Mortal Kombat 11 release date, roster, gameplay details, and more

Mortal Kombat 11 is bringing back some of the best characters from Mortal Kombat X - including Kotal Kahn, who's recently been confirmed as a returning fighter. Tying into the timeline-altering nature of the story, we get to see what Kotal looked like before his skin fully turned a deity-like blue. Kotal still wields a gigantic sword that he uses to brutally saw his way through enemies, and he can now shapeshift into a panther form to take a bite out of your health bar. Despite all that, you can watch Kotal get absolutely obliterated by Jacqui Briggs in his reveal trailer above. We recently got the chance to go hands-on with Mortal Kombat 11 at NetherRealm Studios, and here's what we learned:

With Mortal Kombat 11, NetherRealm Studios has once again outdone itself in the gore department. The next installment in the legendary fighting game series continues to build on the studio's strengths, with a sweeping story mode, customizable fighters, and a diverse set of characters to choose from with a variety of playstyles. And of course, the Mortal Kombat 11 Fatalities take the stomach-churning details to new heights of bloody depravity, with faces getting ripped clean off and spines peeled from skeletons aplenty. The full launch on April 23 will be here sooner than you think, so here's everything you need to know about Mortal Kombat 11 before it splits your skull and punctures your spleen in just a few months' time. 

Mortal Kombat 11 release date is set for April 2019 

NetherRealm Studios has maintained a steady string of fighting game releases since its inception, alternating between its Mortal Kombat and Injustice franchises. Following the release of Injustice 2 in 2017, Mortal Kombat 11 is primed for an April 23, 2019 release date on PS4, Xbox One, PC, and - in a first for NetherRealm - Nintendo Switch. Yes, Scorpion will be tossing spears through severed heads on the same portable platform that Mario, Link, and the Inklings call home. Excellent! 

Mortal Kombat 11 pre-order bonuses include Shao Kahn and beta access  

If you put money down on an early pre-order for Mortal Kombat 11, NetherRealm will reward you with an additional character - the infamous unfair boss Shao Kahn - and guaranteed access to the Mortal Kombat 11 beta on PS4 or Xbox One starting on March 28. If you want to go all-in on the Mortal Kombat 11 Kollector's Edition, you'll get the game, a season pass of fighters in the Kombat Pack, and a spiffy replica of Scorpion's iconic yellow mask - perfect for cosplay 

Mortal Kombat 11 beta is exclusive to PS4 and Xbox One

Access to the Mortal Kombat 11 beta is a big incentive for pre-ordering, but it has some caveats. For starters, the closed beta will only be playable on PS4 and Xbox One, running for the weekend from March 28 to 31. That said, there's a chance you could take part in the Mortal Kombat 11 stress test, which is happening even earlier - March 15 to 17 - on the same platforms. Unlike pre-ordering to get into the closed beta, you can't get guaranteed access to the stress test; instead, you'll need to register for the chance to participate at the official Mortal Kombat 11 beta site. There's also the possibility that a Mortal Kombat 11 open beta could take place nearer to the game's launch, but NetherRealm hasn't confirmed anything in that regard yet.

Mortal Kombat 11 roster is a mix of old favorites and new fighters 

The Mortal Kombat series has always put great stock into its diverse array of fighters, even back when its ninjas were color-altered palette swaps. From the few characters that have been revealed so far, it looks like Mortal Kombat 11 will feature a mix of returning favorites and powerful newcomers. Here are all the officially confirmed Mortal Kombat 11 characters so far: 

  • Scorpion
  • Raiden
  • Sub-Zero
  • Sonya Blade
  • Baraka
  • Skarlet
  • Geras (new)
  • Kano
  • Kabal
  • D'Vorah
  • Jade
  • Johnny Cage
  • Cassie Cage
  • Jacqui Briggs
  • Erron Black
  • Kotal Kahn
  • Shao Kahn (DLC) 

As with so many fighting games before it, the fervor to learn the full Mortal Kombat 11 roster ahead of launch has led to a number of supposed leaks of the full character list. Below, you'll find a collection of some of the rumored characters for the game, but be sure to take these with a grain of salt, and beware SPOILERS if these rumors turn out to be true and you wished they had come as a surprise. Feel free to skip to the next section if you want to find out about these characters when we actually have concrete details and gameplay footage to pore over.

Rumored playable characters (Possible SPOILERS):

  • Liu Kang
  • Kung Lao
  • Kronika
  • Frost

The first all-new character revealed for Mortal Kombat 11 is Geras, a master of time who commands a mix of heavy-hitting strength and tricky agility. Geras can bend sand (presumably the sands of time) to his will, creating damaging obstacles for his enemies or coating his hands with hardened sand to create lethal gauntlets. With his control over the flow of time, Geras can also teleport around the stage, or freeze his opponent in place to beat them up for a few seconds with no chance of retaliation. We may also see the franchise's first female boss, Kronika (more on her later) added to the roster with time powers of her own, though she's not yet confirmed.

It's nice to see the return of fan-favorite Skarlet, who made her first (and until now, only) appearance as a DLC fighter in 2011's Mortal Kombat, better known as Mortal Kombat 9. Longtime series heroes Liu Kang and Kung Lao also showed up in some cinematic cutscenes, but they're not yet confirmed as playable characters. In a cool bit of stunt casting, Sonya Blade is being voiced by Ronda Rousey, the famed martial artist who you know from the UFC, WWE, and films like Furious 7, to name just a few. Rousey voicing Sonya totally makes sense, considering they're equally tough (though Rousey doesn't brutally kill her opponents with Fatalities, so far as we know), and they both specialize in a variety of bone-crunching arm bars.

Mortal Kombat 11 gameplay features customizable variations and returning mechanics 

As you'd expect, Mortal Kombat 11's gameplay doesn't reinvent the wheel: it still revolves around one-on-one battles where fighters beat each other senseless until one of them is little more than a puddle of bloody pulp. But a fighting game's unique systems are what set it apart from its competitors, and Mortal Kombat 11 features an intriguing mix of returning mechanics and fresh additions. Mortal Kombat X's big innovation was the introduction of variations: three distinct playstyles for every fighter, enabling you to further specialize your strategy. Mortal Kombat 11 expands on MKX's variation system even further, blending it with Injustice 2's main innovation of collectible gear you can equip to your character of choice.

Variations allow for even more customization in Mortal Kombat 11. Details are still scarce, but it almost sounds like the customizable fighters in Super Smash Bros.' Mii fighters, where you can choose from a list of moves and assign specific ones to your character. In addition, each fighter now has three gear slots available, so you can customize your appearance (and possibly your stats) just like Injustice 2. No word yet on how you'll collect this gear, but it looks like gear can come with 'augment slots' for even further degrees of specialization. Mortal Kombat 11 will surely come with a Tournament Mode akin to the one in Injustice 2 for anyone who doesn't want to deal with extensive, potentially overpowered character specializations in a competitive setting.

Regarding more nitty-gritty mechanics, Mortal Kombat 11 has made a few crucial tweaks to familiar systems. Special meters make their return, but unlike previous games where you had one bar that could be spent on offensive or defensive measures, you now have two separate bars to use for souped-up attacks or combo escapes. Flawless Block is a new reward for pinpoint timing when blocking incoming attacks, acting like a parry that gives you an opening for a counterattack. And the Fatal Blow looks to be the new X-Ray attack, featuring close-up, slow-motion displays of wanton violence (though not all of them feature see-through body parts and shattering bones). Interestingly, you can only activate a Fatal Blow when your own health has been lowered to near death, similar to Tekken 7's flashy Rage Art attacks.

Finally, stage attacks are back, adding another layer of strategy and combo potential based on your positioning. Depending on the stage and the placement of your opponent, you might have the option to quickly slam their head into a pointy spike, or grab a nearby chainsaw and slice 'em up. It's just another thing you have to watch out for in Mortal Kombat's speedy fights.

Mortal Kombat 11 story picks up right after the events of Mortal Kombat 9 

Mortal Kombat X fast-forwarded years after the storyline we know and love, featuring the descendants of your favorite characters teaming up to battle Shinnok. But Mortal Kombat 11 has opted to go back a bit and takes place right where Mortal Kombat 9 left off. It's probably been a while since you played Mortal Kombat 9, so here's a quick refresher of what happened: Raiden sent a message back through time, warning his younger self that Shao Kahn would bring about the apocalypse. In a fun retelling of the events of the first three Mortal Kombat games, Raiden eventually unites the forces of good to ultimately take down Shao Kahn. But after the day seems won, Quan Chi and Shinnok make contact to ominously confirm that everything is going according to plan.

In the opening cinematic to Mortal Kombat 11, which you can see above, Raiden is torturing Shinnok and has claimed his amulet, transforming him into Dark Raiden. You can tell this version of Raiden is taking no prisoners based on his red electricity and lines like "I will destroy our enemies before they destroy us!" Dark Raiden decapitates Shinnok and leaves his severed, still-alive head to suffer - but when he teleports away, a mysterious figure named Kronika approaches Shinnok's poor noggin and reminds him that her villainous plan is still in motion.

It seems like Kronika can control the flow of time just like Geras, and the two will no doubt play an important part in the story. Kronika's inclusion as the big bad might also slightly retcon the events of Mortal Kombat's entire storyline, turning every event into a machinations of Kronika's evil plans. That might be a bit weird, but we'll have to wait and see what she - and NetherRealm - have in store.

Mortal Kombat 11 is one of our most highly anticipated new games of 2019 - come see what else we can't wait to play.