It’s been one month since the release of Mortal Kombat 11. One month of arguing over microtransactions. One month of nightmare-inducing violence. One month of cringing every time Sonya Blade opens her mouth.
The first month of what’s sure to be years of very good fighting. Here’s what happened in that month.
On April 20, three days before Mortal Kombat 11's launch, a post on the Test Your Might fan forums detailed some early issues with the game.
Problems cited included poor difficulty tuning in the game’s Towers of Time challenges and poor rewards for completing said challenges. There was also a punishing gear system requiring that players spend substantial time and in-game gold to augment equipment and randomised loot drops in the game’s Krypt, making earning character-specific skins, fatalities, and equipment more difficult.
The Test Your Might post was aggregated on Reddit shortly after it was posted, becoming a warning to players about Mortal Kombat 11's “draconian” grind walls.
The post suggested the random Krypt rewards and difficult challenges were purposefully designed to steer players towards real-money microtransactions. In reality, the game’s microtransactions turned out to be pretty reasonable.
Mortal Kombat 11 launched for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch on April 23. Gaming sites, including this one, praised the game for its accessibility, phenomenal tutorial, and emotionally-charged story mode.
Review site Metacritic was swamped with negative user reviews, many citing rampant monetisation and microtransactions that, once again, do not exist. Other subjects touched on in negative user reviews include the desexualization of the game’s female characters and a perceived “SJW” agenda, illustrated by an arcade story ending in which the character Jax goes back in time to prevent slavery.
The Nintendo Switch and PC versions of Mortal Kombat 11 aren’t quite in sync with the Xbox One’s and PlayStation 4's. While developer Netherrealm Studios focused on the PS4 and Xbox One, QLOC created the PC version and Shiver Entertainment handled the Switch port. This lead to inconsistencies between the versions at launch.
Some moves worked differently in the PC version, and the Nintendo game launched without character-specific tutorials. Subsequent updates have brought all versions of the game more in line with one another.
On the day of the game’s launch, Netherrealm promised a patch to reduce the difficulty of the Towers of Time challenges and increase rewards for completing in-game goals, making unlocking new items in the Krypt easier. On April 26, publisher Warner Bros. released a road map covering upcoming patches and updates for all four versions of the game.
The updates also rewarded early players for their patience, giving them a pile of in-game currency to help unlock items in the Krypt. Patches rolled out over the next couple of weeks, first to Xbox One and PS4, with Switch and PC straggling behind. The PC version got its most recent patch on May 14, reducing the requirements for completing character towers.
Even with all the patches, players are still finding glitches. Some, like the glitch that let players unlock some of the Krypt’s most expensive treasures by simply holding down a button, have (sadly) been patched.
Others, like the glitch that turns Sub-Zero invisible after performing a taunt under very specific circumstances, are still waiting for a fix.
No patch can fix Netherrealm Studios’ unfortunate decision to cast UFC fighter Ronda Rousey as Sonya Blade. The gimmicky casting of the Sandy Hook-denying, transmisogynistic comment-making WWE star is, as our own Heather Alexandra put it, bullshit. Maybe a future update will allow players to mute characters individually.
On May 23, one month after Mortal Kombat 11's release, the NPD Group announced its list of the best-selling games for April. According to NPD data, Mortal Kombat 11 topped sales charts for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The last game to top all current console charts in the same month was Guitar Hero III in October of 2007. The last third-party M-rated game to hit #1 on a Nintendo console was Resident Evil 4, for the GameCube, in 2005.
While it got off to a bumpy start, Mortal Kombat 11 seems to be doing just fine.