Mortal Kombat has become a global phenomenon that expands across comic books, TV series, animated films, multiple games and, of course, live-action movies. It’s no surprise then that fans are already requesting a release date for the MK11 sequel, Mortal Kombat 12. More than that, they want to know which characters have made it to the final fighter roster and if their favourites will return in the next instalment.
Mortal Kombat 12 Could Be the Ultimate Prequel
After almost three decades of fighting games, there are few places Mortal Kombat hasn’t visited. Canon has been established, reset, rewritten, then reset again, as the developers figure out new angles for gamers to explore and experience. Naturally, Mortal Kombat 12 will need to do something different than its predecessors if the franchise is to remain the king of fighters.
While new Mortal Kombat characters and upgraded fighting styles are always welcome, the story is equally important. Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath‘s story allowed for the player to decide if the timeline goes back to the era of The Great Kung Lao or to allow Shang Tsung to control the realms. Essentially, it wiped the slate clean.
A new setting in Mortal Kombat 12
Setting Mortal Kombat 12 in a Shang Tsung-ruled world is something that’s far too similar to what players have experienced in the past, so it’s an unlikely scenario. What is probable is the exploration of the days of The Great Kung Lao and his dynasty.
The franchise hasn’t shied away from going back to the past (or even visiting an alternate timeline), as players have witnessed prequels in the form of Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero and Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, which focused on the stories of Bi-Han’s Sub-Zero and Jax respectively. While most players know the history of the tournament and fighters and seen glimpses via flashbacks, it hasn’t been a core focus of Mortal Kombat yet.
A Mortal Kombat game set in the past
By establishing Mortal Kombat 12 in the past, there’s the possibility to show the full story from the start. In many ways, it’s the one place that the franchise needs to go—and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
Everyone knows that Mortal Kombat‘s timeline is about as coherent as DC Comics on a good day. The thing is, it doesn’t matter since most fans have accepted that anything can happen in the franchise. Considering the number of gods and supernaturally aged characters, it isn’t uncommon to see fighters time-travelling across different timelines and worlds to compete against each other. In fact, no one even bats an eyelid when a young Johnny Cage meets his future daughter, Cassie, as an example.
This allows the developers and creators to include the characters they choose in the new game, without a fear of breaking canon or upsetting. Gone are the days when Mortal Kombat was the video game equivalent of a straight-up Jean-Claude Van Damme action film, since it’s embraced the mythological aspect and become more of a fantasy epic. By expanding its lore, it’s opened up the doors to more creativity and better storytelling.
Mortal Kombat XII as a prequel
Whether NetherRealm Studios sends the current fighters back to the past or sets the new game exclusively in the past, there’s an opportunity to navigate uncharted waters here. Right now, Mortal Kombat is the only franchise that could attempt to do something so ballsy and brilliant, and the fans would eat it up. Quite frankly, it’s only logical for the next step to be taking several steps back.
Mortal Kombat 12: 6 Characters That Need to Return
There’s no denying that Mortal Kombat 11 delivered the goods. It roundhouse kicked us into fighting utopia. Though, there were still a few familiar faces missing from the final roster. Some that many fans noticed almost immediately. So, here’s hoping these 5 characters return for the impending Mortal Kombat 12.
Think about it: Reptile is an O.G. in the franchise—even if he was only a hidden character in the original Mortal Kombat. His powers of invisibility and acid-spitting vengeance were huge hits among gamers in the ’90s, but he’s been heavily disrespected in recent time. Heck, the poor scaly creature even jobbed to Kano in the 2021 movie.
Kurtis Stryker is the most annoying character around. Looking at his backward cap makes you want to backhand him for his Fred Durst impersonation. Plus, he’s also a cop who’s probably busting the other kombatants for smoking a little green in between rounds. Every game needs a character that everyone despises—and that’s why Stryker would be perfect for this role in Mortal Kombat 12.
Mortal Kombat X was meant to be about the next generation. It introduced Cassie Cage, Jacqui Briggs, and Takeda. Yet, as the supposed next Scorpion, he was nowhere to be found in Mortal Kombat 11. Maybe his absence was intentional to not cause confusion with Cole Young who debuted in the movie and kind of felt like he should’ve been Takeda. If Cole isn’t going to be a part of the video game universe in Mortal Kombat 12, then Takeda needs to make a comeback.
While Shang Tsung will always be the original sorcerer, Quan Chi doesn’t get the respect he deserves. He’s the one behind the death of Scorpion and his family, and he’s about as shady and ruthless as any politician. Sure, he’s unlikely to ever be the main antagonist in a game, but there’s no better right-hand man than this necromancer.
Mileena this. Jade that. Sorry, the real MVP is Tanya. She’s one of the best fighters in the series and you never know which side she’s playing. There’s a reason she’s called the ultimate traitor, as no one knows if you can trust her. She deserves a significant role in Mortal Kombat 12—not to be jobbing to D’Vorah like she was in Mortal Kombat X.
Onaga, the Dragon King
Many fans have been asking for Onaga, the Dragon King — who first appeared as the final boss in 2004’s Mortal Kombat: Deception – to make a return to the franchise. As a former emperor of Outworld who seeks to regain his dominating rule of the realm, Onga seems like the perfect fit for Mortal Kombat 12. With Kronika dead and the Void’s seal broken open, evil can now escape through the Hourglass. The Dragon King will return, possibly with new allies.
Other characters that will likely return (as fans have requested and have been rumoured) are: Kuai Liang, Erron Black, Li Mei, and Kotal Kahn.
But don’t be surprised to see favourites like Raiden (The God of Thunder), Goro, and a few others show up too. Heck, not even Batman is completely ruled out.
Will It Feature Cole Young?
Considering how Mortal Kombat 11 was still pumping out content in 2021, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a new game in the series for a few years. With the release of the reboot movie, however, many fans are wondering if the new lead Cole Young (Lewis Tan) will make his appearance as a playable character in Mortal Kombat 12.
Naturally, there’s a rumour that he might be included as a DLC character in Mortal Kombat 11 closer to the movie’s release in April. This remains unlikely, though. While Cole is a brand-new character in the MK lore, he’s set to play a major role in the movie—with a surprise twist as well, but you’ll read no spoilers here.
As a result, it only makes sense to introduce him as a pivotal character in Mortal Kombat 12. Aftermath’s events have left the franchise with something of a clean slate to build upon. There’s a chance to rewrite the MK story, with a few additional characters and new scenarios to explore. In the case of Cole, he can be set up to lead the story into the future.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that every fan will be behind this decision. We’ve all seen how fan expectations can be more brutal than any fatality; however, the MK series does need to evolve here.
The core cast of Lord Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, Scorpion and Sub-Zero won’t go away, but how many times can we see the same story being repeated over and over? The Mortal Kombat tournament is meant to be about generational champions, so isn’t it time for a new contender to step up to the plate?
By introducing a new character like Cole, it offers the series a chance to revitalise itself and to move forward. Heck, look at Tekken as an example. Jin Kazama and Eddy Gordo are now regarded as the hottest fighters in the franchise, but they were only introduced in Tekken 3. In the same way, Mortal Kombat needs to start looking to the future and integrating someone like Cole with the new breed like Cassie Cage and Jacqui Briggs.
Obviously, Cole’s potential inclusion in any future Mortal Kombat video games will largely depend on the character’s success in the film. Here’s hoping that he manages to maintain some longevity and not suffer the same fate as poor Art Lean from the 1995 movie.
Will It Be Influenced by the Live-Action Movie?
With the outstanding success of the movie and Mortal Kombat 11 (one of the best fighting games ever!), there’s absolutely no doubt that NetherRealm Studios is deep in the planning stages for the follow-up, Mortal Kombat 12. It’ll also be the first MK game for next-gen, so you can rest assured that it’ll be extra special.
Since the film was a big hit for HBO and Warner Bros., NetherRealm Studios will surely be encouraged to include the new characters (and the actors who play them) introduced in the movie into Mortal Kombat 12. From a cross-promotional perspective, it also makes a lot of sense to create synergy within the franchise.
Heck, we’re even keen on the movie actors voicing the characters in the game. Just imagine Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade, Josh Lawson as Kano, Joe Taslim as Sub-Zero, Hiroyuki Sanada as Scorpion and Mehcad Brooks as Jax as voice actors in the actual game. That could be cool.
(That being said, we’re still waiting for Art Lean from the 1995 film to make an appearance in any game…)
MK12 Must Draw Influence From The Mortal Kombat: Conquest TV Show
Remember the Mortal Kombat: Conquest (Mortal Kombat: Konquest) TV series starring Paolo Montalban, Daniel Bernhardt, Kristanna Loken, Tracy Douglas? We do.
Here’s a reminder…
Oh, we wouldn’t want to be in NetherRealm Studios’ shoes right now. No one is creating fighting games quite like the Chicago-based developer, and the pressure must be on to deliver something exceptional for Mortal Kombat 12.
The question is, where does the franchise go after Mortal Kombat: Aftermath? Depending on the choice you make at the end of the game, it takes you way back to the start, i.e. the time of the Great Kung Lao.
While everyone knows the story by now, there was a TV show adaptation that explored this period called Mortal Kombat: Conquest, starring Paolo Montalbán as Kung Lao, Daniel Bernhardt as Siro and Kristanna Loken as Taja. More importantly, it was surprisingly good for its time.
Sure, there were some cheesy montages that plagued all ’90s shows and soap opera-esque acting from supporting cast members, but the building of the mythology and the action scenes were outstanding (pardon the pun). The show managed to make us care about Kung Lao and how he must’ve felt after winning the Mortal Kombat tournament and having this immense burden on his shoulders. Not only did he save the Earth, but he also had to train a new generation of fighters!
Funny enough, Mortal Kombat: Conquest wasn’t cancelled because of bad ratings, but because of the cost of production. Even the cast was shocked that it was canned so soon. “I thought it was a cool show and I enjoyed playing Siro,” Bernhardt told Movie Mavericks. “The show was doing quite well with its audience; however, we didn’t get picked up for a second season. It was a let-down because it would have been so much fun to go back for another run.”
Considering that the characters introduced in Mortal Kombat: Conquest were received positively by the fanbase, Mortal Kombat 12 is the perfect opportunity to incorporate them in the game’s universe. The best part is, you still wouldn’t lose popular characters like Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Raiden and Shang Tsung, since no one knows how they age (and they were a part of the show anyway).
While the time for a second season of Mortal Kombat: Conquest is two decades too late, the game could provide the closure, or fill the gap, that fans wanted. Heck, they could even get the actors back to voice these characters too!
NetherRealm Studios has shown that it isn’t afraid of taking risks and doing the unexpected, so perhaps Mortal Kombat 12 could borrow from one part of the mythology that deserves to be revisited. The characters and story are there; all the developer needs to do is pull the trigger and follow through.
When is the Mortal Kombat 12 release date?
For now, there’s no official announcement regarding the release of Warner Brothers Games’ Mortal Kombat 12. But with all the leaks from a reputable source (including a recent job listing), and fans itching for a big reveal, we can expect the next fighting game from developer Netherrealm Studios to arrive sooner than later.
Rumours suggested that the studio’s next game would be revealed at The Game Awards 2021. But that never happened. Thankfully, Ed Boon, NRS Studios’ creative director, did provide an update to a fan about their next project:
“Really appreciate the enthusiasm for our next game and wish we were ready to announce,” said Boon. “But we aren’t yet. Many more variables involved than we are allowed to disclose.”
It’s a little vague but new leaks for Mortal Kombat 12 suggest that the game will have a very large fighter roster (of 50 kombatants apparently). Further to that, there are also rumours that it will just be the base game from MK11 with Mortal Kombat characters from previous games added. Let’s hope it isn’t another story expansion or Kombat Pack.
Of course, there’s the accidental reveal by NetherRealm Studio’s Jonathan Andersen (Senior Production Manager) too. See the now-deleted image that was seen in the tweet below (a photo of his desk with artworks for Mortal Kombat and Injustice games):
One file appears to be listed as “MK12_Master”. Also, if you look closer, you’ll see a glimpse at an email on the computer with the following snippets from a paragraph: “Do not” … “share any part of this video, nor any” … “our fans eagerly scrape the internet for any trace” … “take extra care with this material”.
And then there is the time Ed Boon trolled fans with a Shaolin Monks sequel.
For now, we’ll just have to wait and see. It might still be in early development. Maybe we’ll get an Injustice 3 first. It’s still an uncertainty. Either way, the next Mortal Kombat game could be very different. Your move, WB Games (Warner Bros. Discovery).