Well. That was a hell of a night.
The MK11 reveal at London was a once in a lifetime gig. Not only was the who’s who of the European NRS community there, like me, but so was MK11.
I’d like it formally noted that I woke up at 4am to catch my flight and was awake until 40 hours later when I got home after catching a 6am flight home the next day and putting in six hours in ‘actual’ work. I did all this with strep throat. What I’m saying is, you people better raise shrines to me. Nothing too ostentatious, I’m not @Braindead
I’d also like to formally thank and shout out not only NRS and Tyler Lansdown for making this all happen, but also the numerous players all of whom were incredibly generous with discussing the game and helping me gather as much knowledge as I could, far beyond my own paltry skills. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, Ketchup, Mustard, @1man3letters, @IrishMantis, Lar, Youphemism, Shorteh, Luciano, that Dutch dude who got insanely salty about Baraka’s Spark, Tristian, Nausea, Derek Kirtzic and Shaun Himmerick and so many more! Helluva a community we got here folks.
Finally before we kick off, I’d like to apologize for the lack of pictures, particularly to the likes of Youph who had to suffer through my horrific photography. I did take a load but only to find my camera was full of pictures of a trip to Madrid from like four years ago. Blame my ex, I certainly do (for everything.)
I think it’d be fair to say we were categorically the ‘B’ show compared to the incredible amount of attractions at the Los Angeles reveal, attended by my incomparable colleague, the one and only Hellblazer Hawkman. The main attractions were a Scorpion statute….
Almost had him, I swear to God.
an embryonic Shao Kahn and Scorpion (which was honestly pretty creepy) and a ‘TestYourMight’ punching bag, on which I’d like to report I punched harder than Alexander Gustaffson and Simon Miller. Both of whom may or may or not have been injured, but **** you.
On that point, the celebs were pretty cool and most of them hung around the crowd to chat (shout out to Mesuit Oezil for being invisible on and off the pitch). I can report that Teddy Riner is indeed ****** HUGE.
The feel was less of an ‘MKCon’ than it was a ‘nightclub hosting an MK event’. Which is fairly accurate, given that’s what it was and KOKO was an amazing venue, which ran like clockwork. It was also incredibly fun zoning out people who were half drunk and gradually getting more pissed off.
There were also some incredible cosplays on show from Maul (https://www.instagram.com/p/BsvkxsdBiXZ/), Anya Chios' Jade (https://www.instagram.com/p/BsvyhlsHWco/) but most of all from RoyalStormCreations, with an absolutely breathtaking Kitana!
I learned respect, that's all I'm saying.
(TIME TO PLAY) THE GAME
But let’s be real, the main event was always going to be finally getting to see and play Mortal Kombat 11.
After watching the reveals, the crowd was hype AF to get their hands onto the game. Absolutely thunderous crowd response, though my personal highlight of the night was seeing 1man3letters go through the range of human emotions seeing Baraka be playable after seeing him die multiple times in MKX: https://twitter.com/1man3letters/status/1086426267518488576
By this stage, you’ve heard a lot better players than me weigh in on this, but for what it’s worth, I fully agree that this is a whole new beginning for Mortal Kombat. A lot of the debate has been on the similarities between MK11 and the (unfairly) maligned Injustice 2, but for me what it immediately felt like was MK2, as much as a modern fighting game can feel like a game from 1993. It’s weighty, it’s slower, it’s more deliberate, there’s no run the combo system is toned down but equally, if you get caught in a high damage combo (and they can still really rack up with Krushing Blows), you can’t cop out with a breaker. This feels like a fair balance between zoning and rushdown to me, in that if you get in, you can’t get broken out instantly. If you want to ‘prepare’ for MK11, I’d probably recommend MK9 but, honestly, if you’ve never played Street Fighter, that’s something you want to change.
MK11 feels like it’s taken a look at the classic Street Fighter meta and gone “we can do that, but better and with more than like 4 interesting characters and on a triple A scale”. If you really want to prep for MK11, you’re going to have to familiarize yourself with a game that focuses on poking, footsies and whiff punishing. And that’s Street Fighter, specifically Street Fighter IV.
The change to meter is one of the boldest design decisions in fighting game history, honestly. Time will tell on whether or not it’s a positive one, but I will say that given the bifurcation of the meter and the slowing of the pace, the regeneration of meter is absolutely necessary.
Similarly, the change to the EX system is very ambitious. I’m on the fence about it in a “if it wasn’t broke, why fix it” way and I suspect, given the ambivalent response to this change, that NRS will at least offer the option to tweak it in game settings.
I personally love the HUD: it keeps the simplicity of MKX but it brings more life and colour than the incredibly minimalist MKX. That was in keeping with the general colour palette of MKX but the bright yellows really fit the more vibrant MK11.
Also that loading screen is awesome.
If I can offer a prediction, I don’t think the ultimate meta will be one of pure footsies and zoning: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Krushing Blows, unless toned down, will shape and dominate the meta of MK11 more than anything else. The sheer damage and combo possibilities they offer, as can be seen in this exceptional video from K&M, seems likely, to me, to shape the meta of MK11 given how rare those possibilities seem to be.
I’m unsure of how ‘perfect’ a flawless block needs to be: certainly, they offer huge advantages but if the parameter is incredibly exacting, it may take God-Tier fundamentals to repeatedly pull them off. They do have the promise of a potential Daigo Parry in every match though.
As regards gear, I’m hugely appreciative of the removal of lootboxes and the simplification of gear from Injustice 2. While I liked Injustice 2 in concept, the reason I can’t go back to it is I’d have to sort through all the gear and lootboxes first and life is just too short to play bureaucrat when I’m not being paid to do so.
I do think that the initial gear offering is maybe a little sparse but there’s no reason more couldn’t be hidden in the Krypt or throughout the game or released in updates throughout the support of the game.
The variation system has been vastly improved in my view. We know that there’ll be ‘set variations’ for each character, with some (read: Scorpion, Sub Zero, Sonya) getting more than others (read: everyone else) and with more variations possibly being released throughout the game’s life so it remains to be seen how much use the FGC gets out of it, but it definitely feels more like “your character” than either
On that note, I suspect MK11 will encourage character loyalty more than any other NRS game. Not only are the variations seemingly all different enough to cover various scenarios, (as opposed to some of the more milquetoast ones in MKX) but high level play will practically oblige a player to know exactly where, when and how to trigger Krushing Blows and the best strategies for doing so. Certainly, we’ll definitely see people play multiple characters but I think the biggest reward will be for loyalists.
Speaking of characters….
I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t play as Sonya because….well why would I? From what I’ve been told though, she’s got strong buttons and zoning to make up for a slight lack of reach. Also, if Ronda Rousey is enlisting to defend Earthrealm, we’re screwed as she’d get flawlessed by one punch. Amanda Nunes, on the other hand, would eat Shao Kahn alive.
The Champ v “The Champ That’s Gonna Put Becky Lynch Over at Mania”
I only played a few games with the Golden Child so my knowledge on him is limited but I gleaned a little bit. From what I played and what I saw, Scorpion seemed like the purest rushdown, aggressive character on show yesterday. His teleport is still present and made its presence known (repeatedly). The highlight of him was his ‘Demon Dash’ in Firebreather, an invincible mid screen dash which seemed safe if done in close enough and hit for not insignificant damage.
His gear also looked pretty sweet, except for that green and orange skin.
Again, I only got a couple of games in with Subbie. With that said, he seemed like a hybrid character: he played very quick and agile, in contrast to more methodical versions in the last few games, and was able to play a footsie/whiff punish game as well as rushdown. Notably, he seemed very plus on a lot of his advancing normal (either that or IrishMantis can literally improve a character’s frames just by playing them). His B3 is still there and still a combo starter (I think) and he had probably more mix ups than any other character.
My notes on Skarlet read “holy fuck” on five separate occasions. I have concerns about the MK11 roster, given the fact that we already known in the region of 18 of the 25 characters and thus have precious little space for a lot of characters I really feel NRS need to show some love to, but I would never have picked Skarlet for a return.
Nor can I say I really would have wanted her to, never really getting the appeal of the character outside of the fanservice (in more than one way).
I suspect new NRS writer Shawn Kittelsen, who made Skarlet such a central figure of the MKX comic, went to bat for her and I’m incredibly glad her did. Skarlet made a colossal impression at the Reveal and, though I’m hesitant about calling your main, I’m content to tentatively put myself in the Skarlet camp (having @Eddy Wang play her is also a huge positive, given the Trojan work he puts into his community time and time again). The fact that she’s my god-daughters favourite character helps too.
I spent most of my games as Skarlet and had a blast. She’s very intuitive, with phenomenal pokes in D3 and D4 (the latter has huge range but slow start up), a great combo starter in B34 and can cancel 124 into Blood Trail (DB3) on block, which may approach a hard to blockable unless they see it coming, given that I’m pretty sure the 4 hits OH. If not, it’s still great to catch people off guard. Her zoning game is phenomenal: though she lacks the universal usefulness of Baraka’s mid hitting, fast recovering spark, she’s got a slow travelling mid hitting bloodball that stuns, a fast travelling high bloodball (think Reptile’s forceball and acid spit) and an overhead crush with three distance options which seemed to have (limited) tracking and fast recovery. In addition, she had damage recovery options, teleports, a nice GTFO move, a trance, can levitate the opponent (by boiling their blood, which is metal as hell) and make an opponent vomit blood for a ranged stun. From the characters present, she was second only to Raiden in terms of reach too.
I <3 Skarlet.
From a lacerated sky
Bleeding it’s horror
Creating Boon’s structure
Now footsies shall reign in blood
1man3letters has every reason to be a very happy man with the latest incarnation of Baraka. It’s obviously too early to tell in any meaningful way, but I think it’s fair to say he was probably the strongest character on show, with Sub Zero and Raiden tied for second (note the beginning of my subtle downplaying of Skarlet already).
His Spark has gotten a lot of traction already and, to be fair, it is damn strong. Not strong enough to justify the tears it’s provoked, but certainly strong enough to make Baraka an unexpected contender for the Zoning Academy. That’s not all though, as Baraka had excellent range and footsies, strong damage output and priceless long ranged advancing normal (his F44 string in particular, which didn’t feel as unsafe as it should have done frankly).
He also looks amazing it has to be said. Not only did they perfectly capture the feral monstrosity of the Tarkatan Warchief, he’s also made some serious gainz. He was an absolutely perfect choice for the Reveal roster and I wouldn’t have said that beforehand had you just told me ‘Baraka’. If NRS can do that for Baraka, I can’t wait to see what else they have in store for us, roster size and content concerns notwithstanding.
I look forward to getting incredibly pissed off seeing this when 1man3letters pushes my shit in time and time again over the next few years.
Raiden may have pissed off Kronika enough for her to rewind time (and helpfully undo all the atrocious story decisions NRS have made since Armageddon and maybe even sneak another MK1-3 reboot in there the cheeky gits) but, if the reveal buid is anything to go by, they won’t be the only people Raiden pisses off.
He’s got a strong zoning game, particularly in God Mode where he literally stamps his foot to summon lightning bolts (and finally, all red lightning!), but where he really excels is in whiff punishing. I swear to God, his F112 reaches at least 70% across the screen and goes High, Low, Mid. Nightwing players who’ve missed the Dickstick, take a look and see. With that said, Raiden did seem to struggle up close, with him unable to get much going at point blank range against the likes of Scorpion and Sub Zero. As is customary, he’s also incredibly cool looking if that makes any difference to you (I’d say it shouldn’t, but Skarlet is winning my heart with a Slayer reference so who am I to judge).
I also loved the ‘psycho Raiden’ just torturing Shinnok for giggles in the opening of the story.
I’m not a huge fan of Geraes’ design to be honest, as he seems a little….bland, I guess?
Gameplay wise, he’s slow but hits like a goddamn truck. Luciano caught me with a Krushing Blow with the Sand Trap special (the quicksand to hammer) and it literally did like 25%, his 1111+3 string does big damage and his Krushing Blow Throw is 30 odd percent. With that said, he seems like a very technical character, who’s gonna require a not insignificant amount of work to really make work, a very set play heavy character. With that said, those were the only games I played against anybody who really got anything going with Geras so take that with a pinch of salt
Phew. I’m exhausted again. If you have any questions about MK11 (or just how my day way, it feels like it’s been overlooked in the furore frankly), please feel free to ask away and I’ll do my very best to answer them!
MK11 is only 94 days away but never has 94 days felt like such a long time. It's gonna be great guys, promise.
MK11 Reveal London: memories, character breakdowns and more!