The upcoming twelfth entry in the Mortal Kombat franchise is rebooting the series as Mortal Kombat 1, a decision that brings both benefits and drawbacks to the table. Mortal Kombat is far from the first video game series to go back to the drawing board for a fresh start, with Tomb Raider, DOOM, and more making successful transitions in recent years. Although the story may not always play as big of a role in Mortal Kombat as the fighting action, it still plays a significant part throughout the franchise. Rebooting Mortal Kombat is sure to shake up the series in a number of ways both good and bad.


The potential for Mortal Kombat 1 originates in the good ending for Mortal Kombat 11‘s Aftermath DLC, which sees the world significantly reshaped. Fire God Liu Kang, a powerful entity brought about by Raiden fusing his soul with Liu Kang, defeats Shang Tsung and secures the power to alter the timeline. The very end sees Liu Kang offering to train the Great Kung Lao, teasing the potential for the first tournaments to arrive in this fresh timeline and showing a way for the story of the series to begin anew. Fans can expect Mortal Kombat 1 to reveal what path the narrative takes from this point.

The Mortal Kombat Reboot Makes The Story Simple Again

Mortal Kombat's dragon logo in front of an exploding piece of sand from an hourglass teaser video.

Although there’s nothing wrong with a little complexity in storytelling, it can be argued that games about deadly fighting tournaments only need so much. Recent Mortal Kombat entries that follow MK9‘s own reboot have entered a mire of time travel and branching possibilities, which can be fun to follow but exhausting for new players. Bringing things back to basics by rebooting Mortal Kombat 12 into MK1 can re-center the narrative, allowing for a simplicity that could be refreshing. It can also give future games a stronger foundation to build on narratively, with more grounded stakes that can undergo a steadier approach to escalation.

Related: Biggest Timeline Breaks In Mortal Kombat’s History

It might be best for the new narrative to avoid the complex time-travel shenanigans of recent games, but it’s still possible to explore more than one era in a new timeline. Picking up right where Aftermath left off allows the Great Kung Lao to be a playable character for the first time and opens the ability to tell the story of the formative tournaments. The announced appearance of characters like Johnny Cage means that Mortal Kombat 1 could let players enjoy interconnected stories in both the past and present, or the story could focus on one setting and justify character additions through Liu Kang’s manipulation.

Mortal Kombat Rebooting Brings New Character Possibilities

The Great Kung Lao in Mortal Kombat 11 Aftermath with a hand placed on his shoulder.

Seeing the return of familiar characters is always a joy in fighting games, but relying on the same core roster across a series can also make games feel a little stagnant. Bringing Mortal Kombat back to a new beginning opens up avenues for playable characters, whether in leaving behind bad Mortal Kombat characters, adding new faces, or making changes to the narrative and mechanics of long-standing ones. If Mortal Kombat 12 followed up MK11 and focused instead on the bad ending of Aftermath, it would be difficult to justify major changes from the characters in the prior game.

New playable characters could emerge from the Great Kung Lao’s time that the ending of Aftermath showcases, revealing more of this era’s strongest fighters beyond the regulars like Shang Tsung and Goro. With Fire God Liu Kang guiding the new world, moving forward in time could showcase different takes on beloved characters like Sub-Zero, Scorpion, and Kitana, as the events that influenced them are now subject to potential change. It also provides a way for character arcs to begin anew, taking them on possible journeys of discovery and brutality without the baggage of an entire series behind them.

Fans Might Miss Beloved Characters In Mortal Kombat 1

Scorpion and Sub Zero in Mortal Kombat 9 getting ready to fight

Shifting characters around might be just what Mortal Kombat needs, but it also has the potential to upset many long-time series fans. Focusing too much on the Great Kung Lao’s story could sideline some of the main cast of characters, and there’s no guarantee that new introductions will be able to compete with the tried-and-true competitors. Overhauling the designs, personalities, or mechanics of favorites is also a surefire way to generate controversy, particularly if any major elements that fans have traditionally loved are lost in the process.

Mortal Kombat 1 Means Fans Won’t See Shang Tsung’s Chaos

Mortal Kombat 11 Aftermath Ending showing Shang Tsung sitting on a throne with Raiden and Fujin standing before him.

It may not be particularly surprising that the ending of Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath that portrays Fire God Liu Kang’s victory is the one to remain canon, but that doesn’t mean fans can’t mourn the lost potential of the darker alternate ending. The bad ending of Aftermath leaves the power in the hands of Shang Tsung, who immediately sets about conquering the realms and exerting his power over the world. With Raiden and Fujin both forced to bow to his will, this outcome brings a fascinatingly bleak scenario to the Mortal Kombat universe, which could have led to a game unlike any that have come before.

A world ruled by Shang Tsung would significantly reshape the dynamics of the Mortal Kombat universe and give those fighting against him an enormous uphill battle that could be exciting to see unfold. Although world-ending stakes are nothing new for the series, a truly apocalyptic timeline in the hands of one villain has the promise of feeling like an entirely new setting without rebooting. Shang Tsung’s decadent tastes would no doubt filter through his rule in fascinating ways, and characters like Raiden serving him could have new interactions and even gameplay styles.

Both the Mortal Kombat 1 that is arriving and the Mortal Kombat 12 that could have come in its place have their own interesting benefits, and it’s possible that either could have offered the series a successful future. Regardless, the Mortal Kombat reboot has great potential as a way to liven up the franchise, and fans should be able to look forward to both familiar elements and exciting new angles in a fresh timeline. Mortal Kombat 1 has pros and cons alike, but if the game can lean into its greatest possibilities, the downsides of rebooting the series can hopefully fall by the wayside.

Source: Mortal Kombat/Youtube

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