Fall is nearly upon us, which means another deluge of blockbuster video games, and while plenty of attention is on Starfield, Mortal Kombat 1 is also out in the same month. Releasing on September 19th for Xbox Series X/S, PS5, PC and Nintendo Switch, it’s the follow-up to Mortal Kombat 11 but not a sequel in terms of story. Regardless, there are major changes between the two titles. Here’s how Mortal Kombat 1 differs from Mortal Kombat 11.
New Story, New Universe
Perhaps the biggest distinction between Mortal Kombat 1 and Mortal Kombat 11 is continuity. MK1 isn’t a sequel but a reboot with a new universe with a new plot. Yes, it’s the direct result of MK11’s Aftermath expansion and has familiar characters, but for all intents and purposes, this is a clean slate with new relationships, events and so on. You can see this in Kitana and Jade having a somewhat uneasy relationship, and Kuai Liang (historically the younger Sub-Zero) seemingly being Scorpion instead of Hanzo Hisashi, and much more.
Mortal Kombat 11 introduced Geras, Cetrion, Kollector and Kronika (who wasn’t playable but still) in addition to several returning fighters like Liu Kang, Kitana, Kung Lao, Raiden, Jax and Jacqui Briggs, and more.
On the other hand, Mortal Kombat 1 is bringing back fighters that weren’t in the previous title, including Li Mei, Reptile, Smoke, Tanya, Ashrah and Havik, each with different looks and some new abilities. The recent trailer also confirms the return of Sindel and General Shao, aka Shao Kahn before he attained the title, and wielding a battle axe instead of a warhammer.
If you played Mortal Kombat 11, you would have noticed how it’s comparatively slower than Mortal Kombat 9 or X. Players reported some issues with Mortal Kombat 1’s movement in its stress test. After EVO 2023 attendees went hands-on with the latest build, it was confirmed to be much better. You can even use MK9’s dash block, according to pro player SonicFox.
Another major new addition to Mortal Kombat 1 is the Kameo Fighter system. It allows for assigning a non-playable character to each core fighter and calling them in during battle for assists (with a cooldown for the same). Interestingly, Kameo Fighters are based on classic versions of established characters. Sonya Blade is her younger self; Frost is in her original, non-cyber form; and so on. Characters like Goro, Cyrax, Sektor, Stryker, Motaro and even classic Sub-Zero and Scorpion appear.
Kameo Fighter Special Moves, Throws, and Breakers
Kameo Fighters can use Special Moves like projectiles and throws, which help extend combos through different means. Some require enemies to be in the air to work, so some timing is required to pull them off. You can even enhance their moves by sacrificing a bar of the Super meter or delay certain moves (like Kano’s spinning attack). However, they also have Breakers, which can disrupt a combo.
Fatalities and Kameo Fighter Fatalities
It’s Mortal Kombat, so of course, there will be Fatalities. Based on the trailers thus far, there are some particularly gruesome ones, as is tradition. However, Kameo Fighters also have Fatalities. So you can call in Frost to freeze an opponent and punch away their flesh and organs, leaving their skeleton to fall to the ground or use Kano’s classic Heart Ripper to tear an opponent’s heart out of their chest.
Custom Character Variations
With the introduction of the Kameo Fighter System, custom character variations are no longer a thing. Introduced in Mortal Kombat X and featured again in Mortal Kombat 11, they allowed for assigning different moves to each character. Mortal Kombat 1 does away with them in favor of a single set for each core fighter, so figuring out how to mix in a Kameo Fighter’s skills with their combos is the real challenge.
While Mortal Kombat 11 featured a suite of modes outside of the story, including the Towers of Time and The Krypt, there’s a lot we don’t know about those in Mortal Kombat 1. Thus far, NetherRealm has only showcased the Klassic Towers, where you fight a series of opponents and their Kameo Fighters in a sequence. It’s tried and true, but something tells us more is in store. The return of Konquest, perhaps? Time will tell.
Invasions vs The Krypt
The Krypt was a major part of Mortal Kombat 11 – a full 3D-rendered location that could be explored from third person. You opened chests, solved puzzles and unlocked new outfits, Brutalities, Konsumables and much more. Though you could earn Koins, Hearts and Soul Fragments from The Krypt to open chests, completing Daily Challenges and grinding Towers is your main source of currency.
Mortal Kombat 1 does away with this, instead opting for a new mode called Invasions. You assemble a party of characters and venture across a board game-style map, battling Invaders from other dimensions (including alternate versions of Kitana and Scorpion). There are different unlockables including concept art and in-game Kurrency to earn, but each carries unique challenges to overcome.
Historically, the Mortal Kombat series had its share of mini-games, from kart racing in Motor Kombat to Test Your Might and Test Your Sight. Emphasis on had because Mortal Kombat 11 had almost none (unless you count Endurance).
Fortunately, it seems Mortal Kombat 1 is going in the other direction. The new Invasions Mode will feature the return of Arcade Towers and mini-games like Test Your Might. That age rating by the Infocomm Media Development Authority in Singapore indicated that you destroy a decapitated head during a mini-game – it’s possible this could be for Test Your Might. Regardless, it’s good to finally see it back.
Like Injustice 2, Mortal Kombat 11 featured a Gear System, where characters could equip three different pieces to change their appearance. They also granted the use of Augments for use in Towers of Time and AI Battles by leveling them up. It wasn’t too crazy, but there was a grind of sorts, especially when trying to earn more for The Krypt’s unlockables.
Mortal Kombat 1’s Invasions mode sees you leveling up characters and also equipping them with different loot, though further explanation of these mechanics is still pending. Thus far, we’ve seen different stats for characters like Liu Kang and an Inventory screen, potentially for Konsumables. Time will tell how it all works, but there are random encounters in the Invasions map and keys to use.
Regarding DLC characters, Mortal Kombat 1 offers some unique choices. While it still features returning fighters like Quan-Chi, Ermac and Takeda, you also have special guests like Homelander from The Boys, Omni Man from Invincible and Peacekeeper from DC Universe. Additional Kameo Fighters are also coming, though they have yet to be officially revealed.
On the other end is Mortal Kombat 11, which featured several guests like the Terminator T-800, The Joker, Spawn, Rambo and Robo-Cop. Of course, we also had returning fighters like Sheeva, Sindel, Rain, Shang Tsung, and Mileena, several of which are now on the base roster for MK1. What the future holds for the latter in terms of support remains to be seen, but its DLC characters are already quite intriguing.
PC and Nintendo Switch Ports
QLOC and Shiver Entertainment did a good job developing the PC and Nintendo Switch ports for Mortal Kombat 11. Both return in the same roles for Mortal Kombat 1, but Saber Interactive is also assisting on the Nintendo Switch version. We’ve yet to see extensive footage for the Switch version or learn more about the requirements for running the game in 4K on PC.
Speaking of system requirements, Mortal Kombat 1 is a more demanding game than its predecessor. It requires an Intel Core i5-6600, an AMD Ryzen 3 3100 or a Ryzen 5 2600, 8 GB RAM and an Nvidia GTX 980, AMD RX 470 or Intel Arc A750 at the very minimum. On the other hand, Mortal Kombat 11 could run on an Intel Core i5-750, an AMD Phenom 2 X4 965 or a Ryzen 3 1200 with 8 GB and a GeForce GTX 670, GTX 1050, AMD Radeon HD 7950 or a Radeon R9 270 at the minimum.
Recommended settings for MK1 include an Intel Core i5-8400 or AMD Ryzen 5 3600X, 8 GB RAM, a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, Radeon RX 5700 XT or Intel Arc A770. Mortal Kombat 11 requires a Core i5-2300, AMD FX-6300, or AMD Ryzen 5 1400, 8 GB of RAM and a GeForce GTX 780, GeForce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon R9 290 or an RX 570. Also, while MK11 could run on DirectX 11, Mortal Kombat 1 requires DirectX 12.
When Mortal Kombat 11 first launched, it was priced at $60, which makes sense since it was released in 2019 – one year before the infamous $70 price structure started for triple-A titles. Even Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate, which included Aftermath and both Kombat Packs, costs $60. Mortal Kombat 1 embraces the new pricing structure, costing $70 from launch for the base version.