Like I said before, Mortal Kombat 11's fighting mechanics didn't attract me very much at the start. But it didn't help I picked Noob Saibot at the beginning, who isn't very noob friendly. Only by playing the story and fueling my curiosity did the game really open up. The story forces you to play as certain characters, giving you an entry point to figuring out who you want to play is. It's a kind of story-driven tutorial of sorts.
Once I got the hang of the general attacks again the game really took on a new dimension. I started actually having fun and learning each character's nuanced attacks--Jade's salvo of pole strikes, Sub Zero's awesome axe slashes, and my favorite, Kung Lao's fusillade of furious punches accompanied by his deadly razor-sharp hat.
The original classic moves are back with a vengeance (how could they not be?!) and are more stylish than ever. Scorpion's iconic hook, Sub-Zero's ice blast, Raiden's lightning...every character has their signature moves intact.
Combat itself is satisfying but as always wholly dependent on the character you choose. There's a basic formula for the attacks, but how fast or hard each fighter strikes is very different. There's a ton of little subtle tweaks and adjustments that must've taken years to create, showing just how dedicated Netherealm was to MK11.
What's even more amazing is how much effort Netherealm put into the practice tools. The game has every resource to transform even the worst player into an esports champ. Provided you have enough time, the game's massively in-depth practice mode will arm you with the know-how to smash any opponent. There's everything from combo training to brutality and fatality execution mastery.
Netherealm also went above and beyond with an RPG-esque system to fuel a massive, long-winded grind.
We don't get Mortal Kombat games very often, so WB Games loves to inject all kinds of engagement hooks to ensure players keep on playing over time. Mortal Kombat 11 is truly set up to be played for a long, long time.
Throughout MK11 gamers can customize their favorite fighters in a ton of ways that actually affect battle. There are weapons and items with socket slots straight out of Diablo, and swappable stances out of an RPG. The system makes for a dizzying array of options to choose from and makes for a very confusing way to elongate play time. The main goal is to beef up your fighters to prepare them for the ultimate trials: Towers of Time.
There are multiple currencies to grind out in the game. The Towers of Time represents exceptionally hard fights that are designed to put players at a severe disadvantage if they don't have the right gear. Ultimately this mode requires gamers to invest some serious practice effort and time into the game. The Towers of Time are a kind of recurring loop, and the progression system organically feeds into this weird cycle of randomized rewards.
Towers of Time are a kind of mid- to end-game activity to take on once you've finished the story, get tired of battling friends or randoms online, and want to test out your newfound skills. It's just designed to be a huge time sink and isn't really my kind of thing.
The more you fight, the more Koins you get to spend on opening chests in the Krypt. This isn't new...but what is new is most of the Krypt's rewards are now randomized. There are some chests that always drop the same things, but most of them drop completely randomized gear, skins, and consumables.
The grind is so crazy that you can even have AI battle enemies for you and earn gear.
I will say this about Mortal Kombat 11's grind: you technically get your money's worth insofar as quantity.
Of course, a lot of that stuff is the same thing--smashing baddies with your fighting prowess in an endless loop, but that's really the core tenant of the game. At first, I absolutely loathed the idea of the progression system with all of its currencies and microtransactions, but the more I played, the more I realized that it's specifically designed to feed itself and keep you playing...not necessarily keep you paying.
Like any WB Games game, MK11 is monetized. Players can spend real money to unlock Shao Kahn or a special currency called Time Crystals. These crystals are used to buy cosmetic items in a shop that rotates daily, as well as easy fatality and brutality tokens. The microtransactions actually aren't that bad...but the huge time sink of a grind is pretty rough.
Mortal Kombat 11's Roster:
- Shao Kahn (locked behind $5 paywall)
- Johnny Cage
- Sonya Blade
- Cassie Cage
- Jax Briggs
- Noob Saibot
- Jacqui Briggs
- Liu Kang
- Kung Lao
- Erron Black
- Kotal Kahn