If there’s one gaming trend I want to see continue, it’s beat-em-ups with storytelling and character development.
It really works, with recent games like Injustice 1 and 2 wonderfully carrying the mantle and now, most recently, Mortal Kombat 11.
While Capcom are touting Fighter Passes galore for Street Fighter V, WB and NetheЯRealm have just gifted us a unique, highly enjoyable expansion in the form of Aftermath.
True, MK 11 has already had one season pass with characters such as Spawn, Joker, and Terminator brought into the fold, but this is something very different and it feels like a clever way to keep the same game incredibly fresh.
That, for me, is the beauty of Aftermath. It gives players exciting new content to sink their teeth into, provides an effective epilogue to the events that transpired in the base game, while setting up the future of the franchise.
No doubt about it, when the credits roll on Aftermath, you’ll see the path to Mortal Kombat 12 and it will set your mind racing, no matter which ending you choose.
That’s right, Aftermath has two different endings depending on the decision you make in the final fight. I’m not going to spoil either for you, but both endings offer something very different indeed.
So, yes, I would say this is a corner of the market, WB and NetheЯRealm studios are starting to claim for themselves.
And Aftermath isn’t just the first major expansion in MK history, but it also feels like a significant shift in how beat-em-ups could be marketed next gen.
Up till now, we’ve been used to Gold, Championship, Ultra and Legendary editions of the same game. And most of the time it’s the exact same game with all the DLC packs squashed together.
Aftermath has set out to do things differently, giving players something a bit more. The campaign, of course, being the highlight of this package – adding another five chapters to the MK 11 story and adding at least three hours of length.
The main characters, as you’ve seen, are Shang Tsung, Fujin and Nightwolf, but as the story progresses so other characters get involved – some you might expect, others you might not.
What remains consistent, though, is the excellent performance of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Shang Tsung. He’s brought that sinister sneer into the digital realm perfectly and plays Tsung just as menacingly as he did in the original film.
His performance alone is worth playing the Aftermath campaign for, but there’s also some really excellent, compelling drama woven throughout that deals with both loyalty and treachery. Seriously, some of this could put Killing Eve to shame.
What I think is clear is just how good of a grasp the teams have on these characters. Each one is given a chance in the spotlight, to say their piece, and play their role in the wider universe.
The lore of Mortal Kombat has been really expanded in recent years, and unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of plot threads to deal with.
The Aftermath campaign is also beautifully presented, with plenty of action-filled cut sequences, witty exchanges, and tense conflicts. The facial expressions of each character really sell the big moments, and the voice acting is all on point.
But as if the compelling campaign wasn’t enough, we’ve also got three new characters added to the game, in the form of Fujin, Sheeva, and believe it or not, Robocop.
That’s right, Robocop and Terminator can fight each all over again. This time in a proper duel to the death. As if the excellent Shang Tsung performance wasn’t enough, you can also settle an age-old rivalry in a graphic new way.
It’s been years since these two characters have been in the same game together, and to really add that level of authenticity they’ve even brought Peter Weller back as the original cop. Couple that with Arnie’s Terminator and NetheЯRealm have genuinely taken us to dreamland as no game ever has before.
Robocop is a bit of a clunky fighter, though. As slow-paced as you’d expect – let’s just say they’ve kept it authentic – but his long-range barrage of weapons can be absolutely devastating and may now be the best in the game.
Sheeva and Fujin are also really great and welcome characters to the roster – Fujin hasn’t been seen since MK Armageddon would you believe – and Sheeva has always been one of my favourites since MK3. She’s as devastating a powerhouse as ever, and Fujin is a nice hybrid fighter that’s a lot of fun to play.
On the downside, the price tag might be a source of contention for some, though, especially since a lot of the added extras you’ve been hearing about are actually free content updates for MK11 – new stages, friendships and stage fatalities.
But the good news is that if you’re in the market to buy the game for the first time, combined the Mortal Kombat 11 Aftermath Kollection presents excellent value now, with the previous Fighter Pass included along with the base game and expansion.
I really enjoyed the Aftermath story campaign, though, appreciating all the twists and turns it presented throughout, watching a mastermind like Shang Tsung at work.
And the new characters all offer something different, including the ability to settle one of fiction’s greatest rivalries in the absolute best way possible.
Aftermath is the only way to play these characters and see this epic story. Price range aside, it’s an absolute must for Mortal Kombat fans and is sure to set the fan theories into overdrive as to what comes next.
Mortal Kombat 11 Aftermath is now available on PC, PS4, XO and Switch
Tested on PS4
Code provided by WB