Popping up in the character select screen are Mehcad Brooks (Supergirl), who will play Jackson “Jax” Briggs, the metal-arm-having musclebound warrior and American Special Forces soldier; Tadonobu Asano (Thor: Ragnarok) will be taking up the power of thunder as Raiden, if talks go well; newcomer Sisi Stringer, as Mileena, a sai-wielding assassin; and Ludi Lin (Power Rangers), as Liu Kang, a monk who decided that peace just wasn’t as good as ripping peoples’ spines out.
They’ll be joined by actor Joe Taslim, who is signed on to play Sub-Zero, and director Simon McQuoid, for whom this will be his first feature. No word yet on the plot of the movie, but my guess involves a tournament, a god or two, and a whole lot of blood.
Mortal Kombat is slated to hit theaters March 5, 2021.
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Renowned Belgian DJ Dimitri Vegas did the music for Mortal Kombat 11’s launch trailer. Next week, developer NetherRealm Studios is releasing a Sub-Zero skin featuring Vegas’ likeness, which is great. It also features Vegas’ voice, and that’s not so great.
Mortal Kombat 11’s voice cast consists of proper professional voice actors with a firm handle on what they are doing (and also Ronda Rousey). So when someone like Dimitri Vegas lends his pipes to a character—especially one whose lines are already voiced by the incomparable Steve Blum—the difference in quality is jarring. While Dimitri Zero, as fans are calling him, is not live in the game yet, his files are already in place, so modders have been able to share his unique spin on the dialogue. Have a listen, courtesy of Gamer XL on Facebook.
It’s not that Vegas is not trying. He sounds like he’s having fun with it, at least. He’s just not trained for this sort of thing, so the results sound, as one Redditor put it, “like a low budget anime dub.”
Mortal Kombat Reddit is having a lot of fun with the Vegas skin and voice. Some say it’s horrible. Others are looking forward to deploying the skin as a sign of disrespect to their opponents. There are also fans who don’t mind Vegas’ delivery, bless their souls. Then there are those who say it really just sounds like a Belgian DJ trying to play a ninja warrior who speaks English. Personally, I think that’s exactly what it sounds like.
Longer YouTube video comparisons, like the one featured by Eurogamer earlier today, have been copyright claimed into oblivion. Expect the floodgates to open wide on August 22 when the free Dimitri Vegas Sub-Zero skin is officially released.
Evo 2019’s Mortal Kombat 11 tournament ended with Dominique “SonicFox” McLean lying on stage, his weekend of competition finally over. He was once again the king of Mortal Kombat.
Although SonicFox has competed in multiple games over his career, NetherRealm Studios franchises have always felt like his home. He first made his mark on Evo history by winning Injustice: Gods Among Us in 2014 before earning back-to-back Mortal Kombat X championships in 2015 and 2016. SonicFox’s focus strayed a bit with the release of Dragon Ball FighterZ, which he won at Evo 2018, but he can never be counted out when it comes to the games where he first found huge success.
Heading into Evo 2019, SonicFox had two apparent goals ahead of him: defending his Dragon Ball FighterZ championship and winning the event’s very first Mortal Kombat 11 tournament. He barely missed out on the former, losing a close grand finals match to Japanese rival Goichi “GO1″ Kishida on Saturday afternoon, but followed that up shortly afterwards by qualifying for the Mortal Kombat 11 finals. SonicFox would have one more shot at Evo gold before the weekend was over.
To say SonicFox made the most of this opportunity would be an understatement. He tore through the bracket, sending up-and-comer Julien “Deoxys” Gorena to losers and fending off a brief challenge from Evo 2017 Injustice 2 champion Ryan “Dragon” Walker in winners finals. When it came time for their rematch in grand finals, SonicFox pulled off an incredible 3-0 sweep, collapsing on the stage behind them afterwards. His day of competition had started at 10 am, and now, over 12 hours later, he had an Evo trophy to show for it.
Mortal Kombat 11 is still relatively young, and there’s no telling whether SonicFox will be able to maintain the stranglehold he currently has on the playing field. Several players have proven they have the potential to rise up and knock him off his throne, so it should be exciting to see how competition in Mortal Kombat 11 develops after this first Evo appearance.
A four-man dance squad called Adem Show from the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan put on a breathtaking Mortal Kombat-inspired routine on last night’s episode of America’s Got Talent. The Raiden-like leader manipulating a trio of contortionist ninja is stunning (and often painful) to watch.
Judging from the production and staging of the clip posted last night to the America’s Got Talent YouTube channel, the show’s producers are well aware of how special and unique Adem Show’s performance is. The whole group gets a flashy entrance set against a montage of less interesting performers, and each member gets an intro with a title card describing their character. There’s Elektro (who is clearly inspired by Raiden), Vortex (who is basically Smoke), Inferno (Scorpion) and Vortex (Sub-Zero).
The scripted drama of the intro is a bit much, but once the four start moving, all of that nonsense is forgotten. Elektro acts as the puppet master behind the trio, pretending to manipulate their bodies as each show off their particular talents. Vortex twists and contorts his limbs into poses that look painful (but, for a professional contortionist, are hopefully not). Inferno isolates parts of his body, like his head, keeping them still while the rest of him dances, creating a very cool effect. Finally, there’s Cyclone, who ends the routine in an impossible-looking balanced pose standing on one foot.
Damn. I have no idea how America’s Got Talent works, but at the end of Adem Show’s performance, they got four yes votes and the loud adoration of an incredibly enthusiastic crowd. Even Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon was impressed. Check out the entire routine below, and be impressed for yourself.
“Kombat League” is an all-new seasonal ranked mode in which players compete over the course of four weeks to earn exclusive in-game items. Teased in Mortal Kombat 11’s multiplayer menu since the game launched in late April, the first Kombat League season starts *checks watch* tomorrow. Oh dear.
Each Kombat League season will see players fighting ranked matches against similarly-skilled opponents, progressing through nine tiers, beginning with Apprentice and ending with Elder God. At the end of the four week competition, players will earn cosmetic rewards based on the highest rank they achieved during the season, so once they reach Elder God they can nap for the rest of the event without fear of missing out on cool garb. Players can also win rewards by completing both daily and season missions, like spilling a certain amount of blood during the event.
Yes, blood. Each Kombat League event will be themed, and the first one is called the “Season of Blood”. Advancing through the ranks in this season will earn players special skins that are black, white and red all over.
The Season of Blood event starts tomorrow, June 18, which is also when Kombat Pack 1 owners get early access to Shang Tsung. Coincidence? Probably.
Powerful sorcerer, vile betrayer and all-around not nice guy, Shang Tsung returns in Mortal Kombat 11 as a downloadable fighter. Sporting both the voice and the look of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, the actor who famously portrayed him in 1995’s Mortal Kombat movie, this version of Shang Tsung’s got the moves and magic to make him a formidable foe. There’s both an older and a younger looking version of the character, as well. Yesterday’s Kombat Kast stream dropped these and other fresh details on the menacing magician.
According to lore delivered by Netherream’s Stephanie Brownback during the Kombat Kast presentation, Shang Tsung isn’t technically a new addition to Mortal Kombat 11. When the villain Kronika pulled kombatants from the past into the present, Shang Tsung was there. Knowing Shang Tsung’s rocky history with allies (he betrays everybody!), Kronika decided to lock him away for safekeeping. Now that Kronika’s been defeated, Shang Tsung is free to enter the fray once more.
Well, he’s not free, exactly. He’s part of the game’s first Kombat Pack, a season pass that gives players access to six new fighters over time. He is the first, to be followed by Mortal Kombat fan favorites Sindel and Nightwolf, guest character Spawn (voiced by the legendary Keith David) and two unannounced guests.
He’s missing a few wrinkles, but that’s nothing a few decades of aging can’t fix. Like many other time-tossed characters in the game, players can choose between young Shang Tsung, as seen in the Mortal Kombat movie, or an older, more wizened version.
Not bad for an old man. My Shang Tsung, however, will be sporting this awesome ensemble lifted straight from the film.
It’s not just the look at movie tie-ins that have me excited about Shang Tsung. Netherrealm has given the characters moves a strong magical focus. He still hits and kicks as per normal, but there’s a lot more fire and soul-draining going on. One of his moves involves summoning a wall of flame after reading a magical scroll. His basic throw does less damage than other characters but heals the sorcerer for the difference. He’s shaping up to be the most Shang Tsung ever. Now all we have to do is wait for Netherealm Studios to FINISH HIM.
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.
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.
While it got off to a bumpy start, Mortal Kombat 11 seems to be doing just fine.
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.
Players found evidence of the bug right afterMortal 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.
Mortal Kombat 11 is a brutal game. That’s what you come for—sensational, over-the-top violence that’s inventive and gratuitous on a level that doesn’t exist anywhere else. It can be shocking in its detail and funny in its execution, but it’s always arresting. It’s also short. Fatalities, gory, physically improbable finishers that usually involve cartoonish dismemberment, only comprise a few moments in matches that only last a few minutes.
The people who make Mortal Kombat live with the series’ over-the-top violence for much longer than players do. Game development is slow and tedious, and a few frames depicting a man’s face being removed in photorealistic detail can be the result of days and weeks of careful work and research. That work might take a toll, one that’s worth examining as the stories of what it’s like to make the biggest, most popular games continue to come to light.
Here’s one such story, about a developer who worked with the cinematics team for Mortal Kombat 11 and requested anonymity in order to protect their employment prospects. They told Kotaku that they had worked on the game throughout 2018, and spent their days reviewing violent animation work, discussing it with leads, sharing feedback with animators, and generally being surrounded by the kind of bloody real-life research material that creators reference in order to animate video game gore. Within a month, they started feeling the effects.
“I’d have these extremely graphic dreams, very violent,” they told Kotaku in a call. “I kind of just stopped wanting to go to sleep, so I’d just keep myself awake for days at a time, to avoid sleeping.”
Eventually, the developer says they saw a therapist, who diagnosed them with PTSD. They attribute this to their work on MK11—not just the content of the game and having to process and discuss its violent cinematics frame by frame, but also being surrounded by the reference materials artists used for research.
“You’d walk around the office and one guy would be watching hangings on YouTube, another guy would be looking at pictures of murder victims, someone else would be watching a video of a cow being slaughtered,” they said. “The scary part was always the point at which new people on the project got used to it. And I definitely hit that point.”
While Mortal Kombat 11 publisher Warner Bros. Games and developer NetherRealm declined to respond to a request for comment for this story, back in January, art director Steve Beran spoke to Kotaku’s Nathan Grayson about the work that goes into crafting the game’s fatalities, and the effect it might have on developers. On the one hand, it’s disconcertingly nonchalant. “We do a lot of testing of, like, how liquid will land on carpet, how it’ll react on dirt,” he said. “And we do tests and talk about them like ‘Does that look how you’d think it would look?’… If I get blood on my shirt, it’s gonna get dark, so it needs to react appropriately. Our tech artists dig into that and make it look very real.”
On the other, there’s a level of remove: “I hate to keep saying this, but I think it’s more just the beats to me,” he said. “It’s not so much what’s happening. It’s more just the animations.”
That dissociation is the tradeoff when it comes to violence in the age of photorealistic games and unparalleled processing power, causing onlookers to wring their hands about video game content as developers now find themselves with the tools to craft anatomically correct dismemberments.
“As a mechanic, it’s basically perfect,” said Alex Hutchinson when asked about violence in video games. Hutchinson is a game director whose work spans the entire spectrum of video game violence, from the potentially pacifistic Spore to the far bloodier Assassin’s Creed III and Far Cry 4. “You have a clear goal. It’s exciting because there’s a risk/reward—you win, they die. You lose, you die. So you’re afraid, and you can lose things. It’s usually spectacular because you’re shooting a gun or swinging swords, you get great feedback. You can even see this in pseudo-gun combat mechanics, like camera mechanics. Because that has everything that guns have—that’s why Pokémon Snap is so satisfying.”
Hutchinson said he spends a lot of time thinking about how those who don’t game might perceive violence, arguing that the sensory feedback you get from interacting with the game—the thrill of winning, and fear of losing—does a lot of work to make graphic violence abstract in nature. Observers can’t quite understand that in the same way, and might therefore be more repelled by the bloody images they’re seeing on screen, Hutchinson said. But he’s not insensitive to the occupational hazards of having to depict violence.
“I think as realism improves, it’s more of a danger,” Hutchinson said. “The fidelity of the assets you deal with, and the world you’re building—it’s more likely. We had some friends out here working on Outlast. I don’t think he was upset, but the character artist was joking that he’d spent a lot of time modeling dead babies, and it wasn’t his favorite moment, you know?”
“Mortal Kombat is….it’s Mortal Kombat,” the anonymous cinematics developer who had graphic dreams told me. “You start to feel like an idiot for thinking about what the impact of working on that game has been on yourself. Other people I’ve talked to have been like, ‘I know what I’m working on, I know what I’ve gotten myself into here.’ And you start to blame yourself for being shitty or weak or spineless.”
The developer felt that management’s top-level perspective made it seem like they were less immersed in the details of the violent content than the animators that reported to them. Bosses would joke about and compliment well-done scenes of violence, the developer said—a desirable outcome in most environments, but when working on violence is starting to affect you, the dynamic gets complicated. Meetings with this developer’s boss involved discussing “how this spine extraction scene is going, and making sure you can feel the pop when the spine is ripped out from the rest of the body,” they said.
There was also no formal process, standard procedure, or guidance available from the start for anyone who might need to step back from the violent content, or felt that their work was starting to negatively affect them, according to this developer. All the developer remembers getting was a verbal heads-up during the hiring process, when the interviewer noted that since they were working on a Mortal Kombat game, the work could be “a little violent.”
Eventually, the developer found out about coworkers who had similar problems with the content as they did who also left. One coworker, for example, told them that the toll of working on Mortal Kombat 11 was eliciting horrible images in real life. “When he looks at his dog, he just sees the guts inside of it, and he couldn’t look at his dog without imagining all of the viscera.”
“We’ve talked a lot about how the end product isn’t so damaging as people make it out to be, and I tend to agree with that,” they said, referring to the industry’s acceptance of violent video games. “But I think the process of making these things can be harmful for people. It can cause them to burn out, or lose a sense of self, sometimes. I would hope that something, at least, that developers can do with their coworkers is just start talking to each other about these things. If we’re not solving things, at least having supportive people around, I think, is really crucial.“
It’s hard to imagine a video game dominating more screen time than Microsoft’s Solitaire has since first introduced with Windows 3.0 in 1990. It’s been the go-to distraction for procrastinators for almost three decades, and it’s finally being honored with a rightful place in the World Video Game Hall of Fame.
Today, The Strong’s National Museum of Play officially announced all the 2019 World Video Game Hall of Fame inductees, and this year Windows Solitaire is being joined by Super Mario Kart, Mortal Kombat, and the deepest cut: a 1976 text-based title called Colossal Cave Adventure which paved the way for today’s sprawling, fantasy-based games.
Mortal Kombat and Super Mario Kart both had tremendous influences on their respective categories as well. Racing games that focused on collecting items and fun weapons quickly became serious competition for traditional racing simulators that focused on realism. And Mortal Kombat not only paved the way for the gratuitous and controversial over-the-top depictions of violence in modern games, it was also partly responsible for the creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) back in 1994.
As for Windows Solitaire, Microsoft claims that some 35 billion solitaire hands are dealt each year through the operating system (Microsoft tracks our procrastination?) but numbers on how many players actually get to enjoy that hypnotic game-winning animation are unknown.
So who didn’t make the cut this year? Unfortunately, fans of Half-Life, Asteroids, Dance Dance Revolution, Call of Duty, Ms. Pac-Man, King’s Quest, Metroid, and Minecraft will have to wait until 2020 until those short-listed finalists get another shot at the hall of fame.