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New Mortal Kombat teaser puts fan-favorite Shang Tsung at center stage

NetherRealm’s big reveal drops on May 6

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The last few games in the Mortal Kombat series have had surprisingly good storylines, and none have been better than the critically acclaimed Mortal Kombat 11. The time traveling hijinks of Liu Kang and the gang are now poised to take the franchise in a new direction. A new trailer, released Tuesday, teases a big announcement for Wednesday, May 6 — including the return of fan favorite Shang Tsung.

[Warning: What follows includes major spoilers for the end of Mortal Kombat 11.]

At the conclusion of MK11, fan favorite Liu Kang faces off against Kronica, the Mortal Kombat universe’s Keeper of Time. Imagine Peter Jackson’s evil version of Galadriel from Lord of the Rings mixed with a little hint of the Ancient One from Doctor Strange and you’re on the right track. Following the final battle, Liu Kang is tasked with rebooting the universe using a powerful artifact called the Sands of Time. But the camera turns away just before he fires it up.

Today’s teaser trailer picks up right where that climactic scene leaves off. Liu Kang stands before the Sands, ready to do the deed, when a flaming vortex opens up only to reveal Shang Tsung.

Shang Tsung first entered the Mortal Kombat canon as a boss character in the very first Mortal Kombat back in 1992. Fans most recently caught up with him in March 2019, when he was revealed as the first downloadable character for MK11. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa provided the voiceover work, reprising his role as the shape-shifting wizard from the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie adaptation. The character has been largely uninvolved with the series’ main storyline of late, instead serving as players’ host and guide to The Krypt, Mortal Kombat’s quasi-campaign mode.

We’ll know more about Mortal Kombat’s future plans when the full reveal is made on Wednesday.