Mortal Kombat 1 Beta Impressions


For as long as I can remember, I’ve been playing games. And a series that’s been a long time staple in my gaming journey is the Mortal Kombat franchise. Admittedly, I’ve been playing them from an age where I was certainly too young to be playing them, but it’s one of my earliest gaming memories and it continues to be one of my favourite franchises of all time nonetheless. Now over 30 years since it’s inception, the series is facing what seems to be yet another reboot and resetting the timeline once again with the upcoming Mortal Kombat 1. I recently had the chance to go hands on with the game thanks to the beta and came away very impressed and very keen to play more. Not only does the game’s core mechanics improve on MK11’s in just about every way, the addition of the new Kameo system is going to have a massive impact on how Mortal Kombat plays. Especially on a competitive level.

Mortal Kombat 1 Beta

The beta didn’t provide access to any of the game’s story mode. But based on what’s been presented in the pre release trailers, it’s clear that Liu Kang has managed to reset/craft a new timeline, essentially resetting the story, character relationships and any expectations we previously had about how things may play out. How much of a hard reset this is planned to be is yet to be fully known, but hints in the trailers make me think this game may simultaneously be a reset of the timeline as well as a sequel to MK11.

The beta period provided access to 2 main modes. There’s the online Versus mode as well as the Kombat Tower which gave access to offline CPU battles, a feature I was increasingly appreciative of after coming off Tekken 8’s recent beta which was online only and had me spending more time looking for a match than actually playing one. The online component based on what I played in the beta holds up incredibly well and it’s been confirmed to be utilising rollback netcode. During the matches I had, I didn’t encounter any noteable issues when it came to online performance. Hopefully the full game performs just as well once it’s in the hands of many more players. The Kombat Towers also provided the ability to tailor the CPU difficulty making it both open to newer players as well as those that want to test their might.

Mortal Kombat 1 Beta

There was only a small fraction of the overall character roster available to play, but did provide a nice mix of characters that specialise in various playstyles to get a decent look at how varied characters can play in the final game. The main roster consisted of Sub Zero, Kenshi, Kitana, Liu Kang, Li Mei and Johnny Cage and during my time with each it started to become more clear as to what each characters strengths were, and also reminded me with how well Mortal Kombat tries to make most characters feel capable of dealing damage whether they’re at close, medium or long range from their opponent.

Mortal Kombat 1 Beta

Where Mortal Kombat 1 is going to have it’s biggest change up is going to be with its brand new Kameo fighter mechanic. It’s not your standard tag in mechanic where a support character is able to jet onto the screen, perform a predefined move and then leave. Depending on the way your support character is deployed and the context in which they’re used can have massive and varied impacts on the overall battle.

It’s more than just a cool feature, it offers a deep level of customisation to your playstyle, provides another layer of longevity to the game and will also keep every opponent on their toes during competitive play as each match has a far larger ability to be unique. It won’t just come down to learning individual enemy characters and how they play, but also understanding how certain Kameo fighters can be utilised and how their moveset is able to complement the core fighter. 

There’s also some great nostalgic nods with many of the Kameo fighters taking the appearance of the fighter as they appeared in previous entries in the series. It was really awesome to see Jax and Sonya show up looking more modern and better than ever but sporting their looks from MK2 and 3 respectively. The Kameo roster was limited to Frost, Kano, Sonya and Jax for the beta, but as with the main roster, many more will be available in the final release.

From a presentation standpoint, Mortal Kombat 1 looks and sounds fantastic. The graphics are absolutely gorgeous and squirm is hot gruesome at the same time and major props need to go to the character animations which are incredibly unique and fluid. The sound design has also been really well handled, with you able to here the crunch of every blow, the thud of each block and the bloody squelch of the muscles tearing apart during the fatality sequences. 

Mortal Kombat 1 Beta

Overall Mortal Kombat 1 looks like a step up over MK11 in every way and the new Kameo mechanic is sure to make things feel super fresh and unique for a long time to come. I’m very keen to see how the full game performs when it releases soon and to also get to experience what appears to be another great MK story with the main Kampaign.

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