Mortal Kombat 9 brought the klassic fighting game back to the spotlight in all of its ultra-violent glory. Fans were delighted to be breaking spines, ripping off heads, and severing limbs again, buffered by the best story mode a fighting game has ever seen. With a new generation of consoles now among us, NetherRealm is wasting little time, unleashing Mortal Kombat X at this year’s E3. All I can say is I hope you like blood, because there is a lot of it.
The E3 demo sported six characters: Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and four brand new faces. D’Vorah is an insect woman capable of flight and massive damage through her spike-like bug appendages. Ferra/Tor is a tiny warrior girl riding a Master Blaster-esque behemoth. Cassie Cage is the daughter of Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade (which still blows my mind a week later). Finally, Kotal Kahn is an Aztec warrior with a penchant for blood and lots of it, but we don’t yet know if his name ending in “Kahn” is important. A quick glimpse at the character select screen also showed a lot of silhouettes that I don’t recognize, so perhaps Boon and company are taking the “new generation of consoles means new generation of fighters” approach. If so, I approve.
The biggest change to the fighting mechanics lies in Character Variations. Each character will always have trademark moves, like Scorpion’s spear, but before a match begins a player will be able to choose between three different “variations,” each with its own set of perks and visual changes. For example, D’Vorah’s “Venomous” variation drops her total damage output, but each successful does a little bit of residual damage over time due to “poisoning.” You’ll know that you’re fighting a Venomous D’Vorah because she’ll have a green aura of venom around her fists, dripping to the ground every so often. It’s an interesting way to keep match fresh, as you’ll never really know what to expect until the match begins.
One thing that’s not changing in Mortal Kombat X? The gore! Boon and his team are not pulling any punches, using the power of the new-gen systems to attempt maximum gross-outs. X-Ray moves return, even more realistic than ever; Cassie Cage’s move will make every man playing cringe with its literally ball-busting punches to the groin.
Fatalities are back as well, and while I don’t shock very easily, some of what I saw was insane. The Scorpion Fatality from the Sony presentation ends with that sword slash to the face, followed the face peeling off of the skull and the victim dropping to the ground dead, the exposed tongue twitching and blood pouring from what used to be nostrils. All six characters had at least one Fatality to show, but leave it to Scorpion to make the biggest initial impact.
There’s still a lot about Mortal Kombat X we aren’t sure about. Boon talked numerous times about a “persistent online world,” but he hasn’t elaborated any more on it. We also know that there will be a story mode, starting at the end of MK9’s tale and spanning 25 years or so, but that’s about it on that front. Finally, there’s about 20 silhouettes on that title screen we haven’t seen yet, meaning that the roster will at least be as big as MK9.
What we do know, however, is what’s most important: Mortal Kombat is back in a big way, and MKX might end up be the bloodiest yet.
Mortal Kombat X is slated for release on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in 2015.