Mortal Kombat 1 is finally here, bringing the long-running and beloved fighting franchise into an entirely new era, where the rules have been rewritten and nothing can be taken for granted- in a narrative sense, at least. On the gameplay front, the newest instalment in NetherRealm’s series features a healthy mix of both new and familiar elements. To help you get to grips with those elements better as you dive into the game, here, we’ve compiled a few handy pointers that you should keep in mind while you play the game.
Mortal Kombat veterans might not necessarily be used to seeing individual arcade endings for characters tying into the main story- at least not in a canonical way, seeing as in the past, they’ve tended to be more “what if” scenarios than anything else. In Mortal Kombat 1, however, things have changed. Arcade endings for each character are now officially part of the canon, and show not only things that happen to them after the main story’s events, but at times also set things up for the future- whether that’s for potential DLCs or for sequels, time will tell. Either way, for the series fanatics out there who’re invested in the story, the arcade endings are well worth hunting down.
LONG RANGE ATTACKS
The meta of Mortal Kombat 1 will become clearer in the weeks and months ahead, as is often the case with fighting games in general, but of course, one thing is going to be clear to all players right off the bat. As per usual, long range attacks are incredibly useful, from Johnny Cage’s Shadow Kick to Scorpion’s classic spear throw to Raiden’s torpedo- which, of course, means it’s important that you get to mastering them as soon as possible. You can always head into the tutorials to do that, but if you’re looking for a bit more of a competitive edge, you can try and practice on any lesser experienced players you might run into in the game’s online offerings.
Kameo fighters are Mortal Kombat 1’s biggest new addition where its gameplay mechanics are concerned, and they’re a bit more involved than your regular fighting game assist characters (to say the very least). Each Kameo has different moves at their disposal, and knowing when to use them and how to use them can be key- and we’re not just talking about dealing damage to your opponents here. For instance, if you’ve headed into a fight with Scorpion or Kung Lao as your Kameo fighter, using their spear or teleport ability respectively, you can quickly pull your main fighter out of a sticky spot. Meanwhile, other Kameos, like Cyrax, for instance, can dish out some pretty explosive moves (and we’re not talking figuratively here), and while those do obviously do plenty of damage to your foes, if you’re caught in the blast, you’re going to take damage as well- so be smart about when and where to use your Kameo fighter’s moves, not just which move to use.
Mortal Kombat 1 offers a pretty decent selection of Kameo fighters that are available to you right off the bat, but a handful of them do still need to be unlocked. And how do you unlock them? Well, it’s pretty straightforward- Kameo unlocks are tied to your overall Account Level. At Level 5, you’ll unlock Scorpion, Sub-Zero at Level 10, Kung Lao at Level 15, Shunjiko at Level 20, and Motaro at Level 25.
When it comes to Mortal Kombat 1’s roster of main fighters (of which there are 23), almost all of them are unlocked for you as soon as you jump into the game. There are two exceptions to that, however- there’s Shang Tsung, who is only available to those who pre-ordered the game (and will also be made available as paid DLC to everyone else at a later, currently unknown date), and there’s Havik, who is unlocked within the game itself. To unlock Havik, you need to finish the game’s story mode. That’s a 6-8 hour time commitment, depending on what difficulty you’re playing at.
Beyond the overarching Account Level system, Mortal Kombat 1 has a few other underlying progression systems to keep an eye on as well. In a nutshell, every single main fighter and Kameo character has their own individual level, and as each of them levels up further and futher, they unlock new things, like Brutalities, Fatalies, Taunts, Kostumes, and more. Is it a little grindy? Well, definitely on paper, and depending on how much fun you’re having with the game, it could be. But if you like Mortal Kombat 1’s, well, combat (which you very likely will), it can be very enjoyable to level up each individual character and Kameo (or your favourite ones, at the very least) and get all of their unlockables, especially if you like doing completionist playthroughs.
So how exactly do you level up your fighters and Kameos? Well, as you’d expect, they do keep gaining levels through the regular course of gameplay- if, however, you’re looking to power through and level up quickly, there are some ways to do that. One that we’d recommend is to hop right into the Invasions mode. For the most part, difficulty in Invasions is pretty welcoming to all players, and it serves as a great way to level up all fighters and Kameos, especially given the variety of gameplay and scenarios it offers.
THE BEST UNLOCKS
True to the spirit of a Mortal Konbat game (and of a fighter), Mortal Kombat 1 has plenty of unlockables beyond characters and Kameos, and a couple of these are found in the excellent new single player board game-esque RPG mode, Invasions. Once you beat the Scorpion boss fight at the Fire Temple, you will, for starters, unlock the Blaze of Glory skin for Scorpion, which is perhaps one of the best skins available in the game (though that, of course, is probably down to preference). Additionally, beating him also nets you with a Nether Stone, which can be used to unlock the many impassible portals you’ll find throughout the mode. These portals cannot be unlocked any other way, so if you want to see all the content that lies through them, you’re going to need a Nether Stone.
In Invasions mode, you will, on occasion, be given cryptic Klues, which, if deciphered, will enable you to complete specific challenges, which, in turn, will help you unlock various unlockables. Figuring out what these Klues are pointing to can be a bit tricky, and you’ll need to dive into your knowledge of the Mortal Kombat franchise to decipher their solutions. The Klue “TOASTY!!!”, for instance, is an easy one- you need to finish the match with Kameo Scorpion’s Fatality. Another Klue is “BRUTAL WAYS”, for which the solution is to finish a match with any of Havik’s Fatalities. Then there’s “ELEMENT THAT BRINGS LIFE”, for which you need to finish a match with Rain’s Fatality. Most of the Klues are solved with different Fatalities, so you need to figure out which character they’re referring to. There are, however, a couple of them that are solved with other actions- like “FLIPPING OUT”, for which you need to flip stance 30 times in a single match.
TALISMANS AND RELICS
Something that’s definitely worth keeping in mind while playing Invasions is your equipment, and depending on what Talismans and Buffs you have equipped, things can very much work out in your favour. Talismans have limited charges and let you unleash unique attacks, while Relics are more of a risk/reward thing that provide different buffs while also nerfing you in some way. Both of them can be particularly useful, depending on which fight you’re headed into, so it’s definitely worth it to pay some attention to how your characters are kitted out on that front. They can be unlocked through leveling up, or bought from the Kollector, Talismans can also be recharged and upgraded at the Foundry.