‘Mortal Kombat 11’ Hands-On

Today’s Mortal Kombat 11 reveal certainly didn’t disappoint when it came to giving fans what [...]

Today's Mortal Kombat 11 reveal certainly didn't disappoint when it came to giving fans what they wanted, between returns of characters like Baraka and Skarlett; as well as surprising new faces like the devastating Geras. But the real question a lot of players have is, "Well, how does it play?" Well, if you're familiar with Mortal Kombat XL- or even Injustice 2, to an extent- you'll be right at home with how MK11 feels.


That's because NetherRealm keeps fairly steady with the gameplay mechanics. As with previous games, you have two punch and two kick buttons, as well as being able to grab your opponent, use items in the environment (a staple of NetherRealm games over the past few years) and other more intricate moves, which we'll get to in a second.

First off, the combat (Kombat?) feels wonderfully balanced. You can set up combos with ease and execute special moves pretty handily, such as Sonya's energy rings and Scorpion's traditional "get over here!" spear, although it's obviously better to pull them off with a D-pad than an analog stick because of accuracy. That'll no doubt make people that own fightsticks happy.

Secondly, the flow of combat is smoother than Mortal Kombat XL, based on the sessions we had. New and old combatants mix it up beautifully here, barely missing a beat with their offensive moves. And defense plays its part as well, particularly with counters and the ability to execute a Final Blow to help turn things back in their favor. (More on that in a second.)

There are also key moments where X-Ray style tactics pop up, with an opponent's skull getting crushed or some other visceral move that has you wondering, "Sooooo how are they able to continue past that?" But it's all in good fun, with the same spirited, over-the-top, gory style that we've seen in previous games.

These, combined with the X-Rays, are a treat in themselves. But then there's the Final Blow, in which an opponent on their last legs can time a special move to send their rival down to their level. These moves are cinematic and a lot of fun to watch, particularly Sonya, who drags hers into the line of fire of a turret, before it shoots them in the head. Um, ouch.

As for the fatalities, we only tried out a few that were provided in the demo. But...man, are they brutal. For instance, Sonya's involves throwing your opponent into the air towards a helicopter, then shooting them multiple times until they fly into the blades and get chopped to bits. Geras' is just as brutal, as he literally smashes his opponent to pieces, before "blowing" their brains out with a well-timed punch. They're a bit gruesome, but perfect for those that get into the MK mentality.

Aside from gameplay, the presentation really flows smoothly with MK11 as well. The three stages we played through look like something ripped from the world of MK, right down to Shang Tsung's training ground and Sonya Blade's military camp, where a gigantic turret spins around. They're elegantly designed and set the stage (literally) for the battles to come. The animation is sharp too, with each character distinctively designed based on their combat (Kombat?) styles. They really pop to life here (before you kill them, anyway).

The music and voicework is top notch as well, fitting into that same mold that made Mortal Kombat XL work so well. Ronda Rousey is a great listen as Sonya Blade, but we're also fans of Baraka's growls and Skarlett's sultry voice. And we're just getting started, as more talent is likely to be introduced to the game in the months ahead.

Mortal Kombat 11 is nothing short of a blast thus far. It's too soon to tell if it can surpass NetherRealm's work on Injustice 2, since that was an amazing brawler. But this has the same level of character, even if its viscerality is on a much more heightened level. We can't wait to see how the full game fares when it drops on April 23 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC!

Disclaimer: A big thank you to Warner Bros. for flying us out to check the game and experience out!