NetherRealm Studios and Warner Bros Games have finally announced Mortal Kombat 1, the next title in the brutal fighting game series. It releases on September 19th for Xbox Series X/S, PS5, Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store. There’s no gameplay yet, but an announcement trailer provided some bits about the story in all its gory glory.
NetherRealm also revealed some additional details about what to expect – here are the ten biggest things you should know.
The New Era
Mortal Kombat 1 takes place in the New Era. The universe is essentially reborn after the events of Mortal Kombat 11 and its expansion, Aftermath, and the various realms are seemingly at peace. Which doesn’t last long, but of course, that’s the point of Mortal Kombat. Shang Tsung appears, wreaks havoc on several other fighters in gruesome ways and is quickly smacked down by Liu Kang. It’s unknown whether the story plays out in the same way in-game, but there’s a brand-new cinematic narrative to enjoy, regardless.
Since the timeline is new, events like Edenia merging with Outworld or Sub-Zero killing Scorpion’s clan seemingly haven’t happened. We can see Kitana and Mileena venturing down a peaceful street with onlookers; Raiden and Kung Lao meeting on the plains; and Scorpion and Sub-Zero running into each other, only to turn towards a strange eclipse in the sky.
NetherRealm has promised “unexpected twists on classic rivalries and original backstories,” so it’s interesting to see how drastically things have changed.
New Fighting System and Modes
In addition to a new story, Mortal Kombat 1 has a new fighting system. There are also new game modes and Fatalities to brutalize enemies with. Since no gameplay footage or details for the system have been revealed, it’s hard to judge just how good it will be. However, for those who couldn’t quite get into Mortal Kombat 11, there’s hope that Mortal Kombat 1 will be different.
So far, NetherRealm has confirmed characters like Liu Kang, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Johnny Cage, Mileena, Kitana, Kung Lao, Raiden and Shang Tsung while teasing “many others.” With major events changing or outright retconned, the classic Kombatants have also changed. Hanzo Hisashi, aka Scorpion, appears to be flesh and blood, though he still wields his trademark Spear.
Kung Lao doesn’t have his Razor-Rimmed Hat, but Raiden does seem to have his lightning powers (though it’s unknown if he’s mortal). Kitana’s fan and Mileena’s sai are also present, and Sub-Zero can still freeze things. Shang Tsung can suck souls out of bodies, reducing them to mere husks as he is wont to do, but he also has some cool claws to fight with. And there’s Liu Kang, who can still manifest fiery dragons to decimate the opposition.
Kameo Fighters are perhaps the most interesting new mechanic. They’re partner fighters who can be called to assist during fights and are selected separately from the main roster. NetherRealm says they’ll create “expanded gameplay possibilities for players.” It seems like a good way to bring the assists from Mortal Kombat 11’s Towers of Time into the core game. Then again, if they were the same, they would still probably be called assists. We’ll have to wait and see how much they add to the new system.
Beta in August
NetherRealm will likely show off more gameplay and details soon, especially since Mortal Kombat 1 is just a few months away. However, those who want to try its new mechanics and re-imagined fighters early can pre-order the title on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. They’ll receive access to a beta that kicks off in August and Shang Tsung as a playable character in the game at launch. Of course, in this “era” of special editions, there are also ways to get early access to the full game.
Standard, Premium and Kollector’s Edition
Mortal Kombat 1 retails for $69.99 on all platforms – yes, even on Nintendo Switch – and will be available physically and digitally at launch. That’s for the Standard Edition – the Premium Edition is $109.99 and includes the base game and early access starting September 14th. You also get the Kombat Pack and 1250 Dragon Krystals as in-game currency, which means microtransactions since Mortal Kombat 11 had Time Krystals for purchasing cosmetics from the store.
Finally, there’s the Kollector’s Edition, which is only available physically for Xbox Series X/S and PS5 at certain retailers for $249.99. It includes the Premium Edition, a Liu Kang sculpture by COARSE, a corresponding in-game skin inspired by the same, a steel case and three art prints. You also get 1450 more Dragon Krystals for a total of 2700. What a deal!
The Kombat Pack is worth noting separately since it’s essentially post-launch DLC. It provides early access to six new playable characters and five new Kameo Fighters, both available after the game releases. Rumors abound about guest characters like John Cena’s Peacemaker, Homelander from The Boys and Conan the Barbarian, but nothing is confirmed (and we’ll likely keep guessing up to the actual reveals).
Of course, you also get a character skin for Johnny Cage at launch, which makes him resemble actor Jean-Claude Van Damme. As bizarre and out of left field as that sounds, there is a reason. Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon told Polygon last year that the studio pitched the first game’s idea to Van Damme way back in the day. They even made a presentation and wanted him to play Johnny Cage.
Van Damme passed on the idea, but NetherRealm still approached him to appear as a character skin in subsequent titles, like Mortal Kombat 9. Lo and behold, the legend himself has finally agreed, and we’ve come full circle.
Nintendo Switch and PC Port Developers
While NetherRealm Studios is developing the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 versions, the Nintendo Switch and PC ports are handled by other developers. Saber Interactive, which worked on Evil Dead: The Game, and Shiver Entertainment, who ported Mortal Kombat 11 for the Switch, are in charge of the Nintendo Switch version.
QLOC, which worked on Dark Souls: Remastered, the Xbox Series X/S update for Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and more, is in charge of the PC version. It even ported Mortal Kombat 11 to PC. These aren’t indicators of Mortal Kombat 1 being free of issues on those platforms, but each team is fairly experienced with porting. As always, time will tell.
Not Always Online
More details on other modes are coming later, but NetherRealm has confirmed that Mortal Kombat 1 will be playable offline. While an internet connection is necessary for some features (like online matches, obviously), you can likely enjoy the story and other modes without being online. Mortal Kombat 11 also didn’t require a constant internet connection for some of its modes (like the story), and it’s nice to see NetherRealm continuing the tradition.
Online players, rejoice – rollback netcode is confirmed. Considering that Mortal Kombat 11 shipped with rollback netcode that worked pretty well, this is good news, though whether it’s being altered or rebuilt for Mortal Kombat 1 remains to be seen. Unfortunately, those playing against others online must subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online, Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus.
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