My introduction to Mortal Kombat was on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1995 with Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3.

While the graphic violence of the original arcade game in 1992 forced the creation of the ESRB, my mother had no issue providing 3 year old me with a cartridge of UMK3 and the next several years of my life were spent climbing towers and fighting my brothers with Stryker, and then exploring almost every iteration of the series.

In my opinion, Mortal Kombat X was the perfect fighting game. It had variety with character variations, a beautiful roster of both returning and new characters and it ran at a buttery smooth 60 fps with the bone-breaking combos looking crisp and clean. I didn’t think it could be topped.

However nearly 24 years after my original experience with the series, Mortal Kombat 11 dropped and rewrote every expectation I had for Mortal Kombat and fighting games as a whole.

I planned to write this article the week Mortal Kombat 11 released but I ran into one major problem – I couldn’t put the game down.

Since release, I’ve beaten the Story Mode, cleared the Klassic Arcade with every character, battled in hundreds of Towers of Time while trying to climb the weekly Race Against Time, cleared every training exercise (minus character specific ones), fought bosses with friends and randoms online, deep dived into the secrets of the Krypt, battled in both kasual and ranked online play, tackled daily challenges and participated in several King of the Hill game nights with my community – and I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface.

Mortal Kombat 11’s Kombat Kard Menu Showcasing Daily Challenges, Race Against Time Placement and AI Fighter Rewards.

Despite being so enthralled with the game and putting hours and hours of play time in I still haven’t tried out the AI battle mode which is something I’ve seen highly recommended for grinding out currency and rewards.

It’s not that I don’t want to give the mode a try, it’s that I can’t break the habit of logging on, clearing whatever daily challenges I can, brushing up on my combo execution and then jumping into online and getting a few rounds in.

In some online matches I get flawless victories, in others I realize I don’t stand a chance and just set my controller down so I can watch my character get ragdolled in peace. But my favorite matches are those that go down to the wire and inevitably end up in several ‘rematch’ and ‘character select’ picks when two players of equal skill give respect to each other and constantly battle it out in a sort of tug of war until the victor becomes clear with a streak of wins.

Usually in these matches, I like to throw out the ‘Mercy’ option when the game is close. For those of you unfamiliar with the mechanic, you can perform a Mercy at the ‘finish him/her’ screen and your opponent will regain a small percentage of health allowing the match to continue.

Sometimes this blows up in my face and I get absolutely stomped. But when I reclaim victory after a mercy it provides a sweet feeling of gratification that yes, you are the better player, and yes, you just put that guy through the ringer twice.

Mortal Kombat 11 features a diverse roster of characters with mostly returning favorites and three all-new original characters – Geras, Kollector and Cetrion.

Mortal Kombat 11 doesn’t introduce as many new characters as its predecessor (3 in MK11 vs 7 in MKX) but it still does a good job of providing diversity and variety through variations which help customize and accommodate various play styles.

A lot of fan favorites also return, though if you glance at the replies on Ed Boon’s Twitter you wouldn’t be able to tell. Sorry Milenna fans.

Unfortunately, my all-time favorite character Styker, is still missing in action and as futile as it may be I’m still holding out hope for him to be included in Kombat Pack 2.

Yes, my favorite character is the cop.

I grew up playing him and seeing this average dude hold his own in a world full of sorcerers, demons, ninjas, cyborgs and gods just always resonated with me. I know he’s a controversial character and people either love or hate him, so I’m still content with his appearance in Mortal Kombat 9 and I’ll keep rocking the Revenant Stryker banner in Mortal Kombat X until they shut it down – but that doesn’t mean a man can’t dream.

Variations allow players to customize a character’s abilities and appearance.

The story of Mortal Kombat 11 was a fun ride and while I won’t be discussing any spoilers here I will pay respect to that one scene. Yes, that one.

Everyone who has completed the game’s cinematic story mode knows this montage style cutscene is enough to fuel the hype fire and is a nostalgic trip down memory lane, and it was also so unexpected.

But while Mortal Kombat has provided quality campaigns since the 2011 reboot, the meat of the title come from the online multiplayer and post-launch Kombat Packs which drastically increase the longevity of the game, and with promises of Mortal Kombat 11 being the longest supported MK title and that sweet new Shang Tsung trailer – I’m confident that we’re in this one for the long haul and that it’s going to be so, so sweet.

With this comes eSports and in my opinion Mortal Kombat is one of the most entertaining games to watch.

In May, Combo Breaker 2019 took place and was the first major event for Mortal Kombat 11. Watching these games unfold all weekend was so captivating that you could feel the hype flow through the screen as the crowd began chanting for their favorite player, as well as the devastation when they failed.

NetherRealm seemed to be forward thinking when designing the ‘Tournament” stage for eSports as they made it customizable. Tournament banners and screen decorations fill the arena during the event’s run time and Combo Breaker was the first to showcase this new feature.

I forgot to take a screenshot of the stage while it was live but you can see it in action here during the Combo Breaker 2019 Grand Finals where SonicFox and Scar fought all the way to game five – it. was. awesome.

The Premium Shop allows players to use ‘Time Krystals’ to buy in-game content – all of which can be earned through normal game play means.

With the inclusion of the Story Mode, Kasual and Kompetitive online multiplayer, the game-within-a-game style Krypt, AI battles, Towers of Time and Klassic Towers – I truly believe that Mortal Kombat 11 has something to offer every type of player.

Some potential players were likely driven away from the game when stories about it’s broken economy and ‘pay-to-win’ mechanics hit the internet around launch. As someone who has been playing since day one, I’m confident in telling those folks that those concerns were blown way out of proportion.

Yes, the Towers of Time difficulties were set too high and some of the currencies were slow to earn, but these problems were fixed relatively quickly and even before the patches came through I had no issues unlocking chests in the Krypt. Now, currency is quite easy to come by and NetherRealm continues to tweak the economy to make the player experience better.

The stories of players being required to spend thousands of dollars to unlock all the content in the game were, quite frankly, complete bullshit.

The Premium Shop in Mortal Kombat 11 offers players the option to buy certain in-game items using the ‘Time Krystals” currency which can be purchased with real money. However, not only can every single one of these items be found in game but the store literally tells you how to unlock them.

You also get Time Krystals every time you level up. In the screenshot above, I have roughly $24 USD worth of Time Krystals and I’ve never spent a dime on them. The only item I’ve bought from the premium shop was Scorpion’s “O.G. Ninja” outfit since it was only available in AI Battles and as said earlier in this article, I haven’t tried that mode yet.

None of these items are pay-to-win. They’re cosmetic.

Also, thanks to a recent patch, fatalities can be unlocked just looking up the requirements to execute the moves online and inputting them in a match. You could always do this and perform the fatality, but now it actually unlocks the fatality causing it to appear in your move list at all times.

So don’t buy into the fear mongering that all these click-bait articles tried to fool you with. Mortal Kombat 11 has an extremely fair economy, absolutely no elements of “pay-to-win” and provides a constant stream of rewards to the player to keep things fresh and fun.

Brutalities return in fine fashion.

Mortal Kombat 11 is a well-polished paradise for fighting game fans. The speed of the game has been slowed down slightly from Mortal Kombat X and introduces all new mechanics, such as a defense meter, to encourage new strategies and play styles to mix things up.

The amount of customization is impressive and fun to toy with. In very little time I was able to create a close replica of my Cryomancer Sub-Zero main from the previous game and have been rocking him in online without missing a beat.

Combine this with the fact that additional items will be added in as DLC, such as the Klassic Arcade Ninja Pack, and new characters coming in Kombat Packs (Shang Tsung, Nightwolf, Sindel, Spawn and 2 more guest characters currently confirmed) and it’s easy to see that Mortal Kombat 11 is going to have good replayability for fighting fans.

If you’re new to the series and want to learn more, I recommend the kommunity over at r/MortalKombat. There you can find all sorts of discussion regarding every aspect of the game, official game nights hosted by mod xlThalionlx, stupid memes and more.

Mortal Kombat 11 is a highlight of modern gaming can be and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.

Want to pick up Mortal Kombat 11? Visit one of the links below to grab your copy physical or digital.