With mere days, hours even, preventing us from playing Mortal Kombat 1, NetherRealm Studios released the official launch trailer to keep us on our toes. Let’s pick this baby apart like a vulture picks at carrion. 

“New” Faces

Liu Kang becomes the keeper of time after liberating the hourglass and begins a new era of peace. As they work the fields, Kung Lao tells Raiden that he needs some excitement. Luckily, the martial arts tournament between Earthrealm and the Outworld is about to begin. 

You may ask yourself, “Who is the mini Shao Khan with the undercut?” His name is Reiko, and he was introduced in Mortal Kombat 4 as a general in Shao Khan’s army. He has made some MK appearances off and on throughout the years. Not much is known about him, but one thing is sure: he intends to use brutality to take over Outworld (in the old timeline, anyway). In the trailer, he pulls off a wicked body slam and a serious kameo combo. This particular move starts with a headbutt and ends with a metal spear through the skull.

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Let’s talk about this mysterious kameo partner while we are here. You know, the one wearing the orange and black tactical suit with reflective glasses? Introduced in Mortal Kombat: Deception, Darrius is a fighter from the Realm of Order. Like Reiko, he appeared in various games throughout the years, but we still do not have much of his backstory. I am unsure how much more we will learn since he is only a kameo character, but we shall see.  

We get some Nitara action with the help of Sareena in demon form. Nitara got her own trailer, so I will focus on Sareena. She first appeared in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero as a boss. Quan Chi hired her as an assassin, but she turned on him and now serves Sub-Zero and the Lin Kuei. She is very briefly in the launch trailer and only throws a couple of hits, so I look forward to seeing what else she can do. 

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Tale of Two Johnnies

NetherRealm teases us with Johnny — two of them, actually. The two Johnnys square up for a match that consists of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Sonya Blade beating the hell out of Johnny Cage. I’m not sure what satisfied me more: Van Damme slamming Cage’s head into the camera or JCVD kissing the Oscar while standing next to Sonya Blade. Oh, the sweet, sweet irony of Johnny Cage being beaten by the action star he was notoriously modeled after. 

Jean-Claude Van Damme poses ready for a fight.

Photo courtesy of NetherRealm Studios

Relationships Have Changed

New alliances are promised as we see Sub-Zero and Scorpion working together. Baraka offers his services and backs up Ashrah along with some other combatants. Ashrah is a demon (and also somehow a demon hunter) from the NetherRealm who has not been seen since Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. She has no strong ties to any particular character or storyline, so I am curious to see how she fits into Raiden’s new era of peace. 

Sindel warns Mileena that if she fights, the symptoms of her disease (Tarkat disease) could worsen. The disease has already begun to take hold and mutate her mouth. Her sister, Kitana, is suggested as a replacement. This worries Mileena because people are already whispering about Kitana replacing her as heir. I’m dying to see how this storyline plays out because it differs from past versions.

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Reptile is introduced as a shapeshifter and pulls one of the sickest moves I have seen in the game so far. He turns into an alligator, bites his opponent, and proceeds to do a death roll, spinning the body around like a rag doll. It is a sight to see, and I cannot wait to try that move myself.

Kronika tells Shang Tsung that she can put the realms at his feet if he joins her. We then see an undead army (the dragon army?) awaken. However, this time, it doesn’t end so well for Shang Tsung because he is owned by Liu Kang’s spiffy new dragon fatality. The orange and blue dragons swoop and meet in the middle to bite off the sorcerer’s head. Then, one bloody fatality after another, including Kung Lao throwing Baraka across his back as his hat slices the Tarkatan in half like a piece of wood on a table saw. 

Shang Tsung has his opponent shackled down. He has sliced open their abdomen.

Photo courtesy of NetherRealm Studios

This action-packed trailer ends with Shang Tsung strapping his victim down to a table and slicing his torso open with his clawed hands. He then pours in a glowing green liquid that bubbles and spawns a snake-like chest burster that goes straight for the face.

Bits and Pieces

The Mortal Kombat 1 launch trailer promises new ways to fight and gives us a tiny taste of invasion mode, which looks like a digital board game version of Mortal Kombat. They give us the quickest snippets of a few mini-games in this mode. This is one of the things I am most looking forward to trying out. I liked strolling through the tomb and unlocking things, but there was never really much to it.

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All the stages so far are beautiful, but my eyes were drawn to one background in particular. The Living Forest has always been one of my favorite Mortal Kombat stages, and it looks stunning this time around. The forest is more realistic yet mystical than ever. The faces in the trees are softer and less menacing than before. There are also many different types of faces, but they all have the same greenish-blue glow behind their eyes. I can’t wait to fight on this stage.

Mortal Kombat 1 has big kombat boots to fill, but we are in for a bloody treat based on what I have seen. 

Mortal Kombat 1 releases September 19, 2023, on all platforms. If you pre-ordered the premium edition, you can start playing as early as September 14. Watch the trailer below!

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