The Mortal Kombat 11 beta runs until April 1, and we got a chance to play the latest title in the classic fighting game franchise on Xbox One. You’ve been seeing all the trailers for each character from Skarlet to Baraka to Jade, and you’ve seen the Fatal Blows, the Brutalities, and the Fatalities. Mortal Kombat is back and bloodier and squelchier than ever. It’s safe to say that we’re loving the game.
So, what can and can't you play? There's no story mode here, though we’re waiting very impatiently for that. The trailer and the preview event gave us a look at that, and it looks pretty darn cool. You can play Tower mode, but you’re only going to get five characters (Scorpion, Baraka, Kabal, Jade, and Skarlet). You can’t do training mode, but you can test your might against opponents online. You can also check out some of what’s coming in the Kustomize area, but whatever you choose won’t last past your battle. That said, what we did play was a total blast and an improvement over Mortal Kombat X (which was already pretty great on its own).
How is the game different from what we’ve seen before? There are new meters, but to be honest, we were so busy playing and enjoying the brutality that we really didn't notice them. That said, the fighting here is way more dynamic than it was in the previous game. The control responses are quicker, and it feels more like a real fight. The big complaint some players had about the controls (or should we say "kontrols") before was that the holds were impossible to break out of, or “kounter.” That is no longer the case, which makes it feel more realistic as well. Everything seems tighter, and though the Fatalities are as hard to pull off as ever, you can definitely do them, and you feel a sense of accomplishment when you do. One thing we noticed is the degree of difficulty: Easy mode is, well, easy; Medium seems like the natural step up, and is likely what you’ll use all the time; but Hard mode should maybe be called Impossible, or something like that involving the letter “K.” It’s a real challenge. As an example, we won 15 times in a row on Medium, but never actually got a victory on Hard.
Visually, Mortal Kombat 11 is another huge step up. The blood is bloodier, the jaw-breaking is crunchier (and boy oh boy does this game like to break bones), and the background interaction is a blast! There is one particular move on one of the backgrounds where you grab your opponent’s face and scrape it up a giant cactus. It’s pretty awesome. After one particular Fatality, Scorpion punches your head off, which then rips out your spine and a hungry buzzard shows up to chow on your corpse. He eventually hops away if you leave the screen up, which you should. It’s hilarious!
Speaking of Fatalities, Brutalities, and Fatal Blows: Well, we could reveal them all, but you really want to experience most of these for the first time yourself. There is one that involves intestines, dragging your opponent across the pavement, popping his or her eyeballs out, and then slicing them in half. Pulling off a Fatal Blow at the end of your opponent’s life bar is far easier than pulling off a Fatality, but you can still add the Fatality at the end if you're good enough. The cinematics are better than ever, and a huge step up, even from Injustice, which comes from the same studio. Since we’re on the subject, can we maybe get an Injustice/Mortal Kombat crossover? How much would you pay to see a Sub-Zero/Wonder Woman showdown? Many, many gold koins, we’d wager.
The online fights were great, and despite the fact that this is a closed beta, we were matched up with someone very quickly each time. No lag time at all. Though we couldn’t play one-on-one in the same house in the beta, the online fighting was super cool. You can also continue to fight together or decline. It’s going to be a popular part of the game, we’re certain.
In the beta, as in the game, you get the option to “Kustomize” your character. You can change the skin of your character, and likely unlock those options in the tower battles. There were a number of them for each of the five characters in the beta, but we mostly played around with Jade. She has a cool zombie look that is called “Not Easy Being” (Jade), a Robin Hood-looking outfit called “Royal Guard,” and one where she looks like Sith Princess Jasmine called Edenian Assassin. For her gear, you can customize her Razor-Rangs and her Stave, with one option looking like a green version of Darth Maul's lightsaber. There are a number of different Kosmetics color ways as well. You can also do a bunch of stuff in A.I. Abilities like finishing moves, end-of-round taunts, intros and fatalities, but you couldn’t see that stuff in the beta.
A few miscellaneous impressions:
— Kabal has a version of his character called “Kaballin’” where he actually says that at the end. It’s kind of awesome.
— There is a dirty mattress in the background of one of the arenas. It’s gross, and yet we want to see someone do something even grosser with it. We haven’t found it yet, but it’s bound to happen.
— There is a serious amount of teeth-smashing in this game, so if that is an issue for you, prepare for nightmares.
— Skarlet’s character has a lot of squelchy blood noises, which we think is amazing, but the person I was playing with was super grossed out by.
— This feels like the most perfect version of a game we’ve been playing since we were kids. Not sure how they can improve outside of letting you create your own character, or that DC mashup.
— The moves are less repetitive than they’ve been in the past. It’s exciting to see what else is in store.
Are you excited for Mortal Kombat 11? The game will be released on April 23 for Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Microsoft Windows.