Mortal Kombat 11 is set to launch super soon. Come April 23, fans around the world will crushing bones, spraying blood and playing ribcages like xylophones, in beautiful time-honored Mortal Kombat tradition.
It’s time to start deciding which character(s) you’re going to specialize in, then. An old favorite like Sub-Zero? A more recent addition to the ranks, like gunslinger Erron Black? Maybe even the brand-new Geras, who boasts some unusual new time-meddling abilities (he can rewind the last four seconds of the battle, among other things)?
As with any fighting game, you’ve got to pick carefully. Some characters are fantastic, while others are… well, distinctly less so. Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst Kombatants the franchise has ever seen.
10 BEST: Ferra/Torr
However simple ‘fighting’ games may make it sound, things aren’t just about raw strength around here. Which is lucky, really. If it were, nobody would really get a look in while Ferra &Torr are around.
This battling duo made their debut in the previous game, warriors in the service of Kotal Kahn. They function similarly to Cait Sith in Final Fantasy VII, with the smaller ‘rider’ (Ferra) commanding the great, lumbering powerhouse that is their ‘mount’ (Torr).
As you’ve probably guessed by Torr’s appearance, the pair make for a slow-moving powerhouse of a character, boasting some unique mechanics (Ferra can be thrown as a projectile, destroying any incoming ranged attacks of the opponents’ she hits along the way).
9 WORST: Baraka
Historically, the balancing team of Mortal Kombat haven’t been particularly kind to Baraka. He has a super-imposing look, that’s for certain (those claws! That mouthful of healthy, healthy fangs!), but this doesn’t always translate into a powerful character.
Sadly, in a game dominated by combo-heavy play, Baraka just doesn’t deal the damage he needs to compete. He’s quite slow and clunky, too, which doesn’t help his cause either. He’s always seemed to be one of those characters that has the potential to be great, if only NetherRealm would push him just that little bit further. Perhaps they will this time around?
8 BEST: Sub-Zero
Ah, yes. Across the fighting game genre, there are lots of examples of characters that people hate to fight against. Sometimes they’re just plain overpowered, other times they’re merely cheesy or cheap.
The iconic Sub-Zero is known for his frost-based shenanigans, temporarily immobilizing his foes and spending his spare time dancing around his house to Vanilla Ice’s classic Ice Ice Baby (heck, it makes the housework go by a little faster).
Irritating as he can be to face (l’ve known lots of petulant players who will back out of a match as soon as they see you’re playing Sub-Zero), there’s one thing you can’t deny: he’s one of the poster boys of the franchise.
7 WORST: Jarek
Over in the Super Smash Bros. franchise, you’ll find lots of fighters that fans have labeled clones (now officially named Echo Fighters, because that’s much more flattering). They’re not bad characters, necessarily, it’s just that someone much more unique could have taken that place in the roster. Did we really need Chrom this time around, for instance?
That’s exactly the case with Jarek. He was introduced in Mortal Kombat 4, looking super generic and wielding lazy copies of a lot of Kano’s move (being a student of his, you see). He was made more distinct as of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, but has still gone down in history as one the series’ least interesting fighters.
6 BEST: Shao Kahn
What can I say about Shao Kahn that isn’t already permanently ingrained in players’ memories forever? He’s cheap, he’s super strong, he’s… everything a fighting game villain should be, and we love and hate him in equal measure for it.
Shao Kahn first appeared in Mortal Kombat II, serving as the final boss. Since then, he’s been the main antagonist for much of the series. His arrogance often proves to be his undoing, but it’s not like it’s unfounded either: with his trademark hammer in hand, he’s one of the most formidable fighters you’ll face on the Mortal Kombat battlefield.
Interestingly, in Mortal Kombat 11, he’s a pre-order bonus character, only the second in the series’ history (after Goro).
5 WORST: Jacqui Briggs
If you took issue with Marth, Roy, Lucina, and Chrom in Super Smash Bros., I totally feel your pain. After all, Ike proved that the whole sword-brandishing Fire Emblem warrior thing can be done with at least a little variety.
It all gets a little too repetitive with these sorts of characters. Jacqui Briggs, who arrived on the scene with Mortal Kombat X (by way of the comic series), is another example. As was the case with Jarek, she’s mostly just a variation on an existing character. Her father Jax, in this case; boasting moves based around the use of her electronic gauntlets.
While it’s neat to flesh out the roster and look a little deeper into other characters’ families, Mortal Kombat’s pulled that trick a little too often of late.
4 BEST: Freddy Krueger
Well, dang. Freddy Krueger didn’t come along to the Mortal Kombat universe to make friends, that’s for darn certain.
Guest kombatants from much-loved horror franchises have also been popular in recent years. The first high-profile addition was A Nightmare on Elm Street’s own Freddy Krueger, who was the fourth DLC character for Mortal Kombat (2011).
He soon proved to be one of the best fighters in the game, possessing some fantastic options. His moves give him great combo potential and high/low mix-ups, making his as deadly and unpredictable as his movie counterpart. Those lightning-speed projectiles? They’re not a good time for the opponent either.
3 WORST: Reptile
This one’s sure to be a little controversial. On the one hand, there’s no doubt that Reptile’s whole design and concept is just a little on the shonky side. Yes, he’s been around since the very first game (in which he had the distinction of being the very first secret character in a versus fighter), and is looked upon fondly for that, but still.
Mortal Kombat has always been known for its penchant for palette-swap ninjas, and Reptile was just a green Sub-Zero/Scorpion. He even shared a combination of their powers at first. Since the early days, he’s become a much more distinct character, but in terms of concept, he’s really lacking.
He doesn’t bring much more to the table than meekly following along with anybody who tells him that they can help him find his fellows (which they can’t).
2 BEST: Scorpion
So, yes. I’ve ALREADY included Sub-Zero as one of the best Mortal Kombat fighters ever. Of course, there’d be nothing short of a riot if I didn’t also add his long-time rival and fellow series mascot. Scorpion, get over here.
Over the course of the series, it’s been tough to judge Scorpion’s true alignment. Is he truly good, truly bad, or ultimately neutral? There’s no real answer to that. One thing I can say for sure is that he’s always been a super solid pick, possessing a range of tools (projectiles, teleportation, that famous spear) allowing him to be very versatile. A constant fiery threat.
1 WORST: Mokap
In even the most serious fighters, a snarky one-liner, visual joke or silly cameo character never goes amiss. Mortal Kombat is pretty intense (as you’ve probably noticed with all the blood, eyeballs and general squishy, fleshy bits that tend to be left behind after a match), but the series always tries to temper that with dark humor. Babalities, for instance.
Mokap, however, was a joke taken all the way too far. As we reported over on Screen Rant, the team were clearly proud of the spangly new motion capture technology they used to create the characters of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, but did anybody want the fighter Mokap? Anybody at all?