The structural simplicity of 2D-fighting games can make them hard to evolve, but NetherRealm Studios managed it for both Mortal Kombat X and Injustice 2 in different ways. MKX introduced combat variations, which allowed players to choose between three modified versions of each fighter’s base kit, while Injustice 2’s gear system boldly brought RPG elements into a fighter, and even managed to keep it balanced. Rather than devising an entirely new system for the upcoming Mortal Kombat 11, NetherRealm is simply combining the two.
Mortal Kombat 11 will have variations and its own gear system, both of which were announced at the game’s recent reveal event. While the onstage demo gave a tease of these two systems in action, they weren’t elaborated on, which is why we at EGM used our interview with advanced designer Paulo Garcia to better understand how Mortal Kombat 11 will fuse them.
According to Garcia, variations and gear are obtained through separate means. For the first time, variations will be fully customizable, and all of a character’s maneuvers that make up a custom variation will be unlocked as soon as the character is. Once the player develops their preferred fighting style in their own custom variations and starts taking them into fights, that’s where gear will be unlocked for that character. For an idea of some of these variation options, check out MK11’s reveal gameplay.
Gear lets players personalize the look of their favorite fighters, but it’s also the means by which the stats of a fighter can be tweaked, which is where the Injustice 2 influence comes in. Gear is used to specialize a fighter’s stats, like in Injustice 2, but rather than each gear piece affecting a fighter’s stats in set ways, Mortal Kombat 11’s gear is more about the facilitation of stat changes through equippable augments.
Gear comes with three augment slots a piece, and with three gear types for each fighter, that is nine possible augments that players can equip. Like gear, augments can be unlocked by winning fights, or purchased with in-game currency, and each augment will buff a fighter’s stats in different ways. As for exactly what the spread of augments will be, that remains to be seen.
These systems allow Mortal Kombat 11 players to specialize their fighters on two fronts. Unlocking all variation moves from the get-go gives the community the freedom to make their fighters play how they want, which is optimal for both balance and enjoyment. The gear and augments, meanwhile, reward the time put into a character, giving the satisfying sense of progression offered by Injustice 2 without the tedium that can sometimes come with overly technical micromanagement. A true warrior must find inner balance, and Mortal Kombat 11 seems to have it.