MK1: 10 Best Characters [Our Picks]

I've garned roughly 50 hours in MK1 to help you discover the best characters, breaking down their pros, cons, and playstyle.

MK1 has many different Best Characters, each with their own personality and cool fighting moves. But if you’re new to Mortal Kombat, picking a character that’s easy for beginners can be tough, especially with the new gameplay mechanics and changes in MK1.

Key Takeaways
  • Mortal Kombat 1 features a roster of 23 base game fighters, offering a wide variety of playstyles and abilities.
  • Selecting the right character, especially for beginners, can be challenging due to new gameplay mechanics and changes.
  • Several characters stand out as some of the best in Mortal Kombat 1, each with unique strengths and abilities.
  • These characters have different playstyles, allowing players to choose characters that match their preferred combat approach.
  • These characters are suitable for players of all skill levels, from beginners to experts.

MK1 Best Characters

Here is the summary of the Best Characters In MK1 according to my in-game experience:

RankCharactersPlaystyleBest For
1KenshiChallenging, complex combos with SentoPressure
2Liu KangVersatile, easy-to-learn combosDamage Output
3Sub-ZeroFreezing abilities, defensive-aggressiveZoning
4RaidenLightning-based, ranged projectilesCombo Extensions
5ReptileVersatile moveset, invisibilityVersatility
6Kung LaoHat throws, devastating dive kickQuick Attacks
7GerasTime manipulation, unpredictable attacksCreativity
8KitanaVersatile projectiles, aerial combatAerial Combos
9Johnny CageFlashy, mix of simple and complex combosCompatibility With Kameos
10ScorpionBalanced playstyle, iconic movesetBeginners

10. Scorpion

The Best Character For Beginners.
Scorpion [Image Captured by eXputer]
  • Why I Chose This: From what I’ve tested thus far, Scorpion delivers consistent performance across different skill levels, from beginners to pros.

Scorpion maintains his recognizable moveset, including teleports, “get over here” grabs, and fiery attacks. A reliable character, ideal for practicing combos and mastering Mortal Kombat 1’s mechanics. Scorpion continues to be a powerful and iconic presence as one of the best characters in Mortal Kombat 1.

  • Iconic and easily recognizable moveset.
  • Offers a balanced playstyle.
  • Versatile and adaptable.
  • Remains a fan-favorite character.
  • No mixups.
  • All high starters.
  • Dependant on Kameo Fighters.

9. Johnny Cage

The Most Kameo-Compatible Character.
Johnny-Cage [Image by eXputer]
  • Why I Chose This: His Hype ability allows him to cancel into special moves, adding versatility to his combos and attacks.

Known for his iconic moves and humorous personality, Johnny Cage plays a prominent role in the Mortal Kombat 1 storyline. Johnny Cage offers an MK1 character skin in the likeness of the famous martial arts actor Jean-Claude Van Damme.

  • Several powerful special movies.
  • Provides a mix of both simple and complex combos.
  • High damage potential and varied mix-ups.
  • Weak to zoning characters.
  • Some attacks, when blocked, nullify all pressure.

8. Kitana

Best For Aerial Combos In MK1.
Kitana [Image by eXputer]
  • Why I Chose This: During the Mortal Kombat Stress Test, her infinite combo demonstrated her formidable capabilities, earning her a top-tier position in the MK1 tier list.

Kitana wields her trademark fans, which come with blood-spilling attacks and fatalities, making her one of the best characters in Mortal Kombat 1. While her fans may not match the sheer power of some other characters, Kitana’s potential for devastating combos and lethal attacks is evident.

  • Versatile projectiles and stunning moves.
  • Top-tier aerial combat and combos.
  • Several effective launchers.
  • Requires careful positioning.
  • Damage output feels slightly underwhelming.
  • Combos have a few openings for the opponent to escape.

7. Geras

The Most Creative Character In MK1.
Geras [Image Captured by eXputer]
  • Why I Chose This: A skilled player’s choice, Geras offers both power and finesse, making him an elite character in Mortal Kombat 1.

Returning from Mortal Kombat 11, Geras brings god-like strength and sand-based attacks to Mortal Kombat 1. He has the ability to manipulate time and can perform time-shifting maneuvers, command grabs, and stunning attacks.

  • Time powers allow easy combos.
  • Unique skillset.
  • Unpredictable command grabs.
  • High-damage combos.
  • Slow attacks.
  • Easily punishable.
  • Wanky hitboxes on some attacks.

6. Kung Lao

The Quickest Character In MK1.
Kung-Lao [Image by eXputer]
  • Why I Chose This: Despite the removal of his classic teleport move, Kung Lao’s iconic bladed hat moves, including finishers, maintain his reputation as a formidable fighter.

Kung Lao’s absence of his signature weapon, the bladed hat, is a central plot point in Mortal Kombat 1, promising to shed light on how he reclaims it during the storyline. Surprisingly, he also lacks his teleport move in this edition, which affects his overall versatility and playstyle.

  • Several long-range options.
  • Dive kick deals high damage.
  • Extremely quick attacks.
  • Puts significant pressure in the corner.
  • Catches opponents mid-jumping.
  • Generally feels boring to play with.
  • Lost a lot of mobility options in MK1.

5. Reptile

The Most Versatile Character In MK1.
Reptile [Image Captured by eXputer]
  • Why I Chose This: His versatile moveset, including acid spit, force ball, falling fangs, and death roll, grants him a formidable edge.

Making his debut as a secret boss in 1992, Reptile, originally known as Syzoth, is a unique Zaterran from Outworld, renowned for his shape-shifting capabilities and agility. In Mortal Kombat 1, he’s a fan favorite due to his expansive moveset, ranging from classic acid spit to newly introduced moves like falling fangs and the death roll.

  • Beefy damage output.
  • Extremely strong in early-game play.
  • Versatile moveset.
  • Several long-range and close-range options.
  • Great low attacks.
  • Predictable moveset.
  • Easily punishable.

4. Sub-Zero

The Best Combo-Extending Character In MK1.
Sub-Zero [Image Captured by eXputer]
  • Why I Chose This: Sub-Zero’s chilling abilities, especially his iconic ice ball moves, allowed me to dictate the battle tempo, compelling opponents to adapt to his icy attack patterns.

Sub-Zero, a golden character in the Mortal Kombat series, is celebrated for his chilling ice-based techniques that control the pace of battles. In MK1, he firmly secures a good ranking thanks to his freezing moves, signature abilities, and the new Deadly Vapours addition.

  • Several combo-extenders.
  • Bread and butter combos do good damage.
  • Defensive tactics.
  • Impressive synergy with Kameo fighters.
  • Wanky damage output when using meter.

3. Raiden

The Best Zoning Character In MK1.
Raiden [Image Captured by eXputer]
  • Why I Chose This: He possesses an array of low and overhead attacks, making him unpredictable in combat.

Raiden has now joined the ranks as an eager recruit and still wielding his electrifying abilities. He is a main roster character and distinguishes himself with his monk attire and unwavering sense of righteousness. He possesses an array of low and overhead attacks, making him unpredictable in combat.

  • Versatile moveset.
  • High damage output.
  • Great mixups and zoning.
  • Anti-airs are extremely challenging to counter.
  • Only 1 viable overhead.
  • Some moves feel sluggish.

2. Liu Kang

The Best Damage-Dealing Character In MK1.
Liu-Kang [Image Captured by eXputer]
  • Why I Chose This: I was surprised by Liu Kang’s nasty damage output, and the way he melts HP with basic combos puts him extremely high on my list.

Liu Kang, now a god in the Mortal Kombat universe, remains an iconic character with kung-fu moves and fire abilities. In Mortal Kombat 1, Liu Kang retains his classic moves but with enhancements to his signature abilities, making him even more formidable and one of the best characters.  

  • Easy-to-learn combos.
  • Unbelievably high damage output.
  • Balanced kit.
  • Great chip damage.
  • Lacks mixups.

1. Kenshi

The Best Pressure-Keeping Character In MK1.
Kenshi [Image by eXputer]
  • Why I Chose This: A ghostly samurai, part of his special stance, can attack even while Kenshi is blocking, putting so much pressure on the opponent that it’s rarely ever failed me.

Kenshi embarks on a quest to recover his iconic blade from a famous actor, with the Kameo fighter backing him up. His campaign takes an intriguing twist as he loses his sight and gains the power of the Sento blade. Skilled players can effectively counter faster fighters by mastering Kenshi’s complex combos.

  • Stagger pressure alone can win matches.
  • High damage output.
  • High chip damage.
  • Strong at close range.
  • Sento is confusing to counter for new players.
  • Challenging to learn.

That’s it on the MK1 Best Characters. Read the Mortal Kombat 1 Trophy Guide if you will be going on a trophy hunt, as knowing all trophies can help you be a completionist. If you wanna kill your opponent in the most gruesome ways possible, learn to Unlock Fatalities in Mortal Kombat 1 as every characters has two fatalities. If you wanna feel some RPG elements, try the Invasion Mode in Mortal Kombat 1. ;


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Irfan Ansari is a Senior Editor and Guides Writer on eXputer. He has seven years of Video Game Journalism experience and has been gaming for more than 22 years. Over his editorial career, he has gained experience at multiple sites, including TheGamer and VeryAli Gaming. Irfan has also earned a degree in Writing and Editing from the University of Michigan. Learn some more about Irfan's gaming journey on his Steam, PSN, and Xbox profiles.

Experience: 7+ Years || Worked for TheGamer and VeryAli Gaming

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