It’s been 25 years since the events of the last Mortal Kombat game and a whole lot has changed…
Since 1992, the Mortal Kombat franchise has been one of the biggest and boldest fighting games that the genre has ever seen. Still going strong over 20 years later, Mortal Kombat X promises to keep up the tradition of bone crushing Brutalities and flesh rendering Fatalities (if you can remember how to do them…). Old characters will be returning, but a whole host of new faces will be stepping up to the plate as well to show their skills. I got chatting to Hans Lo, Senior Producer on Mortal Kombat X who gave me some more insight into what to expect of the game.
The game is set 25 years after the previous game, Mortal Kombat (2011), which allows for the game to follow the story of the present, but also to delve into the past. Each of the chapters in Story mode will put you with one of the characters and you’ll be shown the events of both the present and the events of what happened in those 25 years leading up to what’s going on in the EarthRealm and beyond today.
“The flashbacks are here to help players who aren’t sure about what’s going on. Why’s Johnny here? Why has he got that attitude? But then you’ll see that 25 years ago he was in a similar kind of situation and this was how he handled it. Johnny actually matured, surprisingly! It’ll give you more information on the characters and their backstories, which will then help us tell the story.”
When getting hands on with the game I got the chance to play through the first chapter. This chapter follows Johnny Cage, alongside other returning faces Sonya Blade and Kenshi. They’re on their way to go and aid Raiden in pushing back Quan Chi’s invading force of revenants and to stop him before he can destroy the world with the power of the Shinnok Amulet, which can absorb and trap foes within.
In this first chapter, a number of other familiar faces return. Scorpion and Sub-Zero both appear to try and delay Johnny and the helicopter from getting to the sanctuary in time to help Raiden. They successfully manage to ground the chopper, killing the crew (except Sonya and Kenshi, of course) and Johnny gets the chance to teach them both a lesson.
The game plays as solidly as you would hope any good Mortal Kombat game would. Looking up moves are the same as the previous game, simply hit pause to see the basic moves, then select to see the broader menu and get to grips with the different combos so that you can go in for maximum damage and hopefully get in there to Finish Him with one of the many delightful, disgusting and innovative Fatalities.
As well as Story mode, two player and challenge modes, the most interesting is the evolution of the Challenge Tower. It has developed into what is now known as the Living Tower, which as the name suggests means that it grows and changes.
“It’s kind of like the next step from the Challenge Tower, we got a lot of positive feedback on it but one of the things we did notice was that not everyone could finish it, not everyone could get through it all the way. It got us thinking that maybe it was too much, that a couple of hundred challenges was a little excessive. So how can we make it more accessible, more fun for people? So it started out with smaller towers and smaller challenges, but then once you beat it, now what? That’s where Living Towers come in, we can update them so often and give out hourly and daily challenges, put out special events that’ll be there for a limited time. Each time you come back it’s going to be different, it’s not going to be where you return and know that ‘Every Tuesday this, this and this will be there’, it’ll be new challenges every time. We want you to see what’s new, what’s different, which character am I going to be playing this time? What’s the challenge I’m going to have to get around?”
In this game, every character has three different Gameplay Variations. The whole idea of this was to make it that you can play the characters that you want in the style of your choice, tailoring the way you like to play that best suits you. In that first chapter of Story, Johnny is listed as being in Hollywood mode. His daughter, Cassie, also shares this style. The different variations will give you access to certain feature moves of the character that suit that play style. There’s plenty of tinkering to be had there.
At the very beginning of the game, you get the opportunity to join one of the Factions. Factions are part of the online experience, where you can contribute as much or as little as you desire. In every mode of the game, you can earn points for your Faction and help to get on top of the dog pile and reign sepreme with your fellow Faction members. Each Faction has its own perks and bonuses, with unique abilities to get your heads around as you build up your skills. Don’t worry if you decide that you’d rather be in a different Faction, say all your friends are in White Lotus whilst you’re just hanging out by yourself over in The Brotherhood of Shadow. You can change, but just know that there’s a big penalty to switching, you have to start your progress in that Faction all over again. The war between the Factions is very much tied to the core story of the game, so it gives it just that bit more in terms of an emersive experience. Faction War winners are announced at the end of each week and members of that faction will see rewards. One of the interesting features is that sometimes the factions can be invaded by another realm to fight against, putting the Factions at odds where they need to work together to fight off the invasion.
“Every Faction has its own unique abilities that you can unlock as you make your way up through the ranks within your Faction. Though if you decide to switch, those abilities are not transferrable. If you switch over you have to start again and unlock that Factions’ abilities which you can then go on to use in game.”
One of the features of Mortal Kombat X is that there will be a standalone app that will allow for cross platforming. It’s important to note that the app is not a companion app! It’s an entirely stand alone game that does have features that will tie to the console version, but the console version will also be giving to the app as well. It’s a mutual effort between both versions of the game. Factions are also in the mobile versions and your game and the app can be synced using your WB Play account.
“It was a very conscious effort in making that it was a complimentary experience to both mobile and console. It’s not a companion app by any means and they are their own games in their own rights, but they do share things. The idea is to build upon the whole Mortal Kombat universe and the Mortal Kombat community, which is why we have the Faction system. When you’re playing on mobile, it will affect just as much as what you would also play on console.”
The mobile app is a development from learning about the previous mobile efforts the studio have made, for example the Injustice: Gods Among Us app. The Mortal Kombat X app delivers an optimised version of the console port, utilising taps and swipes to pull off your moves. You get to build your own team of three to go against other teams and you will also get the opportunity to ultilise an Ally. Allies in the app are created by members of the community to help you in your fights, they can apply different perks and bonuses to get you through. One of the great things about if you make an Ally, if other people use them, you’ll get points to help go towards your Faction.
The cross platforming abilities between the app and the console versions involve actions that will go towards the other platform. Say for example that you’re playing as Johnny Cage and get to pull off his ‘Heeere’s Johnny!’ Fatality, you may get a little pop saying that you’ve unlocked something on the app. You can jump over to the app and have a look at what rewards you’ve gotten. The same applies from the app to the console version, unlocking rewards in the mobile app that you can access in the console game, making it a more interactive experience without the groaning of it just being another companion app, which it absolutely isn’t.
Even though the game is yet to be released for another month, DLC is already on the cards.
“We will have DLC. We haven’t talked about the details, but more information will be coming in the future about that, but there will definitely be DLC in the future.”
Now you can’t talk about a new Mortal Kombat game without talking about the new characters being featured in it. We already knew vaguely about the four new characters who are coming in as the Special Ops team to come and try suss out the situation at hand.
Firstly is the leader of that team, Cassie Cage. Cassie is the daughter of Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage. She definitely shares her snarky attitude with her father, but she also encompasses a blend between both her mother and father in her fighting style.
Jaqui Briggs is the daughter of Jax. With him as her father, it’s not too much of a surprise that Jaqui has a bit of a chip on her shoulder. On this team, it shows that she really has something to prove, not just to her father, but also to herself.
Takeda is the son of Kenshi, though Takeda didn’t really get to know him growing up. He was raised instead by Scorpion, who also trained him how to fight. You can definitely see that tutelage in Takeda’s moveset.
Finally, you have Kung Jin. He is a descendent of Kung Lao and makes up the fourth member of Cassie’s Spec Ops team.
Other new characters have slowly been revealed over the past few weeks, and no doubt more will be coming soon as well with the release of the game coming closer and closer we’ll get to see a few more appearing. So keep your eyes peeled!
On a final note, I just had to ask Hans about Scorpion’s cameo in Injustice and wanted to see whether it would be possible that any DC characters could potentially show up in the future in Mortal Kombat X.
“Anything is possible, but as of right now we don’t have anything planned. But like I say. Anything is possible.”
Maybe we might see the Man of Steel or the Dark Knight in the future? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
A huge thank you to the Mortal Kombat team, Hans Lo and Warner Bros. for having us to get our hands on Mortal Kombat X. I’m thoroughly looking forward to getting myself a copy when the game finally ships in a month’s time!
Mortal Kombat X will be releasing on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC, iOS and Android on April 14th 2015.