Mortal Kombat 11 was one of our favourite games of last year, and for good reason. Not just a terrific blood-soaked brawler, NetherRealm’s latest entry in its long-running series also felt like the final chapter in a lengthy saga that defined many a childhood and helped redefine gaming as a social experience.
If this is where the story of Mortal Kombat would end, you couldn’t ask for a higher note to go out on as all of time was at stake. Deadly alliances were formed, a greatest hits collection of adversaries returned for one last stab at konquest, and the entire storyline was neatly wrapped up with a bow by the time the end credits had rolled.
There was of course more to Mortal Kombat 11’s story with the Aftermath expansion and a hefty number of downloadable characters that popped up in the months after release, but the base package was still a blisteringly quick and enjoyable bloodbath that showcased Mortal Kombat at its very best. Fast forward almost two years into the future, and Mortal Kombat 11 is back in the spotlight, this time as a next-gen entry.
It’s not a tremendous update mind you, but it makes changes where it matters in terms of fighting game longevity and legacy. As you’d expect, Mortal Kombat 11 looks smoother and more disturbingly polished than ever before. Already a gruesome game, every fatality is pure nightmare fuel as every gory explosion of limbs, blood, and organs is now dialed up to 11.
On a technical level, Mortal Kombat 11 now runs at a dynamic resolution of 4K, which in reality means that it’ll pop that increased level of fidelity at your eyeballs in optimal conditions. If you’ve got an eye for dynamic scaling, you might notice the slightest of dynamic downgrades during some of the more hectic moments of a match, but these are few and far between.
The real success story here is how Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate uses HDR to paint a more detailed picture. Taking what was already there and adding new layers of colour and range to the product does wonders for the game, highlighting a selection of small details that could have escaped your notice. I know I should be grossed out by D’Vorah turning my corpse into a mentally-traumatising torso spider but I just can’t help but admire the subtle extras in the background.
The biggest fear with upgrades like this, would be the cost it’d have on the most important aspect of Mortal Kombat 11’s design: The frame-rate. In a genre where every single frame does matter in high-level competitive play, having even the slightest of stuttering can potentially derail an entire match. Fortunately, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate still runs smoother than microwaved syrup, never skipping a beat.
Other big additions in Mortal Kombat 11 lie in both its kontent and matchmaking across a wide number of platforms. If you own Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, or Xbox Series X, you’re sorted for online play. You can battle other console warriors across Earthrealm’s favoured brand arenas, although PC-Realm, Stadia-Realm and Nintendo-Realm are being left out of the tournament for now.
And it works! Even though I was getting my rusty ass handed to me regularly, performance ran just about the same across a dozen matches. Some internet issues aside, NetherRealm’s pulled off an amazing feat here. On the PS5 as well, the DualSense controller haptics also provided a neat touch: Directional rumble, that resulted in vibrations on the side where I was being slapped across the face with beefy backhands from Outworld’s nastiest. Neat, but hardly useful. But still neat.
If you’re taking the free upgrade further into CashRealm, NetherRealm has one massive incentive for anyone willing to do a minor brutality on their bank accounts. The base next-gen upgrades are free, but throw down some cash and you’ll get all previously released DLC and three new fighters: Long-requested fan favourite Mileena, Prince tribute Rain, and John Rambo, voiced by none other than Sly Stallone himself.
Each new warrior brings with them their own kombat quirks, specialties, and gory finishers, with Rambo being a perfect match for the game thanks to his savage combos, ingenous trap-style of gameplay, and a character recreation that preserves the cinematic icon for a new generation. Nothing is game over.
Mortal Kombat 11’s Ultimate Edition is NetherRealm’s finest hour polished up further for a new console generation. Packed with content, further refined, and open to a wider audience than ever before, Mortal Kombat 11 is still a violent masterpiece that draws first blood with its new roster additions.
Last Updated: November 30, 2020