Mortal Kombat 11: Beginners Tips & Tricks

Mortal Kombat 11 is now available for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch (Switch version available on Friday 10th May in EU), and a tremendous promotion campaign that included a number of badass trailers is likely to have enticed in a number of newcomers to the series. Mortal Kombat is a very difficult game for new players to get in to, with the higher levels of play requiring both the memory of rain man to remember the sheer volume of moves and combos available, and the reaction speed and acute timing of a god to pull them off.

Unfortunately, the only way to master Mortal Kombat is to read the in-game move lists, try and remember them, spend time with your favoured characters, learn how to “Frame Trap”, and practice, practice, practice. If you’re here to try and master Mortal Kombat then move along, that is not what this guide is designed for. This guide is here to ease new players (or maybe returning players from the old school days of MK) into the game with a number of beginners tips and tricks that will help you get well on your way to being competitive and mastering the game. It’s useful to note that Mortal Kombat 11 does provide a very lengthy and in-depth in-game tutorial that features most of these tips, but if you can’t be arsed with any of that nonsense then read on. Let’s begin.

Know the basic moves

Okay, obvious tip number one. You don’t need to know all of the fantastically fancy and gruesome combo’s and special moves straight off the bat, so don’t get caught up in reading the moves list and trying to remember 8-button combinations. What you do need to know are the basic moves so that you can actually put up some kind of offence. I’ve added the basic controls for each platform below.

Move Button
Front Punch Square (PS4), X (Xbox One), Y (Nintendo Switch), J (PC)
Back Punch Triangle (PS4), Y (Xbox One), X (Nintendo Switch), I (PC)
Front Kick X (PS4), A (Xbox One), B (Nintendo Switch), K (PC)
Back Kick Circle (PS4), B (Xbox One), A (Nintendo Switch), L (PC)
Throw L1 (PS4), LB (Xbox One), L (Nintendo Switch), Space (PC)
Block R2 (PS4), RT (Xbox One), ZR (Nintendo Switch), O (PC)
Interact R1 (PS4), RB (Xbox One), R (Nintendo Switch), ; (PC)
Flip Stance L2 (PS4), LT (Xbox One), ZL (Nintendo Switch), U (PC)

Your standard moves are pretty basic and self explanatory. You can aim these basic attacks low by holding Down as you use them, and you can also use them in the air by pressing Up and using them, but remember that jumping and attacking leaves you vulnerable. Throw’s are a great way to get in some substantial damage with relative ease – you’ll need to be close to pull off a Throw, and they can’t be blocked (more on blocking later), but your opponent can escape from one using a Throw Escape (more on that later too).

Pay attention to your Attack and Defense Gauges

As well as your traditional Health gauge, you now also have both an Attack and Defense Gauge, which are visible in the bottom corner of the screen, with the Attack Gauge indicated by a sword and the Defense Gauge indicated by a shield. Certain moves (some of which are included further down in this guide) cost either a portion or all of one or both of these gauges to pull off, so keep an eye on your gauges and know how full they are at all times. For example, a Getup Attack (see ‘Use Getup moves’) uses up half of both your Attack and Defense Gauges, so if one of your gauges is empty you won’t be able to pull off a Getup Attack. These gauges do refill over time.

Use Dash

Easy and effective, Dash is something that could be easily overlooked. Press either forwards or back (depending which way you want to go) twice in quick succession and your character will quickly step in that direction, either avoiding an attack or quickly moving in closer to an opponent that is trying to escape. This is much quicker and more effective than simply holding the direction that you want to move and can quickly create some distance between you and your opponent, or catch them off guard and give you that perfect window of opportunity to get in some offence.

Always duck when blocking

It’s easy to get carried away on a game that encourages so much violence and forget that there’s a block button. Learning to use your block button regularly is one of the first things you should learn as a new player, because if you’re struggling to do much damage then you need to be able to reduce the amount of damage taken. Blocking doesn’t negate damage completely, but it does reduce it. The key to blocking is anticipating when your opponent is going to attack and whether they’re going to attack from above or not – that’s easier said than done, so ALWAYS duck when blocking by default. Ducking while blocking will block High, Mid, and Low Attacks, so you’ll only be left vulnerable to Overhead Attacks, which can only be blocked when standing. Thankfully, Overhead Attacks take a tad longer to execute, so if you duck and block by default you’ll have a chance to change into a standing block.

Use Throw Escapes

Following on from my point earlier on in this guide, Throw’s are strong pieces of offense that can’t be blocked, but your opponent can perform a Throw Escape to get out of them. That same principle applies to you though – to perform a Backwards Throw Escape, simply press either Front Kick or Front Punch immediately after being grabbed by your opponent; to perform a Towards Throw Escape, press either Back Kick or Back Punch immediately after being grabbed. Performing a Throw Escape is easy if you know how (after all, it is just remembering to press one button as you get grabbed) and it can prevent you taking some crucial damage.

Use Getup moves

If you get knocked down, you’re vulnerable to enemy attacks as you’re standing up. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid getting your head kicked in as you’re trying to get up. If you simply want to get out of the way, you can perform a Getup Roll to roll either past or away from your opponent as you get up, at the cost of half of your Defense Gauge. To perform a Getup Roll, simply hold the Flip Stance button and push the direction that you wish to roll (either forward or backwards) as your character is getting to their feet. The Forward Getup Roll is particularly useful if you’ve been backed into a corner, allowing you to switch positions with your opponent. Additionally, you can even perform a Delayed Getup where you intentionally stay on the ground for a split second longer, which is particularly useful against annoying opponents who won’t let you get up off the ground, causing them to miss their attack and giving you a window of opportunity to get up. To perform a Delayed Getup, simply hold Flip Stance when your character is knocked down; please note that you cannot perform a Getup Attack (see below) or a Getup Roll after a Delayed Getup.

Getup Attacks are also available, allowing you to hit your opponent on the way up, doing damage to them and giving yourself a bit of space at the sacrifice of half of both your Attack and Defense Gauges. There are two types of Getup Attacks available to you: the first is done by pressing Up and Back Punch at the same time as your character is getting to their feet, this will perform the more aggressive Getup Attack that, if landed correctly, will launch your opponent into the air, setting them up for a potential Juggle Kombo (mid-air combo). The second Getup Attack is performed by pressing Up and Front Kick at the same time as your character is getting to their feet, this attack will make you briefly invulnerable but will not set up a Juggle Kombo, so it’s best used against an overly aggressive opponent as a means to get back to your feet.

Use your Fatal Blow wisely

Fatal Blows are a great new inclusion in Mortal Kombat 11 that help new players be more competitive. If your health falls below 30%, you’re granted a Fatal Blow, which will be indicated beneath your health bar. Fatal Blows are gruesome attacks that do considerable damage to an opponent, usually around 25%-30% of their health bar, so using one at the right time can be pivotal. To use your Fatal Blow, you need to press the Block and Flip Stance buttons together when near to your opponent (LT & RT/L2 & R2 on Xbox One/PS4). It’s important to use your Fatal Blow at the right time, as it can only be used once per match, so don’t waste it in a round when it’s not going to make any difference to the outcome. If you’re in a close round and you’re both close to that 30% mark and your Fatal Blow is available, then using it could win you the round or get you very close to it, but if you’ve been pummeled and your opponent is still on full health then you’ll be better off accepting your fate for that round and waiting to see if your Fatal Blow will come in more useful in the next round. Of course, if you’re being pummeled and losing the round means losing the match then you may as well use your Fatal Blow to try and save yourself. Please note that Fatal Blows can be blocked, so don’t try and use it if your opponent is stood blocking as it’ll leave you vulnerable. If your Fatal Blow is blocked or you miss your opponent entirely then you won’t lose it, but it’ll take a short time to recharge before you can try and use it again.

Use Environment Interactions

Environment Interactions are great, easy ways to either do some quick damage to your opponent or get yourself out of trouble quickly with the tap of just one button. Throughout each stage are various parts of the environment that you can interact with, either by using something as a weapon or hurling your opponent into something. When you’re close enough to an item that can be used it’ll start to glow white, indicating that you can use it to your advantage. Simply press the Interact button for a chance to do some free damage. Environment Interactions are often available in the corners of the arena and can be a great tool to get yourself out of danger if you’ve been cornered by your opponent. In some cases, these corner Environment Interactions allow you to run up the wall and jump over your opponents head, turning the tables and backing them into a corner, or you can even press the Interact button followed immediately by the Front Kick button to run up the wall and launch yourself off into an attack. Note that Environment Interactions cost half of your Defensive Gauge to perform.

Do the tutorials

I know this sounds blindingly obvious, but as I mentioned at the top of the article, Mortal Kombat 11 provides a fantastic, in-depth tutorial to help you get to grips with the plethora of tricks and maneuvers that are available to you. Yes, I know that these things are long and boring and you just want to get on with decapitating people, but trust me, you’ll thank me later. The Basic Tutorial through to Advance Defense are absolute musts that will get you well and truly on your way, but things do get decidedly more complicated (and at times confusing) from Frame Data onwards, as the game starts to expect you to memorize precisely how long each fighters moves take to start/finish and learn how to do some very demanding combos. I would advise you to run the Basic Tutorials, Advanced Offense, and Advanced Defense to start with, then get yourself into the action and come back to the other tutorials once you’re comfortable and ready to go further in-depth into MK’s systems, otherwise you’ll just confuse yourself. As well as helping you learn how to play the game, completing all of the tutorials (from Basic Tutorials all the way to Positioning & Resources) will earn you 42,000 Koins and 70 Time Krystals (which can be used to buy items in both the Krypt and the in-game Store), as well as some cosmetic items.

Try using the D-Pad

It feels like a completely archaic way to play a game (it’s 2019, for the love of god!), but when you do decide to delve deeper and learn the more extensive combo’s, using the D-Pad will help you to be much more precise when trying to pull off moves where the quick and accurate press of a particular direction is important. The analog stick is a lot more unforgiving and easy to make a mistake with in this regard, so if you’re struggling then switch to the D-Pad and see if you find it any easier. Give it some time—using analog sticks is our bread and butter these days, the days of the D-Pad are long gone—but stick with it and you may be surprised.

So there you have it, you’ve learned some basic tips and tricks and can now get well on your way to success in Mortal Kombat 11. There are many more things to learn (and it gets a lot more confusing!) but mastering these tips will give you a strong foundation to work from. Have we missed anything that you think should be included? Let me know in the comments below.

Chris is our resident FPS-obsessed football fanatic who, when not playing an FPS or FIFA, can probably be found spending the odd 100 hours or so building his perfect farm on Stardew Valley. Chris comes to you with a hint of cynicism and plenty of sarcasm.

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