A Closer Look at the Fighter Variants of Mortal Kombat X

By now, you’ve probably heard that Mortal Kombat X comes with a huge cast of characters, but what you might not know is that they each actually come in three variants – like Neapolitan ice cream, but bloodier. The variations depend on which character you choose. For example, Scorpion has Ninjitsu, Hellfire, and Inferno variants, whereas Raiden has Thunder God, Displacer, and Master of Storms variants. But the key here is that each variation not only has a different look, but has a different set of moves – and a different play style.

This not only means more depth to your favorite characters, it means it’s harder to predict what style your opponent will use in multiplayer based on who they choose to play. Scorpion’s Ninjitsu mode, for example, adds unique sets of moves that capitalize on the pair of swords he wears on his back. In this mode, his special attacks focus more on direct striking, and benefit from the increased range of the blades. However, in Inferno mode, Scorpion can summon demonic minions to assist him in combat, turning his fighting style from direct attack into more of a standoff and counter-combo style. This means players can master the basic moves from their favorite characters, then learn the specials from each of the three variations, and suddenly have a much wider variety of play styles available to them.

Of course, opponents will be able to perceive which variant a player has chosen. Each variant has clear visual cues that show it off: Reptile’s Noxious variant is surrounded by a persistent poison cloud and buzzing insects, while his Deceptive variant wears no mask, for example. So this isn’t about trickery; it’s about expanding move sets and play styles without having to go through the trouble of mastering the timings, hit boxes, and spacings of two or three entirely new characters. It’s about offering different match-ups easily and quickly without having to worry about whether one character is “weak” against another. It’s about making multiplayer easy, variable, and fun.

Given the huge variety of game modes and challenges in Mortal Kombat X, it’s great to see that developer NetherRealm Studios is allowing players to focus on honing their favorite characters and taking those honed skills to a variety of different stages. It also allows Mortal Kombat vets to draw on some of their familiarity with the legacy characters while still being challenged to learn new tricks and twists, while at the same time giving newcomers the flexibility to take on series experts. In all, the character variants seem like a fantastic stroke of simple genius that should make our favorite brutal fighter all the more multifaceted and accessible at the same time.

Mortal Kombat X hit Xbox One and Xbox 360 this week. Are you ready to test your might?