Mortal Kombat game to play at home or on the go.
The overall soundtrack also sticks to that authentic Mortal Kombat style, with dark and grim orchestral sounds. The music in both available stages flows really well with the Kombatants duking it out, and it’ll be interesting to hear the tracks in the other stages next month. The overall presentation seems to be going for slightly brighter colours, but never forgets its dark evil undertone.
This beta primarily focused on the gameplay and of course the online play. In my personal experience, the online matches for the most part have been excellent, mostly thanks to its smooth rollback netcode. Most matches played incredibly well without much issue, though a few did struggle with lag, but this could be due to them playing with a Wi-Fi connection instead of wired, or being located too far away. Even with a few laggy matches, the online experience has been nothing but fun, and the Krossplay will open it up to even more players to match up with and create more bloodshed.
With only one month before its release. Mortal Kombat 1 is no doubt shaping up to be the best one yet. Even with the odd decision to reboot the series a second time, there is a lot to look forward to with its whole new story, fan favourite and forgotten characters coming back, new gameplay mechanics, smooth online play, and DLC fighters, 3 of which are guest characters from popular comics. On September 19th, Mortal Kombat 1 will be unleashed to the world.