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Do variations support or harm the fun?

do variatons help or harm the game

  • help

    Votes: 12 14.1%
  • harm

    Votes: 49 57.6%
  • both

    Votes: 18 21.2%
  • none

    Votes: 2 2.4%
  • dont know

    Votes: 3 3.5%
  • dont care

    Votes: 1 1.2%

  • Total voters
what are the pros and cons of the variation system? i think this issue matters for both personal fun as well as tournament hype. ill try to start a discussion about the future of MK.

with variations, you get to use and see more different characters and actually individualize your gaming experience to a high degree. variations are ultimately a reaction to the balance disaster of mk9, where some characters were barely played while others were dominant. having different variations for each character raises the chances that at least one of them is playable without severe disadvantages.

but the problem is partly just pushed back a layer. while you now have better chances to see all characters just in terms of visual and personality style, many of the actual gameplay-variations will be a rare sight. the variation solution covers the imbalance lore-wise, but not gameplay-wise.

also, a core part of the fun to me is not only to master a variation, but also all the matchups. but a game with three variations per character now has almost a hundred variations, which in terms of gameplay have to be viewed as unique characters, even though there are similar triplets. who, except a handful of people on the world, can learn that? the result is that many matches will be decided by matchup unfamiliarity, which is less fun to play AND watch to me than fully fleshed out characters in explored matchups going at each other. the latter would be the highest possible level of play and enjoyment to me.

these are my points, im glad to hear others. i think that the variation system has introduced appreciable individual freedom and character balance (lorewise), but also introduced overcomplexity and randomness. the perfect solution to me would be a game with a limited amount of chars/variations but great balance. Great balance is something that is hard to foretell and achieve though, so varations might minimize the risk of having an extremely lopsided game.

practically, i can imagine the next mk having 2 variations per char, which would at the same time reduce imbalance while keeping the complexity at a managable level. but variations shouldnt consist of more or less randomly thrown together specials like mk11, but fully fleshed out unique styles like in mkx. maybe they can start the production with a single archetype in mind, then design the 2nd variation to cover the chars weaknesses.

i could also appreciate (maybe even more) to move back to mid-game style switches like in the 3d era.


Let’s see whose fire burns hotter
There are no pros. These guys don’t know how to make a good variation system since there are lots of misses and a couple of hits. The amount of characters and they COMPLETELY different set of skills and MOVES is what matters to me. So far everyone’s using only one solid variation that their characters have (if they’re lucky and some NRS idiot doesn’t mess things up by locking Some variations out of the competitive mode: Raiden, Scorpion, Kollector).
Also, you can’t just sell your game and call custom variations the biggest change only to lock them on release.


Variations were implemented poorly in this game. Many tournament-legal Variations were just lazily cobbled together at the last second, hence the lack of synergy and/or some moves being downright useless. Variations were handled much better in MKX since many characters had at least 2 viable Variation. I can’t think of more than a handful of characters in this game that has more than 1 viable tournament-legal Variation.

The fact that the game launched with only 2 Variations per character AND one had to make the tournament-legal Variations her/himself to train is proof NRS intended custom Variations to be standard, but probably found broken crap and panicked at the last second. After this and some broken Gear moves in I2, hopefully the Variation crap will never see the light of day again.


Premium Supporter
I think NRS should unlock customs for all characters and make that the tournament and ranked standard. They don't have to do this in the next few months, but near or around 2021 they should allow customs.

MK9 was unique because it had no variations, no interactables, and Tag Kombat.

MKX was unique because it had variations.

MK11 is unique because we can customize our character(s) and make them play how we want.

Hebrew Negro

KingofBosz97 XBL
The whole appeal of MK11 were custom variations and they just shit in our mouths. This has always been my #1 complaint in that they should've allowed customs rather than throwing in two shitty variations at the last second. I'd even be okay with them locking some moves going together because characters like noob could be od asf.
A lot of the moves locked in custom aren't even properly balance. When they made 3rd variations, Outake Johnny and Upgraded Jacqui became some of the most broken characters in the game.

Outake Johnny is still stupid. And Upgraded Jacqui isn't evening playing MK11. She looks like some character from MVC2 thrown into a slow game.


1 2 3 drink
Premium Supporter
i rather have no variations so you dont get bullshit like special moves only available in a mode nobody plays and cares about. If your afraid that the move will be unbalanced when its available in all modes, then balance it or stop making abilities that are unbalanced.
a lot of people seem to want to trade preset variations against custom… that was totally not my intention when i asked if variations harm the game. custom variations even enhance the problems i see introduced by variations, like too many matchups to learn and match outcomes dominated by matchup unfamiliarity/randomness.


i voted for both.
sure, the system is not perfect and can be improved but at the end you have 3 variations to explore during lab time.
they might not be all viable or some are better then others but not everyone goes for the topdog variation and instead picks the one he likes more even when it might not be as efficient. wasted moves which are not in the loadout should not exist on the other hand because it seems like a huge waste of dev time.


The problem of variations in MK 11, for me, is that the base moveset of many characters is not strong enough.

Variations should be an addition to diversify movesets in various specific ways. But in MK11, variations just look like base/fundamental moves were removed to be abilities. For example, Kitana or Jade are incomplete and will always be for me. Removing key moves was a weird decision.

Not to mention the fact some abilities can't be mixed together, and many variations have not their unique style and personnality, as if NRS had not really thought about it, and just mixed abilites randomly. There is in many variations one weird ability who does not work with the other two, and is not well developed.


i'd rather they scrap the idea entirely and just focus on each character being individually complete and workable
Can you actually elaborate on that? what do you mean by complete and workable?

Also, to everyone that think variations do more harm than good, let's pretend MK11 didn't have variations, what do you really think it would happen with each character?


Variations are not a bad thing, but MKX variations worked better than in MK11, in my opinion.


Let’s see whose fire burns hotter
Variations are not a bad thing, but MKX variations worked better than in MK11, in my opinion.
I doubt it. Everyone would choose only one solid variation: Thunder God Raiden, Summoner Chi, Dragon Fire Liu, Grandmaster Sub (there are all year one variations) and I don’t remember abyone choose other variations at tourney for these and the rest of the roster. Maybe Cage, Cassie, Tremor, Scorpion and a couple of others had 2 solid variations but overall there was only one.

Helter Skelter

I think NRS should unlock customs for all characters and make that the tournament and ranked standard. They don't have to do this in the next few months, but near or around 2021 they should allow customs.

MK9 was unique because it had no variations, no interactables, and Tag Kombat.

MKX was unique because it had variations.

MK11 is unique because we can customize our character(s) and make them play how we want.
I completely agree with this. Custom variations would give the game more identity than if the characters just had one package.

I just wish they would change the tournament standard to 3/5 rounds per match to further compliment and hopefully balance the variation system (and probably the game as a whole).
it's obvious nrs didn't know what they were getting into when they saw how excited the competitive scene was getting for customs even though they knew balancing would come into play and they couldn't figure out a plan to balance between the reveal and the release. I'll never forget when they said that they made moves that were clearly unintended for competitively play and just made for fun romping around in towers or whatever else. it's like a spit in the face of competition.
I think that more focus should have been put into making a solid base character and then the customization just extends the game play, rather than trying to change it.

Characters like Liu Kang or Scorpion are examples of where they actually did this well. They are solid characters just on their own and none of the variations particularly changes what they do, they just give them some different ways to do it.

Then you have other characters where you have the zoning variation and the combo variation or the set up variation and then it's either that only one of them actually works because you gut so much by removing something or none of them particularly work. Guys like Kano and Noob can be awesome in Kasuals because you can put the good things together, but they're lacking in what's available in the tournament builds. You don't really need different play styles for the same character. You can play other characters if you want a different play style.


God Fist Lao
Variations should have stayed in mkx that was it's thing. Now look what MK11 has come too. Liu kang has a better teleport than kung Lao.... Yeah make that make sense.
Reactions: JTC
I think overall variations help the game, but their execution of such ultimately harms it. Like many, I was looking forward to the custom system just for them to essentially throw it in the trash by their own admission because apparently some of the abilities were never meant to make it into comp variations or something, which imo completely wastes all of the manpower spent making them, so agreed with @spidey300 on that note.

I think variations and custom variations can work, but NRS needed to believe in their own system and give it the proper attention it deserves rather than copping out for the safety of curated variations, effectively killing its own concept.
On the one hand you could say it's all about fun, so casuals can enjoy the custom abilities or whatever and everything is fine, but it's really not fun to have an ability that just sucks inexplicably because lol it's just a custom move. Even several ranked variations are filled with abilities that make no sense.
Also, casuals are annoyed too having to put up with the likes of Terminate and similar shit.

I truly believe there's merit to variations and customizing, but NRS really needs to get out of their own way when it comes to the follow through. Or WB, whomever fucked it up.

I'd like to float an idea I've been thinking about with variations and how we can improve them for open customs similar to how Raiden's Quick Charge works:
  • imagine we have Abilities A, B, and C.
  • Ability A has a sub text on it that says "when equipped with Ability B, unlock x feature" where x could be a new KB, new way to use the move, etc.
  • Ability B might say it combines with both C or A, but C or A can't also be together for balance purposes, etc
It's rough but I think something like this could really make the variation system far more interesting in terms of options and potential effectiveness/balance/fun factors.
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Day-0 Fujin main
Honestly I think NRS should take the Killer Instinct approach when making characters. Every character in that game has unique mechanics and all of them feel very different from one another -- including the bonus clone characters like Omen, Shin Hisako, etc.

Seriously, learning them all was such a joy. TJ Combo can cash out his combos if he does one of every poke, or he can repeat a poke to keep the opponent standing and he gets tons of +frames. With Maya you have to learn how to juggle daggers at all times. With Aganos you could create walls to change the boundaries of the stage. I could go on and on.

Maybe MK11 shouldn't be AS advanced because apart of the appeal of NRS games is the fact they are easier to learn, but they should 100% have more solid archetypes and just more unique movesets in general. A lot of characters in MK11 kinda feel the same-ish, and I do feel the variation system is to blame for that. 1) We can't even experience custom variations in competitive play even though it's the entire point of the system and how they marketed the game, but 2) it means NRS has to find a way to make every character "play how you want" which at this point I think is impossible and just holds back their character/moveset design.

Seriously imagine if Sub-Zero was unique because he could make different weapons like daggers, swords, axes, and each changes his moveset slightly. But another character like Frost could freeze huge parts of the stage causing negative status effects for the opponent.

The thing is Jax basically fits what I'm talking about. He has his special arm heating mechanic, and the gotcha grab can even be used to wallsplat and reset the opponent (very similar to KI). It's not huge but still, he's the only character that has the kinda stuff.

TL;DR, I really do think variations hurt MK11 and NRS should change the way they design characters going forward. Maybe Injustice should be the series with the gear and loadout systems, but not MK.


Mexican street vendor
My problems with variations is they take one complete character and them strip them out into 3 watered down versions. Too many variations are useless as well and don't provide anything the other 2 already do.


Premium Supporter
With the current movepool and toned down gameplay, I see variations hurting the fun value in the game. This game was built on the idea that characters would be able to customize their own moves. Using variations to piggyback off of that idea does not work. There are many variations that feel incomplete because of this. Unlocking custom variations for competitive play would alleviate this problem and make the game way more fun.