News Archive - May, 2016
Speculation: Future of Non-Playable Characters In Doubt?
MKX Sound Designer Says Ed Boon Down on NPCs Amid Fan Reaction

The future of non-playable character cameos in the Mortal Kombat series may be in doubt as the impact of persistent fan outcry within NetherRealm Studios comes to light.

Mortal Kombat X Sound Designer Brian Chard has been sharing his unique perspective with inquisitive fans, revealing aggressive interest in inaccessible fighters may have had a negative effect on the powers that be: "... [You] should know that those who complained about NPCs pretty much convinced Ed not to have em in future games."

When asked to clarify which types of NPC he believed are in danger, Chard pointed to in-game opponents and story mode cut scene cameos: "The impression I got was both, when it comes to potential roster chars (i.e., Outworld Soldier #2 is still safe)."

Both types of non-playable character drew significant attention from fans who've been trained to expect post-release additions through downloadable content channels. Remarkably, decisions relating to DLC have been largely disconnected from in-game appearances - an otherwise natural method for building anticipation for subsequent releases. Of the eight DLC characters, only one of each NPC type was included: Tanya, who appeared as an NPC opponent, and Bo' Rai Cho - a minor player in story FMVs.

Far from condemning his colleagues, Chard questions the quality of discourse from fans quick to attack the developer studio: "I think it's stupider of people who complained about them not being playable and called us lazy." With regards to characters who appear in NPC fights, he explains: "Just so everyone understands: It's a long way from fightable to playable." Characters who appear as NPCs may otherwise have missed out all together. On fan desire, Chard adds: "... it shows us how well received the original game was, which is nice."

"Lazy" has become an unfairly frequent catchall phrase for fans dissatisfied with perceived inconsistencies in the NetherRealm and Warner Brothers' approach. The substitution of personal preference in place of legitimate critique often downplays the work of artists and developers contributing to the marathon of a finished product. Malicious attacks and demands through social media - among the most egregious examples of fan ignorance.

Of course, no game is immune from criticism, and NPC kombatants have played an awkward role in the life of Mortal Kombat X. Invasion Mode appeared to suffer for the absence of existing and new character assets [read more]. Expectations for a character like Fujin: as much a consequence of the decision to reboot the series in 2011, as his consolation appearance in story mode sequences. Mortal Kombat X draws considerable inspiration from 1997's Mortal Kombat 4 - which introduced the character in a playable capacity.

Decisions not to follow the internal logic of game modes to their fullest extent - a recipe for disappointment to be anticipated and measured by various departments and the Creative Head. "As story gets started & other depts & WB state their prefs, it slowly evolves. In the end it's Ed [Boon]'s call," explains Brian Chard.

Even within this development process, not everyone can see eye to eye. Chard elaborated on the story mode inclusion of Rain - a compromise that could've left the popularly requested fighter completely absent: "Can't please em all. Story team wanted Rain on roster. Made him fightable, folks just complained."

On the reason the cult favourite character was overlooked: "... I get the feeling Ed thinks of him as a joke char. Guess no one argued hard enough to keep him." As noted for the artist's passing, Rain owes his origins, at least in part, to a Prince pun. With 2006's Armageddon, the character was drastically redesigned, reintroduced as an Edenian demi god in an intriguing development. Rain returned in this capacity as DLC in Mortal Kombat (2011) with an updated moveset.

Rain appearing as an Order Realm Invasion Boss five months after release.

Removing NPCs from future games will help diminish the distraction of fans' mistaken expectations, but developers will first have to weather the storm of another reduction in series mythology. With the 2011 reboot, the games have already stepped back from the depth of their storytelling, and arguably damaged the cache of their twenty year canon. Putting the proverbial genie back in the bottle - always challenging.

Removing hotly desired characters from view also won't completely quash their popularity, or address competition from spin-off media developed by Warner Brothers. The tangentially related Mortal Kombat X comic book published by DC Comics saw many fans titillated by its ability to tell more stories with typically neglected characters. This pressure seems unlikely to be alleviated any time soon.

Mortal Kombat X succeeded in introducing a compelling new generation of characters, but it remains to be seen if this will be a compliment to the long running series - or a self-made hindrance. Moving twenty-five years into the future poses significant questions about an eventual MKX follow-up, and the wisdom of resisting expansions of potentially successful existing mythology. It may also point to the influence of Warner Brothers, whose tie-in DC Comics use these time increments to generate plausibly relevant content. Chard notes: "We were told to set the flashbacks more [at] typical increments (5,10,20 yrs) even if it made them less accurate."

Tie-in stories by DC Comics feature unused characters like Reiko appearing in allotted backstory windows.

Brian Chard has since left his role at NetherRealm Studios, announcing his departure in March. He is now Sound Designer at Chicago based Jackbox Games. Asked if he would be interested in a return to NetherRealm in the future he comments, "Some things would have to change [before] I'd even consider it." Chard joined the team during production on Mortal Kombat: Deception for Midway Games.

[Related Article: MKX DLC: Unpacking Kombat Pack 2 Characters]

Will you be disappointed if non-playable characters disappear from future Mortal Kombat installments? Has this changed your opinion on NetherRealm Studios' next project? We want to know your thoughts! Register to share your opinions on the forum! Support the kommunity by liking and sharing stories like this via @MK_Online and Facebook.

NetherRealm Creative Director Polls Next Project
Ed Boon Quizzes Fans for Preferred Next Project - DLC, Spin-Off or MK11?

Will they or won't they? That's been the question surrounding additional downloadable content for Mortal Kombat X. A poll posted by NetherRealm Creative Director Ed Boon asked fans what they'd like to see the studio develop next - and it's DLC that is still dominating fans minds!

44%, or roughly 5730 fans, voted in favour of more downloadable content for Mortal Kombat X! The extension of content for the current game pipped a Shaolin Monks adventure title sequel at 31%, or a completely new Mortal Kombat X sequel at 25%. 13,020 Twitter users registered their opinion.

Even the seasoned series co-creator noted surprise at the end result, "Wow, certainly to my surprise....Kombat Pack 3 wins! To even MORE surprise.... MK11 comes in LAST!" Boon's been getting to know fans through many poll subjects of late, including April polls about missing MKX males and females.

The top selling tenth installment in the Mortal Kombat series saw NetherRealm Studios release the biggest crop of post-release extras since they began producing DLC in 2011. Mortal Kombat XL bundled all extras into a complete download and disc release, including late arriving klassic arena The Pit, and Kombat Pack 2 fighters.

Surprising playable omissions [read more] and inaccessible non-playable characters [read more] have kept many fans fixated on further downloadable additions. As leaders in the industry experiment further with DLC platforms and expand post-release content models, it's clear the method becomes further ingrained in the mindset of fans eager to see more.

Traditionally, a second release like Mortal Kombat XL indicates the end of a game's development lifespan, committing a complete content library to disc. This has the benefit of ensuring easy, long term access to fans who wish to play the game for years to come -- even without future publisher support, or changes in content licensing. "Kombat Pack 3" may seem attractive in the short term, but it begs the question: Would this also necessitate a third Mortal Kombat XXL, or would you be happy to lose your DLC?

It's been over ten years since Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks was released for PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The third-person action-adventure game expanded the events of Mortal Kombat II into a story-driven 3D brawler starring Liu Kang and Kung Lao. Featured unlockable characters were Sub-Zero and Scorpion.

Inconsistency in characterization and plotlines drew criticism from ardent fans at the time, but a fundamentally enjoyable gaming experience ensured Shaolin Monks amassed a strong dedicated following. Co-op and one-on-one fighting modes expanded a base that superbly adapted play style from the traditional 2D fighting games.

Fans of Shaolin Monks, and subsequent Konquest game modes, have continued to call for a modern sequel or HD rerelease for years. Boon discussed the genesis of the original during Mortal Kombat X promotion in 2014, revealing its origins as a Raiden demo pitch from an outside studio [full story].

It might be argued that fans' short-term desires overwhelmed their choice of Kombat Pack 3 over the option of an entire new game. Twenty dollars can buy many peanuts, and a new game can provide many characters! What's undeniable: the fact that Mortal Kombat X has connected with fans who continue to seek more from the game.

[Related Article: Speculation: Is NetherRealm Studios Preparing For Injustice 2?]

Former DC Comics writer Jim Krueger contributed to the story script for Shaolin Monks. Interestingly enough, Boon singled out the absence of an Injustice: Gods Among Us option on his poll: "LOL ... That's not on the list."

What do you want to see next? Register to tell us what NetherRealm Studio's next game should be on the forum. Do you want one of these options, or something else? Share your thoughts, and share this article via @MK_Online and Facebook!

Mortal Kombat X Mobile Announces Anniversary Update
Mortal Kombat X Mobile Gets Major Content & Mode Overhaul

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has announced a massive new update to Mortal Kombat X Mobile to mark the game's first anniversary!

The update weighs in just under 2GB -- the biggest since the game's launch! It comes stuffed with new content and features, including fresh Gold Characters, Challenge Mode Skins, new gear and gear effects, as well as an overhaul of Faction Wars and more!

Faction War will now earn a new kurrency type called Blood Rubies to be used in the brand new Faction War Store! Players will now have even more opportunities to earn rewards with more frequent Faction War Seasons and an improved leaderboard.

Five new Challenge Mode characters are on the way, to be revealed over the coming months. New unlockable challenge rewards include new skins: Marksman Kung Jin, Dark Lord Kotal Kahn, Klassic Kano and more.

Among the new Gold Characters will be Kobu Jutsu Tanya and Dark Emperor Liu Kang. Three new blood soaked pieces of equipment are also coming: Bloody Shokan Armor, Bloody Voodoo Doll and Bloody Tomahawk.

Everyone playing Mortal Kombat X Mobile will also receive an exclusive Fujin's Blessing support kard with their upgrade! The perfect gift for forlorn fans who voted Fujin the 2015 Supreme Mortal Kombat Champion!

MKX Mobile features an improved matchmaking system and updated character balances for a better experience. You can download it for free right now from the Apple Store, Google Play and Amazon Games!

How do you rate the update? Register and tell us your thoughts about MKX Mobile and more in the Mortal Kombat X forum! Come back daily to weigh-in on your favourite characters while helping us choose a new Supreme Mortal Kombat Champion for 2016! Connect with MK Online on the go by liking and sharing stories via @MK_Online and Facebook!

Mortal Kurio: Mortal Turtles Mash-Up Tee
Cowabunga, dude! Teens go full ninja via TeeFury. MORTAL TURTLES!!!

What do you get for the ninja who has everything? How about the ultimate mash-up of franchised ninjas they can display defiantly on their ninja chest? Check the design and details below:

Mortal Turtles throws the klassic ninja style of Mortal Kombat onto the cartoon colour coded shells of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. An inspired franchise fusion by TeeFury artist Javiclodo!

Tees are available in men and women's sizes Small through Triple XL, or Small to Double XL for children starting at $15. The perfect price for picking up a spare if your original gets pizza or Lin Kuei guts on it!

Found some cool MK inspired gear? Let MK Online know about it! Register to find and discuss more in the Media & Merchandise forum! Share your own mash-up artwork via the kommunity Fan Submission system!

Supreme Mortal Kombat Champion Tournament 2016!
The Annual Tournament Returns to Test the Fighters of Mortal Kombat XL!

Since the dawn of Mortal Kombat there has been a single unifying truth: the will to fight! It is imprinted in all living things - an ancient battle cry echoing in the genetic survival of man and god alike! Victory is a temporary state. There can be no champions without constant challengers! No victory without amassing defeats! For this reason Mortal Kombat has always been - and must always be!

Once a year we extend a traditional invitation to all realms so that one warrior may rise above the rest! In 2015, we greeted a new generation of warriors who joined the fight against Netherrealm invasion in Mortal Kombat X! After months of debate and many tens of thousands of votes, fans chose the fantasy of an unsung hero they hoped to summon: Fujin.

In March, MKX got super-sized and welcomed even more fighters through the komplete edition package of Mortal Kombat XL. Alas; last year's Supreme Champion winner was still beyond mortal reach! With renewed objectivity we must therefore ask the eternal question: Who is the Supreme Mortal Kombat Champion?

The ultimate fan voting tournament has become an annual celebrated tradition on Mortal Kombat Online - summoning the entire fanbase to agree on a single champion from sixty-four fighters! Mortal Kombat XL will inform the bracket for this year, introducing first-time competitors while omitting some old favorites! Read on to learn more about what it all means and how you can join in! Visit the Fan Koliseum to share your votes and discuss battles more in depth!

As noted; we will once again bring together sixty-four kombatants in a single elimination tournament bracket. Each result will be determined one fight at a time by regularly unlocked updates to the MK Online User Poll [located top left]. This means it's up to you to determine which character will defeat their opponents to emerge Supreme Champion!

A growing roster means competition is fierce and making the draw is as hard as ever! All versions of Mortal Kombat X will provide primary inspiration for fighter selection, while tabulated results from past tournaments influence relegation and a wildcard or two.

The two highest cumulatively ranked fighters have been seeded at the top and bottom positions of our bracket: Sub-Zero and Raiden! The remaining fighters ranked within the Top 16 will also gain guaranteed entry into this year's event - seeded at the ends of each cell. Brackets have been semi-randomized within this system. Last year's tournament has shaken the ranks all the way to the Top 16 - so nothing can be taken for granted!

Criteria for voting is completely up to you, but as this is an annual event, we recommend focusing primarily on the latest versions of characters seen in Mortal Kombat XL and related media! [Note: We always encourage voting for characters, rather than against them.]

Voting is key to the process, but we want to know your opinions as well! Get creative and show your support of a favourite character by adopting forum avatars and custom signatures! User Settings will allow you to select from hundreds of character avatars in the User Icon Library, or upload your own. You can show your support by posting in the Fan Koliseum - the home of fantasy fights and kommuntiy forum games! Above all else - get involved and have fun doing so!

To be eligible to vote, you must be a registered member of Mortal Kombat Online. Users must adhere to forum and account rules and a basic code of conduct. Users found registering multiple accounts, or attempting to ballot stuff, will be disqualified and banned indefinitely. New accounts may face voting restrictions, but should be encouraged to share their thoughts on the forums to unlock voting privileges.

  • Round 1: Sub-Zero (70.3%) d. Kabal (29.6%)
  • Round 1: Rain (65.5%) d. Tanya (34.4%)
  • Round 1: Takahashi Takeda (69.8%) d. Shujinko (30.1%)
  • Round 1: Havik (51.5%) d. Scorpion (48.4%)
  • Round 1: Shinnok (51.9%) d. Jade (48.0%)
  • Round 1: Mileena (75..3%) d. Hotaru (24.6%)
  • Round 1: Ferra/Torr (59.6%) d. Moloch (40.3%)
  • Round 1: Kitana (75.7%) d. Sheeva (24.2%)
  • Round 1: Smoke (61.4%) d. Triborg (38.5%)
  • Round 1: Reptile (74.6%) d. Khameleon (25.3%)
  • Round 1: Frost (60.8%) d. Stryker (39.1%)
  • Round 1: Skarlet (57.7%) d. Sonya Blade (42.2%)
  • Round 1: Cyrax (53.1%) d. Reiko (46.8%)
  • Round 1: Kotal Kahn (81.2%) d. Blaze (18.7%)
  • Round 1: Kai (74.5%) d. Jarek (25.4%)
  • Round 1: Noob Saibot (63.8%) d. Sindel (36.1%)
  • Round 1: Ermac (80.7%) d. Jacqui Briggs (19.2%)
  • Round 1: Tremor (67.2%) d. Kintaro (32.7%)
  • Round 1: Sareena (61.7%) d. Li Mei (38.2%)
  • Round 1: Kung Lao (61.4%) d. Liu Kang (38.5%)
  • Round 1: Shang Tsung (71.8%) d. Sektor (28.1%)
  • Round 1: Quan Chi (68.3%) d. Drahmin (31.6%)
  • Round 1: Kano (73.1%) d. Daegon (26.8%)
  • Round 1: Kenshi (78.2%) d. Mavado (21.7%)
  • Round 1: Fujin (58.3%) d. Goro (41.6%)
  • Round 1: Bo' Rai Cho (72.7%) d. Tasia (27.2%)
  • Round 1: Jax (84.1%) d. Hsu Hao (15.8%)
  • Round 1: Erron Black (50.6%) d. Cassie Cage (49.3%)
  • Round 1: Johnny Cage (81.1%) d. Taven (18.8%)
  • Round 1: D'Vorah (55.8%) d. Baraka (44.1%)
  • Round 1: Nightwolf (67.4%) d. Kung Jin (32.5%)
  • Round 1: Raiden (77.7%) d. Dark Kahn (22.2%)

  • Round 2: Sub-Zero (60.0%) d. Rain (40.0%)
  • Round 2: Havik (58.3%) d. Takahashi Takeda (41.6%)
  • Round 2: Mileena (55.4%) d. Shinnok (44.5%)
  • Round 2: Kitana (76.0%) d. Ferra/Torr (24.0%)
  • Round 2: Smoke (56.9%) d. Reptile (43.0%)
  • Round 2: Frost (57.3%) d. Skarlet (42.6%)
  • Round 2: Cyrax (50.7%) d. Kotal Kahn (49.2%)
  • Round 2: Noob Saibot (66.6%) d. Kai (33.3%)
  • Round 2: Ermac (63.4%) d. Tremor (36.5%)
  • Round 2: Sareena (56.3%) d. Kung Lao (43.6%)
  • Round 2: Shang Tsung (55.7%) d. Quan Chi (44.2%)
  • Round 2: Kenshi (60.8%) d. Kano (39.1%)
  • Round 2: Fujin (62.0%) d. Bo' Rai Cho (37.9%)
  • Round 2: Jax (50.7%) d. Erron Black (49.2%)
  • Round 2: Johnny Cage (63.4%) d. D'Vorah (36.5%)
  • Round 2: Raiden (68.5%) d. Nightwolf (31.4%)

  • Round 3: Sub-Zero (54.7%) d. Havik (45.2%)
  • Round 3: Mileena (54.0%) d. Kitana (45.9%)
  • Round 3: Smoke (60.5%) d. Frost (39.4%)
  • Round 3: Noob Saibot (61.6%) d. Cyrax (38.3%)
  • Round 3: Ermac (51.4%) d. Sareena (48.5%)
  • Round 3: Kenshi (51.6%) d. Shang Tsung (48.3%)
  • Round 3: Fujin (60.8%) d. Jax (39.1%)
  • Round 3: Johnny Cage (52.1%) d. Raiden (47.8%)

  • Quarter Final: Sub-Zero (56.5%) d. Mileena (43.4%)
  • Quarter Final: Noob Saibot (60.6%) d. Smoke (39.3%)
  • Quarter Final: Ermac (56.5%) d. Kenshi (43.4%)
  • Quarter Final: Fujin (51.2%) d. Johnny Cage (48.7%)

  • Semi Final: Noob Saibot (52.0%) d. Sub-Zero (48.0%)
  • Semi Final: Fujin (51.2%) d. Ermac (48.7%)

  • Championship: Noob Saibot (60.2%) d. Fujin (39.7%)

To be eligible to vote, make sure you've registered to Mortal Kombat Online and visit regularly to stay up-to-date with the latest poll battle. You can discuss all the tournament match-ups and voting in the Fan Koliseum. We want this to be a massive event, with every self-respecting MK fan having their say in the overall tally! Follow us @MK_Online and like us on Facebook to help spread the word to the entire fanbase! There can only be one Supreme Mortal Kombat Champion - only the strongest will survive!

User Poll
What's Next?
Mortal Kombat 12
Injustice 3
Mortal Kombat spin-off