Tips for Playing Mortal Kombat 11: 12 Things the Game Doesn’t Tell You

Mortal Kombat 11 plays fast and loose with the series timeline. Dead villains are back in the mix, corrupted heroes are good again, and new threats are on the horizon. Then there are all the different character loadouts that let you customize your own, personal kombatant with past and present moves. All of which is to say: There’s a lot to unpack both in the game’s single-player mode and its competitive suite. That’s why you should take a moment to prepare with our list of tips in this Mortal Kombat 11 guide!

Bear in mind that a few of these tips are actually explained in Mortal Kombat 11. They’re just buried beneath layers of tutorials, menus, and pop-up windows. But you can always use this guide as a reminder if you pass something up, or forget where to find a specific tooltip elsewhere in the game!

Krushing Blows Have Bonus Effects

Mortal Kombat 11 is chock full of Krushing Blows. These specially modified versions of regular attacks do a ton of extra damage. Although they require a unique condition: like Noob Saibot sending out at least 10 shadow clones in a single round. The downside is that they only occur once per match, so if you use up a Krushing Blow and, well, blow the match, you’re out of luck.

There’s one other very important reason not to waste Krushing Blows, too. The souped up super moves often include special effects (on top of the bonus damage). Sometimes this means a knockback or damage over time. Other times, it’ll even open up a combo opportunity when it would otherwise be impossible.

Krushing Blows Are Labeled in Your Move List

Speaking of Krushing Blows, they can be a lot to remember. Every member of the (rather large) Mortal Kombat 11 roster has more than one, so keeping the special triggers in mind can be exhausting. Luckily, Netherrealm Studios added them to your move list — even though you don’t technically perform Krushing Blows like actual moves. The trigger conditions are kind of hard to notice, but you can see them on the right-hand side of your move list. If a move has an applicable Krushing Blow, that’s where you’ll find it.

You Can’t (Usually) Start a Combo With Special Attacks

The general rule of thumb is that special attacks — those flashy moves that require directional inputs to  execute — end combos. Very few teleports, shadow clones, projectiles, or what-have-you actually start one. At least, they don’t do so naturally.

You can “amplify” most special moves (burning stamina in the process), to sometimes open up a combo opportunity, depending on the move. But this is obviously limited by your stamina recharge. And, while rare, there a couple special attacks do still start combos. Kabal’s Nomad Dash is one example.

You Can Amplify Interactive Objects

Most Mortal Kombat 11 stages are littered with improvised weapons, just waiting to be picked up and thrown in someone’s face. They’re a great way to get a surprise chunk of damage on your foe, but they’re also very risky. Luckily there’s a way to mitigate that risk! You can amplify interactive objects just like most of your special moves in the game. Doing so will give you “armor.” In fighting game terms, that means you’re immune to getting knocked out of your attack animation. The downside is that amplifying objects takes bonus stamina. Keep that in mind!

Mortal Kombat 11 Johnny Cage Young

This Is Really the Third Game in a Trilogy

Netherrealm fighting games have absolutely stellar story modes. They’re honestly one of the studio’s biggest draws! So, you might want to jump right into the deep end of the plot-heavy, cutscene-driven adventure. Hold up, though! Mortal Kombat 11 does very little to catch up new players on its years worth of lore and build-up — especially if you haven’t played the last two games.

Mortal Kombat (2011) began what is essentially a new trilogy that continued in Mortal Kombat X, and ends with Mortal Kombat 11. The primary characters, their motivations, and the state of various factions are all very different if you only know the classic games. Why is Liu Kang a bad guy? Who are these new, young heroes? If you need a refresher, you can always read our story breakdown that explains the past two games. Otherwise, they’re pretty cheap and easy to find, if you want to see for yourself!

Play All the Tutorials…

Mortal Kombat 11 has some of the most robust tutorials of any fighting game in recent memory. They don’t just walk you through combos and basic button inputs; they define decades-old fighting game jargon, while walking you through each technique step by step. It’s a lot, but it’s well worth doing. Not to mention you get a ton of free stuff for finishing them all! Completing the basic and advanced tutorials, as well as character-specific walkthroughs, will net you in-game loot and currency to use elsewhere in the game.

Mortal Kombat 11 Raiden Special

But Don’t Get Too Hung Up on the Tutorials, Either

The thing about the Mortal Kombat 11 tutorials is that they throw a lot at you at once. Character combos will hit you with a wall of text explaining which hits count as overheads, whether something is safe on block or not, and a whole lot more. You absolutely will not remember all of this once (unless you’re some kind of expert already). It’s often better to just muscle through these character breakdowns and get a feel for them firsthand. As long as you understand the basics, you can always check the minutiae from your move list.

Klassic Characters Are Usually Good for Beginners

You probably know Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Liu Kang at this point. Maybe you saw that movie from the 90s on cable once. Or perhaps you even remember kicking those characters around in the arcades. Whatever the case, the classic Mortal Kombat characters make excellent starters. Mortal Kombat 11 is a lot simpler than some fighting games — like Dragon Ball FighterZ — but it still has a lot to teach you. Picking a simpler “main” early on will help you get your feet wet.

Shao Kahn is also a decent choice, if you pre-ordered or dropped money for his DLC. Although Johnny Cage is a bit trickier. He has some button inputs I found awfully tricky to input on a standard controller (i.e. without a fight stick). Maybe that won’t be a concern for you! But if you’re limited to basic controller options, keep that in mind.

Mortal Kombat 11 Cyrax

Take A Lot of Screenshots

The fast majority of Mortal Kombat 11 tooltips and tutorial info comes from static text on screen. While these explain complex jargon and important techniques, and you can replay them at any time, there isn’t an easy index to remember where they are. Luckily, there’s an app for that… So to speak. You can use the screenshot function on your PC or console of choice to capture this raw text for future reference. I found it makes certain terms I have trouble remembering much easier to access again, compared to reloading the tutorial section. You can even name files according to what information they provide, if you upload them to your computer!

Pick a Fighter and Stick With Them for a While

A lot of Mortal Kombat 11 techniques are universal. The classic MK uppercut, for instance, becomes a Krushing Blow if you use it to counter — no matter who you play. But there are obviously a lot of idiosyncrasies between different fighters. You won’t need to learn them all just to get through the campaign, but taking them into Towers and online is a different story.

Sticking to a single character and really learning their ins and outs is a great way to improve. You’ll learn a lot more than combos that way, too. Mastering a single character will let you focus on more basic lessons: like how to recognize overheads and when to perfect block.

Shao Kahn Mortal Kombat 11

Unleash Your Inner Shao Kahn in the Krypt

The Krypt is a sort of mini-game/item shop buried into Mortal Kombat 11. Inside, you can spend Koins (in-game currency) and other resources to progress and open chests. These will produce cosmetics, Fatalities, concept art, and a whole lot more. It’s… also kind of a grind. Krypt chests cost a lot to open and only get more expensive the further you get!

Don’t fret, though. You get Koins for doing just about everything (just one more reason to play through all the tutorials and the story mode). Don’t worry about opening everything all at once. But, while you are in the Krypt, you might as unleash your inner Shao Kahn and smash stuff real good. That’s right! You get to wield the big guy’s iconic hammer… mostly to open doors. In addition to progressing, though, you can also use the hammer to break pots and skeletons. These drop a pittance of Koins (up to about 10 at a time). That’s nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it adds up.

Do Not Spend Money on Frost

Speaking of money: Don’t spend $6 of real-world cash on a character you can easily get for free. Frost, the cybernetic analogue to Sub-Zero, isn’t available at the start of Mortal Kombat 11. I’m… not really sure why, besides the fact that Warner Bros. loves its microtransactions. Seriously, this game is full of them.

But it’s incredibly simple and quick to free Frost from behind her paywall. Just play through chapter four of the story mode! That’s not even very far into the game (most chapters are like three matches long with some cutscenes in between). After that, you can use Frost more-or-less like any other character in the game. So save your money for Shao Kahn, if you didn’t get him as a pre-order bonus.

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Steven Strom

An obsessive writer broadcasting to you live from the middle of nowhere. Thinks cute things are good, actually.

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