What Does Mortal Kombat Do Differently?

Not so long ago, NetherRealm Studios announced that Mortal Kombat 11 would no longer receive any content or balance updates, and the support for the game is essentially ceasing. This wasn’t a huge surprise for many, nor did it majorly disappoint anyone. There is a general positivity about the future of the NRS games, be it Mortal Kombat or Injustice series. Gamers know that both franchises will always remain attractive, and the scenes will not die as more and more new players will join in. But how do they manage to do this? What’s the secret about NetherReal Studios games? What does Mortal Kombat do differently?


Image credit: MobyGames


It would be false to say that any of the prominent fighting games is truly “simple.” Their complexity lies not only within the way any of them let you execute your gameplan but also in readability, speed, depth, the number of options available to both opponents. Still, how easily you can grasp the fundamentals of any title can be crucial – if the game manages to make you feel like you’re progressing even after a very small amount of time spent with it, the bigger are the chances of it grabbing you for real. If it can make you feel invested, it can have you there for the long run.

Mortal Kombat 11 does just that. It’s a no-nonsense, down-to-earth “press a button to land a hit” kind of game without crazy inputs or seventy billion hit combos. Now, it has some incredible depth to it, but crucially, anyone can pick it up and have a good time, feel good, feel powerful.

And it’s not even the latest entry in this stories series either. Mortal Kombat has always been accessible, that’s why it’s the highest-selling fighting game series of all time, with more than 70 million units shipped worldwide. This number is higher than any other competitor – Smash, Tekken, or Street Fighter.


MK is synonymous with fatalities, and fatalities are synonymous with MK. They have moved beyond the games and are living lives of their own nowadays. The word is used without any notable correlation with MK in many different contexts. They are, in a sense, a free, permanent, intangible advertisement for the series.

Let’s take a look at the Mortal Kombat 11 fatalities. Every character has an especially bloody way of finishing off the already-defeated opponent. They add insult to injury, extending the humiliation by additional moments. No other fighting game has anything close to this system, nothing can offer the same satisfaction. Even still, there are some other ways to end the fight, like brutalities or, for those feeling especially generous, friendships. Mortal Kombat allows players to express themselves even after the match is finished, and this is the leitmotif of the whole series – you can play the way you want to play, and nothing can ever stop you.

Image credit: Fanbyte.com


The biggest draw fighting games have is, obviously, gameplay. If it plays well, people will flock to it regardless of any other feature. However, not too distant second place is reserved for the characters. In Mortal Kombat, they’re much more grounded than in most Japanese games, heavily influenced by anime. MK’s fighters are darker, grittier, with clear-cut villains instead of morally-grey people. Nevertheless, their designs are striking and memorable, as are their character traits and motivations. This is, in many ways, thanks to thorough development through the impressive storylines. Mortal Kombat always paid lots of attention to its expansive plot. Games featured full-fledged story modes, there even were some story-driven titles in the series. Movie and cartoon adaptations also helped to cement the idea that the MK storyline is something worth paying attention to. Even after so many years since the original release, the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie is still considered to be the greatest video game adaptation. It’s so popular to this day that they decided to remake it, releasing the new movie in 2021.

Image credit: NetherRealm Studios


It’s also fair to assume that not everyone cares for the storylines in the fighting games. Those characters should and even must stand on their own even as just fighting picks. They should exude charisma and confidence so that players are confident in picking them. It’s worth remembering that not everyone chooses their mains based on their strength. There are many people who value looks, traits, motivations, even voice acting over anything else. And Mortal Kombat truly delivers even on this.

The Mortal Kombat series isn’t like anything at all in the modern fighting games market. Back in the nineties, there were several titles that tried to copycat and upstage the creation of Ed Boon. But all of those ultimately crumbled under the sheer weight of expectations games like these have. Even today, no one really dares to enter the same playing field as MK, as they will be simply trampled by this juggernaut of a series.