HEAT VISION

'Mortal Kombat 11' Director: Trailer "Doesn't Even Scratch the Surface" of Final Game

Series co-creator and director Ed Boon teased big things for the upcoming fighting game when it launches April 23.

Warner Bros. Interactive and NetherRealms Studios debuted the first gameplay footage and hands-on demos for the upcoming fighting game Mortal Kombat 11 on Thursday morning in Los Angeles.

Amid a refurbished hangar — which shielded attendees from the pouring rain outside — the reveal event featured towering screens displaying the carnage of the game; artists working on custom-made shoes, graffiti, paintings and even tattoos (yes, real ones) celebrating the Mortal Kombat brand; scores of cosplayers dressed as their favorite characters; a booth where fans could live out their violent desires by smashing bottles, mirrors and, as in the 1999 comedy Office Space, a printer; game stations where demos of the title were available to play; and a massive main stage where franchise co-creator and Mortal Kombat 11 director Ed Boon and UFC superstar Ronda Rousey (who, for the first time in the series, voices the character of Sonya Blade) made appearances and introduced a frenzied audience to the first in-game footage of the anticipated title.

Debuting at the event was a new gameplay trailer which showcased a fair share of bone-breaking, blood-spattering moves that players can perform in the game. Also introduced during the event was a new character, Geras, who has the ability to manipulate time and conjure pillars of sand — think the contents of an hourglass — to eviscerate and dismember his enemies. 

Geras isn't the only new addition that fans can expect in the full game, however. "We haven't even scratched the surface," Boon told The Hollywood Reporter.

The introduction of new characters for a series with such a long history (the first Mortal Kombat game debuted in 1992) and a roster of over 50 fighters can be difficult. "It becomes harder to introduce new characters each time because with each game there are people who latch onto their favorite characters and want to see them return," said Boon. "At the end of the day we want to serve the fans and do what I think is necessary and introduce new stuff."

Fans at the event were granted access to a brief demo of the game, which showed off seven fighters and three stages of combat (there were slots for 25 fighters in total in the demo, but only the selected fighters were visible). The gameplay is familiar to the series while still offering new updates and move sets. The action is fast-paced and, as is a staple of the series, the stages are interactive. While battling against one's foe, a tap of the R1 button (on a PlayStation controller) at certain times allows the player's fighter to use the scenery for a tactical advantage.

As always, the over-the-top violence is the real draw, and Mortal Kombat 11 surpasses past entries in the series when it comes to sheer bone-crushing, visceral carnage and mayhem. The variety of options for mutilating one's opponent are both plentiful and truly unique — something that takes quite a bit of planning and forethought, according to Boon.

"It's absolutely art," he said. "It is a committee and there are meetings where everybody stands up and presents. When there's an idea that's presented that the committee says is cool, we get a concept artist and [move forward]."

When asked if any particular idea from such a meeting was ever too outlandish or violent to make it to the final game, Boon was blunt. "Oh, yeah — half the stuff that gets pitched is too outrageous."

For Boon, the violence isn't the only thing that has fueled the franchise's success for over two and a half decades. "It’s ridiculous over-the-top violence, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It entertains, it’s got iconic characters and you have a history," he said. "I think it's a combination of all those things that carve a niche. We’re trying to let people have a good time.”

Mortal Kombat 11 is set to launch April 23 on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.

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