When you think of Mortal Kombat, it’s easy to get swept up in the brutal, gory, and decadent indulgence of it all. Mortal Kombat 1, the upcoming reboot, is no different in its approach. While I duked it out for this Mortal Kombat 1 Preview, breaking bones between fireballs and ice shards, the breathtaking backgrounds became bathed in blood. It’s the same Mortal Kombat you know and love, and it looks better than ever before – now with a new twist.
The big, new addition in Mortal Kombat 1 is the Kameo system. After you pick your fighter, you can pick a Kameo, who act like an assists in tag fighting games. By pressing one button, you can call in your Kameo, and they’ll execute some action based on your directional input.
For example, Sonya can grab someone and launch them, which is a great way to start or continue your combo. Alternatively, you can make her shoot a quick blast, keeping a distant opponent in check. If you time it right, these Kameo attacks can also interrupt enemy moves, and they can also assist with breaking up a block string.
I only had 40 minutes to play this preview build, so it was hard to get the Kameo timing just right, especially on top of learning these characters’ move sets. The Kameo system isn’t so easy that it’s exploitable, but it provides a great early goal for you to work toward when it comes to building out combos. You can check the official trailers and gameplay videos to get an idea of what’s possible.
Much like you’d come to expect from Mortal Kombat, the rule of cool is in full force here. Basic 1-2-3 combos look flashy, like watching a well-choreographed martial arts movie. It’s the little details that really make it all work, too. For example, Kitana can do a combo where she throws up her fan to do a spin kick, and she stylishly catches it behind her back.
For the most part though, lots of the combat here feel very familiar. The pace of movement and attacks feel much like previous Mortal Kombat (and Injustice) games. You have back-to-forward inputs and quarter-circle inputs for special attacks, and they can be enhanced by burning meter. Longtime fans will feel right at home with Mortal Kombat 1.
The main roster, based on the build I played, includes 24 fighters, with 16 potential Kameo fighters to choose from. Of course, like with previous games in the franchise, it wouldn’t be surprising to see DLC characters down the line, expanding both rosters even further.
NetherRealm has always excelled at creating unique moments between fighters, particularly in the introductions. The studios’ approach in Mortal Kombat 1 includes integrating it right in the character selection screen, and it’s as impressive as it is exciting to watch.
After both fighters are chosen, they clash in the center of the screen while players select a stage. Once it’s chosen, they have a little back and forth, and then the game goes right into the action with barely any loading. It’s an engaging way to get into a fight that again nails that action-movie feeling. It also hints at a larger story at play here.
As for the main narrative itself, there isn’t much I can comment on. The preview had a short, four-fight tower mode and local versus, neither of which really showed anything of the story based on Liu Kang’s new version of Earthrealm.
Just know that I’m as curious as you are about where NetherRealm will take this story next. And we’ll all find out as we get closer to Mortal Kombat 1’s release on September 19 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Mortal Kombat 1 was previewed on a PlayStation 5 on an early build at Summer Game Fest Play Days. All screenshots are from gameplay captured during the session.