Ever since they announced Mortal Kombat 11 at The Game Awards, NetherRealm Studios hasn’t been holding back with the content updates as the release date rapidly approaches. This includes the Online Beta that is currently going on, giving players a taste of the final product. We were fortunate enough to be invited to take part in the Beta on the Xbox One, and we’re extremely impressed with how everything has turned out so far.
It’s important to note that this is still a Beta and that NetherRealm can change anything leading up to the game’s release. With that being said, the real purpose of the Beta is to see how the Online Matchmaking goes, and trust us, we’ll get into that later. For now lets focus on the actual gameplay. In the Beta, only five fighters were available, Scorpion, Baraka, Skarlet, Jade, and Kabal. The only offline single player mode that we could try out was the Tower of Time in the Klassic Towers mode which is the original five-man arcade fighting progression system.
In addition to having special abilities and Fatalities, each warrior also has their own brand of martial arts.
The combat, or kombat in this case, feels almost like it’s predecessor, Mortal Kombat X, with a much more refined variant system and a more balanced style of play. The combos are now easier to pull off, the anti-airs play a larger role in matches, and the Enhanced Attacks are much more manageable thanks to the new energy meter system which refills over time. The Fatal Blows, which are an offshoot of the X-Ray attacks, deal massive damage and can turn the match around in a heartbeat. All of the new fighting utilities click and we were able to use them to our full advantage in each fight.
In addition to having special abilities and different variants, each warrior also has their own brand of martial arts. Scorpion fights with a balanced style, using his samurai swords in conjunction with this spear, while Kabal is an extremely fast character that relies on his quick moves and deadly hook swords. Baraka is a bit slower and uses big attacks and grabs while slicing with his Tarkatan arm blades. Jade has a wide variety of moves and thanks to her incredibly large bo staff, she can attack from a medium range making her a dual threat. Skarlet was quite the surprise as we discovered that she has a low amount of combos and instead uses her blood magic to attack from afar.
Without a doubt, the presentation of the Fatalities are the highlight of the game.
But we know what everyone here wants to talk about, the Fatalities. Don’t worry, they’re back, and in full force. Each fighter has two fatalities at their disposal, and pulling them off hasn’t changed one bit. Without a doubt, the presentation of the Fatalities are the highlight of the game. The ending of each Fatality is almost a work of art, as the fighter finishes off their opponent the camera slowly comes to a stop and captures their gruesome end with blood splattering and bodies being sliced up right in full view so you won’t ever forget how that warrior met their end.
We were also able to go into the Kustomize section, which is essentially the Gear System from another NetherRealm Studios game, Injustice 2. You can change just about anything from masks/faces to intros, endings, skins, Fatalities, Brutalities, End of Round Taunts, and even your own special abilities for all variants. You can also change the AI behavior if you want to watch a match instead of partaking in it. A lot of options such as the Augments were not available in the Beta, but this will more than likely be where microtransactions come into play. Hopefully, that does not come to pass.
Last, but certainly not least is the Online Matchmaking, which only had the Low Stakes Match finder available. While we were able to find matches fairly quickly, the matches were plagued with bad connectivity and input lag. We would like to stress that, once again, this is a Beta and should not represent the final product. We have faith that NetherRealm will be able to get this issue situated before launch time. Still, it didn’t exactly fill us with enthusiasm to see each and every match suffer from this.
Despite these new additions to the series, everything still felt familiar to us, and that’s very important. Mortal Kombat has always had that special ability to make you fall in love with the franchise all over again and that’s what happened to us in the Beta. Ed Boone and company continue to find ways to keep the fighting quick and fluid without sacrificing the original idea that they came up with back in 1992, and their is no exception here with Mortal Kombat 11. What we took away from the Beta is that Mortal Kombat 11 is shaping up to be an excellent fighting game for 2019. Regardless of the potential monetization in the Kustomize and the lag-ridden online matches, we’re still very excited and can’t wait for it to come out.
Mortal Kombat 11 launches on April 23 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.