underscored mortal kombat lead
CNN  — 

Mortal Kombat 11 is back with a vengeance. About a year after its initial release, the brutal fighter has returned with a brand new expansion. Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath brings a slew of new characters, new story content and exciting surprises.

Here’s what you can expect if you’re planning on getting back into fighting shape for one of the goriest, most violent brawlers on the market.

Picking things back up

Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath

Following the defeat of Titaness Kronika, Liu Kang and Raiden must locate the fallen antagonist’s crown if they want to restart time and start it flowing the way it once did.

That’s where the mighty Shang Tsung comes in. A series mainstay since the early days of Mortal Kombat, the warlock and shapeshifter is the right-hand man of villain Shao Kahn — and Liu Kang’s mortal enemy.

Shang Tsung has brought assistants along for the ride, including warrior queen of the Shokan Sheeva and Raiden’s younger brother Fujin. Both characters are playable additions to the Mortal Kombat 11 roster with the Aftermath DLC, and as such, they’re heavily featured in the new story content, along with Shang Tsung, Sindel, Nightwolf, and new additions Sheeva and Fujin.

This chunk of story content is certainly interesting, though not terribly long. Still, it’s great to see a new addition, given that the story mode is one of the main reasons fans flock to the newer Mortal Kombat entries. It’s also a good place to start if you’re jumping in again for the first time after an entire year.

There’s one big character we haven’t mentioned: RoboCop.

Yes, the classic action movie character has joined the game, so you can have all those RoboCop vs. Terminator matches you’ve always imagined.

But RoboCop feels as out of place as you might expect since this is far from his game universe. Plus, he has a few admittedly dull combos in comparison to characters like the Joker and Spawn, who are already available, but seeing him in the game is so cool you’ll instantly forget about.

Mortal Kombat 11 is clearly gunning to be the leading fighter on the market when it comes to packing in pop culture references.

Friends (and fatalities) forever

Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath

In addition to new characters and story content, Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath brought back an intriguing part of the game’s history: Friendships.

Friendships help you avoid completely obliterating your opponent during a victory, so you can spare their lives and have fun at their expense. For instance, RoboCop will do the robot with a nearby boombox, while Fujin will fly a kite. A personal favorite: Harley Quinn took out her phone and snapped a series of selfies.

These moves offer a welcome comical step from many of the previous Mortal Kombat games. It’s fun to see your favorite characters taking a break from being so serious and angsty all the time, and Friendship moves are a great reprieve for that reason alone.

Plus, if you’re feeling less friendly, you can always pull off a Stage Fatality. These moves haven’t been seen since the original Mortal Kombat, but they’re back with a vengeance. Stage Fatalities happen when you use part of a stage or map to pull off a special killing move.

In Aftermath, these maps include only the Shaolin Trap Dungeon, Tournament and Dead Pool stages, each with their own Stage Fatality inputs. You must key them in at the end of the battle before you pull off a finisher, with each character getting a unique option.

These can range from fighters being impaled on a spike in a pit to being crushed by a Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance arcade machine. Brutal.

A pricey investment

Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath

There’s a wealth of content in Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath to be sure, but its steep $39.99 price tag will undoubtedly turn off many fans. While there are quality additions to the original game, it costs nearly the price of an entire triple-A game.

And when you consider that you can purchase the Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath Kollection for $59.99, which contains all of the content from the original game, additional skins and characters in addition to the Aftermath expansion, it feels like a waste of money.

You’d be better off purchasing a new copy of the game, so that’s an important aspect of this release to keep in mind. It may be worth it to hardcore players and fans who need to keep up with the fighting game’s meta for tournament and professional play, but the casual fan may decide to opt to wait for a sale.

Bottom line

Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath

Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath contains fun, quality content that fans new and old will appreciate. It’s exciting to go through the new story segments and play with characters like RoboCop and Sheeva, but the price makes it hard to wholeheartedly recommend, given that the Mortal Kombat 11 collection has been reduced to $20 with the Aftermath Kollection logic.

However, if you don’t mind spending the cash and are aching for new Mortal Kombat fighters, hilarious Friendships and Stage Fatalities, and story content, this is a solid offering. Hopefully, future installments will be priced more fairly for early adopters who purchase the game the day it’s released.

At the end of the day, you’re getting another hefty drop of Mortal Kombat 11 content with plenty to love. You just have to decide whether that’s worth the price.

Note: The price above reflects the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.