Mortal Kombat 11, One Month Later

It’s been one month since the release of Mortal Kombat 11. One month of arguing over microtransactions. One month of nightmare-inducing violence. One month of cringing every time Sonya Blade opens her mouth. The first month of what’s sure to be years of very good fighting. Here’s what happened in that month.


  • On April 20, three days before Mortal Kombat 11‘s launch, a post on the Test Your Might fan forums detailed some early issues with the game. Problems cited included poor difficulty tuning in the game’s Towers of Time challenges and poor rewards for completing said challenges. There was also a punishing gear system requiring that players spend substantial time and in-game gold to augment equipment and randomized loot drops in the game’s Krypt, making earning character-specific skins, fatalities, and equipment more difficult.
  • The Test Your Might post was aggregated on Reddit shortly after it was posted, becoming a warning to players about Mortal Kombat 11‘s “draconian” grind walls. The post suggested the random Krypt rewards and difficult challenges were purposefully designed to steer players towards real-money microtransactions. In reality, the game’s microtransactions turned out to be pretty reasonable.
The game’s premium shop features five rotating items for sale every 24 hours.
  • Mortal Kombat 11 launched for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch on April 23. Gaming sites, including this one, praised the game for its accessibility, phenomenal tutorial, and emotionally-charged story mode. Review site Metacritic was swamped with negative user reviews, many citing rampant monetization and microtransactions that, once again, do not exist. Other subjects touched on in negative user reviews include the desexualization of the game’s female characters and a perceived “SJW” agenda, illustrated by an arcade story ending in which the character Jax goes back in time to prevent slavery.
  • The Nintendo Switch and PC versions of Mortal Kombat 11 aren’t quite in sync with the Xbox One’s and PlayStation 4’s. While developer Netherrealm Studios focused on the PS4 and Xbox One, QLOC created the PC version and Shiver Entertainment handled the Switch port. This lead to inconsistencies between the versions at launch. Some moves worked differently in the PC version, and the Nintendo game launched without character-specific tutorials. Subsequent updates have brought all versions of the game more in line with one another.
  • On the day of the game’s launch, Netherrealm promised a patch to reduce the difficulty of the Towers of Time challenges and increase rewards for completing in-game goals, making unlocking new items in the Krypt easier. On April 26, publisher Warner Bros. released a road map covering upcoming patches and updates for all four versions of the game. The updates also rewarded early players for their patience, giving them a pile of in-game currency to help unlock items in the Krypt. Patches rolled out over the next couple of weeks, first to Xbox One and PS4, with Switch and PC straggling behind. The PC version got its most recent patch on May 14, reducing the requirements for completing character towers.

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It’s much easier to earn in-game kurrency to unlock items in the Krypt now than it was at launch.

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While it got off to a bumpy start, Mortal Kombat 11 seems to be doing just fine.

Sub-Zero Can Turn Invisible In Mortal Kombat 11 With A Very Specific Glitch

Several characters in the Mortal Kombat universe can turn invisible, but none to the extent of Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat 11. Since the game’s release last month, players have discovered a bug that allows the cryogenic combatant to completely disappear, and the issue lingers within Mortal Kombat 11 to this day.

The glitch in question can be activated through a very specific set of circumstances. First, Sub-Zero must have access to his end-of-round Ice Klone taunt, which can be acquired by playing through the first two of his unique challenges in the Towers of Time mode. Unlike most other fighting games, where taunts are performed with a dedicated button press or button combination, Mortal Kombat 11’s taunts occur automatically right after a fighter wins a round, at which point a taunt is selected randomly from those that have already been unlocked.

The taunt selection can vary depending on where the round ends. The specific Ice Klone animation, for instance, only happens when Sub-Zero wins a round while standing close to his opponent in the corner as a way to make space between the two characters for the next round. Something about this taunt in particular—perhaps the way Sub-Zero disappears briefly before reappearing further away—is what kickstarts the invisibility bug.

From there, it’s a simple matter of using Sub-Zero’s Kold Shoulder special, which, apart from custom loadouts, is only available in his Blast Chilled tournament variation. As you can see in the clip below, the attack doesn’t even have to connect with the opponent for it to still end up turning Sub-Zero invisible. This effect lasts until Sub-Zero is hit.

Obviously, using this glitch provides a huge advantage to the Sub-Zero player. Without a way to see what attacks are coming or from which direction, anyone facing an invisible Sub-Zero is open to huge damage. The silver lining here is that the steps needed to enact the bug are so specific that it’s unlikely anyone will see it, particularly as more taunts are unlocked. The more taunts you have, the less likely it is that this one will be selected. On the other hand, there’s really no way for players to actively avoid the glitch.

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Players found evidence of the bug right after Mortal Kombat 11 was released. The only indication that anyone on the development or publishing end is looking into fixing Sub-Zero’s invisibility glitch is a short Twitter reply from early May that acknowledges the “report” of the bug. Kotaku contacted Warner Bros. for more information and has yet to receive a response. With regard to the inaugural installment of the Mortal Kombat 11 Pro Kompetition this weekend, Combo Breaker tournament organizer Rick Thiher told us that his event’s setups have not unlocked any additional taunts and should thus be insulated from the glitch affecting any tournament matches.

Bugs and glitches of this sort are very common in fighting games, not to mention video games in general. Where players had to learn to deal with them in classic releases like Street Fighter II and Marvel vs. Capcom 2, developers now have the opportunity to patch and update their games on the fly. NetherRealm Studios in particular has been very adamant about hotfixing previous installments of Mortal Kombat and Injustice on a regular basis, so it should only be a matter of time before Sub-Zero is back to normal in Mortal Kombat 11.

Ian Walker loves fighting games and loves writing about them even more. You can find him on Twitter at @iantothemax.

Ronda Rousey Being In Mortal Kombat 11 Is Bullshit

Ronda Rousey: Trailblazer, UFC Hall of Famer, and WWE star. Ah, I forgot a couple of her accomplishments: She shared an inflammatory conspiracy video about the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre to her millions of Twitter followers and made transmisogynistic and outright asinine comments about transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox. And as of Mortal Kombat 11, she’s the voice of iconic character Sonya Blade. Let’s take a moment to consider how messed up that is.

In 2013, Rousey shared a conspiracy video regarding the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that claimed 26 lives, including 20 children. The video suggested the massacre was a hoax carried out by the government. When called out about it, Rousey started by doubling down.

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“I just figure asking questions and doing research is more patriotic than blindly accepting what you’re told,” she said in a reply on Twitter. The following day, she made another tweet saying that she “never meant to insult or hurt anyone” and that she was “sorry if anyone was offended.”

But it doesn’t stop at her sounding like a corporate bullshit apology bot. Take her comments regarding Fallon Fox. Fox is the first openly transgender MMA fighter in the sport’s history. She had undergone sex reassignment surgery in 2006 but received pushback against the idea that she could fight against other women. UFC president Dana White stated that he didn’t believe Fox should be allowed to fight other women. Former NFL defensive tackle and MMA fighter Matt Mitrione called Fox a “lying, sick, sociopathic, disgusting freak,” and was later suspended for his comments. Through all this, Rousey declined to fight Fox, insisting that her fellow fighter would have a physical advantage in the ring.

“She can try hormones, chop her pecker off, but it’s still the same bone structure a man has,” Rousey told The New York Post. “It’s an advantage. I don’t think it’s fair.” She also commented that she was glad the UFC didn’t “straight cut” Mitrione for his comments.

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Thank the stars that Ronda got the pronouns right, I guess.

Amanda Nunes, right, connects with Ronda Rousey in the first round of their women’s bantamweight championship mixed martial arts bout at UFC 207, in Las Vegas.
Photo: John Locher (Associated Press

I didn’t write anything sooner because I thought that maybe I wouldn’t have to be the one writing this. As this piece was in the middle of being edited (I’ve been writing this over the course of two days) my peer Danielle Riendeau at Waypoint published an article about Rousey’s involvement, which is heartening. Still, I wish it didn’t have to be queer folks speaking up. Where are our allies on this?

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You know what I want to do? Play Mortal Kombat 11. But I would have to be wild to consider it. I’m not obligated to let bygones be bygones, and I’m just not going to. Rousey’s presence in Mortal Kombat 11 is unacceptable. Sonya could have been played by any number of capable actresses, but instead, NetherRealm stunt casted someone whose very presence makes many of my friends feel completely uncomfortable playing Mortal Kombat 11.

Tl;DR, this sucks.

The Switch Version Of Mortal Kombat 11 Has Its Ups And Downs

The Switch port of Mortal Kombat 11 plays like a champ but looks like jaggy ass. It’s pleasingly portable but incredibly finicky about its internet connection. I want the Switch version to be my go-to, but it keeps pushing me away.

As noted in my Mortal Kombat 11 review, I spent most of my time with Netherrealm Studios’ latest on the PlayStation 4. It’s the code the studio offered for my review copy, it’s the easiest version for me to capture for footage and screenshots, and the PlayStation 4 is in the living room, so my young children can wander in while I am playing and be traumatized for life. The PlayStation 4 version, along with the Xbox One version, was developed by Netherrealm directly, so it’s a good baseline for the game.

While Netherrealm worked on the PS4 and Xbox One versions, Miami-based Shiver Entertainment was working on the Switch version. It’s a semi-realtime port that is almost but not quite up-to-speed with the regular console version of Mortal Kombat 11. This slightly staggered development process might explain why the Switch release was delayed until May 10 in Europe, and why the North American version, released on April 23, was not feature complete on launch. One of my favorite features of Mortal Kombat 11, the character-specific tutorial lessons, were missing from the Switch version on its release day and got quietly added in over the weekend as part of a massive patch.

(Gameplay Trailer)

Performance-wise, the Switch version of Mortal Kombat is pretty amazing. The transition from pre-rendered cutscenes to gameplay may stutter, but once a match gets going, it nails that 60 frames per second target. Sacrifices were made to achieve that feat, of course. The visuals are fuzzy and jaggy. Draw distance is drastically reduced. Lighting effects are dialed way back, giving everything a slightly more drab appearance. This is all noticeable when I watch my gameplay footage, but I rarely notice these things during the heat of battle.

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It does look bad, though. It looks like a tablet trying to emulate a console game, which given the Nintendo Switch’s relatively modest specs, isn’t that far off the mark. Between the game’s extreme violence and its demand on hardware, it’s amazing there’s a Nintendo port at all. But there is, and it plays quite well. That’s what matters.

The only time the graphical downgrade took a real toll was during the game’s Krypt, which is the vast, free-roaming adventure mode that serves as Mortal Kombat 11’s means of rewarding players with new skins, concept art, equipment and the like. The third-person action in this mode runs ridiculously poorly. The frame rate chugs. The draw distances are laughable.

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Here’s a screenshot from the PC version of the Krypt.

And here is a shot from the same location on the Switch version.

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That is some Nintendo 64 era fog in play.

Again, graphical compromise is to be expected on the Switch, and honestly, it doesn’t bother me too much. What truly gets me riled up about the Switch version of Mortal Kombat 11 is how this wonderfully portable version of a great fighting game is so tightly tethered to online servers. Like its PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 counterparts, Switch MK11 saves players’ progress and rewards to online servers. Winning battles, completing single-player towers, completing the story mode and even progressing through the game’s tutorial each require an online connection to be validated.

If a player disconnects while playing Mortal Kombat 11, they are warned that they will not earn rewards for progress until they are reconnected.

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It’s not a huge issue when playing with an always online console. But the need to stay connected becomes a problem when playing on the Switch in portable mode, which is where I do most of my Switch game playing. For one, I can’t put the system into sleep mode, because it disconnects. If I am in the middle of going through a solo tower and I pause and put the Switch to sleep, I come back to a network error and get kicked back to the main menu.

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What’s worse is once I disconnect, there is no easy way to reconnect. I’ve just been exiting out of the game completely and restarting it. This morning I found a workaround—trying to launch a local wireless match and then canceling it seems to get the game to connect to the internet again.

It’s little more than a mild frustration, but it does also go against the whole idea of having a game ported to the Switch. Sure, third-party games on the Switch might not be as pretty as they are on the Xbox One or PS4, but I can take them with me wherever I go and play hassle-free. That’s the idea, at least. That’s a little lost on Mortal Kombat 11.

Mortal Kombat 11’s Microtransactions, Explained

Mortal Kombat 11 is getting slammed over its supposed equipment grind and the perceived greed of its microtransactions; user-submitted reviews on Steam and Metacritic have been poor. In these reviews, as well as in comments and on social media, fans have complained about the slow pace of earning rewards through gameplay and the randomness of rewards in the chest-strewn Krypt. Some say the unforgiving grind for coins and hearts and souls, the materials needed to unlock reward chests, seems like it is tailored to push players towards real money transactions as an alternative.

According to a popular post on the PlayStation 4 Reddit, it would cost $6,440 to purchase every skin in Mortal Kombat 11 with premium currency instead of winning them as challenge rewards or unlocking them in the game’s Krypt. This math adds up, in theory, but the facts don’t. You can’t use real money to unlock everything in Mortal Kombat 11. There is no convenient way to buy your way out of the grind.

As the game stands right now, yes, the grind is oppressive. This is a game in which every character has at least 60 different skins, including color variations. Every character has three different gear slots to fill. There are 30 different pieces of gear for each of those three slots. The slots themselves have to be unlocked; each separate piece of gear must be leveled up through gameplay in order to unlock said slots, which can be filled with collectible augments that enhance skills, offer resistance to certain damage types, or offer other unique benefits. If a player finds a new piece of equipment and swaps it with an existing one, they need to level it up all over again. It’s exhausting.

It doesn’t help that rewards are randomized in the game’s Krypt, Mortal Kombat’s third-person adventure side-game in which players can spend in-game currency to unlock treasure chests. Past games’ versions of the Krypt have all featured set treasure locations. A chest located at coordinates X and Y on the map would contain the same item for all players. In Mortal Kombat 11, the contents of basic chests—those opened using the game’s coin currency—are randomized for every player.

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For example, in the PC version of the game, I opened a chest that cost 13,550 coins. I received an augment for a piece of gear, a Cassie Cage skin, and a “Kobat Kard” background.

The same chest in the same location in my PlayStation 4 copy of the game cost only 2,550 coins and only contained a variation icon, which is a decal used to personalize a custom-created variation of the character Cetrion, whom I hardly play.

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It bears noting that heart chests, which are special chests that require some of Mortal Kombat 11’s rarest in-game currency to open, are in fixed locations and have the same contents for everyone. Fans over at the Mortal Kombat Reddit page have already got them all mapped out. Most other items are random, though. Could be a skin, or a piece of equipment. Could be a brutality or fatality unlock. Could be random crap like crafting materials or consumable items used to make battles in the game’s Towers of Time mode. The chances of getting exactly the skin or gear I want feels so slim, that if I saw the item pop up in the game’s Premium Store, I’d probably jump at the chance to pay for it.

Back to the calculation from AccomplishedPoet8 on Reddit—that steep $6,440 figure. First, it’s actually a bit too low. It’s calculating 56 skins for 23 characters at $5 worth of premium currency, a.k.a. Time Krystals, apiece. But a 24th character, Frost, unlocks for everyone as they play through the story mode, so if you include that character, the number should be more like $6,720. It goes up to $7,000 for players who pre-ordered and received Shao Kahn as well.

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More importantly, these large figures assume that every skin in the game can be purchased. That’s not how Mortal Kombat 11’s Premium Shop works. Every 24 hours (not the 6-8 hours suggested in the Reddit post), the store cycles through offering a series of five items: three skins, a piece of equipment, and a brutality. There are only three skins available in the store every 24 hours. If there are 56 skins for 24 characters (let’s just say you don’t have Shao Kahn), that’s a total of 1,344 skins. Assuming the store cycled through every available skin, three at a time per day, it would take 448 days to cycle through everything.

And that’s a big assumption. Responding to the $6,440 story circulating yesterday, game director and Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon tweeted the following:

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So yes, purchasing every skin in the game with premium currency would cost thousands of dollars. But it’s not something that can be done. Time Krystals, the only of Mortal Kombat 11’s currencies that can be purchased with real money, can only be used towards the five rotating items in the Premium Shop or to purchase “easy fatality” tokens, the world’s most unnecessary shortcut. Time Krystals cannot unlock chests. They cannot level up a piece of equipment. They cannot unlock items directly from the character customization menu. They are incredibly limited.

So why all the fuss? Because due to the way the Krypt is randomized and the slow pace at which in-game rewards are doled out, Mortal Kombat 11 feels like a game that wants more money. The hurdles in the way of getting any specific skin or piece of equipment leave a very cash grabby mobile game type of taste in players’ mouths. Why else would shit be so complicated to get, if not for the publisher or developer to be planning to offer an easy (but more wallet-straining) alternative?

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There is no easy alternative at the moment, but Netherrealm is working to make progression less painful. While the developer has yet to respond to our inquiries on the matter, in a Kombat Kast on Twitch yesterday, the developer announced an upcoming patch will adjust the rate at which in-game rewards get doled out in players’ favor. Along with the tweaks, each player will receive 500,000 coins, 1,000 souls, 500 hearts and 1,000 Time Krystals, giving each of them plenty of currency to help hunt for those must-have items.

Hopefully the extra currency and balance tweaks helps make Mortal Kombat 11’s Krypt and progression feel more like fun and less like shady chores.