Mortal Kombat 1 - everything we know

Fire God Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat 1
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Mortal Kombat 1 is out now, and has been received well by both critics and fans alike. In fact, it's managed to be a great reset for the series, leaving the story in an exciting place for future sequels to follow.. 

Mortal Kombat 1 has already proven itself worthy to be considered one of the best fighting games this year, in a year that's absolutely full of them (you can check out our Mortal Kombat 1 review for our thoughts). if you're looking for a good excuse to dust off one of the best fight sticks too, now's your chance. Here's everything you need to know. 

 Mortal Kombat 1 - cut to the chase 

  • What is it? A reboot of the long-running Mortal Kombat fighting game series
  • When can I play it? Out now!
  • What can I play it on? Xbox Series X, PS5, PC, Nintendo Switch
  • Who is making it? NetherRealm Studios

Mortal Kombat 1 release date and platforms

Scorpion and Sub-Zero stand side-by-side, looking up a red glowing celestial body, shining in the sky

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Games)

Mortal Kombat 1 released in full on September 19, 2023.

However, if you pre-ordered the Premium Edition you got Early Access to play five days early from September 14!

In terms of platforms, Mortal Kombat 1 launched on PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch.

Mortal Kombat 1 trailers

The extended Mortal Kombat 1 reveal as showcased at Summer Games Fest cemented how the upcoming fighter plays. As well as giving us a proper look at the new art style and younger characters, most importantly the combat itself has seen a serious facelift. Things are significantly faster than with its predecessor which is greatly appreciated. We also saw the Kameo fighters in action, acting as assists for things like combo breakers, combo extenders, and team super moves. 

Mortal Kombat 1 is more conventional in terms of a competitive fighter. The regular super meter is making a return, which was last seen in Mortal Kombat X and brought into the series with the 2011 reboot. This system allows for enhanced special attacks, with a combo breaker, and then an X-ray move. Both X-rays and screen-filling special moves also return

The focus on aerial combat in Mortal Kombat 1 is a real surprise. Early into the four-minute Summer Games Fest demo, we can see both Scorpion and Sub-Zero start a kombo on the ground before taking to the air and carrying on the assault before crashing back down again to continue. There’s never really been the angle of air juggling in the series before, save for the likes of Scorpion’s air throw in the 2011 reboot. This new verticality combined with the significantly improved pacing, makes for a fighting game that’s sure to thrive in the competitive scene.  

Alternative trailers

Mortal Kombat 1 gameplay

Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat 1

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Now that it's out, we know that Mortal Kombat 1 is a significantly faster game than the previous entries in the series with an emphasis on aerial combos and assists in the form of Kameo fighters. Things are a little more straightforward here as NetherRealm appears to be catering to the hardcore fighting game community with systems that you would find in other popular titles. This means a return of the super meter of old, but also a focus on team-up attacks, and more aggressive play.  

Ever since the original announcement trailer, Mortal Kombat 1 looked to be much more fluid than the likes of Mortal Kombat 11, embodying the speed of what we saw with Mortal Kombat X back in 2015. The first two entries of NetherRealm's trilogy used X-Ray moves which were replaced by Fatal Blows in the most recent game from 2019. It's unlikely that NetherRealm will break from this tradition as these moves play a pivotal role in changing the tide of matches in both casual and competitive play even in 2023. Now, it appears that X-ray moves are back alongside the new team-up supers which have been demonstrated. 

Also likely to make some kind of comeback in Mortal Kombat 1 is the variation system as seen in Mortal Kombat X and then iterated upon in Mortal Kombat 11. This was a way to choose from a specific loadout of abilities (usually new special moves) and certain pre-set combos that would give you advantages and disadvantages when playing. It's something that was praised by the community and allowed players a way to develop their own play style around the tournament-legal (or custom-created) moves list. 

Kitana faces off against her "sister" Mileena

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Naturally, fatalities return, which should act in the way they always have historically, which are cutscenes triggered with a button string to end a match. We're also likely to see Brutalities make a comeback as they have been a part of the last two games in the Mortal Kombat series as well, which take a little more skill and are situational for a flashier way to end fights. It would be great to see stage fatalities make a return after being absent from Mortal Kombat 11 until they were added to new stages in the Aftermath expansion in 2020. 

What we really want to see is the character animations become more fluid as that's the main aspect where NetherRealm's fighting game series lags behind the likes of Street Fighter and Tekken. Mortal Kombat 1 has the potential to be running on Unreal Engine 5 which could really push what the current generation of consoles and PC are able to do with the material but this remains to be stated by the developer.

Mortal Kombat 1 roster

Kitana in Mortal Kombat 1

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The announcement trailer gave us a proper first look at some of the Kombatants we can expect to play as in Mortal Kombat 1. The following fighters are now confirmed to appear in Mortal Kombat 1

  • Liu Kang
  • Scorpion
  • Sub-Zero
  • Kitana
  • Mileena
  • Shang Tsung
  • Kung Lao
  • Raiden
  • Johnny Cage
  • Kenshi
  • Li Mei
  • Liu Kang
  • Rain
  • Smoke
  • Reptile
  • Ashrah
  • Havik
  • Sindel
  • General Shao
  • Motaro
  • Shujinko
  • Raiden

One exciting thing about NetherRealm's Mortal Kombat games is the guest characters, which the series has had great success with in the past. Mortal Kombat (2011) included Kratos from God of War as well as Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Mortal Kombat X doubled down on the horror theme by having a Xenomorph from Alien, Jason Vorhees from the Friday the 13th movies, Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Predator. 

Mortal Kombat 11 had a completely different tone and opted for superheroes and 80's action stars so saw Batman's The Joker, The T-800 from Terminator, Image Comic's Spawn, and Robocop. The door is wide open at this point as there's no real way of knowing exactly who will show up in Mortal Kombat 1, but it's likely to be a big name in pop culture.

Mortal Kombat 1 story and setting

Scorpion and Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat 1

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The cinematic reveal trailer has confirmed that Mortal Kombat 1 takes place directly after Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath with Fire God Liu Kang defeating Shang Tsung for dominance over Kronika's sands of time. With the original series villain seemingly defeated, the newly appointed god and protector of EarthRealm has recreated the likes of EarthRealm and given all free rein for peace and war. However, the trailer ends with Shang Tsung returning through a portal, much like how the original story for Mortal Kombat 11 ends, showing that things clearly aren't as clean-cut as he originally envisioned. 

Few settings are fully explored in the roughly two minutes of content available, however, it looks as though the Shirai Ryu fire gardens were rebuilt as we briefly see both Scorpion and Sub-Zero in a place that resembles them. We don't yet know if these are entirely new interpretations of the characters or some sporting new designs that retain memories of the rebooted trilogy so that will remain to be seen in the coming months. 

As expected, there's going to be a full cinematic story mode which NetherRealm has garnered acclaim for including since Mortal Kombat (2011). It's likely that this will last around 6-8 hours if the previous games are anything to go by and we'll get our answers soon. For our money, we don't think that things are wrapped up with the Elder Gods yet, as Kronika, Cetrion, Shinnok, and Shao Kahn are only the tip of the iceberg. We still don't know who the big bad of this game is going to be yet, even with mere months to go, but, hopefully, it's someone worthy of the mantle. 

Mortal Kombat 1 editions

Scorpion faces down an unknown opponent, who stands in the shadows near the camera

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Games)

There are three main editions of Mortal Kombat 1. These can all ordered via the game's website, and include the Standard Edition ($69.99), Premium Edition ($109.99), and Kollector's Edition ($249.99). You can check out more info on these below:

Standard Edition

The Mortal Kombat 1 Standard Edition will give you the following bonuses for pre-ordering:

  • Shang Tsung playable character
  • Access to Pre-Order beta (Xbox and PS5 only)

Premium Edition

The Premium Edition version of Mortal Kombat 1 will give you the following bonuses, as well as the base game:

  • Shang Tsung playable character
  • Access to the Pre-Order Beta (Xbox and PS5 only)
  • 6 new playable characters
  • 5 new Kameo characters
  • 1 week early access to DLC characters
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme skin for Johnny Cage
  • 1250 Dragon Krystals

Kollector's Edition

Here's what's included in the Mortal Kombat 1 Kollector's Edition:

  • Shang Tsung playable character
  • Access to the Pre-Order Beta (Xbox and PS5 only)
  • 6 new playable characters
  • 5 new Kameo characters
  • 1 week early access to DLC characters
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme skin for Johnny Cage
  • 2700 Dragon Krystals
  • Liu Kang sculpture
  • COARSE art prints inspired by Mortal Kombat 1
  • Exclusive steel case
  • Exclusive limited edition Liu Kong in-game color variant inspired by sculpture

Mortal Kombat 1 news

Mortal Kombat 1 announces two new fighters and a few Kameo fighters at Gamescom
Gamescom Opening Night Live housed a new trailer for Sindel and General Shao, alongside Motaro and Shujiko as Kameo fighters. Offering a balance of in-game content and cinematic animation, the trailer once again gives us an in-depth look at the fighter's move sets and how their feuds tie into the story of the game. 

Mortal Kombat 1 Kombat Pack Reveal trailer released

The first few fighters as part of the Mortal Kombat 1 Kombat Pack have been revealed, and while we are yet to see any in-game content about each character's move set, we expect a gameplay trailer to come through in the following weeks if not upon release. Boasting a number of valuable additions to the roster, the Kombat Pack is reason enough to get excited about the rapidly approaching release.

Mortal Kombat 1 Summer Games Fest in-depth reveal 

Summer Games Fest has given us the next big look at how Mortal Kombat 1 plays as well as explaining exactly what the deal is with the new Kameo fighters. The reveal has highlighted the significantly faster combat, more technical play, gorgeous lighting, and animations, as well as what we can expect from the story mode. 

Mortal Kombat 1 cinematic trailer and release date revealed 

The cinematic gameplay reveal of Mortal Kombat 1 was released on May 18 with a release date of September 19 - four months later. It's been four years since the last mainline entry in the series, Mortal Kombat 11 in 2019, as NetherRealm has skipped Injustice 3 in favor of its flagship franchise; a tradition that had carried since the alternating releases the two fighting game series would have every two years. 

Mortal Kombat 12 confirmed in development in Warner Brothers investor call

Mortal Kombat 12 has been announced in a surprisingly left-of-field fashion: at a Warner Brothers investor call. The title is expected to release sometime in 2023, but, as of yet, no trailer or preview has been released. This is odd, considering it is one of the biggest [upcoming games] of the genre. However, we anticipate that NetherRealm will have something more tangible for us, soon.  

If you're looking for another fighting game to get prepared for, it's worth looking at the Tekken 8 release date. But, if you're looking for a more narrative-driven upcoming game worth keeping an eye on, check out the Clockwork Revolution release date

Aleksha McLoughlin

Aleksha McLoughlin is an experienced hardware writer. She was previously the Hardware Editor for TechRadar Gaming until September 2023. During this time, she looked after buying guides and wrote hardware reviews, news, and features. She has also contributed hardware content to the likes of PC Gamer, Trusted Reviews, Dexerto, 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.

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