There's been a lot of discussion about the various 'leaks' that have sprung up over the last year or so regarding MK11. Many people seem to be taking them as gospel, which I think is premature. In any case, 'the leaks say XYZ' is already being used to shut down speculation and discussion, which is aggravating, so I thought I'd sit down and tackle the subject.
Obviously NRS titles have had leaks in the past, including MKX -- most recently, Injustice 2's whole base roster leaked quite a while before the game came out, apparently via someone working on the mobile game. It's very possible one of these leaks is legit, but it's also very possible that all of them are nonsense.
Generally speaking, a fake 'leak' works like a psychic cold reading. A professional psychic uses educated guesses about their subject to aim for a few likely details. If these guesses turn out to be correct -- called a 'hit' in cold reading -- it makes it easier for the subject (or an audience) to buy into the psychic's overall message, even if the rest of what the psychic says does not hit. Usually a cold reading is mostly misses, with a few strong hits that leave the subject believing the psychic does have some sort of power.
A few of these ostensible MK11 leaks have had a couple hits, which makes them on the surface look more credible to the subject (in this case, the fans). Others seem to have been clearly debunked. All of them contradict each other in various ways -- and I've seen people conflating details from different 'leaks', which is a problem when those leaks cannot logically coexist.
In this thread I'll analyze the four prominent alleged leaks we've seen, in chronological order, and break down the likelihood any one of them is legit.
There have been a few other alleged leaks I'm not including here. One was the 'MK11: Timelines' leak, which featured a supposed user interface screen and was quickly debunked as a fake. The other was an alleged leak posted this past July with details from "a musician working on MK11" who supposedly told the poster's cousin all these details while "blackout drunk". That one just does not seem remotely credible to me; at least make up a good story for how you got the intel!
If I've missed another alleged leak that's gotten widespread coverage, please let me know in the replies.
In my transcription of each alleged leak, I'll be using green text to highlight things that appear to be true about MK11 based on what we've seen, yellow text to highlight things seem like they might be true based on what we've seen, and red text to highlight things that have been debunked by official information about the game.
I'm giving each of the leaks a name, for discussion clarity. I'll be updating this post (in particular with more green/yellow/red text) as more information on MK11 rolls in from now until April.
The Salina/Dominic Leak
This was the first supposed leak to get a lot of coverage, over a year ago back in September 2017. A user named Righteoushall04 posted a series of Twitter DMs to Reddit, with the following post title: "TLDR Don't care who believes this or not, dropping it here anyway. From credible friend on Twitter DM's that knows NRS people. Leaked the roster for MKX back in Feb of '15 on his personal website. Have at it, folks."
The 'credible friend' he is referring to is James Fink (@jamessmk), who successfully leaked the MKX base roster. But Fink claims these DMs are fake, an impersonator using his Twitter avatar.
Here is the initial text of the supposed leak:
Righteoushall04 then made another post called "More", where he alleges Fink provided further details and clarifications:
ANALYSIS: On its face, this one looks reasonable. The leaker cleverly goes into detail about supposed steps of the development process, to stress his alleged connection to a source in the NRS team. Establishing authority is an important part of cold reading for an audience. (It's worth noting that the writing style here does not read anything like the way James Fink writes.)
But most of the hits and potential hits here are pretty obvious:
- Spring 2019 fits NRS's regular two year production schedule.
- Most everyone expected the variation system to return in some form.
- Raiden as the main antagonist (possibly true, possibly false) was implied by the post-credits teaser in MKX.
You'll note that this leaker prevaricates a lot about the roster. He throws a bunch of character names out there, but then walks it back by saying some of them may just be NPCs.
- The 'Dream Realm woman' (who might be the woman in the MK11 trailer, but we don't know that for sure yet) is a character most lore nerds have been expecting for over seven years now, based on teases in the MK9 and MKX ladder endings.
There are, also, some big misses:
- No mention of Custom Variations, which are being promoted as the new primary game mechanic.
- No mention of Shao Kahn, whose role as the pre-order character is already a big part of the promotional campaign.
- No mention of time travel, which was suggested in the Announce Trailer and has since been confirmed as a major plot element in official sources ("an epic, time bending story").
- The claim of 10 DLC characters conflicts with the actual leak this week from Italian GameStop, which lists 6 DLC characters in the Kombat Pack. Now, 6 total would be strange given that we got 8 in MKX and 9 in IJ2, so it's possible Italian GameStop is talking about a Kombat Pack 1 of sorts, and there will be a second. Even so, that would still imply 12 total DLC characters by the end of the game, rather than 10. (UPDATE 12/11: As @Alec points out, the '6 characters' figure may be including Shao Kahn, in which case this point might not be a miss. I'll keep an eye on that and update if necessary.)
My gut is telling me this is well-crafted but probably fake.
- UPDATE 12/14: An alleged email leak from NRS notes the hourglass woman's name as Kronika, not Salina. UPDATE 1/10/19: This email leak now appears to be genuine, as it featured the genuine MK11 cover art. We can therefore consider the Salina/Dominic Leak debunked.
The Female Antagonist Leak
This supposed leak comes from a Reddit post by KensKorner on March 8th, 2018, called ""Potential" MK 11 info". He says he found this in other discussions and credits someone named 'spoilerninja', but I can't find that source for this, whatever it may be.
Here is the text of the leak, which is unfortunately one great big block of text. While I'm otherwise trying to transcribe these exactly as-is, I'm going to break this one up for better readability:
ANALYSIS: This one's a mixed bag. On the one hand, this one has the highest number of significant hits. On the other hand, there are some misses here, including one huge one.
- This is the only leak to describe a Crisis On Infinite Earths style plot with the timelines clashing together, which is exactly what the Announce Trailer implies.
- While it doesn't mention a Custom Variation system, the suggestion that there are 'old timeline' and 'new timeline' versions of each character selectable is also a reasonable reading of the two Scorpions in the Announce Trailer.
- This is the only leak of the four that claims a new female character is the primary antagonist of the game, which is also implied by the Announce Trailer.
It's worth noting that this is the only supposed leak to mention an important new female character, but not explicitly identify that character as the Dream Realm woman from Jade's MK9 ending. It simply says she is the antagonist.
- Shao Kahn as the pre-order character is a strong hit, but this has been a popular guess since Goro was the pre-order character for MKX, especially after people saw the revenant Shao Kahn easter egg stuff in the background of Quan Chi's MKX stage. Darkseid being the IJ2 pre-order character just made people clamor for this more, given that Darkseid and Shao Kahn were presented as parallel characters in MK vs. DC.
And the misses:
- Shawn Kittelsen announced on December 8th that there is no MK11 komic coming at all, which shoots a big hole in this one.
- Like the Salina/Dominic Leak above, this leak makes no mention of Custom Variations, which are apparently the primary new game mechanic in MK11.
- The DLC plan outlined here, with DLC packs of 5 characters apiece, does not line up with the Italian GameStop listing claiming there are 6 DLC characters in the Kombat Pack. (But see above, as it's possible Italian GameStop is including Shao Kahn when it says there are 6 characters.)
Overall, I think this one is the strongest of the four in terms of hits. But the claims about a non-existent komic are a pretty brutal miss, so at this point I'm inclined to say fake unless we get more info validating its other claims.
- While the klassic arenas listed here may also return, this leak says there are 4 klassic arenas returning total in the base game, and does not list Shang Tsung's Island -- the first stage revealed for MK11 in the Announce Trailer.
The Oracle LeakThe first version of this alleged leak that I can find popped up here on TYM on June 13th, 2018, posted by user @NothingPersonal, who said it came from a video he had seen which described a since-deleted Reddit post.
A more extensive version of this supposed leak (perhaps the original text the video was describing) was posted (or reposted) to Reddit on Friday, November 30th, by a throwaway account, with the title "Mortal Kombat 11 FULL Roster Leak! Gameplay & Story Details."
It has since been deleted, but here is the full text of the supposed leak (which is long; my apologies):
ANALYSIS: Well. Nobody can say this person didn't put in the effort, at the very least! If this is fake, it's a very comprehensive and thought-out fake, so points for that.
On the surface there are a few strong hits, but again they are reasonably easy to guess:
- Shao Kahn as the pre-order character is the strongest hit, but as I noted above in discussing the Female Antagonist Leak, this was a fairly widespread guess.
- We again see mention of the Dream Realm woman from Jade's MK9 ending as a new character, apparently important to the story. As I said above, this character has been the subject of massive speculation since 2011, and things were only inflamed when former NRS writer Brian Chard confirmed on Twitter that the apparition of 'Jade' in Kitana's MKX ending was the same woman.
This leaker is bold in listing all 31 base roster characters, which would expose a fake immediately if a character not on this list is revealed. A Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, or Jax reveal, for instance, would put paid to this pretty quickly.
- There is a new female character -- the woman with the hourglass -- who looks powerful and mysterious, and she has been confirmed to play a major role in the story. Whether or not this is the Dream Realm woman, however, is still unknown. She certainly does not look like the woman who appeared in Jade's ending in MK9.
Personally I think this roster is a little too good to be true (though not for me, admittedly, as while I'm happy to see Jade, my personal favorites -- Sindel, Tanya, and Mileena -- aren't on it). It features a lot of strongly fan-requested characters. In particular, Frost, Li Mei, and Sareena all being in feels like a pipe dream to me, given how stingy NRS tends to be with both female characters and characters from the PS2 Era. Those ladies are two for two.
I'm also somewhat skeptical that they want to go back to the Onaga well, especially with him possessing Reptile again, as he was never very well-received as an antagonist and fans hated that his resurrection took the very popular Reptile off the board. There's no hint of Onaga in the Announce Trailer, either, which instead suggests the woman with the hourglass as our new primary antagonist. Still, since MKX tackled Shinnok, it's not unreasonable to think MK11 might tackle Onaga.
A simple question, though: how is it that you could have so many details on game modes, mechanics, and the entire roster, but be unable to list a name for any of the new characters besides 'Oracle'?
Finally, the extent to which variations are described as differing from one another here seems to me like an outrageous level of balancing to do for 30+ characters. They've already said balancing the variations in MKX was a challenge.
That's all gut feeling stuff on my part, though. Here are the actual misses:
- While it goes in-depth on new gameplay mechanics, there is again absolutely no mention of Custom Variations, which are being promoted as the new primary game mechanic.
- No mention of time travel, which was suggested in the Announce Trailer and has since been confirmed as a major plot element in official sources ("an epic, time bending story"). This leak does say 'Oracle' has "a major part of the story", but also says the plot is "mostly focused on the New Earthrealm/Outworld Tournament, Dark Raiden who is also the sub boss, And the big Main Threat of the game which is Onaga."
For all my misgivings, at the moment this leak has the most potential of the four, and I'll be keeping an eye on its roster list as characters are revealed.
- UPDATE 12/14: An alleged email leak from NRS, which may or may not be bullshit, claims that Sonya Blade will be voiced by Ronda Rousey -- and presumably therefore playable. The same alleged email leak notes the hourglass woman's name as Kronika, not Oracle. UPDATE 1/10/19: This email leak now appears to be genuine, as it features the genuine MK11 cover art. We can therefore consider the Oracle Leak debunked.
But listing gameplay mechanics without listing the main new gameplay mechanic feels like a huge miss to me -- and the plot this leak describes doesn't feel like the Crisis On Infinite Earths type story with alternate realities that the Announce Trailer seems to be suggesting.
The 4chan Leak
This supposed leak was posted on 4chan on December 1st, 2018, shortly before the reveal at the VGA. The poster claimed to be a QA tester for MK11.
The post has since been deleted, but here is the text of the leak:
In comments on the post, the OP claimed that among the new characters would be a female Tarkatan replacing Baraka. They also said Hsu Hao, Quan Chi, and Sheeva were not playable, and that Stryker would be an NPC. Most notably, they said in a reply that there would be "No variations".
ANALYSIS: This one is the most obviously fake, in my view.
Here are the hits:
- Guessing that the game would be revealed at VGA -- the only upcoming event where such a thing might happen -- is a very easy 'hit'.
- UE3 to UE4 is also a pretty safe bet.
And the misses:
- The idea that you will be able to customize your character is another safe bet after the positive response to aesthetic customization in IJ2.
- With the recent news that Shawn Kittelsen was on the story team for MK11, I'd be surprised to see Reiko, whom Kittelsen already killed off in his MKX komic.
- Absolutely no mention of an important new female character, or of a time travel storyline.
That third miss in particular is a pretty fatal error, which is probably why the post has since been deleted (sometime in the last week, because I c/ped this a few days ago).
- The fact that this person said the game will not have variations at all pretty much debunks this one, since Custom Variations are the new core game mechanic.
All four of these alleged leaks have significant flaws.
In particular, the fact that none of them mention the Custom Variations system, which is being presented as the most important new gameplay mechanic, is pretty damning across the board in my opinion. Anyone who had the level of closeness these leaks claim would presumably have heard about the new primary hook.
For the purposes of discussion, if we are to accept that major flaw, I'd say the two that seem most plausible are the Oracle Leak and the Female Antagonist Leak. The Salina/Dominic Leak is too flimsy to really have a strong opinion on, but I'm leaning towards fake because of how much prevarication it does. The 4chan Leak appears to be debunked, in my view.
Some important points of contradiction, for reference, between the four alleged leaks:
- The Salina/Dominic Leak claims that Daegon is a playable character, and that only 6 characters from the PS2 Era games will be playable: Kenshi, Bo' Rai Cho, Frost, Li Mei, Daegon, and Onaga. The Oracle Leak roster also features only 6 characters from the PS2 Era, but lists Sareena in place of Daegon.
- The Female Antagonist Leak says that Johnny Cage is playable, and claims only 4 of the 8 MKX newbies are returning (Cassie, Takeda, and two others). The Oracle Leak says that Johnny Cage is not playable and that 7 of the 8 MKX newbies are returning (all save Ferra/Torr).
- The Female Antagonist Leak and the Oracle Leak both claim there are 4 new characters in MK11. The Salina/Dominic Leak claims there are 6 new characters. The 4chan Leak does not specify how many new characters there are.
- The Female Antagonist Leak describes only 1 of its alleged 4 new characters: a female antagonist who serves as the final boss. The Oracle Leak describes all 4 of its alleged new characters: Oracle, Kano's son, the First Minister, and a Mystic. The Salina/Dominic Leak describes only 2 of its alleged 6 new characters: Salina and Dominic. The 4chan Leak describes only 1 alleged new character: a female Tarkatan, replacing Baraka.
- The Female Antagonist Leak claims each character will have two variations. The Oracle Leak says each character will have three variations. The Salina/Dominic Leak does not specify how many variations each character will have. The 4chan Leak claims variations are not in the game at all.
- The Salina/Dominic Leak and the Oracle Leak both claim the Dream Realm mystery woman from Jade's MK9 ending is a playable character, but call her by different names (Salina and Oracle, respectively). The Female Antagonist Leak does not claim the new female antagonist is the mystery woman from the Dream Realm.
- Only the Salina/Dominic Leak provides a name (Dominic) for Kano's son, a character also reported in the Oracle Leak -- but also, if we're being honest, just a character strongly implied by Kano's ending in MKX.
I've seen people mixing and matching from these ostensible leaks on here and on Reddit, so I thought this would be helpful. Our own @Juggs for example claims "his sources" describe both Oracle and Dominic as new characters -- which could be possible, if perhaps he has intel beyond these alleged leaks! I'm not calling anybody out, here. But from what I'm looking at, the name Dominic comes from the same supposed leak which names the Dream Realm character as Salina, not Oracle.
- The Female Antagonist Leak claims the final boss of the game is a new female character (hence my name for it). The Oracle Leak claims that the final boss of the game is Onaga. The Salina/Dominic Leak also claims Onaga is in the game, but says Raiden is the main antagonist (whether this means he is the final boss is unclear). The 4chan Leak does not describe the final boss at all.
In general, I'm not convinced any of these are real, but I'll be updating this post with hits and misses as the lead-up to the game's release continues.
UPDATE 1/10/19: With the apparent confirmation of the email leak, all of these now appear to be officially debunked. The Female Antagonist Leak remains the most compelling, but claiming a new comic book was coming is a significant miss.
UPDATE 1/17/19: With the reveal of Baraka, the Female Antagonist Leak is also now debunked.
MK11 'Leaks': A Case-by-Case Analysis