Hard to believe, but it’s been three weeks since the Mortal Kombat 1 Gameplay Reveal Trailer stole the show at the Summer Game Fest. The recently-ended Stress Test for Mortal Kombat 1 was a much-talked-about success.
Ed Boon has been making the Mortal Kombat 1 interview rounds, but as per Ed Boon’s usual, he has been careful and cryptic about what he says. While he’s dropped plenty of hints, it’s been a while since we’ve gotten any concrete new info about Mortal Kombat 1.
Your wait will be well rewarded. The first Kombat Kast will kick off next Thursday, July 6th @ 10:00AM PT / 12:00PM CT. Join us for a discussion on Kameos, full gameplay breakdowns of Scorpion & Johnny Cage, and more. #MK1 pic.twitter.com/Dr8lw3TaOK
— Mortal Kombat 1 (@MortalKombat) June 30, 2023
Netherrealm recently added character bios to the Mortal Kombat 1 website, shedding a bit more information about the backstory of the characters in Mortal Kombat 1. There have been some notable changes to a few characters’ backstories, and it will be interesting to see what else is different in Liu Kang’s New Era.
With the first Mortal Kombat 1 Kombat Kast coming July 6, now’s the perfect time to go over every Main roster and Kameo roster character revealed so far. We’ll keep you updated as Netherrealm introduces more kombatants.
Formerly the Chosen One and now God of Fire Protector of Earthrealm, Liu Kang used Kronika’s Hourglass to restart a better history for everyone. Now, he stands vigilant as protector of Earthrealm while allowing those within the realms to decide their own fates. Matthew Yang King is returning in the role.
Interestingly enough, Liu Kang introduced himself to a Kung Lao in Aftermath’s ending as God of Fire and Thunder. Now, he only refers to himself as the God of Fire.
Gameplay-wise, you can still see some electricity in Liu Kang’s moves, but it looks like Liu Kang may have passed on most of his God of Thunder powers back to Raiden.
Bi-Han is back in the role of Sub-Zero, and it appears there’s no longer a need to add Elder before Sub-Zero (More on this later). New Era Bi-Han is doing better than his former self, as he is now the Grandmaster of the Lin Kuei.
Based on his bio, a few intros, and some of his kombat dialogue, Bi-Han may have taken some pages from Sektor’s playbook. His father was previously the Grandmaster, but that mantle became Bi-Han’s after his death. However, Bi-Han is giving off strong patricide vibes, matching Sektor’s own murder of his father to claim control of the Lin Kuei.
It may be a New Era, but Bi-Han’s desire for power and tendency to lean into committing actions less than honorable, this new Bi-Han still seems set on putting himself on the path that leads to the Lin Kuei’s heel turn and him becoming Noob Saibot. There’s nothing to suggest if the iconic Netherrealm version of Bi-Han will exist in the New Era (Yet), but I wouldn’t be surprised.
One of the most shocking changes revealed about Mortal Kombat 1 so far was the revelation that Sub-Zero and Scorpion are brothers in the New Era. Initially, that led to confusion about whether Kuai Liang is now Scorpion or if it’s still Hanzo, but he and Bi-Han are cool now.
The latter doesn’t make sense, as Hanzo is Japanese, and Bi-Han and Kuai Liang are Chinese and White. But given Scorpion’s bio, Kenshi’s mentioning of Kuai Liang in an intro with Liu Kang, and the fact that Sub-Zero and Scorpion look virtually identical, it’s safe to assume Kuai Liang is Scorpion.
That does invoke questions of what happened to Hanzo Hasashi and how fellow cryomancer Kuai Liang now boasts fire powers (After all, Hanzo’s hellfire powers stemmed from his time as a specter, and he kept them after his revival). But it seems Kuai Liang is keeping his more heroic and honorable personality which may put him into conflict with his brother, who is all too willing to lean into grey moral territory.
Unsurprisingly, Kitana is making a return in the New Era. Kari Wahlgren is portraying her yet again. Liu Kang’s role as Keeper of Time and immortal Protector of Earthrealm makes their romance seem far less plausible now.
Her relationship with Liu Kang isn’t the only different thing. Kitana’s family has grown by one in the New Era, Netherrealm confirming that Mileena in the New Era is Kitana’s genuine older twin sister. Kitana in the New Era is more or less what Jade was to her in the previous era, serving as Mileena’s trusted bodyguard.
Mileena has a dark secret in this timeline, and it could shake up the royal family and Mileena’s role as Empress. Kitana does what she can to protect her sister, but some things may no longer be in her hands.
The unexpected hero of the NRS reboot trilogy, Johnny Cage, is back. Andrew Bowen is returning as Johnny’s iconic voice actor.
Liu Kang’s New Era has changed much, including when these familiar kombatants were born. Johnny Cage is now in his prime in the modern day, rather than a man in his mid-50s. We should expect plenty of social media references from the now-millennial Johnny Cage.
Of all the characters revealed so far, Johnny seems to be the least unchanged (At least from what we’ve seen so far). He’s an action movie star whose star is fading. The coming Earthrealm crisis might be just what Johnny needs to reignite his career.
3D-era favorite Kenshi Takahashi is returning, and his fans are no doubt excited, as it looks like Kenshi will finally have a chapter in an NRS-era Mortal Kombat game.
Kenshi’s new backstory in the New Era looks interesting. Those who noticed Kenshi’s heavily tattooed hands in the Gameplayer Reveal trailer probably already called this, but Kenshi is now a member of the Yakuza. The Takahashi bloodline fell from grace centuries ago. Once one of Japan’s most revered families, battle killed or scattered most of the Takahashi clan. The remnants joined the Bakuto, an early version of the modern-day Yakuza.
Midway and NRS-era Kenshi both had issues with the criminal underworld, so seeing him now a part of it is a bit of a shock. His bio suggests he will be looking to redeem himself and restore the glory of the Takahashi name but forging a different and better path for himself. His first step will be reclaiming his family’s sword, Sento.
Kenshi’s backstory is very similar to that of the reboot trilogy era Kung Lao, who always heard stories of the legendary Great Kung Lao and sought to restore the Lao name. Regardless, Kenshi is looking to be a very interesting character.
Liu Kang’s best friend, Kung Lao. has changed greatly in the New Era. He’s no longer a Shaolin. Instead lives a simple life as a farmer in the village of Fengjian. That is until Fire God Liu Kang seeks Kung out as one of Earthrealm’s chosen champions.
Kung Lao isn’t completely different. Sunil Malhotra is returning as Kung Lao, but Lao doesn’t seem nearly as cocky as his Mortal Kombat 11 counterpart. His bio indicates he’s still looking for glory and for his life to have far more meaning than just existing.
They finally did it. After many years of Mileena secretly (Or openly) wanting to be family with Kitana, Netherrealm did it. Mileena is now the older twin sister of Kitana in the New Era. Kari Wahlgren is returning to the role.
The obvious question is how Mileena is the twin of Kitana since she has always been a half-Edenian, half-Tarkatan clone of Kitana. Well, NRS is keeping the Tarkatan part around, only they’ve changed it so that Mileena now suffers from the Tarkat disease. The redheaded stepsister of vampirism and lycanthropy, the Tarkat disease presumably turns people into Tarkatans.
Mileena is now heir to the Outworld throne (Another win for Mileena fans), but her Tarkat disease risks ruining her life and her chance to rule as Empress; that’s if her implied impulsiveness doesn’t do that first.
In past Mortal Kombat games, Mileena’s desire to be part of a family instead of everyone viewing her as a monster was always the glimmer of light in the otherwise mostly villainous character. But you know how the saying goes, we don’t appreciate what we have until we lose it. With Mileena now already having the family that previous iterations of the character longed for, what is New Era Mileena’s anchor that will keep him from treading the same dark path she has before?
There will be no consulting with the Elder Gods in the New Era.
At least not now.
After decades as the Protector of Earthrealm and God of Thunder, Netherrealm has changed Raiden. After merging with Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat 11, Raiden’s time as a demigod is over. He has returned in the New Era as a mortal, fellow Fengjian resident, and close friend of Kung Lao.
Raiden once again has his thunder powers and is also wearing his amulet from the previous timeline. Unsurprisingly, Raiden has seemingly swapped roles with Liu Kang entirely, with Raiden’s bio listing him as Champion of Earthrealm.
Funnily enough, Raiden’s bio sounds more like Midway-era Kung Lao than anyone else. Midway Kung Lao was the initial White Lotus representative in Mortal Kombat 1, but Kung Lao turned down the role because he preferred living a quiet life of peace. Raiden’s Mortal Kombat 1 bio suggests he is largely the same. Regardless, Raiden will rise to the occasion and help Earthrealm’s fellow champions defend it from threats.
One of the biggest changes to Raiden, and a saddening one, is that Richard Epcar is no longer voicing the character. After over ten legendary years as the God of Thunder, the mantle has passed to another in the New Era.
It wouldn’t be Mortal Kombat 1 without the first big bad in the series.
Shang Tsung does not have an official bio yet, but the first Mortal Kombat 1 trailer ended with Shang Tsung murdering nearly everyone except Raiden before Liu Kang brutally kills him. He will be a pre-order bonus for Mortal Kombat 1.
Historically speaking, pre-order characters are not the main villains of Mortal Kombat games (MKX’s Goro and MK 11’s Shao Khan), so it seems unlikely Shang Tsung will be the main villain of Mortal Kombat 1. And that’s okay, as him just being here as a fighter for fans to enjoy is good enough.
Where there is smoke, there is fire, and where there is Mortal Kombat 1, there is Smoke.
Fan favorite Lin Kuei, Smoke is finally back. Unless you count MKX’s Triborg, this will be the first time Smoke is playable in over a decade.
MK9 gave Smoke a human form and a voice, but the character, unfortunately, had little story relevance before Sindel killed him and left him a background revenant in MKX and entirely absent in MK11.
Smoke has a lot of room for experimentation and new characterization. In the Midway era, he spent almost all his time as the brainwashed Cyber/Noob Smoke and was barely around in the first NRS era. Hopefully, the New Era has a better fate for Smoke.
New Era Smoke was left an orphan after the Lin Kuei killed his family after they accidentally stepped into Lin Kuei territory. Out of shame, the Grandmaster raised Smoke alongside his trueborn sons, Sub-Zero and Scorpion.
The demigod son of Argus (Rain) makes his fourth consecutive appearance in NRS-era Mortal Kombat games. The Lin Kuei trailer shows Rain coming to blows with the Lin Kuei and showing off his trademark water magic.
What’s most interesting about Rain is his bio. It lists Rain as a student of Outworld’s Imperial School of Sorcery and makes no mention of his original Edenian halfgod heritage. Now High Mage of Outworld, Rain is up to his usual tricks and cravings for more power.
A 3D-era fan-favorite is finally back. After a brief appearance in MKX as an NPC, Li Mei will be playable again for the first time in 17 years.
Having debuted in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Li Mei garnered quite the following despite her relative irrelevance in the story. She infamously became the first fighter to die in Armageddon courtesy of Hotaru and wasn’t seen much since.
NRS has brought her back and drastically altered her backstory. Originally an Outworld villager who rebelled against evildoers like Kano and Shang Tsung, Li Mei plays a much greater role in the New Era. Li Mei was once the leader of the Umgadi, a group of warrior priestesses who guard the Royal Family.
One day, something went wrong and resulted in the death of Jerrod. Li Mei was apparently to blame. This resulted in Li Mei quitting the Umgadi and joining Outworld’s capital police force. But Li Mei hasn’t forgotten her Umgadi roots, and hopes to one day redeem herself.
After her well-received appearance in MKX and abscence in MK11, Tanya is back in Mortal Kombat 1’s New Era.
Like Li Mei, Tanya has received a drastic background alteration. She’s spent the last two decades as a trecherous, self-interested foe who occassionally does things in the best interests of Edenia and not just herself. But mostly, she’s only been interested in herself.
Tanya, in the New Era, is a member of the Umgadi and became leader of the organization after Li Mei quit. When Li Mei resurfaces, tensions spark as Tanya feels Li Mei unworthy to call herself Umgadi anymore.
Fiercely dedicated to her job in general and Mileena in particular, her continued bond with Mileena risks costing Tanya everything if discovered.
Baraka fans, rejoice. Everyone’s favorite Mortal Kombat jobber might be more than that in the New Era; a lot more.
Having debuted 30 years ago in Mortal Kombat 2, Baraka is a classic character and staple of the franchise. Unfortunately for the Tarkatan warrior, he’s spent most of that time as an Outworld thug with little characterization besides being loyal to Shao Khan.
Mortal Kombat 11 gave the Tarkatans a little bit of love, with Kitana forging an alliance with Baraka and his people and making him a partner rather than a minion. It would still be hard to call Baraka a fleshed-out character. If his Mortal Kombat 1 bio is any indication, Baraka might have an actual story to tell this time around.
NRS has made significant changes to the Mortal Kombat franchise in Mortal Kombat 1. One of the biggest changes is altering Tarkatans from being a race to people inflicted with the Tarkat disease. Visually and physically, those with Tarkat disease look the same as Tarkatans from the previous Era. But what’s different is those inflicted with Tarkat, apparently, will inevitably lose their minds. They won’t just look like monsters; they will become monsters.
Baraka was once an Outworld merchant before catching Tarkat. Forced to leave the capital city and live in a colony with the other afflicted, Baraka entered a colony barely keeping itself together. Now fueled by a desire to make the lives of his people better, Baraka has become a leader to those with the Tarkat disease. These are his people now, and he will fight for them.
The Kameo Roster is separate from the Main Roster. Players select a Kameo fighter after selecting their main fighter.
Netherrealm has revealed a few details about the Kameo system already, including the fact that some Main Roster characters (Like Sub-Zero and Scorpion) double as Kameo characters and that some Kameo characters will be Story Mode only. What seems to be a recurring theme with Kameo characters so far is that they pay homage to past eras of Mortal Kombat.
All Kameo-only characters we’ve seen are wearing their 90s-era outfits, which is a treat for long-time fans.