On April 23rd, 2019, NetherRealm Studios released their third installment in the Mortal Kombat series. Some of the team at NetherRealm has been developing Mortal Kombat games since the beginning. That being said, this feels like a game that truly understands itself and understands what its communities wants. However some features of the game have really tainted the image and quality of the game. So, is Mortal Kombat 11 a good game?
Yes this is absolutely a good game. I would even say it’s a great game. But it’s just shy of amazing. And for obvious reasons, the progression and loot system. However, lets focus on what makes this game great.
Before I chose my fighter or even touched online I played the story mode. I’ve always loved the MK story modes. One of my favorite games of all time is Mortal Kombat: Deception. Mainly because of the Konquest mode. I really enjoyed how over the top this story was. Showing, and actually fighting, some of the elder gods was a lot of fun. I don’t believe we’ve been able to fight or play as an elder god in any other game. The past and future merging was a fun way to bring back old characters. The story didn’t take itself seriously and embraced the over the top universe that is Mortal Kombat.
As for the towers of time and online fighting, combat has never been better. Customizing variants and making them your own is simple and rewarding. Learning how to use the new fatal blow system makes the game that much more fun. It’s a fun new system that can really even out a match or secure you the victory. This feels like the most polished game NetherRealm has released. While the hardcore community has come up with “tier list” for the game, each fighter really feels like they have a chance at winning. Executing a six hit combo on another player online feels extremely satisfying. Being evenly matched with an opponent and re-matching them five times to see who’s better hasn’t been not fun yet.
I’ve put in close to 30hrs in this game so far. The first fighter I chose was Liu Kang. I loved his design in the game and I thought he played really well. Learning his combos, crushing blows, and brutalities was a lot of fun. One of my reasons for choosing him was to unlock his “Fire God” skin. It wasn’t until many days, and many hours, of fighting that I realized I had been doing the wrong tower to unlock the skin. That’s my own fault, but when I realized this I decided it was time to pick a new fighter!
I still haven’t chosen one yet, but so far it’s been Shao Kahn. His gear looks amazing and I like how the character plays. His combos are brutal and his fatalities are grotesque. He’s everything you’d want in an MK character! Every character has something about them that makes me interested in playing them. Whether it’d be for their combos, projectiles, or even aesthetics, every character has something unique.
But now, we have to address the elephant in the room. The thing that has kept this game at an 83 on Meatcritic, the unlock and progression system. NetherRealm introduced the gear customization and loot system in Injustice 2. The way it worked in Injustice 2 was simple. You played a game, you unlocked a new piece of gear. Sometimes it wasn’t gear for that character you played as, but either way you were rewarded with something to customize with. The feature of that system I remembered being ill-received was having stats attached to that piece of gear.
Luckily that feature was completely thrown away for this game. Gear and costumes are a pure aesthetic. However unlocking costumes and gear en lies the problem. As stated earlier, I’ve put in roughly 30hrs into this game (or close to it). I’m almost level 50. And yet I barely have half of Liu Kangs gear/costumes unlocked. While that number is high for Liu Kang, that’s only because he’s the only person I’ve really used. For everyone else, I maybe have five pieces of gear.
To unlock gear you must complete towers and explore the krypt. Most of the time the towers aren’t too bad. But there’s always at least one tower in that stage that is so difficult it’s not even fair! It’s not the AI that makes it hard, it’s the modifiers. Modifiers add an element to the fight. Whether it’s random projectiles hitting you at random times, or another character coming in to inflict damage. All of that on top of an AI set on hard makes for close to impossible match ups. Luckily NetherRealm has heard this criticism loud and clearly. Towers aren’t as toxic as they were on launch.
It’s a real shame because I actually really like the Krypt. I love that it’s on Shang Tsungs island. I love that it’s a third person free roam. I love all the Easter eggs and movie references it has hiding in the dark! However what makes this version unique (in a bad way) is how the loot unlocking works.
You’re given three forms of currency, hearts, souls, and koins. Koins are the easiest to get, souls take a lot of in game grinding, and hearts are only rewarded if you do fatalities, mercies, or brutalities. Even then for the hearts, you’re only getting about 5-3 a game. It all depends on how you finish your opponent (if you even beat them). Unlocking chest with Koins might get you good gear/loot. Souls are almost guaranteed good loot every time you use them. And hearts will get you guaranteed good loot for a random character every time. However some heart chest can cost up to 250 hearts and soul capsules cost about 100-1,000 souls to unlock.
On paper it doesn’t sound too bad. But if you wanted about 3,000 souls, you would have to be doing a lot of fighting and be putting in a countless amount of hours. The way the chest are organized in this game is very different because it’s completely randomized. Unless this has been changed with the last update, that was how the chest worked when the game initially launched. In previous games you could look up a guide and see which specific chest had specific gear, that’s not the case anymore.
The biggest problem with this system is that NetherRealm can’t change much of it. Because it really is the root, and base, that the game was built on. It’s such a core mechanic for how the game works/plays that it really is unfix-able, to an extent, and will taint the reputation of this game forever.
I keep saying “it’s a shame” because that’s really what it is. This is a really really good fighting game. The graphics, intros, facial animations, and amounts of content are easily worth the $60 in my opinion. The bones of this game may be great, but the progression and reward system seem to be built for a mobile game. Because I love this series and game so much, I can slightly look over those issues. But every time I load up the game and look at the towers, I’m reminded why this game sits at an overall B rating. Hopefully Injustice 3 can learn from the mistakes MK11 has made. And Hopefully MK12 redeems itself and can be in good graces with the community.