Anytime there’s a successful franchise, the developer tends to keep things fairly similar with each new iteration. You may see a few minor adjustments here or there, but if you’ve played a previous installment, you’ll pick up the new game pretty easily. When it comes to fighting games, there seems to be even less change as the sequels pile on. You can play Heihachi Mishima in Tekken 3 pretty similar to how you’d play him in Tekken 6. Sure, there are a good number of new attacks and combos, but almost everything that worked in Tekken 3 still works in Tekken 6.
When it comes to Mortal Kombat X, NetherRealm Studios is changing things up considerably from a visual standpoint. The access to new hardware made the game look far superior than any previous game in the series. Even the trademark stiff animations of the MK series are far more fluid in MKX thanks to the new hardware. But when it comes to the gameplay, are those changes just as great? Let’s take a look at how MKX compares to MK9, the most recent title in the series.
In Mortal Kombat 9, you should quickly make your way across the screen with a method that was called Dash Blocking. Essentially you would cancel a forward dash with the Block button, then cancel the block animation with another forward dash. The result was rapid movement from one side of the screen to the other. In MKX, Dash Blocking is completely gone, and the way normal dashing works has been completely changed as well.
The dashing in MKX is more akin to movement in MK3 when the Run button was introduced. Tap forward twice, holding forward on the second tap and your characters runs toward the opponent. There’s a bar near the top of the screen that governs how long you can run. As you run, the bar depletes. When it’s empty, your character stops running. If you press Block during this animation, your character stops running and instead begins to block. However, you can’t cancel out of the blocking animation back into a run. Movement and spacing are key to any fighting game, but this change may take some getting used to for the competitive players.
Mortal Kombat 9 was basically comprised of every character from Mortal Kombat, MK2 and MK3. There are a few omissions, but that’s the basic gist of the MK9 roster. Ed Boon has gone on record, stating that MKX will feature more new characters than any previous Mortal Kombat. Given that MK9 only added Cyber Sub-Zero, Skarlet and Freddy Krueger, MKX will feature considerably more new characters. Even at this early stage there are already four new characters in MKX compared to the three new characters in MK9.
The introduction of so many new characters really helps to shake up the roster and the competitive outlook. At the moment, Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade fans may have to settle for Cassie Cage. The daughter of the surprise couple plays a little bit like each of her parents, but you can’t rely on Sonya or Cage strategies when you use Cassie. You’re basically starting from scratch. Even if you’re up against someone who’s been playing Scorpion for a decade, they’ll still have to learn the new character in order to mount a proper defense against her.
While the stage interactions in Injustice: Gods Among Us were unblockable and served as a good source of damage, those aren’t the stage interactions we’re getting in MKX. MK9 didn’t feature any stage interactions aside from fatalities and the occasional character swap, so this is a completely new feature for MK fans. A vast majority of the stage interactions in MKX are used defensively to escape a situation. Because of this, you’ll find most of them in the corner, used to jump over an opponent so you’re no longer trapped.
Many of the most damaging MK9 combos were performed in the corner. There were many occasions when players would use valuable resources to keep an opponent trapped in the corner just so they could capitalize on the potential damage. That metagame will completely change in MKX as players will have a much easier time escaping the corner. Of course new strategies will emerge to maintain corner pressure even with the new stage interactions, but the basic strategy of corner pressure is going to see significant change.
We’ll have more on MKX in the months ahead.