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Mortal Kombat 1’s first gameplay is full of blood, guts, and nostalgia

Ed Boon reveals more of the MK1 roster at Summer Game Fest

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

NetherRealm Studios gave Mortal Kombat fans their first glimpse of gameplay from its next fighting game, Mortal Kombat 1, showing off the rebooted roster and revealing what “Kameo Fighters” are all about. There were also a ton of signature Mortal Kombat fatalities, with decapitations, crushed skulls, broken bones, and very wet sounds, as fans expect.

Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon was on hand at Summer Game Fest’s kickoff livestream on Thursday to show off the 12th mainline MK game. MK1’s gameplay reveal showed off some familiar faces, including Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Liu Kang, Raiden Kitana, Mileena, Johnny Cage, and even Kenshi, the blind swordsman.

As further evidenced during a match set in Johnny Cage’s Hollywood home, Mortal Kombat 1 is taking the franchise back in time, seemingly in the late ’80s/early ’90s, well before the story and cast of characters became bloated — and in need of a reboot. MK1 looks like a back-to-basics approach to Mortal Kombat’s broad-appealing brand of fighting game, thanks to its familiar faces and what appears to be a scaled-back fighting game system.

One wrinkle that will keep things fresh is Mortal Kombat 1’s Kameo Fighters, a separate roster of assist characters that, based on footage shown by NetherRealm, includes old-school versions of Kano, Sonya Blade, and Jax. Those three showed up in their earliest costumes, and only as assist fighters. These pop-in, pop-out kombatants assist players during matches, and can be called in with a single button press, Boon said. Other confirmed Kameo fighters include “klassic” variations on Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Goro, Kung Lao, and Stryker.

NetherRealm hasn’t revealed just how big the Mortal Kombat 1 roster will be yet, but a menu screen for Kameo Fighters indicated at least 16 characters on that particular roster.

Mortal Kombat 1 is coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X on Sept. 19. It’s the first new game in the franchise since 2019, when NetherRealm and Warner Bros. released Mortal Kombat 11.

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