Mortal Kombat 11 is a brilliant evolution for the series

Sub Zero ice axe Mortal Kombat 11 hands on

Few fighters can provoke a satisfied wince in the way that Mortal Kombat can. Ever since a pixel sprite of Scorpion held a crude spine aloft back in the arcade era, the series has made its name on being ridiculously gory fun. But we never thought we would be cooing at how phenomenal it can look when buckets of body ketchup isn’t being hurled across its arenas.

Killer Looks

We’re one of the lucky few playing an early version of the game at the reveal event in London. Getting a chance to go head-to-head with one of the 7 confirmed fighters, we decide to plump for the iconic Scorpion (he bellows “GET OVER HERE”, and let’s be honest, we all yell it when we play Mortal Kombat). Although we’re only seeing a sample of the fighters on display, it’s a strong line-up of fan favourites, with Baraka and his imposing gnashers making a return, alongside fascinating newbies such as Geras, who can manipulate time.

One of the biggest shake-ups in this new entry though is Custom Character Variations, letting you tweak and change how your fighter looks and plays. Each scrapper will have an appearance skin you can choose, alongside three slots that will let you further tinker with how they operate. For instance, you’ll be able to choose what mask Scorpion wears, what kunai (his throwing knife) he uses, and what sword he takes into the scrap. You’ll also decide what moves and abilities your fighter has, which adds a huge amount of depth to the strategies you could employ.

Sting like a Scorpion

The choices you make aren’t just cosmetic either, they also influence the style of Mortal Kombat now as well. MK 11 feels a tad more measured in speed, allowing for more tactical fights when compared to previous games in the series. For instance, you can dash, but your characters aren’t able to run anymore, letting fighters control the space around them a little more effectively, if they want to.

This balancing between offence and defence also applies to a new type of special move: Fatal Blows. These types of attacks replace X-Ray moves from MK X, and become available once you reach less than 30% of your health. They’re a hail mary type of super move that can alter the momentum of a fight.

Connect with it, and you’ll take a massive chunk off your opponents health. Miss? You’ll have to wait a few seconds before you use it again. What really makes Fatal Blows a solid addition is the tension it adds to the final moments of the fight – deployed well, they could allow your opponent to make a quick comeback and snatch glorious victory from your grasp.

They’re not the only moves to be changed as well. In fact, lots of classic attacks have been subtly rejigged to reflect the more considered speed of fighting. Let’s revisit Scorpion’s kunai grab (the “GET OVER HERE” one. Yes, we’re obsessed, why do you ask?). In previous games, this attack reels enemies in who would stand staggered, letting you open up a big bag o’ hurt on them.

Now though, it ends with a sword slash that knocks them down, giving them a brief moment of respite. Moves that used to be the start of a painfully long combo aren’t quite as devastating as they once were, meaning fights are less likely to be won or lost on a few key mistakes.

And yes, pain will be brought. If you waited this long to read about the new fatalities, we’re sorry to have kept you waiting. Like every entry in the series, the bar has been upped when it comes to the gory finishing moves, with body parts mutilated, mangled, mushed up, and just straight up desecrated. If you’ve ever wanted to see a person have their face ripped off, and then have the fleshly mess that used to be a head pulverized, then get ready to live your best life.

Test your might

What makes us so excited for Mortal Kombat 11 is that it manages to walk that fine line of being appealing to fans and newcomers alike. The sheer depth of options when it comes to fine-tuning your character, along with learning new moves and styles, will give the MK Kommunity plenty to enjoy, while the tactical style of fighting is more encouraging for people playing for the first time. Add on the gleefully bonkers story, alongside the intriguing possibilities of online play now, and Mortal Kombat is shaping up to be a thunderously entertaining fighter.