The first word on Mortal Kombat X just hit the scene two weeks ago with the announcement trailer. A few days later, they gave us a gameplay trailer. Then interviews with Ed Boon showed off a little more. The point is, I can’t wait. The last game in the franchise from 2011 kicked all sorts of ass and was a completely polished gem. They put tons of effort into the gameplay this time around, characters were given personality for once, the atmosphere was a brilliant recreation of the classic 90’s look, and it had an absolutely phenomenal one-player experience. Not only was the Challenge Tower fun as hell, but it had the best story mode in fighting game history, bar none.
Using time travel, the story mode proceeded to reboot the first three games of the series while retelling them in a more expanded and thought-out way, rather than just a handful of paragraphs with a couple cool stills tossed in there. We got to see how various parts of Mortal Kombat lore came to pass rather than just reading about it in somebody’s ending. Once the events of the third game went off the rails thanks to time travel meddling, we were left with a question of, “What’s next?”
Because a big chunk of the cast is totally dead.
To catch up, here’s the shortish version of Mortal Kombat’s storyline: Shang Tsung and Goro held a tournament where if they won one more time, Earthrealm would be doomed. Liu Kang defeated them and saved the world. Shao Kahn held another tournament in his realm of Outworld where if he won, Earthrealm would be doomed. Liu Kang defeated him and saved the world. Shao Kahn invaded Earthrealm anyway. Liu Kang defeated him and saved the world. Shinnok escaped Hell and tried to kill all of Earthrealm’s gods. Liu Kang defeated him and saved the world. Shang Tsung and Quan Chi teamed up, killed Liu Kang, and tried to resurrect an unbeatable army that once belonged to an ancient, long-dead emperor of Outworld called Onaga. Onaga came back from the dead thanks to a gullible old man named Shujinko, smote Shang and Quan, and tried to take over the realms. Shujinko defeated him and saved the world. Then a giant pyramid showed up out of nowhere and everyone from every game got in a big, violent race to the top in a battle royale over who got to wield ultimate power.
After a hell of a lot of bloodshed, the only ones still alive were Shao Kahn and a half-dead Raiden. Realizing that all reality was screwed, Raiden sent back a message to his younger Mortal Kombat 1 self that, “He must win!” Younger Raiden had no idea what that meant and with limited visions of the future, he tried to change history. This ended very, very badly as by the time of the third game, he got nearly all the good guys killed. Sure, he stopped Shao Kahn in the end, but it was a pyrrhic victory since the only heroes left alive were himself, Johnny Cage, and Sonya Blade.
From the little revealed about the new game, we know that Johnny and Sonya ended up shacking and produced a daughter, Cassie. She’s going to be part of a story that spans 25 years, joining the likes of new characters and some older old characters.
So what should we expect as we continue this new timeline?
1) SHINNOK WILL BE A VIABLE VILLAIN FOR ONCE
Is there a bigger wet fart of an end boss in video games than Shinnok? A couple endings in Mortal Kombat Trilogy talked up the fallen Elder God Shinnok as the next big bad. The villain who would make Shao Kahn look like a wuss. After all that buildup, we instead got some kind of clown wizard who didn’t do anything of note. There was nothing impressive about him. In Mortal Kombat 4, he could just copy movesets and have skeleton hands pop up out of the ground. Nothing that really fit the description of “Fallen Elder God who dethroned Lucifer as King of Hell and now wants revenge!”
At least in the side-scroller Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, Shinnok did actual magic stuff, and at one point turned himself into a giant CGI creature that was near impossible to kill. That was something.
The final moments of Mortal Kombat 9’s story mode show that Shinnok is just biding his time and will soon invade the realms with Quan Chi at his side. Problem is, Liu Kang is out of the picture. Now they have to tell the story of Mortal Kombat 4 without the hero who saved the day. Not only that, but considering the last game was able to make characters as lame as Kurtis Stryker and Nightwolf seem like total badasses, then a little tender loving care from the creators might be able to make Shinnok seem actually menacing.
2) LOTS OF RESURRECTIONS
If there’s one thing to take away from the trailer, it’s that Sub-Zero’s going to be back in the fold. There are two Sub-Zeros in the mythos and as of the last game, they’re both dead. One was reborn as Noob Saibot and the other was turned into a robot and later killed. As it is right now, Quan Chi owns Sub-Zero’s soul, as he does all the other warriors who died during the big war against Outworld. That in itself makes Shinnok’s coming seem a little more ominous.
Luckily, resurrection is no big deal in Mortal Kombat. It happens all the time. Seriously, Mortal Kombat: Deception started off by showing that almost all the heroes from Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance got killed by Shang Tsung and Quan Chi. And then they were alive again by the time the game ended! Deception also gave us the concept of a resurrected Liu Kang, albeit in the form of a shambling zombie. Even then, his ending showed that Raiden was capable of bringing him back to normal under the right circumstances.
Death is going to just be a holiday for guys like Sub-Zero. I imagine at the very least, Jax, Kitana, and Kung Lao will be making the trip back as well. But one guy probably won’t be…
3) DON’T EXPECT TO SEE SHAO KAHN AROUND
One thing Mortal Kombat 9 has proven is that Shao Kahn is really, really good at cheating death. The man practically walked off having a hole punched through his chest. The entire plot revolved around the idea that in the original timeline, Kahn was able to cheat death again and again, allowing him to stand tall at the end of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, where he became all-powerful.
Despite all the damage Raiden caused and all the deaths on his conscience, he finally figured out a way to kill Shao Kahn for good. Mortal Kombat 9 ends with Kahn having his very soul torn to pieces by the Elder Gods of Earthrealm, which fixed up Raiden’s medallion as a symbolic way to say that the events of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon will most definitely not happen because there’s no Shao Kahn left. He has ceased to be!
On the other hand, the new game features Kotal Kahn, who I suppose is probably his never-before-mentioned son… or brother… or cousin. He’ll fill in the void, though not in a final boss kind of way.
4) FINALLY, ANOTHER TOURNAMENT
Going forward 25 years suggests to me that they’re finally going to do another Mortal Kombat. Oh, sure, all the games are called Mortal Kombat, but they stopped doing actual tournaments as of the third game. From there it was just wars and attempts to storm castles and fight evil schemers. Boon stated that the story will begin right after Mortal Kombat 9 and then stretch to years later.
Remember, back before Liu Kang beat Shang Tsung the first time, Mortal Kombat was supposed to happen every generation. It looks like that’s where we’re heading. The question is what kind of tournament are we getting here? Like, is Outworld once again going to try to take over Earthrealm? Are the Elder Gods going to make Shinnok jump through hoops? Maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe this time Raiden is taking the offensive and is the one trying to conquer Outworld to keep Earthrealm safe. He’s gone that route before.
5) GOOD AND EVIL WORKING TOGETHER
While nearly all of the heroes have been wiped out, the bad guys are still out there, licking their wounds. The only ones killed are Shao Kahn, Motaro, Sindel, Shang Tsung, and Noob Saibot. On one hand, it makes sense that a lot of these villains would just latch onto Shinnok and follow him to fill the Shao Kahn vacuum. On the other hand, there is a difference between following a conqueror who wants to rule with an iron fist and following a being bent on destroying existence. One guy might let you hold onto your prized lava lamp collection if all goes well. The other won’t.
Characters like Reptile and Mileena have followed Shinnok before, but someone like Kano may question the wisdom of doing so. In Mortal Kombat 4, Kano’s successor Jarek worked together with the heroes because he knew which side his bread was buttered. With such an imbalance on the good/evil seesaw after Sindel pretty much killed everyone, it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw some defection in the name of survival.
Speaking of defection…
6) THE REDEMPTION OF SCORPION
Scorpion is the eternal wildcard of the Mortal Kombat series. Hero, villain, anti-hero, anti-villain, chaotic neutral, whatever. His status changes day by day. Although Raiden didn’t change much when it came to meddling with the first Mortal Kombat game’s chronology, he did make a hard attempt to help Scorpion in return for Scorpion sparing the life of Sub-Zero (which would thereby prevent Noob Saibot from existing). Despite some heavy promises to bring back Scorpion’s slain ninja clan, Raiden looked on in disappointment when Scorpion returned from battle with Sub-Zero’s skull in hand. Quan Chi manipulated Scorpion too well and the next time Raiden saw him, he looked at him with only disdain and pity.
The thing is, Mortal Kombat 4 ended with Scorpion finding out that Quan Chi has been using him for years and that it’s Quan Chi who murdered his clan and family. In Scorpion’s non-canon Mortal Kombat 9 ending, it’s shown that he’s going to figure it out regardless. It’s only a matter of time before he turns on Quan Chi. You factor in Scorpion’s role as Champion of the Elder Gods in Mortal Kombat: Deception and it isn’t out of the question to think that he might end up as one of the noble heroes trying to take out Shinnok, Quan Chi, and any major threats that might follow.
7) THE RETURN OF SHUJINKO
Ah, Shujinko. The hero character that nobody liked. The protagonist of Mortal Kombat: Deception, Shujinko starred in his own little side game called Konquest where he spent his entire life playing the Forrest Gump of Mortal Kombat history: rubbing elbows with all the big names over time while being simple-minded and naïve about most everything. Thinking he was doing the will of the Elder Gods, Shujinko really spent decades working towards the resurrection of Onaga, the Dragon King.
It’s hard to tell how far they’re going to go with rewriting the Mortal Kombat timeline in Mortal Kombat X. Are they going to just do the war against Shinnok or are they going to go into the threats of Onaga and maybe even Blaze’s pyramid? Are those going to be sidestepped completely? No matter what they’re doing, I have to believe that Shujinko is going to be somewhere in the mix. The man spent fifty years of his life immersed in the modern Mortal Kombat timeline. To have his quest cross into the rebooted story is only natural.
I hope he dies. You know, if natural cause doesn’t do it on its own.
8) THE INCLUSION OF JASON VOORHEES
Okay, this one isn’t exactly part of the story mode, but I can’t shake the feeling that we’re going to get Jason Voorhees as a special guest kombatant with his own arcade mode ending. Mortal Kombat 9 featured a foursome of DLC characters with the big finale being Freddy Krueger. Where else can you go next but with Freddy’s horror icon rival? Jason would be a perfect fit for the Mortal Kombat landscape, while at the same time stick out in an entertaining fashion as being caught in the middle of a story about ninjas fighting demons for the fate of mankind.
Then you factor in the planned 2015 Friday the 13th movie and talks of a TV series and you have a perfect excuse for product placement. Considering they’re talking up how you can use various versions of each fighter in this game, perhaps you’d even see Jason X show up in Mortal Kombat X.