Mortal Kombat 11 Aftermath Review: Gameplay Impressions and Esports Impact

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMay 29, 2020

NetherRealm Studios

Mortal Kombat 11 never felt content with its successes.  

Oozing fan service and arguably the best game in the storied series, developer NetherRealm Studios quickly churned out a handful of roster additions and updates for players since the April 23, 2019, launch. 

A little over a year later brings fans Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath, a gargantuan offering that adds three new fighters to the cast and continues the best story in fighting games today that we so adored in our original review.

It all sounds great on paper, and given the success of the base game, it was easy to feel confident the execution of the expansion would be of similar quality. 


Aftermath Story Mode and More

The biggest talking point for Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath is the story mode, "Part 2: Aftermath."

Picking up right where the base game's story left off, Shang Tsung steps to center stage for a tale that loops in two of the three new DLC characters, Fujin and Queen Sheeva. Wacky as it is, the story seemingly doesn't find a way to work in the third new character and guest star, Robocop. 

Keeping it light on spoilers as much as possible, the story is a blast for fans of the series. Time travel is the jumping-off point, and players immediately go back to some of the base game's biggest set pieces to interesting results. Just keep in mind it's all about mindless fun, as thinking about the complexities of the time travel will have players missing out on the fun moments. 

Like the base game, it's all about fan service. It's wild to participate behind the scenes in some of the major events that unfolded in the original release. And sticking with the theme of doing right by fans, some of the characters introduced after the game's release via DLC packs actually have a role in the story now. 

That story isn't a lengthy one by any means, although that depends on the skill of the player and difficulty selected. But the predictable timeline disruption dramatically changes how original events played out, and the creators made sure to give players some agency in events, even letting them pick who to play as in certain spots. 

Simply put, it's welcome to see a story DLC isn't just an afterthought. Not that anyone should have expected otherwise, but this manages to feel like a step beyond what was even necessary thanks to the quality of the cinematics, voice acting and actual impactful, canon-based changes happening. 

The update also offers sweeping additions for non-DLC buyers, including items and equipment, stages and varying fatalities. There is also critical balancing passes that shift metas and address gameplay elements. It's a nice nod to hardcore players and a welcome mat of sorts to new players that should guarantee Year 2 of the game's life cycle is nothing short of a success. 


Gameplay and Esports Impact

It's going to take some time to see how the new meta shakes up given the wide-sweeping changes implemented on the balancing pass. But the expansion itself doesn't offer major gameplay alterations outside of the three new characters. 

And those characters each bring something interesting to the table. 

Which one is the most interesting will vary on a player-to-player basis. But it's hard to argue against RoboCop having the best presentation values, as he's brought to life on the screen by the tried-and-true voice actor. 

From a gameplay perspective, RoboCop is predictably sluggish like the roster's other big characters. But he's an absolute zoning machine with mid-to-long range blasts. For players who like to sit back and force the enemy to smartly come to them, he's the guy. 

Sheeva, the multi-armed devastator, is like the complete opposite. She's an in-your-face attacker of the relentless sort who loves to apply pressure via a ton of mixups. Opponents who can't properly read and react quickly won't last long as she sends a flurry of blows from all angles. 

But Fujin, the God of Wind, might be the majority favorite in the coming months and years. He hasn't been in many Mortal Kombat games over the years, and his unique playstyle and new additions to the roster will force any and all players to adapt and learn him quickly.

Fujin does all sorts of fun stuff, from walking on air to sweeping across a stage quickly. He's also got a bow at his disposal, making him one of the freshest new roster additions in a long time. How players deploy his skillset might hinge on how players react to him, which means his place in the current meta is up for debate. But there's little doubt he's got some wicked possible combos and stage control. 

From an esports perspective, Final Kombat is still very much alive and kicking in 2020. The new character additions seem to have a little something for every sort of player, and there is enough variance and upside that pro players might just bring unexpected names to the table at tournaments. 

The same applies to the competitive ladder and even qualifiers for bigger tournaments. Initial reaction to new roster additions has been off in the past once released, so the complexity of Fujin's combos or the slower nature of Robocop might not be a hurdle that ends up keeping the esports scene relatively the same. 



Aftermath is exactly what fans figured it would be—in the best way possible. 

An engaging story with massive production values seamlessly loops in recently released characters and the base game's set pieces to emphatic results that set an industry standard for fighting game DLCs.

And the newest roster additions add some depth and versatility, if nothing else, to a booming esports scene. 

While the free balancing updates, stages and items shouldn't be considered part of the DLC, the standalone offering with its singleplayer and competitive scene additions still provide a boon in a way most post-release content doesn't.