On Thursday, a gritty warehouse adorned with the desolation of Outworld hosted NetherRealm’s live stream event. As the crowd cheered every bloodlusty cartoon level of impalement, Netherrealm did manage to drop some big news.

Voicing legacy character Sonya Blade, is UFC hall of famer and current WWE Raw Women’s Champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey. 

Along with looks at the expanded gear system which lets you customize your character’s look and style of play, some of MK11’s story was talked about as well. Picking up after thunder god Raiden’s new shoot first philosophy at the end of Mortal Kombat X; this new installment doesn’t yet paint him as the villain directly just a more ruthless version of the character. We are teased the all-new, time-bending Kronika, the first female boss character in Mortal Kombat history, and the Keeper of Time and creator of existence. Along with Kronika comes her servant Geras, announced alongside returning characters Raiden, Skarlet, Scorpion, Sonya Blade, Sub-Zero, and Baraka.

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We got a chance to get some quality time with the early build of MK11. While the character selection and modes were limited for the demo, there was more than enough to show the evolution Netherrealm have made in the game from Mortal Kombat X and even Injustice 2. Standing out more than anything was how good these characters looked, there was hardly a discernable difference from looking at them in a cut scene to starting a match. The studio’s introduction of face-scanning tech has been utilized to its potential, particularly when playing as Raiden or Scorpion (without the mask). Characters don’t just come off as meat bags for punching, they have an acting to them that cringes from every kick to the gut or enrages as combination hits begin to stack up.

Of course, there’s mechanical tweaks and improvements to speak of. Learning from Injustice 2, NetherRealm has unlocked the restrictions of the gear you can equip. For instance, if you like a specific piece of Sub-Zero’s gear but don’t want to give it up for something more powerful you can move those attributes. One of the other welcome changes is the new fatal blow move, if you’re getting hammered by your opponent a press of L2+R2 executes a special devastating attack unique to each character. Not only can it put you back in the fight during a losing battle but it looks pretty dam cool.

Yes, like all Mortal Kombat games there’s “fatalities”. Match finishing death blows that dive into over-the-top violence. I watched Baraka rip a dude’s face clean off and eat their brain. If you’re a fan of the MK series brutal moves, there’s a lot to already love about MK11. Not only is it back but it’s been improved upon visually, everything just looks like it has a layer of slickness to lighting effects which make it all pop that much more.

So far MK11’s greatest strength is in the enhanced visual, NetherRealm’s art department is putting in some serious work from stages to characters and how everything functions in this game. It’s still too early to tell if the game’s story will sink or swim but so far I’m all in.

Mortal Kombat 11 will release worldwide for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and believe it or not Nintendo Switch on April 23, 2019. You can also pre-order the game to recieve access to the beta starting March 28, 2019.