Mortal Kombat X: All you need is kill

There’s always a risk that with the arrival of a new Mortal Kombat, the series will just descend further into a grisly parade of even more obscene violence and ridiculous fatalities. But NetherRealm Studios has been showing greater confidence of late, releasing more footage and inviting the press to take a closer look at the fighter. And from what we’ve seen it’s clear that the developer isn’t content with resting on its blood-soaked laurels.

While what has been played to date is quite an extensive demo, featuring the majority of the characters available to play, we admit to falling into the trap of temptation and sticking with familiar (albeit iconic) character showdowns. So while a snow-swept forest brawl between Scorpion and Sub-Zero was every bit the satisfying high-energy bout redressed in new-gen visuals we’d expect, it belied the new gameplay depths the sequel reaches.

Look through the roster at some of the new challengers entering the arena and there’s a far more interesting story to be told. Cassie Cage (who is the daughter of Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage) is a technology-focused character, while Ferra/Torr are a combination of two characters that have ferocious range, speed and strength, and D'vorah is an agile insect-woman thing. On the surface these guys slot neatly next to any combatant to grace Mortal Kombat over the years, however each fighter is vastly different from the last. The level of stylistic variety here hasn’t been seen in the series before, adding a sophistication and technical layer to Mortal Kombat's already tough arcade foundations.

Whether NetherRealm is trying to muscle in on Street Fighter and Tekken is anyone’s guess, but the evidence so far points to wards a focus on competition-level balance and strategy. It’s the type of move that could make or break the relatively accessible fighting series, but it’ll be welcome news to those that have been looking for a bit more edge in the series for years. Yet, despite it toying with a new level of competitive play, NetherRealm is remaining true to the core of the series. The combat looks better than ever, the stages more dynamic and, of course, the fatalities are more skull-crushingly violent than ever before. Mortal Kombat X isn’t changing the rulebook, but it’s adding a few new chapters that could show us how the direction of the  series’ future will change.

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