Should Mortal Kombat 11 bring back Variations or is this Mortal Kombat X combat system just too overwhelming?

Hate 'em or love 'em, Mortal Kombat X's Variations could be the foundation for the franchise's next installment

Posted by Steven 'Dreamking23' Chavez • June 5, 2018 at 7:34 p.m. PDT

We are right on the precipice of another stacked E3. This year's event should be huge for us fighting game fans, as there are a bevy of exciting fighting titles on the market right now with more on the way.

One game that everyone is expecting to see announced by next week is the next installment in NetherRealm Studios' blockbuster gore-fest, Mortal Kombat. A potential "Mortal Kombat 11" is on the tips of the tongues of the masses due to the developer's pattern for announcing and releasing their fighting games.

We've been seeing both Mortal Kombat and Injustice alternate in their announcements and release in recent years. With Injustice 2 having been out since May of last year, and NetherRealm's tendency to announce a new game around E3 time, a new Mortal Kombat seems likely to be revealed next week.

With that in mind, we can only wonder what new facets we can expect to see if Mortal Kombat 11 indeed comes to fruition. Looking back at its predecessor, Mortal Kombat X, one of the major system mechanics found in the game was the Variation system.

Each character came equipped with three different styles that players could choose from at the character select screen. These Variations provided the fighter with a handful of unique tools to utilize in battle and gave them options to aid in dealing with bad match ups and added a new flavor to an already solid contender.

With the foundation for Variations already built, we could see the system make a return and expanded upon in a potential Mortal Kombat 11. But should Variations return?

The good

If there's anything that cannot be denied about Mortal Kombat X's Variation system, it's that it gives players options. Having three different styles to choose from, each adding new special moves and techniques in exchange for others, really does give players great options to choose from.

Say your favorite character is Sub-Zero, and you happen to play best with characters that have great corner control. Opting for the Grandmaster variation gives you access to his classic Ice Klone special attack, which makes for great pressure and set ups when your opponent has their back up against the wall.

But what if you love the frosty ninja and you fight better defensively? The Unbreakable variation offers tools to better deal with zoning-based fighters and ways to lessen the damage and chip damage you take.

In my experience, Mortal Kombat X's Variations effectively did what they set out to do as the traits were varied and helped alter my playstyle to better face troublesome situations — for the most part.

The not so good

In any competitive fighting game, the best characters and strategies tend to rise to the top. Mortal Kombat X and its Variations specifically were not immune to this trend.

While we did see many variations represented at high levels, there were some styles for characters that were just much better use than the others. As a result, there were Variations that fell by the wayside and were sometimes deemed nearly useless.

Alien proved to be a dominant force in Mortal Kombat XL with variations such as Acidic and Tarkatan. These two options were so good in their rushdown — which is a strong trait for Alien — that we didn't see Konjurer in play quite as much.

The overwhelming

Many modern fighting titles have made it a point to better incorporate newcomers into the fold. Games like Bandai Namco / Arc System Works' Dragon Ball FighterZ features a simple combo mechanic — which can be activated by repeatedly pressing a single attack button — that let's new players perform big, flashy combos at the expense of damage that isn't quite optimized.

There's a big push these days to make fighting games friendlier to casual audiences while retaining their depth for hardcore competitor appeal. Mortal Kombat X's Variation system doesn't just give players a lot of options, but it also increases the amount of match ups in the game immensely.

To get an idea of just how much is going on in the Mortal Kombat X match up department, take a quick look at our tiers section. With this game, you're not just learning how Alien stacks up against Shinnok; you're learning how Alien (Acidic), Alien (Takartan) and Alien (Konjurer) do against Shinnok (Necromancer), Shinnok (Imposter), and Shinnok (Bone Shaper).

Being prepared for three potentially different match ups for each of the game's 33 characters is no easy task, and though you probably won't have to know everything about each one to play competitively, even getting started in this area could prove difficult for new players.

At the end of the day, Mortal Kombat X's Variations give players a lot of options to choose from, but might create too many possibilities and deter newcomers due to the learning curve. Perhaps there is some sort of middle ground between what we know Variations to be and none at all, or NetherRealm Studios could have an all new system in mind — if Mortal Kombat 11 is a real thing.

Do you want to see Variations return in Mortal Kombat 11? Let us know in the comments below.

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