This past weekend I once again got my hands on MK11 and man, every time I rip someone’s face off with Baraka, I’m almost concerned how much I’m enjoying it. I must have done it over 20 times over the weekend, but my perverse enjoyment wasn’t the true purpose behind the beta.
The thing I was most concerned about was the netcode. Plenty of times in the past fighters have been put to the test online before release, only to fall over in a fashion that would have the lewdest Japanese visual novel blushing. For many, that’s a justified sticking point when considering the full game. If you can’t get decent games online, then it should rightly put most people off.
Imagine my surprise when every game I played was lag free! And I played a lot of matches. I don’t know what wizards Netherealm have working behind the scenes. but they are doing something right. I was able to pull off kombos with the greatest of ease, not worrying about whether I was going to rubber band into Outworld.
Five fighters were available for playtesting – Scorpion, Baraka, Skarlet, Jade and Kabal. I spend most of my time with Jade and Kabal as they were new to me, having played an earlier build back in January for our first Mortal Kombat 11 preview.
Jade is one that certain people complained about when she was revealed. You know, because people want zombies boobs, or something? What she should be recognised for is the fact that she carries a freaking glowing staff that she batters people’s faces in with! Her Blazing Nitro Kick is bloody marvellous. It’s cool enough that she can travel most of the screen and kick you in the face in an instant, but can be amplified further to teleport behind the opponent with a staff blow follow up – now you’re really talking!
Her mix up game seems pretty strong and with the ability to customise characters moves, you can really build a Jade that will have your opponent tripping over themselves (and her staff). Despite quite enjoying her range, I still don’t think Jade is for me.
I was more excited to try Kabal, as Kombat Kast reveal showed off one of the best fatalities in the game. I made it my mission to pull this off during matches and I can tell you now that it never gets boring to watch. The Road Rash finisher sees Kabal grab his opponent’s leg and run off like The Flash, dragging their limp body on the ground behind him. The camera zooms in on their face as it’s shredded into oblivion by the rough ground, eyeballs popping out one-by-one. You’d think that would be enough, but then he throws the lifeless corpse forward, teleports in front of the body and stands there with his hook sword held high as the body splits in two, neatly around the blade. It’s like watching Salt Bae cut meat. Such finesse!
Aside from being an excellent meat-monger, Kabal has a fair few kombos up his sleeve and some nifty tricks involving his superspeed. I built two loadouts for Kabal, one focusing on his speedy spins and the other focusing on those lovely hooks blades.
Baraka is still one of the most solid fighters on the roster with his Chop Chop move creating nightmares for people who want to jump in. Amplifying this move means he just keeps on chopping, much to the annoyance of the poor shish kebab he’s making. Also, during his fatality, Baraka straight up rips his opponent’s face off, throws it away like cheap garbage, and then impales their brain with his massive spike before taking a bite out of it. What a hero!
The fact that the beta gave a small taster of the customisation features was also pretty cool. Each character had a small number of options available, enabling you to change kosmetic (sorry) features like Kabal’s mask or the top of Scorpion’s spear. For the final release you’ll be able to augment them and gain some form of buff, but these were locked in the beta. There were also a handful of costume options which combined with the three cosmetic changes to made for some pretty unique looking fighters.
Overall, it’s a nice change compared to Injustice 2, where stat buffs were tied to gear pieces, meaning if you liked the look of something but the stats were awful, you were out of luck. In MK11, it looks like you can have your cake and eat it. You can even kustomise (sorry I’ll stop now) intro animations, win animations, and it looks like there are options to unlock even more fatalities per character which is fantastic.
A nice final surprise in the beta was getting to try one of the klassic towers out. There I fought fight five A.I. controlled opponents, which gave a chance to get my practice on before hitting the online. It’s not much different from what we have seen in previous Mortal Kombat games but, it’s nice that it’s there. Plus, if they end up following the same path as Injustice, we will see a lot of variety in this mode.
So far, so good. the MK11 beta had solid gameplay, excellent netcode and a preview of a deep customisation system that will provide plenty of variety when fighting players online and in-game. There’s so much more to be revealed, but there’s one thing for sure: Mortal Kombat 11 is going to be a real kontender…