Things are beginning to stir at NetherRealm Studios, as the developer appears to be on the cusp of officially announcing Mortal Kombat 12.
But is it really going to be called Mortal Kombat 12? A recent tweet from the series’ official Twitter account seems to suggest the long-running fighting game franchise is going back to its roots. Again.
This latest announcement follows last week’s particularly on-the-nose teaser, as well as the rather unfortunate reveal of Mortal Kombat 12’s existence during an investor’s call, of all things.
In the tweeted video, we see an analog clock ticking its way from 9, skipping 12, and finally landing on 1. It leaves very little room for doubt; the next Mortal Kombat title has a high likelihood of resetting the timeline, just as Mortal Kombat (2011) had done after a slew of divisive 3D entries on the sixth generation of consoles.
It is almost time. #MortalKombat pic.twitter.com/eVwIcbVthqMay 10, 2023
But is that entirely a bad thing? I don’t think so. The last three mainline entries in the series all feature immensely entertaining story modes. Mortal Kombat 11, in particular, presented several surprises and fun story beats by way of its time-traveling chicanery.
But by the end of its Aftermath story expansion, things did feel a bit messy, as if NetherRealm had written itself into a corner despite putting a tidy bow on the most recent trilogy. Aftermath’s ending even strongly hints at a reset after antagonist Kronika’s schemes literally disintegrate.
The question that remains, then, is what will this fresh timeline look like?
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Mortal Kombat (2011), excluding DLC characters, didn’t introduce any new fighters to the series. Aside from Cyber Sub-Zero and Quan Chi, the game’s roster kept it strictly to characters spanning the original 90s trilogy.
If that pans out for Mortal Kombat 12 (or Mortal Kombat 1 if that’s the name they run with), then we’ll probably see the return of fan favorites like Sub-Zero, Ermac, Kitana, Mileena, Kung Lao, and Kabal. You’d have to imagine that Shang Tsung, Goro, and Shao Kahn have a good chance of showing up, too.
But I find it hard to believe NetherRealm will settle for just making Mortal Kombat (2011) for a second time. The 3D era gave birth to a number of characters that fans still love today. A reboot leaves the door wide open for the return of more obscure fighters like Ashrah, Li Mei, Drahmin, and Dragon King Onaga. There’s a lot of nostalgia from fans for Deadly Alliance, Deception, and Armageddon, so spotlighting some of these characters again will make up for their absence in the recent trilogy.
And as mentioned, taking the series back naturally undoes the chaotic mess left in the wake of Mortal Kombat 11. But it’s also a chance to have Mortal Kombat 12 compete with Street Fighter 6.
You’ll probably know that Street Fighter 6 features a single-player World Tour mode. This expansive campaign has your created fighter trot the globe, learning moves and abilities from Street Fighter’s eclectic cast. Actually, it sounds not too dissimilar to Mortal Kombat Deception’s excellent Konquest mode.
A reboot, then, would be an excellent opportunity to return to the Konquest format. But it could even go further than that. Series creative director Ed Boon has expressed interest (opens in new tab) in developing a follow-up or remaster for the fantastic Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, a co-operative brawler spin-off that remains inaccessible on modern hardware.
I think a series reboot presents an apt opportunity to feature a Shaolin Monks-esque mode, especially if we’re returning to the earliest days of the timeline, or an entirely fresh one.
Mortal Kombat has always been one of the most single-player-friendly fighting game series out there, packing tons of solo content to supplement its various online suites. So a mode such as this would feel right at home at the beginning of a new timeline. Especially if it takes a leaf from Street Fighter 6’s World Tour mode, adding a create-a-fighter feature and customizable movesets.
With all the recent teasers, it does seem like we won’t have much longer to wait before we get the first details of Mortal Kombat 12. Here’s hoping that it’s a worthy entry that’ll give both Street Fighter 6 and Tekken 8 a solid run for their money.