Mortal Kombat 11 Review — Going Through An Identity Krisis

Accessible to beginners, yet too simplistic for veterans.

Mortal Kombat 11 Review
Overall
3.5
  • Story And Setting
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals And Performance

Verdict

Despite its innovative nature, Mortal Kombat 11 tries too hard to please its casual audience that it pushes away its tried-and-tested identity.

Pros

  • Impressive Visuals.
  • Strong Roster.
  • Accessible.
  • Stable Performance And Online Connectivity.

Cons

  • Underwhelming Story.
  • Minimalistic And Slow Gameplay.
  • Excessive Focus On Grinding.

Since the Mortal Kombat reboot in 2011 with MK9, the franchise has been in a great place. With fast-paced combat, incredible visuals, and an actual story with some effort in it, NetherRealm Studios blew it out of the park with both MK9 and its stronger successor, MKX. As you’d expect, Mortal Kombat 11 had a massive legacy to carry, and while it tries to innovate, it appears to have lost its sense of direction along the way.

Key Takeaways
  • Developer: NetherRealm Studios
  • Publisher: Warner Bros. Entertainment
  • Release Date: April 23, 2019
  • Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia
  • Game Length: 6 Hours
  • Time Played: 40+ Hours
  • Editor’s Note: We thoroughly tested Mortal Kombat 11 on PC, putting over 40 hours into its offline and online modes.

Story And Setting

mk11 story
Meeting MK11’s villain in Chapter 1 (Picture Credits: eXputer)

Mortal Kombat 11’s story does a decent job with an intriguing plot, entertaining the fanservice, strong character arcs, and re-introducing fan-favorite characters. Following the death of Shinnok in MKX, we’re introduced to the franchise’s first Titan, Kronika, an evil godlike being who wants to reset the timeline after Raiden disturbs the balance between good and evil.

As the Keeper of Time, she merges past and present to recruit allies to help her in her mission. This merger helps bring back several dead characters like Shao Kahn, Liu Kang, Baraka, Kitana, and more. It takes a while for everyone to process the situation, but the hero and villain factions quickly form and drive the narrative forward.

Mortal Kombat 11’s story does a decent job with an intriguing plot, entertaining the fanservice, strong character arcs, and re-introducing fan-favorite characters.

The McGuffin here is Kronika’s Crown, which lets the wearer completely control time. Our heroes spend their effort finding the crown before Kronika and her minions do, and the plot branches out from that point forward.

The Active World And Its Characters

Throughout the story, I loved the interactions between past and present characters, experiencing their journeys and how they became who they are. My personal favorite was definitely past Raiden and present Liu Kang, former allies torn apart after Raiden accidentally killed Liu Kang at the end of MK9. The characters’ bonding and dialogue were easily the best part of the campaign for me. 

characters mk11
Young Johnny Cage meeting old Johnny Cage (Picture Credits: eXputer)

Compared to MKX’s grittiness, Mortal Kombat 11 tries to be much broader in scale in terms of setting. The world is packed with details referencing characters and events, like Shang Tsung’s Island. It’s also much more alive, thanks to the abundance of characters in the story and their different narratives. The cutscenes also do help the setting, with animation and voice acting being of certified triple-A quality.

Looking Beyond The Fanservice Reveals Missed Opportunities

The story has some highlights and twists, but as with time travel, it relies too much on that trope and, consequently, has tons of plotholes and head-scratching choices. Kronika was bland, boring, and somewhat foolish, and the new cast of characters introduced alongside her, like Geras, weren’t any different. Some events were also completely baffling and often useless, making the campaign feel inconsistent.

The story has some highlights and twists, but as with time travel, it relies too much on that trope and, consequently, has tons of plotholes and head-scratching choices.

Overall, the Story Mode was a mixed bag for me; it started off extremely strong, but the writing kept taking a nosedive each chapter. A lackluster ending with tons of unanswered questions doesn’t help its case either, but at least I got to see my favorite what-if scenarios come to life.

Gameplay

mk11 gameplay
Noob Saibot vs. Sub-Zero (Screenshot by eXputer)

Mortal Kombat 11 takes a beginner-friendly approach by introducing easier-to-execute moves at the cost of slowing the combat and subduing extra-long combos. Of course, this new style doesn’t sit right with most MK veterans, including myself, especially since MKX established such fluid, fast-paced combat.

I’ll talk about the pros first; I like the cosmetic and moveset variations in MK11 and how you can uniquely personalize your combatant. Each character has a list of gear, skins, and moves apart from their base set that you can swap out and replace in the Kustomize menu. This gives you much more control over your playstyle and keeps the gameplay loop fresh since you won’t meet a replica of a specific character in every online match.

mk11 variations
Character Customizations (Screenshot by eXputer)

The fleshed-out tutorial is another aspect of the game worth appreciating. You get to learn about old and new mechanics extensively, and it’s a great way to find your rhythm early on. This is further complimented by MK11’s cast, which features a massive roster, each with unique movesets, strengths, weaknesses, and intro dialogues.

Slow And Steady Doesn’t Always Win The Race

One of my biggest gripes with MK11 is how slow it’s gotten. The walking speed and attack animations feel so clunky because of how sluggish they are. Due to this, almost every move in this game does serious damage compared to its predecessors, so to even things out, the combos are extremely short and minimalistic.

To make things easier for beginners, the game pushes the “safer” route in its gameplay, so there’s no actual risk to your actions. MK11 seems to hold your hand throughout the experience, and no other features make this more apparent than Breakaways and Fatal Blows.

Fatal Blow mk11
Scorpion’s Fatal Blow (Image taken by eXputer)

Breakaway is a new mechanic that lets you escape during an opponent’s combo to minimize damage. Yes, a one-button action can allow opponents to effortlessly get out of your combos without any repercussions. This wouldn’t be a problem if this were a rare mechanic, but you can often see Breakaway happen eight times a match.

Mortal Kombat 11 takes a beginner-friendly approach by introducing easier-to-execute moves at the cost of slowing the combat and subduing extra-long combos.

On the other hand, Fatal Blow is a once-per-match mechanic that is essentially your X-Ray attack. It’s a two-button move that removes a massive chunk of HP if you land it properly. One major caveat, though — it becomes available when you’re at 30% HP.

This can unfairly give someone a round for free if they’re lucky, unlike MKX, where you had to avoid spending meter just to build up your X-Ray, which you could then use whenever strategically.

A non-combat gameplay feature added to MK11 is The Krypt, a new way to unlock cosmetics, gear, and other unlockables. Unfortunately, this game mode is honestly a crime and a massive grindfest where you run around for hours and spend the currency you earn from matches on chests spread throughout the map.

krypt mk11
Entering The Krypt (Picture Credits: eXputer)

Firstly, earning these currencies is incredibly challenging, and every time you unlock something from a chest, you have to watch a boring and long animation. There’s also the fact that every chest has random rewards, which wouldn’t be a major issue if there weren’t so many. Most of the time, you’ll unlock items for characters you never use, and all your hard-earned Koins, Souls, and Hearts feel wasted.

If you ask me, Mortal Kombat 11 is much closer to Injustice 2 than Mortal Kombat X.

If you ask me, Mortal Kombat 11 is much closer to Injustice 2 than Mortal Kombat X. They deviated from the formula so massively to the point it barely feels like Mortal Kombat at all. I get they wanted to satisfy the casual audience, but sacrificing your game’s distinct identity isn’t the way.

Visuals And Performance

mk11 graphics
The stunning, vibrant visuals of MK11 (Image taken by eXputer)

Everyone knows Mortal Kombat for its uncensored gore, and thankfully, MK11 stays true to that nature. Similar to its predecessors, Mortal Kombat 11 is a treat for the eyes and looks stunning to this day. The character models, the stages, and even the areas in The Krypt are visually amazing and full of vibrant colors, jaw-dropping lighting, subtle details, and general passion.

The Fatal Blows and Fatalities are crisp, detailed, creative, and full of blood and guts. The animations for each move are well-choreographed, and everything feels fluid and seamless. Aesthetically, this game is a complete package, and you’ll rarely get anything better in fighting games.

Similar to its predecessors, Mortal Kombat 11 is a treat for the eyes and looks stunning to this day.

Besides having impressive graphics, MK11 also does a great job of providing a stable experience. I ran the game on maximum settings on an i7-10th Generation laptop with a GTX 1660Ti Mobile, and I wasn’t experiencing any stutters, visual bugs, or general performance issues. Everything is well-optimized, and given its requirements, you can easily run this title on a mid-range PC, and the same goes for PlayStation and Xbox.

Verdict

mk11 verdict
Verdict (Screenshot by eXputer)

Despite its innovative nature, Mortal Kombat 11 tries too hard to please its casual audience that it pushes away its tried-and-tested identity. With great visuals, accessibility options, and characters, the game fails to deliver top-notch writing and gameplay. The excessive grind plagues its long-term progression, which is probably the reason the playerbase diminished so quickly.

If you’re new to the franchise, MK11 is a great place to start; however, for players expecting a recreation of MKX’s dynamic gameplay, this title might disappoint you. For me, combat and fun take priority, and unfortunately, MK11 takes one step back in that department while taking two steps forward in everything else.

This has been my review of Mortal Kombat 11; if you enjoyed reading this, then be sure to check out similar articles from the list below:

Perspective From Other Staff Members

Some of our dedicated fighting game fans here at eXputer had some thoughts regarding MK11 that they felt like sharing:

  • Moiz BanooriComing from Mortal Kombat X, I was extremely disappointed with MK11’s pacing. Instead of learning flashy combos and developing a core style as you did previously, this game was mainly centered around one-button hits and zoning. Matches felt drawn out and unnecessarily long, and the result usually boiled down to who threw the quicker fireballs.
  • Usama MehmoodI definitely agree that Mortal Kombat 11 is a slower game than previous entries, but I think it’s a great way for beginners to learn about their opponents mid-combat. However, the real criminal here is Breakaway; I honestly think it single-handedly ruins the flow of battle and serves as a cheesy, unfair, and undeserving escape route.
Get This Game
If you’re new to Mortal Kombat and want to get into the franchise.
Dont Get This Game
If you dislike slow-paced combat or aren’t a fan of blood and gore.
Do I Need To Get This Game
Depends, since Mortal Kombat 11 is a solid recommendation for beginners but it might be a tough sell to veterans who’re more akin to fast-paced MK titles.
Alternative Fighting Games
  • Tekken 8
  • Street Fighter 6
  • Soul Caliber 6
  • Guilty Gear -Strive
  • The King of Fighters XV
Did you find this helpful? Leave feedback below.

Thanks! Do share your feedback with us. ⚡

How can we make this post better? Your help would be appreciated. ✍

Subscribe to our newsletter and get up-to-speed gaming updates delivered to your inbox.

We don’t spam! Read more in our privacy policy.

Subscribe to our newsletter and get up-to-speed gaming updates delivered to your inbox.

We don’t spam! Read more in our privacy policy.


Daniyal is a Guides Writer and Editor at eXputer with over one year of experience in content writing. He's had a passion for tech and gaming for more than 15 years. Ever since his first console, the PS2, he's constantly branching off to different genres, and his go-to at the moment is the Souls experience pioneered by FromSoftware, which is evident by his 1,500+ hours of game time on Elden Ring. You can learn some more about Daniyal's gaming journey on his Steam & Xbox profiles.

Experience: 1+ Years || Mainly Covers Guides || Education: Bachelors in Computer Sciences.

Related Articles

Join Our Community

Enjoyed this article? Discuss the latest gaming news, get expert help with guides and errors, and chat about all things gaming on eXputer Forums and Discord Server. Connect with fellow gamers who share your passion by becoming a part of eXputer's community.