Everything we know so far about Mortal Kombat Onslaught's early access!
It's been less than a week since NetherRealm Studios revealed Mortal Kombat Onslaught. And somehow, a bunch of leaks have already come out. Someone check to see if Tom Holland is on NetherRealm's payroll.
October 8, 2022, marked the 30th anniversary of Mortal Kombat, one of the greatest fighting game franchises of all time. With it being such a huge milestone, fans of the franchise speculated that NRS must have something big planned to celebrate the occasion.
Mortal Kombat 11 is about three and a half years old. It's got some mileage on it, but it's not nearly old enough by fighting game standards to be considered old (Though the support cycle has been over for a year). That didn't speak fans from hoping for an MK12 reveal sometime this month.
Unfortunately, October is almost over, and that didn't happen. Instead, NetherRealm Studios has revealed a different MK project: Mortal Kombat: Onslaught.
Mortal Kombat: Onslaught is a mobile RPG slated for release sometime in 2023. Based on the aesthetics of MKX, Mortal Kombat Mobile is seven years old and still going strong. But a modern MK mobile title makes sense.
My immediate question after the reveal of Mortal Kombat: Onslaught was whether this would be MK Mobile 2.0 but with better graphics. After checking out the leaks, I can confirm that that doesn't appear to be the case.
Franchise staples like Shao Khan, Scorpion, Jade, Jax, Johnny Cage, Kung Lao, and Baraka are currently playable. Some kombatants who appear in the cinematics, like Milena and Sindel, don't seem available yet. But gacha banners are already here, so expect them to come sooner than later.
As is standard in this sort of mobile game, there are different iterations of these characters, allowing for more experimentation and diversity in team building.
Also standard in this type of mobile game is the inclusion of playable minions. Have you ever wanted to play as a Special Forces soldier but aren't masochistic enough to boot up Mortal Kombat: Special Forces? Here's your chance. Games like these are the only ones where minions aren't just cannon fodder, so try to do right by them.
Characters have star-ratings varying from 3-5, with 5-stars as the highest rarity characters currently playable. When you receive a duplicate of a character you already have, you'll receive an Affinity Soul. You can use these Affinity Souls to increase the star-rating of a character with a matching Affinity.
If mobile game history repeats itself, there will be star awakening and 10-star characters down the line. It always happens in mobile games.
Characters fall under one of several Affinities, as Onslaught calls them: Spirit, Body, and Mind. Mind is strong against Body, Body is strong against Spirit, and Spirit is strong against Mind.
Characters also have Classes and Sub-Classes that dictate their play style, like Support, Tank, Assassin, or Ranger. It's vital that you field a balanced team of characters that fulfill different roles to meet the challenge at hand.
Characters all possess a threat level, essentially the power level of characters in Mortal Kombat: Onslaught. They have three primary stats of Attack, HP, and Defense. You can increase these stats by leveling up your characters with in-game currency and materials.
Mortal Kombat: Onslaught has a relic and gear system. Characters can equip one relic and up to six gear pieces. These items come in different rarities and can make your kombatants exponentially stronger.
Some relics have basic effects, like increasing your Critical Chance. Others have more potent effects, like applying buffs to your allies. You can enhance relics and gear to boost their power, and unique set bonuses activate if you have all the gear in a set.
However, in mobile games, character builds cost lots of time, money, or both. That kind of grind wears on you (Even if you're willing to spend money on the game). Depending on how far the developers take it, that stuff makes people quit a game.
Currently, there are three primary game modes: Story, Boss Tower, and Arena.
Mortal Kombat: Onslaught's gameplay loop is similar to DC Legends and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, though not identical. There's some autoplay functionality akin to what you see in idle games.
Players can place a maximum of four characters on the map. There's a front and back row, with the back row ideal for support and ranged fighters. Each row has three slots. Sometimes guess fighters will join you on a stage and take up one of your slots.
Your characters automatically engage in basic kombat with the nearest enemy. Every character has special abilities they can use on enemies or allies. Your special meter gradually fills up during Kombat. Once filled, you can manually activate your special abilities. These include everything from healing spells to characters' signature fighting moves.
There are several waves of enemies to get through, with the stage boss being the final wave. You have a set time limit to complete each stage. Upon victory, you will receive various in-game currency and materials as rewards.
The Arena is all about kombat against other players. You can set an offensive and defensive team. Use your offensive team to challenge and take down other players. Your defensive team will hold the line when players attack you. Earn points to climb through the ranks and leagues and receive rewards at the end of the season.
Boss Towers are where you can farm gear for specific gear slots. It should be a good way of completing gear sets if you're looking for a specific set effect for one of your characters.
Unlike Story Mode, where you fight several waves of enemies, Boss Tower is mostly about taking on one big bad. These bosses are no walk in the park. Goro has an AOE fire breath attack and an AOE stun/knockdown skill. Your kombatants need to be very powerful to clear these towers, but it should be worth the effort.
All three game modes reward you with materials and currency you can use to strengthen your characters or summon in the Soul Portal Chamber. There are also daily quests, weekly quests, and lifetime achievements to keep you busy. These will help you farm up more materials and currency.
The moment no mobile gamer looks forward to is the gacha elements. And yes, Mortal Kombat: Onslaught has a gacha.
The Soul Portal Chamber serves as Mortal Kombat: Onslaught's gacha banner. Here, you can summon to obtain both characters and relics. Unfortunately, there's no discount when doing a multi as opposed to a single summon.
Writing and Story
Mortal Kombat: Onslaught's story is a mixture of voiced cinematics, non-voiced cutscenes, and dialogue scrolls. Shinnok is up to no good once again. He is attempting to regain his Elder God power, which the Elder Gods infused into a sacred metal.
Over the years, that metal has since broken into shards, with mortals gaining possessing of these shards and using them to create powerful relics. If he can obtain all seven relics, he can regain his strength and once again enact his plans for the realms. Naturally, the forces of good seek to stop him by getting to the relics first.
The voiced cinematics maintain the graphical quality seen in Mortal Kombat 11. Most of the voice cast is back and reprising their roles from MK11, with two notable exceptions: Raiden and Sonya Blade.
Richard Epcar has been the voice of Raiden since Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe but is not the voice of Raiden in Mortal Kombat: Onslaught. Instead, Travis Willingham is now the God of Thunder.
You may recognize his voice as being that of another God of Thunder, Thor from Marvel's Avengers. Or maybe you don't since a lot of people didn't play that game (For good reason).
Ronda Rousey is not back as Sonya Blade. Instead, Vanessa Marshall, also the voice of Sheeva, has taken up the role.
My feelings on what I've seen from Mortal Kombat: Onslaught thus far are mixed. I love the gameplay loop of games like Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, DC Legends, and Marvel: Strike Force. But the gear grind always gets to me eventually. If there's one thing you can count on with mobile games, it's the developers letting their greed get the best of them. My favorite games are RPGs, so I have no problems with grinding.
As long as the grind is fair, that is. But in mobile games like this, the grind often turns unfair, obnoxious, and not nearly worth my time or effort. Only time will tell if NRS handles it right.
I am not a fan of the idle game mechanics in battle. Whether it's real-time or turn-based, I like having complete control of my actions. Combine that with the gear and relic system, and I worry that clearing difficult stages will be more about how well-built your character is and not skill and team composition.
Credit where credit is due, NRS is handling character dupes the right way. Nothing worse in a gacha than getting dupes of a character you never use in a game where you need dupes to strengthen your character. Making dupes generic Affinity Souls was a great pro-player move.
I'm giving three cheers for Ronda Rousey no longer voicing Sonya Blade. I have nothing against her personally, but she was clearly out of her element, and her voice acting stood out in a bad way.
Richard Epcar not being Raiden is a blow. It's hard hearing anyone but him as the God of Thunder. Travis Willingham does a fine job, but I hope Richard returns as Raiden in the next main MK installment.
Mortal Kombat: Onslaught doesn't officially release until next year, so there's plenty of time for NRS to tinker with the game and improve things. I've been down this mobile game road many times before. I won't get my hopes up, but I will give it a shot.
If you want to try out Mortal Kombat: Onslaught for yourself, it's currently in Early Access in the Philippines region.