This is how Mortal Kombat 1 can compete with Tekken 8 and Street Fighter 6

Scorpion and Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat 1
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

It's been almost four years, but Mortal Kombat 1 has been confirmed to be coming in September 2023. It's a truly packed year for some of the best fighting game franchises around as Street Fighter 6 and Tekken 8 are also on the way sooner rather than later. This is how the upcoming NetherRealm title can keep up with the big dogs. 

After Mortal Kombat 12 was announced in an investors' call, the NetherRealm fighting game, which we now know as Mortal Kombat 1 is coming in just a handful of months. It’s been just shy of four years since Mortal Kombat 11. Which, while visually stunning, was mechanically a departure from what made the previous entry, Mortal Kombat X so enjoyable to play. 

It all comes down to the speed of the game. Mortal Kombat 11 is more deliberately paced than its 2011 and 2015 predecessors. While the framerate stays at a rock solid 60fps on Xbox Series X and PS5, the character moves more slowly than in the older games. The thing I missed the most was the ability to run – either with a dedicated button or by dashing several times in a row. It made closing the distance on your enemy and chasing up combos okay differently than Mortal Kombat X

In my hundreds of hours with Mortal Kombat 11 across not only PS5 but also Nintendo Switch and PC, zoning became the biggest issue for me because you couldn’t apply the same rush-down tactics in the game as you could its predecessors. As someone who has played as Sub Zero for as long as I can remember, the 2019 game marked the first time in my 20-year history with Mortal Kombat that I dropped him as my main character. 

NetherRealm hasn’t had the best run with balancing in its fighting games – just look at the Injustice series. The DC superhero fighting game shares DNA with Mortal Kombat 11  and it’s stuffed with one-sided match-ups that make the meta less enjoyable. The combo strings just don’t feel as fulfilling to pull off because my previous aggressive play style isn’t catered to. 

I gave the game roughly a year and a half to win me over, with the September 2020 expansion Aftermath proving to be the last straw. Despite some excellent new DLC characters and a fun but ultimately underwhelming story, I dropped Mortal Kombat 11 and picked up Tekken 7 more seriously. To this day, nearly three years later, I’ve never regretted the move. 

The new era 

Kitana in Mortal Kombat 1

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Mortal Kombat 11 was the conclusion of the franchise's reboot trilogy, which wiped the slate clean from the mess of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon and started again. 

The time has come for NetherRealm to return to the drawing board and rethink the fundamentals of Mortal Kombat 1. The best way to do this would be to go back to the much faster and more aggressive play style of the older games by bringing dial-in combo strings and running back into play. Both Street Fighter 6 and Tekken 8 are embracing their roots back, so there’s more competition than ever to get things right. From the looks of the Mortal Kombat 1 cinematic announcement trailer, the speed and aggression looks to be making a serious comeback. 

Mortal Kombat 11 is still thriving in some competitive circles. It’s currently slated to appear alongside Street Fighter 6, Guilty Gear: Strive, and Tekken 7 at the upcoming Evo 2023, the biggest fighting game tournament in the world. There’s still a lot of love and support for the blood and gore fighter, especially given the success of the live-action and animated movies that have come out since the game’s release. 

As a series veteran who plays her fair share of fighting games, my biggest hope for Mortal Kombat 1 is that the brutality and speed which made earlier games so effortlessly enjoyable come back in full force. It will be great to see what the development team can do on a new engine that utilizes the latest NVMe SSD technology found in the current-generation consoles for an experience that blows older games out of the water. 

Aleksha McLoughlin
Hardware Editor

Aleksha McLoughlin is the Hardware Editor for TechRadar Gaming and oversees all hardware coverage for the site. She looks after buying guides, writes hardware reviews, news, and features as well as manages the hardware team. Before joining TRG she was the Hardware Editor for sister publication GamesRadar+ and she has also been PC Guide's Hardware Specialist. She has also contributed hardware content to the likes of Trusted Reviews, The Metro, Expert Reviews, and Android Central. When she isn't working, you'll often find her in mosh pits at metal gigs and festivals or listening to whatever new black and death metal has debuted that week.