It's been four long years since Mortal Kombat X hit store shelves and it was a chapter in the series that is looked back on with mixed emotions from a fan perspective. The game was lightning quick and most of the time you ran from one end of the stage to the other firing off wild combos. None of these mixed feelings were present at the big reveal event in London. While fans all over the world watched we got the chance to try out seven characters in order to get to grips with Mortal Kombat 11. After the vast number of complaints directed at Mortal Kombat X, things have been torn apart and it would appear this is the game to take the series to new heights.
The starting point does not appear to have to evolve the gameplay we know, but rather to provide a completely new angle on the well known Netherrealm formula. All the progress achieved with Injustice 2 has clearly left a mark on what Mortal Kombat 11 is. Honestly, part of why we are so happy with is that it felt like a truly great two-dimensional Street Fighter. How is that possible? Well, now it's going to get a bit technical, but Mortal Kombat 11 is much more to do with small movements, footsies, and nailing short combos rather than hitting a juggle and triggering 200-hit combinations. In fact, you don't even trigger a juggle by jumping and punching as in Mortal Kombat X. It feels like a more natural approach. Most of all, the game seems to feature all the optimisation Mortal Kombat lacked.
First and foremost Mortal Kombat 11 looks amazing. Even if the build we got our hands on is a slightly older one we have to say they're close to achieving their goal of making the best-looking fighting game ever made. The series has a well-earned reputation, not just for vicious brutality, but for graphical expression that holds little back. Now we've reached a point where it almost gets to be too much. The returning Skarlet gouges eyes out and Geras, the new time-travelling supervillain, beats out the brains of his opponents, and it's all very visceral and in your face. Mortal Kombat 11 is certainly not for the delicate souls among us, certainly not with this level of visceral fidelity. The character animations offer an amazing flow, and the somewhat jaggy look of Mortal Kombat X is completely gone.
The gameplay changes also mean that the game is markedly slower. It is a concern given that lightning-fast punches and kicks have always been part of the package. As mentioned, the concept of footsies is more of a focus than ever before, and it becomes a case of gaining the upper hand by making your opponent swing at empty air. Defence and attack have also been given an overhaul as the three-part energy bar from Mortal Kombat X has been thrown out and replaced by a couple of meters: one for defence, one for attack. They charge up as you interact with the stage, amplify special attacks, and once more it puts added emphasis on a slower, more defensive approach. X-Ray moves that are triggered with attacks are also gone, in their place are Fatal Blow attacks that can be activated when you've taken enough damage, and work in a similar way. It also recharges after a couple of seconds, in case you miss on your first attempt.