Street Fighter V isn’t the only fighting game we’re getting this early on in the year – though it’s enjoyed a bit more fanfare. Coming hot on the heels of Capcom’s latest is Mortal Kombat XL, which isn’t strictly speaking a sequel but rather an ‘ultimate edition’ of last year’s well-received Mortal Kombat X.
Mortal Kombat X has two main draws: core/balancing updates and new content. The core/balancing updates aren’t unique to the XL edition, as they feature game updates that have been released for the regular Mortal Kombat X game in the months after it was released. If you already own (and still play) that game, you won’t notice any difference here. For everyone else – or those who stopped playing early on – the game balance tweaks are noticeable. The roster feels balanced in terms of characters and playing styles evening each other out, making this feel like a more mature version of an already finely crafted fighting experience. The XL version is also said to have some better optimized netcode, although the original game also performed fine in online matches as far as we remember.
The main draw, however, is the new content that comes with the XL version. There’s a new stage (inspired by the original Mortal Kombat’s The Pit stage) and a few costumes, but the main draw are the new characters. Also released as separate DLC packages, the roster additions are a real treat for horror movie fans. Available to play are Friday the 13th’s Jason and Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Leatherface, two iconic horror franchise characters. Leaning a bit more towards the sci-fi side of things are the Alien and Predator – and all four are now part of the standard roster.
The XL package comes with additional characters that haven’t been inspired by movie franchises as well, with Tanya, Tremor, Bo Rai Cho and Triborg added into the mix as well. These four stem from the Mortal Kombat universe and are a natural fit to the game, but it’s a testament to how well the game has been balanced that this can also be said for the aforementioned crossover characters. Sure, knowing about their ‘careers’ prior to Mortal Kombat XL makes them feel like outsiders, but none of the four characters feel like novelty acts and blend well with the rest of the roster. A lot of your enjoyment (and preference) will depend on your like – or dislike – of the source material, but having an Alien vs Predator matchup never felt fairer than it does here.
Looking back at Street Fighter V’s release, it’s worth pointing out that Mortal Kombat XL has a roster of almost 40 fighters available – so there is excellent value for money here. There is also a great deal of background lore and little tidbits that tie into the Mortal Kombat legacy – as is the case with most games in the franchise. What’s a little disappointing is that the game – despite its XL moniker – still gives you the option to buy more DLC content in the shape of costumes. It’s common practice these days, but for the XL version we were really hoping for a ‘complete edition’. We’ll have to settle for ‘extremely content rich’ instead.
The new content, along with the optimizations that come with the patches that have been included, easily make this the most complete and polished version of Mortal Kombat X that you can get. It’s more than just a version that was bundled with post-release DLC content, although you can get the balance tweaks without grabbing XL. This makes Mortal Kombat XL a hard sell for anyone who already has the original game, as the extra content isn’t worth the price of admission and can be gotten cheaper as DLC. If you held off on Mortal Kombat X (perhaps awaiting an ‘ultimate’ version), then this is the perfect opportunity to grab one of the best fighting games on the market – and a far more complete experience than Street Fighter V is at the moment.