Mortal Kombat 1’s new Invasion mode is a board game-like RPG

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Mortal Kombat 1’s new Invasion mode is a board game-like RPG

Explore maps, unlock loot, complete mini-games and take on multi-realm kombatants in this new addition to the franchise. 

The time to finish them is near once again. While Mortal Kombat 1 is the twelfth entry in the long-running series, NetherRealm Studios has managed to find a way to recreate the iconic fighter yet again, forging a new era for the franchise after the events of Mortal Kombat 11.

Upon sitting down for some dedicated hands-on time with the game’s story mode and all-new Invasion mode, I discovered a fighter that embodies everything that makes Mortal Kombat the series that has earned a dedicated fanbase and molds it into something new, packing in a cinematic, twist-filled story, new modes and gameplay mechanics. It’ll be a must for anyone who’s found themselves quoting that iconic line “Finish Them!” over the years. So get over here, and read on for more details. 

A cinematic tale for a new era

A new Mortal Kombat title means a new story mode: hours of entertainment for anyone ready to enter a new realm. These games have become known for hosting some of the best movie-like story modes in gaming, and Mortal Kombat 1 is no different.

Mortal Kombat 1 isn’t just a new era in name alone. The game occurs in a fresh timeline created by the newly crowned Fire God, Liu Kang. Characters’ roles have switched, and designs changed, such as Kuai Liang—The second Sub Zero— being the Scorpion of this world. Starting as soon as the first chapter, which I could fully explore, these surprises made themselves evident. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there are many jaw-dropping moments, with Ed Boon even teasing the wildest ending in franchise history.

An RPG in my Mortal Kombat

Invasion is a new mode where you explore a board game-like map that I found to be a welcome addition. In it, I took my party of characters on an adventure where I could level them up, equip them with tons of loot, and take on hordes of enemies while unlocking new areas across the map.

Invasion mode isn’t just there for a good time. While traveling the realms, you’ll find yourself unlocking in-game kurrency, concept art, and more goodies you can enjoy in other modes.

As with Factions, Towers, and similar modes in past Mortal Kombat titles, NetherRealm Studios promises a constantly updated experience with Invasion. As the title states, the mode is based around different enemies and factions invading other realms in an attempt to konquer them, such as a Scorpion from a different reality invading the new era. Invaders will make themselves known throughout the game’s lifespan, and with each comes a new challenge, more traversing, and more unlockables to acquire. 

The greatest surprise of Invasion is how well NetherRealm has used it as a love letter to the entirety of Mortal Kombat. While exploring each map, you’ll run into different minigames, such as classic Arcade Towers to take on and others like Test Your Might. These are excellent ways to break up the pace of random encounters and discovering keys to continue the journey.

Battles for true kombatants

This time around, you’ll not be fighting alone. Mortal Kombat 1 introduces an assisting partner as a main battle mechanic that can be used throughout each of your bouts. These side characters can’t be tagged into, but at the press of a button will jump in for a few seconds to throw out an attack to aid you in battle. You can use them to grab, throw projectiles, extend combos, and even help out for an X-Ray or Fatality finisher if the situation calls for it. They look cool and add a new layer to Mortal Kombat, not seen since the tag team mode of Mortal Kombat (2011).

With Mortal Kombat’s reality resetting again, the characters have followed suit. This allows NetherRealm to provide new styles to old faces and even bring back some faces we haven’t seen for some time, like Li Mei and Havik. This gives the series a breath of fresh air and makes for a roster with nothing but diverse playstyles.

The game offers some nice audio cues to help during the midst of battle through the DualSense controller: players will hear when the battle begins, their health is low, and different meters fill during fights. 

You can be at the helm of Earthrealm’s protective forces alongside Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, Li Mei, and more klassic characters when Mortal Kombat 1 hits PlayStation 5 on September 14.

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