WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath.
Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath holds a lot of winding roads as the Fire God Liu Kang and a depowered Raiden send Shang Tsung, Fujin, and Nightwolf to the past to recover Kronika’s crown so they can reshape history properly. Of course, that leads to a lot of betrayals, with Shang Tsung’s deadly alliance trying to get the crown for themselves.
This leads to quite a few familiar faces appearing in the story mode on either side of the fight. However, after being set up in prime positions, many iconic characters fall by the wayside.
Shang Tsung’s initial crew starts off by aiming to purge Sindel of her Revenant form in the Soul Chamber, leading to Sheeva helping them. She takes down Baraka and Erron Black in the process, but they never reappear to try to steal Sindel back. They aren’t killed or thrown in the Acid Pit, so they should have either gone to Kitana Kahn to reveal what was happening or joined her legion when they sailed over the Sea of Blood to attack Kronika’s Keep. Erron’s a relatively new face, but Baraka is someone fans have loved since the second Mortal Kombat game. Fans wanted him in MKX, but he was left out only to be swapped in here, while his former consort, Mileena, was omitted. With this being a highly-anticipated return, fans hoped he would factor in big time.
This mistake happens again when Shang Tsung, Fujin, and Nightwolf actually get the crown, with Noob Saibot being beaten and disappearing totally. He’s a cult favorite as a Revenant version of the original Sub-Zero, so many expected him to face his brother and the other heroes. Even in the Garden, where Raiden and Liu Kang of the past are told of their mission, the story mode wastes key faces.
The fellowship here includes Kung Lao, Scorpion, and Sub-Zero, but the latter two ninjas totally drop off the scene for the raid on Kronika. Raiden joins Fujin’s crew, while Liu Kang and Kung Lao link up with Kitana’s rebels, but shockingly, two of the franchise’s signature players don’t factor into the final fight. Scorpion and Sub-Zero would have turned the tide, so it appears they’re axed to make sure the rebels aren’t too powered up.
Eventually, when the rebellion reaches Kronika’s island, Jade, Jax and Jacqui Briggs (who are leading Special Forces) aren’t seen again. We’re just left to imagine them fighting off Shao Kahn’s legion after he and Sindel take over Kitana’s ship and reveal themselves as Shang Tsung’s true allies who want to remake history with a sinister twist. What’s also disappointing here is that, while we see Revenant Liu Kang trying to defend Kronika’s Keep, his legs are broken before he could even fight Raiden, as Shao Kahn has smashed him up on the ship.
With the younger Liu Kang damaged, the older Revenant is broken too, but the story just drops both of them right after. Kung Lao’s thrown into the sea and Kitana’s imprisoned, but (for some reason) Liu Kang’s forgotten. It’s disappointing because Revenant Kitana helps guard Kronika at the end, so one has to wonder why so many big names prior would be assembled and then ignored. With the Fire God in the future, Liu Kang is definitely missed in the battlefield.
The Cage family is also taken prisoner by Shao Kahn and sent to breeding camps, but they could have been great leverage here as hostages. Ultimately, all these players don’t have to factor into the crown’s arc, but they could have been more than just glorified cameos. Fans had hoped to see them unleashing hell and really adding to the cinematic value of the story mode, but instead, these characters were underwhelming and felt disconnected from the game as a whole.
Developed by NetherRealm Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Mortal Kombat 11 is available now for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows and Google Stadia. Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath is now on sale digitally.
Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath's story mode makes a big mistake by wasting the potential of some of the franchise's most iconic characters.