'Mortal Kombat 11' Gameplay Hands-On: A Bloody, Gorgeous Game

Mortal Kombat 11 is one of the most-anticipated games of 2019. After a four-year wait, fans of the brutal fighting game are eager for their chance to play. And based on our MK 11 hands-on, they should be.

Newsweek had a chance to play the build shown at The Mortal Kombat 11 Reveal event and got to look at some of the features. Here's our first impressions of Mortal Kombat 11.

raiden fatality mortal kombat 11


The first gameplay footage shown at The Reveal event blew me away. The graphics, textures and renders look pristine and lifelike— well, as lifelike as a woman using blood magic can look.

Baraka's scaly skin and spines, Scorpion's hood and mask, really the detail on all the characters is carefully crafted and it's clear the development team put a lot of time into each one.

mortal kombat 11 baraka
The detail on characters like Baraka are insane. NetherRealm

The stages look alive and background objects really stand out. One stage in particular, the Special Forces stage, has small mechs that look like they can pop off the screen at any moment.

And then we have the Fatal Blows and the Fatalities. It's amazing that NetherRealm continues to come up with more unique and crazy kill moves, but Mortal Kombat 11 gives fans the bloody goodness they want.

Even the loading screen has small silhouettes of the chosen fighters in battle, which is a great little touch.

mortal kombat 11 little people


Mortal Kombat 11 isn't going to reinvent its combat, there's no need, but this new installment changes it up in simple, yet drastic, ways. I know that sounds contradictory, but the changes NetherRealm chose to make shake-up the gameplay enough without altering the core gameplay.

If you like playing as Sub-Zero or Scorpion, they'll feel largely the same from MKX. Stage interactions are back as well as mechanics like enhanced specials.

For the changes, the biggest and most obvious is the stamina meter being split into offense and defense. Each bar will have two blocks and will fill up over time, but it's how you use them that will be interesting to players.

You can enhance specials using your offensive bar, allowing for Sonya to throw two projectiles in a row, for example. This also allows for certain attacks to be undisruptable. However, one interesting change is how the enhanced specials are performed. In MKX and in Injustice 2 (another NetherRealm game) a simple one button input that was the same for each character was needed. In MK 11 it's more than just one button, with each specific special attack getting their own input.

This will make it a bit more difficult to perform the augmented specials, but will reward players who are able to master them. We didn't have a lot of time to mess with the controls so there may be a way to make it simpler.

mortal kombat 11 amplify
Some specials can be amplified. NetherRealm

The defensive meter is relegated to players who want to roll out of the way, or those who perform a perfect block. This block will stop an attack and retaliate with a counter. It wasn't clear how to do this, so be prepared to spend hours in the training mode to get all of these down.

The Fatal Blow mechanic has replaced the X-Ray feature from MKX. Each player gets one Fatal Blow per match and can only activate it when their health reaches 30 percent. These sequences are highly-stylized cutscenes similar to the X-Rays but more brutal and deal massive damage. It's a great way to make a comeback when you need it, but the strategy is all about timing.

Each fighter in MK11 has three fighting variations similar to MKX but there's more customization options this time around. Not only can you change how your fighter looks, there were options to augment gear, and even change cinematics, brutalities, fatalities and end of match taunts. Mortal Kombat 11 allows for the most customization in any NetherRealm game yet.

mortal kombat 11 outfits

Overall, Mortal Kombat 11 is a game that looks worth the long wait. It's visually stunning and the gameplay is exactly what MK fans should expect. While certain mechanics may be a bit tougher on casual players, the overall changes are welcome and allow for more strategy in battle.

Mortal Kombat 11 is set to release April 23 for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.

What do you think of the gameplay footage shown so far? Are you excited to play the game? Let us know in the comments section below.