We recently got the announcement of Mortal Kombat 1, with NetherRealm choosing to officially unveil the reboot of the fighting franchise with a CG trailer to set the stage for what at will have in store. Many were obviously keenly awaiting its gameplay reveal as well, and at the recent Summer Game Fest showcase, that’s exactly what we got. A meaty gameplay trailer was followed by series creator and Ed Boon taking the stage and going over a number of key details related to the story, the new Kameo fighters system, and more. Here, we’re going to talk about all of that new information.
NEW TIMELINE DETAILS
Mortal Kombat sure does love its reboots. The 2011 title was, of course, a soft reboot of the franchise, and Mortal Kombat 1 is set to be another reboot, set in a new timeline in a new universe created by Fire God Liu Kang at the end of Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath. At Summer Game Fest, Ed Boon provided more details on what we can expect from this rebooted setting, and how it much it will diverge from what series fans might be familiar with. He said, “This is why we’re calling it Mortal Kombat 1, because this is the beginning of a new timeline. A number of these characters you’ve seen before, but they’re told in a completely different story.”
And what kind of changes can we expect? Well, the gameplay reveal hints at some interesting changes to the Kitana and Mileena dynamic, Scorpion and Sub-Zero are now brothers, Raiden is a now pretty much just a normal, young dude (though he still seems to have lightning powers)- and that’s just what’s been briefly hinted at in what we’ve seen of the game so far.
HOW KAMEOS WORK
The big new gameplay system in Mortal Kombat 1 is, of course, going to be the Kameo fighters, which are essentially the series’ take on assist characters- but how exactly will they work in Mortal Kombat 1? Essentially, the game is going to have two completely different rosters, and at the beginning of each match, you’ll go through two character select screens- one to select your main fighter, and one to select which Kameo fighter you want in support. Both rosters will be separate from each other, and you’ll be able to match any fighter with any Kameo, so there’s going to be plenty of room for mixing and matching to see what you like best.
How exactly will summoning Kameo fighters work in Mortal Kombat 1? Based on what Boon explained and showcased at Summer Game Fest, players will have plenty of freedom in how much they can summon Kameos (though not entirely without limits). Though a meter will place some limits and prevent you from using Kameos endlessly, you’ll still be able to call them in with some frequency, while sometimes they’ll even be able to come in twice in the same move.
Summoning Kameo characters will be done with a single push of a button, but it looks like there’s still going to be plenty of variation in how you can use them, because which input you combine that button press with determine what attack the Kameo character unleashes- so the button plus forward will do a different attack to the button plus down. That, of course, is going to open up a great deal of options when it comes to combos, with each Kameo offering a different moveset, and being effective in different ways depending on which fighter you’re using them with. On top of that, Kameo characters will also be crucial to actions such as Throws and Breakers, while they will also bring to the table additional changes like team up Fatal Blows and even their own Fatalities.
It remains to be seen exactly how expansive the roster for Kameo characters will be, and which characters it will end up featuring, but at Mortal Kombat 1’s recent showing at Summer Game Fest, we did get a healthy taste of at least a few characters in that roster. The likes of Kano, Sonya, Jax, Stryker, Goro, Kenshi, Kung Lao, Scorpion, and Sub-Zero were all shown in action as Kameos during the gameplay reveal. It was also confirmed that some characters will be included in both rosters – like Sub-Zero and Scoprion – which means you can go into a fight with, say, two Sub-Zeros if you want.
PULLING FROM OLDER GAMES
Something else that series fans may have caught on to is the fact that the Kameo characters seem to be pulling heavily from some of Mortal Kombat’s older entries, and that’s something that Ed Boon confirmed on stage as well. While the full extent of this remains to be seen, it’s pretty clear that we’re going to see plenty of characters in skins and costumes that heavily resemble their classic looks. “A lot of our Kameo fighters are kind of like nods back to our first games,” Boon said. “We have a lot of really good surprises. There’s a lot of it really digging into the old Mortal Kombat games. We really love the novelty of it, we really want the Kameo characters to feel like nods to the old games.”
This wasn’t something that Mortal Kombat 1’s gameplay reveal at SGF explicitly called attention to, but if you have seen that footage, there’s a good chance that this stood out to you. Mortal Kombat 1 is going to sport an incredible new aesthetic, and a lot of it really popped in the stages that we saw in the gameplay footage. From a Shaolin monk academy to vibrant and gorgeous forest to Johnny Cage’s swanky mansion and more, we saw not only a great deal of variety in the environments, but also an incredible level of attention to detail and stunning visual sharpness to really make the stages stand out.
Series staple Johnny Cage has ben a fav favourite for pretty much as long as he’s been around, and he is, of course, going to be featured in Mortal Kombat 1 as well. This time, however, he’s also going to be backed by some serious star power. In the upcoming reboot, Johnny Cage is being voiced by Jean-Claude Van Damme himself, who’s also lending his likeness for the Hollywood star martial arts enthusiast. Van Damme’s role in Bloodsport was, of course, the primary inspiration for Johnny Cage back when the character was first created, so to see the character now being played by the actor himself is certainly going to be interesting for fans, to say the very least.
MORE REVEALS INKOMING
Mortal Kombat 1 is due out on September 19 for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC, but though there’s just a little over three months left until its release now, NetherRealm Studios and WB Games are planning to fill that time with plenty of incoming reveals. To close off the game’s gameplay demonstration at Summer Game Fest, Ed Boon confirmed that the coming weeks will be bringing new reveals for more characters, Kameo fighters, and more.