The Evolution of Mortal Kombat X - Prima Games

The Evolution of Mortal Kombat X

by Bryan Dawson

The competitive scene for Mortal Kombat 9 and Injustice: Gods Among Us has been fairly vibrant over the past few years. It’s hard to compete with the likes of Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom, but the team at NetherRealm Studios did a good job supporting both MK9 and Injustice, and keeping the competitive scene alive. With the April 2015 release of Mortal Kombat X, it’s once again time to look at how the series will evolve and what competitive players can expect from the new game.

If there’s one thing that most non-MK fans complain about in the competitive fighting scene, it’s that Mortal Kombat games feel stiff. It’s fairly easy to do a crouching medium kick into a fireball in Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, Killer Instinct and just about any other game that has 2-in-1s. However, in both MK9 and Injustice, the timing on 2-in-1s is stricter. Unfortunately this won’t change in Mortal Kombat X. How players performed combos in previous NetherRealm games is how combos will be performed in Mortal Kombat X.

Another big question on the minds of many Capcom players is how the footsies game will work in Mortal Kombat X. For those not familiar with the term, footsies (or the neutral game) is basically anything that occurs when both players are not actively hitting each other. The movement and spacing to get the positioning you want for a well-placed attack, using specific normal attacks to catch the limb of an opponent or punish a whiffed attack… that all falls within the realm of the neutral game.

One of the concerns Capcom players have had is that MK is very combo-oriented without much in the way of footsies. This was a conscious decision by the development team, and it won’t change when Mortal Kombat X releases. There will still be just as much movement and spacing as players saw in MK9 and Injustice, but it won’t be at the level of Street Fighter or even Killer Instinct. Normal attacks won’t see any property changes, and much of the game will still revolve around using combos or attack strings to begin your offense.

For the most diligent competitive players, frame data is huge. While the frame data in Mortal Kombat 9 was not featured in-game like it was in Injustice, the community took it upon themselves to painstakingly mine the data from the game. However, this wasn’t entirely possible, as frame data in Mortal Kombat 9 was variable. It changed depending on when an opponent pressed and released the block button. This made it very difficult to determine how safe or unsafe an attack was. Thankfully, that’s changing in Mortal Kombat X. Not only will the frame data be present in the in-game move list, it will no longer be variable.

Mortal Kombat 9 players had to deal with a few extremely useful tactics, such as Kabal’s Nomad Run cancel that kept the defensive player in block stun for a large portion of the match. Characters such as Johnny Cage had similar abilities to maintain lengthy block strings (although not as effective as Kabal). This will change in Mortal Kombat X, as the developer is aware of such shenanigans and will look to avoid these near infinite block stun situations in the future.

Speaking of the future, it’s widely known that NetherRealm is very open to patching games after release, so much so that the studio has been criticized for patching games too much and not letting the competitive community get a firm grasp of the changes before another round of changes is made. While the team will continue to patch Mortal Kombat X well after the game releases, the patches will be less frequent to allow the competitive player base to analyze the game longer between each patch.

Finally we come to online play. Before the release of MK9 and Injustice, NetherRealm spoke out about the quality of online play in their games. They were positive and even went as far as promising improved netcode. Unfortunately, MK9 and Injustice are two of the worst fighting games to play online. This becomes even more apparent when you compare either game to the netcode for Killer Instinct, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Soul Calibur 5 or even Ultra Street Fighter IV.

While the development team was hesitant to offer a guarantee that online play would be improved, they are aware of the issues and the promises that were made in the past. Some of the problems came from the general game engine, which has seen many changes between MK9 and Mortal Kombat X, so while we don’t have a guarantee, the team is working on making online play as smooth as possible in the upcoming game.

We’ll have more on Mortal Kombat X in the coming weeks and months as we prepare for Kombat in April 2015.

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