During last week's Game Developers Conference, various press members were granted a hands-on preview with Mortal Kombat X and the first chapter of its exciting new Story Mode! Early word revealed Kenshi & Johnny Cage's playable involvement but with embargoes lifted, new details are flooding in from all sides!

Character speculation will be one of the last topics to die, especially with downloadable content beyond the horizon! Polygon has one of the best previews, revealing the ambitious scope of the game that awaits: "There are battles with hundreds of non-player characters and Mortal Kombat cameos, Urbano said, on a scale that NetherRealm just couldn't pull off before."

Among the "hundreds" of cameos are some expected returns. Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, Kenshi, Raiden & Fujin reportedly lead the fight for the home team, while undead revenants of Jax, Sindel, Stryker, Kabal & Smoke battle under the control of Quan Chi. This continues the plot initiated during the last game, where the defeated warriors' souls were seized in the Netherrealm. IGN notes an appearance by Nightwolf, who was also among the dead fighters, as well.

It's the Netherrealm's invasion that is the subject of story mode's opening chapter. This refers to the expected continuation of the new timeline, revisiting the original plot of MK4. We saw glimpses of invading villain Shinnok and his struggle with the heroes in the Story Mode Trailer and again in the Cage Family Trailer. According to IGN, Shinnok is the final battle of Chapter 1.

No one has been able to distinguish the playable roster from the story mode cameos. Shinnok and Jax both appeared in one-on-one fights - each with 3 variations, according to Hardcore Gamers. IGN notes, "We have no idea yet, but there are a bunch more slots on the character select screen that need to be filled..." Polygon adds, "... we did see a couple of unannounced playable fighters, including Erron Black, in the game's attract mode."

Migrating from challenge modes in Mortal Kombat (2011) and Injustice: Gods Among Us into the story are "quick time events". Simple inputs determine the outcome of conflict that doesn't fit into traditional side-to-side kombat. GameInformer have a particularly evocative description of their experience, which explains the continuing sequence involving Johnny Cage and a notably heroic Kenshi:

"They’re en route to Raiden’s Sky Temple, where the lightning god is making a last stand against Shinnok’s forces. Whirring over the on-the-ground action sounds like a pretty great plan until the windshield is pierced by another familiar sight: Scorpion’s chain-blade. The soldiers in the back of the helicopter look around frantically, when Scorpion surprises the crew by appearing in the rear of the aircraft. There’s a battle, of course, and I’m paying such close attention to it all that I miss an unexpected quick-time event. It doesn’t kick me out to a game-over screen, but the action immediately shifts to show Johnny Cage blowing a series of blocks and taking damage. I do a better job of keeping up over the next few sequences, and Johnny reverses the course of the fight. He more than holds his own until Sub-Zero joins the party, freezing a couple of attackers’ heads and shattering them against each other."

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Netherrealm War: Fujin & Raiden battle fallen elder god Shinnok.

Polygon's Michael McWhertor notes the radical shift in balance between passive and active experiences in the new mode, "The ratio of cutscene to playable fighting game leans heavily toward the former; I was a little surprised to see how little I actually played compared to how much I passively watched as Johnny Cage and his Earthrealm allies talked about what was going on." He describes the content as entertaining enough to hold his interest - a safe bet for diehard fans of the series! GameInformer's Jeff Cork echoed these sentiments, "With the setup out of the way, I was eager to do more than tap buttons every once in a while to keep the action going. Soon enough, I got my wish."

Gameplay has elicited few complaints from available previews. The newly revealed Johnny Cage fights with variations called A-List, Fisticuffs & Stunt Double. Like other characters [eg; Kitana], each variation entails different risks, rewards and gimmicks, leaving the usual Shadow Kick and Split Punch neutral to all styles.

According to Polygon; A-List boasts charge benefits for Cage's special moves - slower to execute, but worth more damage. Fisticuffs adds the golden "CAGE" knucks seen in the Cage Family gameplay, which can be enhanced with a "fist bump" to increase damage and add flashy combos. Stunt Double promises to be the most controversial, introducing a yellow clone that can execute special moves, or absorb impact. In function, it bares some similarity to Noob Saibot's shadow clone, and Sub-Zero's ice clones. Although, with Mortal Kombat X making tangible upgrades to the latter -- including the ability to toss ice clones -- these similarities are fleeting.

Cage's Stunt Double style also limits projectiles, as Polygon explain, "Instead of tossing two fireballs in two different arcs, a la Mortal Kombat 2, Stunt Double Cage can only throw them in a straight horizontal line, as in the original Mortal Kombat." Projectiles summed up IGN's breakdown of Shinnok in-game, "... he seemed to have [Shang Tsung]'s move-set, with fireballs that come up from the bottom of the screen." GamesRadar elaborate with "red lightning" and a returning old trick:

It's also interesting to note that, at one point during the fight, Shinnok busted out Johnny Cage's Shadow Kick. I was playing as Cage, but couldn't tell if Shinnok had performed a move that let him copy my Shadow Kick, or if he could just use the move innately because I was Cage. At any rate, it seems Shinnok has been all-but-confirmed to be playable, considering he was all anyone was talking about during the story, and I even saw him fighting during the game's attract mode.

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No Special Effects: Johnny Cage performs his Shadow Kick on Scorpion.

If increasingly visceral fatalities haven't been a winner for you yet, more creative finishers may entice. If you haven't seen the "Here's Johnny!" fatality - you really need to watch the Cage Family Trailer right now! Polygon's McWhertor had the pleasure of watching Ermac's fatality over breakfast, sickened by the telekinetically achieved human ball of broken bones and its big finish of an oral extraction of entrails. [You can hear it in an official teaser.]

Concluding their in depth preview, Polygon also highlight the unlockable benefit of the recently announced Mortal Kombat X Mobile. Among the costumes on offer will be Jim Lee designed Injustice Scorpion, and curiously "something called a farmer Jax skin."

Mortal Kombat X arrives on PlayStation 4, Xbox One & PC April 14th! Pre-order now to receive day one access to download fighter: Goro! Register to share your thoughts and find more stories on the Mortal Kombat X forum! Special thanks to MKO User xysion for contributing a source to this article.