The Mortal Kombat franchise is a long-standing staple within the world of gaming, and rightfully so. The groundbreaking original game has been nominated (a second time) for inclusion into The Strong’s World Video Game Hall of Fame, and with the latest iteration of the series being released next month, it seems only fitting that this is the year that the title gets added to the Hall.
In preparation for next month’s release, the Mortal Kombat 11 online beta kicked off this week, and is available through Monday, April 1st, for players who pre-ordered the game for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. We spent some time in the game to see what the NetherRealm team has for us this time around, and are happy to report that we are excited by what we’ve seen so far.
For those expecting any hand-holding during the beta, you will be highly disappointed. The only modes available during the beta are the online versus mode and the single-player Klassic Tower mode. That includes the absence of any sort of training mode to get a feel for any of the five characters, of which include Scorpion, Baraka, Skarlet, Jade, and Kabal, though move lists are available in the Klassic Tower mode. It would be easy to be disappointed about not having access to some sort of training mode, but let’s be honest: before the Internet existed as we know it today, 90’s arcade veterans know all too well the time and endurance (and quarters) it took to figure out Mortal Kombat’s special moves and fatalities. Jumping right into the fray is a fun and challenging return to the franchise’s roots.
Once you do figure out some of the moves and combo attacks, that’s when the real fun begins. The movements and controls feel very fluid and natural, with each brutal, ridiculously gory fight feeling almost like a beautifully choreographed ballroom dance, in which duos stab each other in the face, rather than accidentally step on each others’ toes. Combo attacks are a sight to behold, and even more satisfying when you are the one doling out the damage. And of course, utilizing the environmental hazards are also fun, effective ways to hurt your opponent.
The three levels available in the beta are ones that fans will recognize from all of the reveal trailers thus far. Some of the hazards that players can use to their advantage include grabbable, thrown projectiles, a cactus that can be used as a facial exfoliant, and a military vehicle that can be used to curb stomp opponents’ jaws.
The available Mortal Kombat 11 characters (which I can’t help but want to write as kharacters) each have their specific charm, feeling refreshingly new while remaining true to the personalities that fans have come to know and love. Your style of gameplay will determine the character that is best suited for you. For instance, Baraka is a bigger, slower character with each attack dealing out significant damage, whereas Skarlet is a smaller, faster character whose flurry of less damaging moves quickly tack on increasing amounts of damage over time.
The matchmaking system for the versus mode is already spot on. Those who have played any other recent NetherRealm games, such as Injustice 2, will feel right at home with the ability to accept a match based on opponent stats prior to the match. There were a few minor technical inconsistencies during some of the matches, such as lag, but nothing that was game-breaking or affected the outcome of the match. NetherRealm seems to have this aspect of their games pretty ironed out. It would be a surprise to see any major issues once the full game is live.
The Klassic Tower mode give players a bit of a break from the high-octane online versus mode, especially with the ability to choose the difficulty level ranging from Very Easy to Very Hard. In theory, one could use the Very Easy setting as a pseudo-training mode. The Klassic Tower mode gives a fun look at the tower endurance aspect that has remained a staple since the first Mortal Kombat, and is a perfect way to get a look at all five of the available characters. There is no real reward for defeating the tower, which just made me excited for additional modes and The Krypt rewards system.
Honestly, I haven’t been this excited for a Mortal Kombat game in years, and the beta only reinforced that hype. If the beta is any indication as to what we can expect to see in the final product, then Mortal Kombat 11 might be one of the most memorable games in the entire franchise. To put it simply, our final verdict is that we seriously can’t wait to get our hands on the full game, which releases on April 23rd for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.