8 essential Mortal Kombat 11 tips to know before you play

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Mortal Kombat 11, in all of its gore and brutality, is finally out in the wild for all the little Scorpions and Sub-Zeros to enjoy. It's got a stellar story mode and plenty of other content to dig through, so much so that it might be a little intimidating at first. 

The Krypt, multiple Tower modes, different settings for casual and competitive play, as well as a thorough tutorial make booting up Mortal Kombat 11 a bit overwhelming. We put together a list of eight tips to help ease you through the process and get you to the fight faster (and help you win that fight).

1. Make use of quick combo references 

Getting used to the fast-paced mechanics takes time, and you'll often feel pressured to rely on the basics - simple kicks, punches, and grabs. You'll have a much easier time if you check the quick reference combos in the pause menu. Even if you're too impatient to go through the tutorial, you'll be able to up your damage output and move versatility by a huge amount if you learn a couple of these easy combos.  

2. Lean on Fatal Blows when you fall behind

Fatal Blows, a crushing move you can use when your health bar is low, can feel cheap, there's no getting around it. At some points it feels like the game is punishing you for winning. Don't let this opportunity fall to the wayside; when your health falls below a certain threshold you'll see a prompt to use your Fatal Blow (both triggers on PS4). These ultra violent moves do a ton of uninterrupted damage if they land, sometimes completely turning the tide of battle. Make sure you find a good opening that your opponent can't block and let those punches fly. 

3. Use the environment to give you an advantage

Every stage has several interactive elements that can help you deal extra damage or gain better positioning. They usually take the form of a crate hanging on the side of a ship or a spear sticking out of the ground. Press the right bumper when prompted (you'll see it below your health bar when your next to the item) and your character will automatically pick them up or jump off them. It's that easy.  

4. Mix up moves when fighting the computer

Fighting an AI-controlled opponent is nothing like fighting a real person, but the computer characters can still pose a stiff challenge (especially on the harder difficulties later in the story). To help make those fights easier mix up the variety of moves you use. It's easy to rely on one or two moves right away, especially hefty ones like a jump kick, but the computer learns patterns fast, blocking your moves and retaliating with ease if you don't change things up. Even if you want to rely on a favorite move or two, change how and when you use them. 

5. It's obvious, but use the tutorial

Tutorials, in pretty much any game, aren't for everyone. They sometimes keep you away from the action when all you want to do is dive in headfirst. Mortal Kombat 11 is no different, except that the tutorial is just as deep as the game's mechanics. It has character-specific walkthroughs, a deep dive on the basics, and much more. Whether you're a veteran or a newcomer, the tutorial will definitely help you transition into playing Mortal Kombat 11 at a higher level. 

6. Play through the story mode first

The story mode will last you around 5 hours (if not more, should you want to try out some of the other difficulties). While short, it does give you the chance to play through a ton of fun fights with a big chunk of the games playable characters. Use this as an opportunity to get acquainted with most of the roster and to pick your favorite character(s). It's better than playing them in arcade matches. 

7. Play aggressively defensive

Mortal Kombat 11 is all about close-quarters combat. Projectiles aren't as effective and combos are usually started when you're right up in your opponent's face. Instead of just rushing in, try getting right up in your enemy's face with blocks. Learn what they rely on most and match it. Once you block them, follow up with a grab or hit. This'll help you get use to dealing damage rather than taking it.  

8. Ignore the grind if you can

The Krypt and Tower modes have been criticized for how needless the grind is to unlock new items. While those modes can be fun, it's not fun to waste your time toiling away trying to unlock items whose value won't be worth the time invested. Take it from me, playing through the story and then jumping online is far more fun, worthwhile, and challenging than anything those other modes can provide. If you find yourself turning the game into a chore to unlock items, make sure to take a break. 

Want to smash up something else? Check out the best fighting games to play right now.