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Expert tips Mortal Kombat 11 doesn't tell you

April's release of Mortal Kombat 11 brought about the third game of the new NetherRealm reboot series. Featuring a time-centric storyline, young and old versions of popular characters, and some controversial grind mechanics, MK11 has been in the hearts and minds of the gaming community for a while now. What sets it aside from most fighting games, besides its heartfelt, interesting story, is its fantastic tutorial. An in-depth study of MK mechanics, this tutorial takes a look at everything that makes this series tick, and it's necessary to invest some time into it if you have any interest in being a competitive player.

However, like most games, the tutorial doesn't tell you everything you need to know to succeed. There's plenty of information you can only glean by spending hours upon hours with the game. But, if you don't want to do that, here are some expert tips that Mortal Kombat 11 doesn't tell you.

Use Konsumables in the Living Towers

While MK11's story mode is fantastic, it also happens to be quite short. About six hours after you hit that start button, you'll see the end credits, and that means you'll have to find some other fun in this game you paid 60 bucks for. Outside of the story, the best way to gain experience and rewards in the game is through the challenge towers. Mortal Kombat has two different tower modes: Klassic and Towers of Time. While Klassic — an offline mode with five increasingly tough towers — will get you currency and other rewards, you'll likely spend most of your time with the Towers of Time. Throughout these various Towers, some permanent and some revolving on timers, you'll find rare gear, complete challenges, and gain useable items called Konsumables.

Konsumables, which are, well, consumable items, are meant to be used in the Towers of Time. Often, these Towers feature fights with modifiers, making them tougher and often annoying. Some will have you pitted against a strong character like Kano and have a modifier that slowly poisons you, chipping away at your health bar during the match. To offset these modifiers, you should plan on using Konsumables that can help finish a fight faster. Many of these will give you a limited amount of armor, replenish your health, or provide guided projectiles (for example, missiles) that damage your opponent. Don't ignore Konsumables — you'll get a plethora of them, but you should definitely put them to use.

Put a pin in it

To find your footing in the game, especially once you ramp up the difficulty, you'll need a good understanding of special moves, Kombos, and a grouping of moves you're comfortable using in the heat of the moment. If you've played through the extensive tutorial, you understand just how much strategy is actually involved this time around. Between ground and air combos, Amplified moves, and Brutalities, this isn't the same Mortal Kombat from the Midway days. Sure, it's easy enough to consult your move list on the menu screen during an AI match, but that breaks up the flow and becomes time-consuming as you do it over and over. Thankfully, NetherRealm designed an easy way to consult your moves and memorize your favorites: pin them to the game screen.

When looking at your move list, you can actually highlight specific moves you want to commit to memory and "tag" them with a simple button press. After doing so, the button commands for these moves will appear on screen during your match. You can pin up to ten moves at a time, meaning that you can jump into a fight with the goal of memorizing a good chunk of your favorite character's move list.

Forget the Easy Fatalities

Who doesn't love Fatalities? It's highly doubtful that many players pick up MK games in spite of these glorious, gory finishing moves. They've been a staple of the series since its humble beginnings and have reached another level of ridiculousness in the NetherRealm era. Returning from Mortal Kombat X is the ability to unlock Easy Fatalities. Basically, the Easy versions of these finishers eliminate a lot of the conditions that are necessary for pulling them off. With the simple version, you can press one button combo, found in your move list, to execute your character's most brutal move.

There's one caveat about these shortcut moves, though: they require you to spend Easy Fatality Tokens to pull them off. To earn these, you need to spend Time Crystals, the game's premium currency, to unlock them. It's the era of microtransactions, and Mortal Kombat has certainly found its way into the fray. But, here's the thing: NetherRealm made the "normal" Fatalities easier in MK11 than it was in the previous game. Take a minute to learn these finishers for your favorite characters, and you'll never need to buy those tokens. In fact, take note of the previous tip and pin your Fatalities to your screen so you can practice them until your heart's content.

Smash everything in the Krypt

The Krypt can be overwhelming when you drop in for the first time. As you start up the mode, your unnamed character finds himself in the Palace Entrance, surrounding by a couple of large chests (open these immediately, by the way) as well as a myriad of other curiosities and areas to explore. First things first: pick up Shao Kahn's Hammer. Once you grab this from its altar, you'll have it for your entire journey through the weird and wondrous Krypt. So, start swinging it!

Immediately upon receiving the Hammer, you'll start to notice just how much you can smash throughout the different areas. There are breakable walls, meteors that randomly fall from the sky, and pots. Oh, there are so many pots, vases, jugs — basically, items you can shatter that are found everywhere. Smash them all, because they'll usually give you Koins and occasionally other items. While breaking a series of pots will get you just a few Koins (maybe five to ten at most), these will add up if you're using that Hammer whenever possible. Don't be shy, you can't break anything that wasn't designed to be broken. As M. Night Shyamalan famously wrote in Signs, "Swing away."

Be stingy with your Krushing Blows

Remember the X-ray attacks from the last few games? This game features Krushing Blows, which are essentially cinematic animation-based moves that feature similar effects. When pulled off correctly, these moves deal significant damage, potentially shifting the course of a match. But what makes a Krushing Blow so rewarding is the fact that you have to meet certain, very specific criteria to have the ability to activate one. For example, Jax has one called the Double Heat Missile, which only triggers during a combo of six or more hits. It's a tricky move, one that requires quick thinking and even quicker fingers.

That's not all that makes them difficult to master. Even once you meet that criteria, you can only use a specific Krushing Blow once per match, and then it's locked until the fight is over. Because of this, you need to be strategic about when to utilize them, as they really can have a huge impact on your opponent. A Krushing Blow could be the difference between a win and a loss, but only if you connect at the right time. Learn the moves, the specific stipulations surrounding them, commit it all to memory, and then start to focus on the strategy behind them. Be stingy with your Krushing Blows and you'll get positive results.

Interactive objects can be Amplified

As you likely recall from the game's tutorial, specific special moves can be "Amplified" to do more damage or chance the characteristics of the attack. Doing so successfully burns half of your Offensive Meter, but can lead to extra combo hits or projectiles. Timing these correctly will benefit you and punish your opponent, making Amplified attacks something you should practice over and over until you get them right.

However, did you know that you can use Amplify when interacting with objects in the environment? Of course, the tutorial teaches you that you can interact with certain objects on a fight stage. Sometimes, you'll pick up an object and toss it at an opponent. Other times, you'll utilize a piece of the environment to vault over your enemy and escape a projectile or special move. What you may not know is that you can utilize your Amplify technique on these objects, giving you additional "armor" so an opponent can't knock you out of the animation. It takes away more of your meter, but it's worth it if you're in close proximity to your enemy.

Kustomize your characters

Through character tutorials and story mode, you'll likely have a good idea of the fighters you like best after eight or ten hours. In past MK games, that simply meant that you'd memorize their movesets, pick those characters every time you reached the selection screen, and do your best to win as many matches as possible. But in MK11, there's so much more to the characters, and you can essentially customize them to your playstyle via the Kustomize menu.

This menu is dense, offering you the chance to build loadouts with different special moves, gear, and gear augments. If you have moves you like utilizing against specific opponents, build a loadout based on that. You can name them, so each one is easy to remember, and bring out whichever one you want in any mode that pits you against AI fighters. Take some time and customize your characters, especially if you plan on spending time grinding through the Towers of Time. You'll find that fights become much easier when you can base your strategy around a character loadout geared toward your style of play.

Show a little Mercy

Mercy is a strange concept in a fighting game where you can plunge a Best Actor award into someone's chest, but it exists. Basically, NetherRealm designed the concept of Mercy — a move that returns 20 percent of an opponent's health after they die — in case you want a do-over to perform a Brutality or complete a specific challenge. To perform this move, you need to stand about two character lengths from your opponent, hold the Stance Change button, and press "down" about four times. You'll trigger the Mercy screen, returning limited life to your enemy, giving you the opportunity to finish the match exactly the way you want to.

At first, this seems completely useless. However, there are plenty of reasons you'd want this easy do-over to get a fight exactly right. If you're in the character specific towers, you'll often have to meet specific criteria in order to progress and unlock the next tower tier. For example, a Johnny Cage tower requires you to not only finish each match, but also perform a specific number of uppercuts before the next tower will unlock. Maybe you're on the last fight but still need to perform an uppercut or two to complete the challenge. Perform a Mercy and you'll get another shot at it.

Make the most of your AI fighters

The grind in Mortal Kombat 11 can be tough. With various currencies — Soul Fragments, Hearts, Koins — keeping you from unlocking all those precious skins, gear, and augments found in the Krypt, you'll need to fight thousands of matches to even have a chance at getting everything you want for your favorite fighters. Luckily, you don't have to always have your hands on the controller to build up your currency stashes. In the Tower, you can utilize AI fighters to complete matches and challenges for you, essentially allowing you to focus on other, non-game-related things while the CPU farms for you.

To increase your Hearts — easily the most annoying currency because of the requirements to get it — you can set up your AI fighter to move through the Klassic Towers, completing matches and challenges along the way. If you focus on the Endless Tower specifically, your AI fighter can fight over and over while you work, cook dinner, or pay attention to your neglected significant other. All you have to do is press a couple of button prompts between each fight and everything will move right along. Pretty soon, your currency reserves will be full and you can head to the Krypt to unlock more chests.

Work the corners

MK11 is a fighting game where close quarters combat leads to victory. Projectile moves and environmental attacks can be effective when sprinkled in every now and then, but focusing too much on these will do nothing but slowly chip away at an opponent's health — if they aren't immediately blocked — and put you in poor position to win. Why? Because most of your experienced opponents, AI or human, will know that the best way to win is by closing the distance and trying to pin you in the corners. Corner trapping is certainly not a new concept in fighting games, and it's often vital to success in Mortal Kombat.

Once you get used to your favorite fighters, you can make short work of your enemies through Kombos and special moves, both of which you can string together after trapping your opponents on the edges of the screen. If you can get your adversary in the corner and in the air, there are Kombos you can time correctly and use repeatedly. When you're struggling with an AI fight in the Tower or Story Mode, try this tactic. You'll see success. Then, remember that success when you fight online, because you'll catch some people off guard.

Special move grabs work on mid-air opponents

Special move grabs can have a huge impact on Mortal Kombat 11 matches. They often do a large amount of damage and, if you're up against an opponent with slow reaction time, you can connect with them multiple times during a fight. Frankly, they're a great way to make short work of the easier Living Tower matches, so pay attention to that section in the tutorial and don't be stingy with the dedicated button on your controller. At their core, these grabs are fantastic moves that can shift momentum, but they actually work in more situations than you might expect.

Many Kombos you'll do during a fight can result in launching an opponent into the air. There are plenty of scenarios that can play out once that enemy is mid-air, but one you may not be aware of is that you can utilize most special move grabs to further the damage. While it doesn't necessarily make sense from a realism standpoint, you can send an opponent into the air and then use a grab before they have time to recover, essentially extending a combo in a devastating way. A special like Jax's Gotcha Grab is the perfect example of this, as it's a ground-based move, but can connect when juggling an adversary.

Farm Skip Tokens to help you during tough Tower battles

If you're into the MK11 grind, you'll have to spend countless hours fighting through the Living Towers. Depending on the time and day, you could potentially encounter some tough Towers featuring tough opponents — you're not always guaranteed to complete one in the allotted time, especially if you go into it late. Sometimes, you need all the help you can get. Between Konsumables, Augmented gear, and your preferred loadouts, you'll go in with most of what you'll need to win. Still, maybe you're off your game one day. You can't get past a fight but still need that precious loot. That's when Skip Tokens come in handy.

Using these tokens, you can immediately skip past a fight without consequence. They really help in the timed Towers but are unfortunately very tough to accumulate. So, what's the easiest way to stockpile them? Head to the Krypt and make a beeline for the Warrior Shrine. At this shrine, you can donate Koins for potential rewards, one of which is a Skip Token. Donate the minimum — 1,000 Koins — and you'll have a chance to get a token every time you do so. This is by far the easiest way to farm Skip Tokens and ensure that you can get through those fights that you can't beat on your own.

Try changing settings to improve combo success

The tutorial teaches you so much about combos, especially when it comes to the Dial-a-Combo style of the game and the timing that can be involved in pulling them off successfully. However, if you're still struggling after hours and hours of practice, there are some settings that you can change to potentially help you improve your experience. A few settings can really affect the way you play, and they can all be found in the Controller Settings menu. By default, MK11 has Release Check toggled on. It's meant for joysticks and ensures that special moves will only activate after releasing all corresponding buttons. This can have a small but unfortunate effect on your success rate.

Input Window Timing is another major setting, as it has a huge impact on how long you have to dial in those combos. There are three available speeds (Long, Medium, Short) and it'll take some practice to find which one is ideal for your play style. Also look at Alternate Control, Button Shortcuts, and Input Shortcuts.Tweak the settings and then use your favorite character in practice to figure out how each of them impact your success.