NetherRealm Studios has recently published a video thanking the fans for Mortal Kombat's 30th anniversary. At the end of the video, there's a short teaser for MK 12 - in fact, it's just an exploding sand particle, referencing back to Kronika's time-manipulating power from MK 11. But, what this teaser (probably) represents is that it won't be long before we officially see the next game in the long history of the franchise!
Before that happens, as an MK fan myself, I wanted to write this post to discuss some possibilities for the future. As such, this post has spoilers for MK 11!
If you played or watched gameplay for Aftermath, the post-campaign DLC released for MK 11, you might remember that players could choose one of two endings: one in which Shang Tsung wins and another in which Liu Kang wins. Judging by the teaser we got, it's fair to assume that NetherRealm is going to play off one of those choices. So, what could they mean?
If you choose Shang Tsung, the soul sorcerer will beat Liu Kang and add his Thunder and Fire God powers to the already mighty time manipulation powers he stole from Kronika. Shang Tsung will rewrite the timeline, modelling an era where he is the conqueror. We see Raiden and Fujin acting as his emissaries and telling their new lord that Outworld, Earthrealm, and Netherrealm have been conquered, and they'll next head to Chaosrealm and Orderrealm.
In short, Shang Tsung becomes the ultimate badass. There are a few things that I like about this ending:
New Konqueror: First, well, Shang Tsung is a badass! In my opinion, he's the best MK villain ever, and he gets even better when Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is playing the role. I'll grab at any excuse to have Mr Tagawa back!
Earthrealm Konquered: Across MK history, Earthrealm was always saved in one way or another. Not this time. While our wee planet isn't destroyed per se, it's in the clutches of Lord Shang Tsung, and Earth's former protector, Raiden, is actively helping to keep it under this new rule. With the right script, that could pave the way for a fresh and exciting storyline!
Chaosrealm and Orderrealm: Those were two amazing places that were pretty much forgotten in the rebooted trilogy.
Chaosrealm is a place of absolute anarchy where no form of government exists and its inhabitants worship "chaos" as a religion. People from there are dangerous, menacing, and many of them have marks, deformations, and other grotesque attributes. Havik, the guy who can twist his own bones in unnatural ways, is from there, so that should give you an idea. For me, the mythology surrounding Chaosrealm is fascinating and super worth exploring.
Orderrealm, as the name suggests, is the polar opposite of Chaosrealm. Here, law and order are the ultimate goals. So much so that the Seidan Guard states: "The realm of Seido is founded upon the principles of law and order, not freedom. Freedom leads to anarchy. Anarchy leads to Chaos. Chaos leads to suffering." Not eerie at all, right? I love this idea of this highly-advanced but extremely authoritarian civilisation. Again, with the right script, it could serve a wonderful story. Perhaps its most famous inhabitant is Hotaru, General of the Seidan Guard, and while he's not as exciting as Havik, he has the potential to become a really cool character - perhaps even a main character in the fight against Shang Tsung! Who knows, maybe Chaosrealm and Orderrealm will be forced into an alliance to defeat Shang Tsung - they could find a common goal in the sense that Chaosrealmers abhor anything that attempts to control them, and Orderrealmers won't abandon their own sacred laws.
But there's one thing about this possible path that also concerns me:
Shang Tsung. Yes, while I'd love to have him as the new Konqueror, I also fear his level of power. He has double the powers that Kronika, the Titan of Time, had. And, honestly, it's tiresome to fight ever-more powerful beings. NetherRealm would need to find a very smart way to justify Shang Tsung's eventual defeat, and... I'm not so confident they could.
By choosing Liu Kang, you'll erase Shang Tsung from history. Liu Kang travels back to the time of the Great Kung Lao and appoints him as his champion. For what? Only the Thunder and Fire God Liu Kang knows! This is a more vague ending, so it's hard to know what to expect... still, some things about this possibility excite me!
Great Kung Lao: This is a character that has been mentioned multiple times across the games as the first Grand Champion after he saved Earthrealm from its 10th and last defeat by Shang Tsung's hands. He's also the ancestor of the present-day Kung Lao and Kung Jin. But he hadn't really appeared in the games... until now. It's thrilling to imagine that we'll finally play with this important figure of the MK history in a plotline that will likely be different from what we know as "history" (we won't have Shang Tsung, after all)!
Back to the roots: Great Kung Lao died five hundred years before Liu Kang was born. I don't know whether we'll stay in that time period or travel in time, but I hope for the former. If we stay, this could mean a story more focused on magic and martial arts instead of the show of guns and tech we have been seeing in the last two MKs. And that's exciiiiting!
New characters: This is a wholly separate and complex topic, but being 500 years before the events we have always followed is sure to bring new faces to the cast. Fellows like Scorpion and Sub-Zero could be there one way or another, and we could bring Orderrealm and Chaosrealm into the story even without Shang Tsung's plan for conquering them (I hope they'll be there!), as well as the long-living inhabitants of Edenia and the vast Netherrealm. The point is: there is a *lot* to explore in terms of mythology; many interesting (not dull clones) new characters to explore.
And, I feel compelled to add, I'd love to see my girl Ashrah and Sareena in this new game! (I wouldn't say no to Skarlet either!)
There's one thing that worries me about this possibility:
Repetition: It would be easy to repeat a lot of beats we have seen in past games, especially if Liu Kang is preparing Kung Lao for a Mortal Kombat tournament and NetherRealm decides to play safe.
I talked a bit about story possibilities, but I'd like to take another minute of your time to make my gameplay wishlist:
Kombos: MK 11 brought some really cool mechanics, but one thing that disappoints me is how stiff the game is to create combos. Mileena was my biggest disappointment, so I'll use her as a comparison: in MK X, there are like, at least half a dozen different ways we could start a combo with her; in MK 11, there was only one way, and we needed to invest one portion of our energy bar. While MK X was on high adrenaline, MK 11 was too defensive. I'd like to see those two combined to create a balanced and fun fighting experience!
Always-Online Gibberish: To play MK 11, you were obliged to be online. And that's gibberish. I'm not against having online modes like the shifting towers, but NetherRealm should really invest in offline modes too. MK 9 has a fantastic 300-step offline Tower, and I'd love to see this kind of challenge coming back.
Classes: I'm not sure how many people share this opinion, but I wasn't a fan of the convoluted class system in MK 11. For me, this was especially frustrating when you couldn't, for example, have Kano using his knives and his laser beam in the same moveset - those are two of his signature weapons! I liked it in MK X when we had three options to choose from, and I believe they should stick to this more limited selection if we are to have any selection at all.
Cheap fantasy party: Look, I think it's cool when the game gives us some options to customise our fighters. But, in MK 11, that felt a bit extreme. Many of the cosmetics only changed colour or something equally boring, and we all know Warner Bros. did that because they wanted the MTX money. We should totally have customisation, but I don't need hundreds of accessories; I need accessories that are actually kool!
Better matchmaking: A very frustrating thing that plagued online matches was being constantly paired with people with shitty internet. I'm not sure if they already implemented a better matchmaking system in post-Aftermath MK 11, but if not, they should do it now!
That's it for now. I expect we'll soon learn how right or how wrong my predictions were :D
How about you, kombatant? Do you have any wishes for MK 12? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!