Just when MK11 needed it, NetherRealm hit it with a hardened shot in the arm in the form of the first ever Mortal Kombat Expansion pack — Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath. Instead of giving us a Year 2 character pack (which I assume comes later to further keep players dropping virtual quarters into the machine so to speak), they opted for something new instead, a 3-4 hour epilogue to the main story and half a character pack with all the characters dropping at once…
At its core, Aftermath is both a free update to the game adding 4 new stages, Stage Fatalities and Friendships for anyone to experience, new customizable options as well as a paid expansion featuring both the previously mentioned Epilogue and 3 new characters. As a whole the package is a tasty treat, but it does kind of leave you wanting more beef–especially for the asking price. In an ideal world, I could have easily seen this drop about 10USD less than it launched for. But the experience is still worth the price of admission; there’s no question about that…
The biggest addition is the titular “Aftermath”, which starts up exactly where the base game ended, and has the newly appointed Fire God Liu Kang sending some fan favorites back in time to retrieve a MacGuffin that allows Liu Kang to restore order to the timeline and reshape history. If you like the Story mode in the Mortal Kombat games you will not be disappointed here, in both length and quality. Being an expansion, I was expecting maybe a quick 2-hour dip into the Mortal Kombat Dead Pool but, instead, found the duration lasting about half that. Aftermath clocks in at about 3.5-4 hours long, with roughly 30 fights in comparison to MK11 proper’s 48.
The star of the show here is Shang Tsung, again portrayed by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. If you enjoyed the Mortal Kombat movie, and loved Shang Tsung from that, you will not be disappointed at all. Every single scene Shang is in is captivating. As a player you may find yourself wondering just what is going through his mind as the story flows left and right. Seriously, he is that good in this role and in this story. While shorter than the base game, I enjoyed the Aftermath portion of the story more than I did the base. Tsung’s machinations never get old, from the moment the story starts til the moment the story ends.
Like the base game, though, the story is the eye catch to get you into the arcade. New content was injected into the package all the way around from small tweaks to major. The small tweaks to the combat engine are, to most gamers, more than likely not noticeable. There are new armor break moves to every character that fit in with the break system already in, adding some interesting new ways to combo if you are into frame counts and what is safe on block and all that under the hood stuff.
Two fan favorite maps return, Mortal Kombat 2‘s Dead Pool and MK3‘s Soul Chamber. The former also brings back the ability to use Stage Finishers, such as knocking your opponent into the pool’s acid pits on victory. But this feature is also a bit underwhelming as NetherRealm only incorporated stage fatalities towards two other arenas from the base game.
The other two new ‘maps’ are a bit hit or miss. You have yet what can almost be counted as another variation of the Hourglass in Kronika’s Keep; it has enough of an eye appeal for interest but adds to the trend of “not a lot of variation” with the arenas in this game. However, the 4th and final map is a real treat. The Retrocade is such a beautifully written love letter to long term fans. The map features throwback MK1 music, and an arena that projects old MK, MK2 and MK3 arenas in their original appearance and rotates through them every few seconds. It is a lot of fun to look at while you beat up your opponent.
Also returning to the package is Friendships, which have always been a humorous way to end the match without dismembering your victim. And it is a welcome addition, giving you a new way to end the match and some new things to look at. Many are pretty good, though a few fall flat. Each one has a requirement in online play you have to meet to use them that harkens back to the old days of Mortal Kombat’s friendships.
Rounding out the package is the new fighters, returning fan favorites Fuujin and Sheeva, and another guest character in Robocop. Maybe this is just me, but I’ve never been a big fan of the guest characters. They are fun to play for a few matches, but ultimately to me feel gimmicky and clunky. RoboCop is no different. I am a Huge RoboCop fan, and love thy got Peter Weller. But the character falls into the same trend as other guests and just feels weird. He has a lot of power with his specials, but not much else. He isn’t a bad character; if you like RoboCop there is a lot of fun to be found in the references. But a new main? I doubt it.
But thankfully the other two characters are a pure joy. I’ve never liked Sheeva but found her play-style to fit mine to a tee, that I almost instantly had fun pounding enemies with four fists, fireballs and teleport stomps. She plays true to her appearances in past games, but just feels faster, more powerful. But not overpowered. She has a lot of powerful specials and I found her chain combos to be incredibly easy to pull off and fun. Then Fuujin comes off as the best version of Fuujin ever. He is fast. He controls the pace of the fight, and he is fun. While lacking a lot of powerful specials, his combos and ability to amplify some of his regular-non specials was something of a treat to discover. Fuujin is almost able to control the fight at will, pulling the enemy to him or pushing them away.
All in all for what it is, Aftermath is a great package. While most of what was added is free — and the paid content seems a bit pricey for what it offers — if you enjoyed challenging the Towers of Time last week, you will enjoy that task even more this week. So, it did add to the game, and it will keep it fresh for a while to come still– something NetherRealm has found a great balance too. And if you like Shang Tsung? You will without question love every second of this package, as you watch him become a stylin’, profilin’, teleport ridin’, fireball flyin’, soul-stealin’, plottin’ n’ connivin’ son of a gun! Whoo. 4/5 Stolen Souls.