Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath Review - Expanding on Excellence

Netherrealm Studios introduced the Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath expansion with free content as well as robust DLC, expanding on an already stellar game
Netherrealm Studios introduced the Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath expansion with free content as well as robust DLC, expanding on an already stellar game / Photo by Chaz Frazer / DBLTAP

There comes a time in the life cycle of every Netherrealm Studios game since Mortal Kombat 9 where anticipation for the next offering overshadows the momentum for the current game. This usually takes place after a title’s first EVO, and through year two, Mortal Kombat 11 is no exception, as in its second year it was initially left off of the EVO Championship Series roster, only to resurface for the EVO Online response to COVID-19 cancelling the original event in Las Vegas. 

This release cycle so far has looked like this: 
Mortal Kombat 9 > Injustice > Mortal Kombat X > Injustice 2 > Mortal Kombat 11 This should be the time where interest starts to wane and anticipation for the next (presumably Injustice) game begins. Netherrealm Studios and Warner Bros. Games have a little something different in mind this time, as they announced the Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath free expansion in early May.

The best part of the move by the developers to introduce a whole expansion: stages, friendships, stage Fatalities, balance changes and cosmetics - is that it is entirely free if you already own the base MK11 game. New characters and the story expansion will set you back $40, which is quite steep depending on if you care about all of the content or only some of it. Although the story expansion is a worthy epilogue to the main events of MK11 - it is fairly short (roughly 3 hours to complete), however, the new characters are nothing short of amazing. Depending on the type of MK11 content you already own, your pricing structure may change when looking to upgrade to Aftermath content.

Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath - Story Expansion

Shang Tsung is a bad dude. I mean a really bad dude. The story expansion includes Shang Tsung teaming up with an Elder God in Fujin and Nightwolf to right the wrongs done by Kronika and her minion’s efforts to restart the timeline. We all know that eventually, at what point unknown but with 100% certainty that Shang Tsung will attempt to betray any alliance he’s made to serve his own purposes. It’s gonna happen. And in that vein Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa steals every scene that he appears in. Tagawa of course, played Shang Tsung in the first Mortal Kombat feature film. His performance throughout is nothing short of masterful - conveying smug sarcasm and nonchalant evil in a way that is disturbing but just makes you smile.

Although Tagawa’s performance is amazing, everything else in relation to the story expansion is typical Netherrealm flare. Don’t take it too seriously and you will enjoy it for exactly what it is: brainless entertainment meant to be digested with your brain switch in the off position. It is good for what it is, brings closure to the story arc of MK11, doesn’t take itself too seriously at all, and can definitely be made fun of. At just over three hours in length, the story can be consumed during a lazy afternoon, or to prime yourself to the Mortal Kombat Universe should you be delving into the deeper gameplay elements, robust characters, and almost flawless online experience.

Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath - New Characters

Overshadowing the expanded storyline are the three new characters that are introduced in Aftermath. First is the returning character Sheeva, newly crowned Queen of the Shokan and noticeably much less ugly than when she first appeared in Mortal Kombat 3. In MK11, Sheeva is an absolute rushdown and bruising menace. Combining skills such as full screen unblockables, anti-air command grabs, and her iconic Dragon Drop stomp attack, she is a character that keeps the pressure on up close and has the tools to maintain that overwhelming pressure. Her strings leave her all safe, though not all are special cancellable, and she lacks some dynamic Krushing Blows in situations that other characters have. Overall Sheeva looks great on the surface, so we will see if that translates into her being picked up for tournament play.

The Elder God Fujin, making his return to the series as a playable character is the flashiest and most creative out o f the three new characters. His control of the screen and mobility make for an interesting fighting style, and a lot of freedom is to be found from playing him. Outside of some highly unsafe strings, difficult to use mids, unorthodox uppercut, and lack of a crouching sweep (his leaves him standing), How the meta with him turns out is entirely up to the creativity and skill of the player, but the jury is still out on him as of right now.

Lastly, a new guest character joined the Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermatch universe - Robocop. Character from the hit cult film in the 1980s, actor Peter Weller who played Robocop in the first two films reprised his role for dialog and modeling for MK11. In-game, Alex Murphy excels as a keep away/zoning type character and also has safe strings up close to get the party started. Not particularly strong with mixups to keep your opponent guessing, he is nonetheless a solid offering. Guest characters in MK11 trend on being incredibly strong, and Robocop is no exception to this rule. Although lackluster, he gets the job done. With the Terminator T-800 also in the game, players have the chance to relive the epic showdown from the comic book series as well as video games across multiple platforms, Robocop vs The Terminator. Terminator, portrayed by the original actor-turned politician-turned actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, debuted in Mortal Kombat 11 back in October, 2019. 

Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath - Netcode

When Netherrealm Studios decided to patch in rollback netcode into their Mortal Kombat 11 title, it set a precedent that the future of netplay was going to be anchored in rollback netcode (also known interchangeably as GGPO). For the uninitiated, rollback netcode is a prediction-based netcode whereas “when remote inputs are unknown, the game simulates forward anyway with predicted inputs. If those predictions are incorrect when the real input is received, the game must roll back by loading a previous game state and simulating several in-game logic frames.” Ars Technica went into great detail explaining the theory and application of rollback, how it affects gameplay over distance, and contributes to the feeling that you are playing offline with little to no input lag at all.

This highly resource driven netcode that must be implemented in the early development of a title - as opposed to the typical delay-based netcode offerings of fighting games in the past - and creates a user experience that is like no other, allowing players across the country or even on another continent to experience seamless online play with each other. Regardless of the initial reason why MK11 was not included in the EVO 2020 lineup, the fact that the game supports rollback netcode is an undeniable primary factor on why it is now included in EVO Online. Nothing more to say here than that the online community for MK11 is robust, populated to the teeth with skilled players, and an overall amazing experience once you are ready to take everything learned from training to real match application.


Overall, Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath is a solid offering from Netherrealm and Warner Bros. Studios meant to breath new content and competitive life into an already strong game title. Although the price of the expansion pack that includes the story, new characters and skins is a bit steep for typical Fighting Game DLC, the content is polished and looks to set precedent for how studios can continue to keep casual as well as hardcore competitive fans engaged in the long term. Tournaments and events moving forward have a lot of new matchups and content to be happy about, and for any serious gamer looking to keep up with the competitive scene this is simply a must-buy. Look for Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath at EVO Online beginning this July 4.