Yesterday, I decided to play a bit of Mortal Kombat 11. Story Mode was already done and dusted, offering its own enjoyable interactions and moments. The Krypt was inviting me to spend Koins with a “K”, chests littering every corner of every film-set reference. After all the updates and patches made, tuning the difficulty of the Towers of Time, surely it’d be a pretty good place to progress. Right?
Well, yes. Sort of. The thing is, I didn’t play any of Towers of Time. I didn’t go from 34,000 Koins to a whopping 166,000 in half an hour. Rather, my AI fighter Noob Saibot-bot, meticulously tuned in his Rushdown and Combo stats (read: put 30 points in one and 30 points in the other) cruised through everything. Equipping a Philosopher’s Stone Konsumable also helped double the money earned from each Tower completed. Even when a tower lapsed as I was playing, picking up two more for Kurrency and gear was easy.
Heck, I was able to play with my dog while Noob and his pal Saibot farmed that sweet Kurrency for me. Truly, Mortal Kombat 11 has been fixed because the rewards fit the time put in, even if I wasn’t putting the time in.
Is any of this fun? Like, actually fun and rewarding? It’s kind of nice to see the AI beat up everyone, pulling off combos I’d have to actually practice. But fun?
YouTuber and fighting game aficionado Maximilian Dood put up two videos on Mortal Kombat 11. The first talked about how one could make easy bank from the Towers of Time (besides leaving an arcade stick or a controller with a turbo button active). Some towers will spawn that don’t let you choose the character and have only one fight. So leave the turbo button on, let the AI continuously farm the tower and voila. Basically, this video discussed the various ways to farm the Towers for some easy Koins.
The other video was more damning. It talked about the Krypt and how Maximilian had opened 667 chests with just one left. In the process, he discovered some secret gear for Jacqui – which is actually cool and how the Krypt should be but isn’t thanks to all the chests. So you’d expect to have everything – skins, masks, gear, intros, victories, Fatalities, Brutalities and so on – from opening all chests in the Krypt, right? Wrong.
You’re probably aware of this by now but there’s a Shrine in the Krypt where you deposit Koins for items. Deposit 75,000 Koins for a chance at gear (including the mask-less versions of characters, which are super rare in their own right). Deposit 100,000 Koins for a chance at Skins. Items are doled out one or two at a time, completely random in chance. It is essentially a slot machine. Not one you pay for with real money but which demands a hefty amount of time.
Oh and there’s the Kollector who can be summoned in the Krypt using Kollector Koins (which are earned by completing the summoned tower that has the Kollector as a boss fight). He also has quite a bit of gear and skins but you’ll need certain items to trade to him.
The crazy thing is that aside from getting all the augments for your gear and leveling up said gear (which takes a while and must be done separately for each items), there’s also the Character Tower grind. This is where the rest of the Brutalities and Intros are hidden. It’s on a per character-basis though and while the objective requirements for each have been lowered, there’s still quite the grind to be had.
But hey, NetherRealm did fix quite a few things. It made fights in the Towers of Time easier. It increased the Kurrency rewards and made Towers more rewarding as a whole. Besides, a lot of this stuff is cosmetic. Gear doesn’t really play a role outside of Towers of Time, acting as a secondary form of cosmetic customization.
Isn’t the main purpose of the game to just fight and develop one’s skills? Why obsess so much over gear, augments, skins and so on? Developing skill is the point for those playing online but for offline and solo players, improving one’s skill to take on the tougher challenges isn’t the point. Instead, it’s how efficiently you can farm especially since many of the fights can be tedious.
Many of the fights, even with the odd modifier thrown in, are fairly boring. Furthermore, there are more fights than actual “challenges” so you’re going to be completing tons of busywork. It’s more about how much time you invest rather than how good you are (and that’s not taking into account the nonsense boss fights which rely more on friends to play with).
In terms of fun factor, there’s no real punch or pizzazz to the fights. As much as I detest some of the highest level challenges in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s Spirits mode, there’s at least something interesting going on like giant enemies, numerous AI fighters at one time to fight, modifiers, items, random Smashes and environmental hazards, etc. Mortal Kombat 11 had its own modifiers and made them wholly oppressive, to the point that every fight felt insurmountably hard.
Now? The modifiers are just kind of there and do little to spice up anything. For the record, I’m not saying the modifiers were better when they absolutely butchered a player. I’m saying they were never interesting to begin with and that’s even more apparent with their difficulty tuned. The progression system doesn’t reward skill or participating in fun battles or even trying a new approach. Instead, it’s all about farming.
You could argue that the AI Fighter makes the farming easier and thus Krypt unlocks are better because of it so really, why complain? From a gameplay perspective, it’s more about skipping all the boring grinding through idle farming than, say, actually designing a fun progression system where the player has to actually improve to unlock some worthy rewards. Instead, we need to throw everything into one giant loot pile that has to be slowly chipped away at with Kurrency with a “K”.
I can understand why NetherRealm did this. It wants people to play Mortal Kombat 11 for a very, very long time. It wants to “reward” long-term investment for the players, even if they’re just pressing the button a few times as opposed to playing the game. Besides, we’ve had Easy Fatality Tokens and Skip Fight Tokens. Now we have AI Fighters that play the game for us. Progress!
It’s one thing to have RNG and grinding determine some of the nice extras you earn in a video game. It’s another entirely to make that grind so boring and tedious that the best method for getting those extras is letting someone else play the game. Mortal Kombat 11 has a lot going for it and plenty worth coming back to. But if I wanted a progression system that relied on the AI to reliably get me Koins, I’d just play a clicker game. At least that doesn’t need me to babysit the AI or put down money for a turbo controller to efficiently farm.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.