A new era has arrived! Netherrealm Studios and Warner Bros.’ Mortal Kombat 1 is rebooting the legendary fighting franchise for its twelfth mainline entry, launching September 19th on Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Characters we know and love have all new backstories. Fated foes in one universe are now friends in the new, and vice versa. New gameplay mechanics appear in the entry, giving players a new way to play. So, what can we expect? Well, as Scorpion says “GET OVER HERE!” and find out!
What is Mortal Kombat?
For those who don’t know, Mortal Kombat is a fighting game series created by Netherrealm Studios and Warner Bros. Games. Originally created in 1992 by a four-person team at Midway Games, it shook the world with its intuitive gameplay and graphics. However, most of the attention was on the gore, specifically the finishers used when you beat an opponent, known as a Fatality. Tame by today’s standards, people were not used to seeing such violence, which prompted a change in the industry. The ESRB rating system was actually created in response to Mortal Kombat so people can see what to expect.
It’s safe to say that the series LITERALLY changed the video game industry. From that moment on, Mortal Kombat became a force to be reckoned with. The bloody series spawned many games, spin-offs, shows, and even movies. Characters like Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Liu Kang, Kitana, and Johnny Cage have become icons. It is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time, and for good reason. Ed Boon, one of the original creators, still works as creative director for the titles. Now, 31 years later, Mortal Kombat 1 carries on the original’s spirit while infusing it with modern technology.
Mortal Kombat 1 is a sequel to 2019’s Mortal Kombat 11. The game takes place in an alternate timeline, one created by Fire God Liu Kang after the events of 11‘s DLC expansion, Aftermath. After taking the Hourglass from Kronika and defeating Shang Tsung, he makes his own universe. When an unforeseen threat emerges, Liu Kang must bring our heroes to the forefront and defend their worlds.
With this new timeline, our fighters are reimagined. Scorpion and Sub-Zero are now brothers instead of rivals. Kenshi has ties to the Yakuza. Raiden and Kung Lao are simple farmers. Johnny Cage is still an arrogant celeb, so not everything has changed. Despite this, they all will rise up to their full potential. How it happens and where it leads is a mystery.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time the franchise has gotten the reboot treatment. 2011’s Mortal Kombat was seen as a restart for the series, too. The game follows Raiden who, in the aftermath of MK: Armageddon, warns his past self of the future. The past Raiden now must change the course of history to avoid the same fate. The story lasted until 11, where the new timeline was built.
Gameplay-wise, expect Mortal Kombat 1 to play similarly to previous titles. More combo variety is available, both on the ground and in the air. In hands-on sessions from ComicBook.com and Inverse, they mention the versatility of the fighting and its simple yet complex design. This is emphasized more so with the addition of a new mechanic: Kameo Fighters.
Kameo Fighters are characters that fight alongside you and can deliver attacks with the press of a button. Each one has a different purpose and fighting style. They adapt to your character’s moves, leading to devastating combos. Kameo Fighters also join you in your Fatal Blows, leaving your opponent battered in more ways than one. The variety this new feature brings has been the highlight of many outlets’ playthroughs.
And yes, Fatalities are back and gorier than ever. Even Kameo Fighters will have their own. Some of the Fatalities will be homages to original ones, such as Sonya Blade’s Kiss of Death and Liu Kang’s Dragon. Many are being kept under wraps, but the ones we’ve seen so far are as brutal as they come. Keep your barf bags at the ready.
So far, there are 20 confirmed fighters (not including DLC). All of the characters are returning fighters, so don’t expect any newcomers. Here are your combatants:
- Fire God Liu Kang
- Johnny Cage
- Kung Lao
- Li Mei
- General Shao
As a pre-order bonus, Shang Tsung joins the roster, cranking it up to 21. There is still a chance more fighters can be announced between now and the game’s September launch.
UPDATE: Since the original posting, two more characters have joined the ranks: Nitara (played by actress Megan Fox) and Reiko.
The Kameo Fighters
There are 15 Kameo Fighters announced so far, with more to be included in future DLC. The characters range from series staples to fan favorites. Your Kameo Fighters are:
- Sonya Blade
- Kung Lao
Some of these characters are on the main roster, interestingly enough. Yes, you can play Sub-Zero and have Sub-Zero as your assist. It’s unknown if any Kameo Fighters will become part of the cast.
Ahead of the game’s September 19th launch, it was revealed that the game would get DLC. Kombat Pack 1, expected to release in Spring 2024, will contain six new fighters and five Kameos. There are classic kombatants as well as some guests. Here are the Kombat Pack 1 fighters:
- Quan Chi
You read that correctly. Invincible‘s Omni-Man, The Boys‘ Homelander, and DC‘s Peacemaker are joining the roster. Each is expected to be voiced by their original actors (J.K Simmons, Anthony Starr, and John Cena, respectively). Alongside them are villains Ermac and Quan Chi, as well as Takeda, Kenshi’s son. The Kameo Fighters are unknown as of now. In the Kombat Pack, a skin for Johnny Cage, played by legendary action star Jean-Claude Van Damme, will be available.
As usual, Mortal Kombat 1 will be purchasable in different versions. The Standard Edition ($69.99) comes with the base game, as well as Shang Tsung and access to the Beta, which happened August 18th-August 21st. The Premium Edition ($109.99) includes all of the Standard Edition’s content, but with Kombat Pack 1, 1,250 Dragon Krystals (in-game currency), access to DLC characters a week early, and early access to the game starting September 14th. Finally, the Kollector’s Edition ($249.99) is all of that (with 2,700 Dragon Krystals instead of 1,250) plus a steel case, art prints, exclusive Liu Kang color variation, and a Liu Kang sculpture. However, this edition is currently sold out, but a restock seems imminent before release.
Mortal Kombat 1 is shaping up to be the biggest fighter of the year. The reinvention Netherrealm and Warner Bros. Games have done to the franchise is a risky one. However, it seems to be paying off. The next-gen graphics are stellar and the gameplay is just as good. There’s a reason it’s on my 2023 titles to look out for list (available here). That, with the addition of Kameos, we might be seeing a legend be reborn into something truly special.
That’s all for Mortal Kombat 1! What did you think? Will you pick up the game at launch? What edition will you get? Who’s your favorite character? Who will you main? What fighters do you want to see as DLC? Let me know in the comments below! If you like this content, leave a like and share it with your friends. Until next time, Kombatants!