Today, NetherRealm Studios held a long-anticipated Mortal Kombat 11 Reveal Event in London, UK. It was streamed on Twitch, with a special side-stream taking place on Warner Bros. Games’ own Twitch channel. The event totaled just under 4 hours including breaks and set-up time, and certainly had its ups and downs throughout.
The reveal started off with a series of reactions from more prominent faces in the NRS scene on YouTube and Twitch. This was simply a precursor before the new gameplay trailer and an extensive look at the changes to gameplay outlined by series creative director Ed Boon. A few of the main changes can be simplified as such: there is no longer a shared bar for defensive/offensive options- instead, each has its own bar that can recharge after a set time. Additionally, there are changes to counters, punishes, a new mechanic called “perfect block”, and now Fatal Blows are a super that operates similarly to Rage Arts in Tekken 7- your health needs to be under 30% before you can use it, but it causes massive damage. Unlike Tekken 7, it is only available once per match, though if you whiff it or it gets blocked, it’ll recharge and be usable again after a short time. For a more detailed explanation of the changes, it really is best to watch and listen to the examples in the video, or to just watch the Twitch stream archive.
While the gameplay certainly looks the most interesting in NRS’ history of fighting games, there was something noticeable from the trailer that seemed… off. Sonya’s voice acting was different. It’s not the same actress from Mortal Kombat X, and NRS was eager to trot out the woman who replaced her: noted very problematic ex-MMA fighter and current wrestler Ronda Rousey. My opinion of Ms. Rousey should be painfully clear, but one of the other issues directly related to the game itself is… why cast her at all when she’s not a professional voice actor? How much was it really worth to pay a pro wrestler money that could have been used for someone to provide professional grade voice work, and not make Sonya Blade just sound in boring and insipid?
This was the low point of the presentation, personally- especially when they trotted her out to talk… something about the game. It was certainly less interesting than watching the European YouTube and Twitch “celebrities” play the game on WB Games’ own stream. At least that stage allowed a glimpse at what the game itself actually looked like in motion before the main event and what I consider the best part of the reveal event: the Pro Exhibition matches. There were a total of four matches all following a FT3 format: Hayatei vs Honeybee, Tweedy vs Dragon, Grr vs Scar, and Rewind vs SonicFox. All of the pros only had minimal time to adjust to every character (of which there were only 7: Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Raiden, Skarlet, Baraka, Sonya Blade, and Geras) but each put on a great display of the differences in variants between each character and matchup. Easily, the best match was between good friends Rewind and SonicFox, who took each other to the limit- both getting 2 game wins before coming down to a final round, which SonicFox eventually won. When these pro matches were taking place, you could feel the hype in the stage area intensify immediately. It capped the event perfectly.
The event itself was… okay, only hampered by a few moments where the stream would cut into scenes like this:
Besides the few technical slip-ups and less-than-great reveal that Sonya Blade would be voiced by Ronda Rousey, everything else was peachy. While I wasn’t personally very fond of the YouTube/Twitch “celebrities” stream, at the very least it served its purpose by providing video of players actually playing the game and giving a look at the mechanics of it before release. This event certainly did its job by examining some of the best players to showcase NRS gameplay and give even casuals hype about April.