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    Everything you need to know about Overkill's The Walking Dead, including latest news, release date, trailers, and more!

    News Den of Geek Staff
    Apr 2, 2018

    Overkill's The Walking Dead was first revealed in 2014. Starbreeze promised that the game would be an inventive adaptation of the original Walking Dead comics that emphasizes co-op gameplay, storytelling, and robust level design that will supposedly heighten the game's replay value. 

    Remarkably, the only real updates we've been treated to since the game was first revealed involve its many delays. The Walking Dead was originally delayed until 2016, was then delayed until 2017, and now is delayed until 2018. In that time, developer Overkill has never really revealed much about the game beyond the vague details which accompanied its release. Even the game's title still sounds like an internal reference. 

    Meanwhile, Overkill has continued to update PayDay 2 and have reportedly begun preliminary work on PayDay 3. While the release of the latter game is supposedly still some time away, it's fair to say that they are not solely devoted to completing The Walking Dead.

    Perhaps, though, Overkill can surprise us all by delivering a Walking Dead game that manages to surpass the show's declining popularity by reviving the thrill of the source material.

    Here's everything else we know about the game:

    Overkill The Walking Dead Release Date

    Starbreeze has announced that Overkill's The Walking Dead has been delayed until sometime in the second half of 2018. The publisher confirmed the 2018 delay via their Sweedish website. Oddly, the delay announcement itself is not translatable into English directly through the Starbreeze website. According to third-party translations, however, Starbreeze's decision to delay the game stems from their desire to ensure that the game reaches its full potential. 

    Overkill The Walking Dead Trailer

    The latest update for Overkill's The Walking Dead comes in the form of a developer diary that breaks down the design of some of the game's levels. 

    Here's a trailer introducing Aidan, one of the four playable characters in the game:

    And if you want more, here's the original announcement trailer:

    Overkill The Walking Dead Story

    We also have a synopsis of the game:

    Inspired by the rich story universe of Robert Kirkman’s original graphic novels, Overkill’s The Walking Dead is a four-player co-op multiplayer FPS action game set in Washington, D.C., as an outbreak brings the dead back to life. In this test of strategy and endurance, players will band together with up to three friends on a variety of missions and raids, securing supplies and survivors to strengthen their base camp against the threat of both the dead and the living - by any means necessary.

    Each playable character has their own special abilities, skill trees, squad roles, play styles and background stories. Now they all share a common objective where survival and teamwork is paramount. The action is close-up and intense: take out enemies carefully with silent melee attacks or go in guns blazing. You need to be able to improvise, as nothing is certain, and a horde of walkers is always around the corner.

    Overkill The Walking Dead Screenshots

    Until we learn more concrete information about the game, you'll have to judge these concept art shots that Starbreeze released during a livestream back in May 2017 in order to get an idea of how the game is shaping up:

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    What we know about SoulCalibur 6, including latest news, release date, trailers, and much more!

    News Gavin JasperMatthew Byrd
    Apr 2, 2018

    Considering how the fighting game genre has been able to make a comeback these last few years, one question that’s been brought up quite a bit is, “Where’s SoulCalibur?” Bandai Namco’s second fighting game cash cow used to be a huge deal, but it’s been years since the last installment kind of crapped the bed. Luckily, The 2017 Game Awards announced the return of the franchise!

    The Soul series began back in 1995 with the exceptional Soul Edge, renamed Soul Blade on consoles. The game’s story takes place in 1584 and centers around armed warriors from around the world fighting over the rights to a cursed sword known as Soul Edge, then wielded by a possessed pirate. This would lead to the sequel SoulCalibur, which would hold onto the branding for all the later installments. The series has continued to focus on the quest for the evil sword ever since.

    The last real installment was SoulCalibur V in 2012, which didn’t exactly set the world on fire due to how little the game had to offer, especially compared to its predecessors. Hopefully, SoulCalibur VI will return to the glory days of the Dreamcast era.

    Get your blind gimp cosplay ready because SoulCalibur VI is a go. Here's everything we know about the game:

    SoulCalibur VI Release Date

    SoulCalibur VI will arrive in 2018 for PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. Coincidentally, the series will celebrate its 20th-anniversary next year.

    SoulCalibur VI Trailers

    SoulCalibur VI will feature a guest appearance from the Witcher himself, Geralt of Rivia.

    Two familiar fighters have joined the SoulCalibur VI roster. 

    First up is Zasalamel, the magician who debuted in SoulCalibur 3. Fans of the fighter will be happy to know that her scythe and spells look as brutal as ever. 

    Next up is series staple combatant, Ivy. She's still wearing questionably effective armor - it's certainly distracting - but looks to remain a fan favorite 

    Here's the extended trailer that played at PSX 2017:

    We obviously can’t parse too much from a one-minute video that shows off two mainstays, an incomplete glimpse at a new character, and flashbacks to the Soul Edge doing stuff. One thing that does stick out is the continuity. SoulCalibur IV ended with Sophitia dying and SoulCalibur V jumped ahead about 15 years to focus on her children. Not only is Sophitia alive and well here, but amidst all the random visions shown, the narrator mentions how “history hides away more than one truth.” In other words, there might be an in-story retcon of SoulCalibur V in the works, setting up VI as the beginning of a new timeline.

    Hey, it worked like gangbusters for Mortal Kombat.

    The big new gameplay addition is Reversal Edge, which is a counterpart to the Combo Breaker from Killer Instinct. Though that trailer shows Sophitia and Mitsurugi doing some kind of glowing buff thing as they attack one last time, so maybe that's something too.

    Then this trailer hit on January 26, revealing even more characters.

    With this, we get more classic characters. Kilik and Xianghua are the main heroes of the original SoulCalibur, while Nightmare is the game's badass villain. Seriously, look at how badass that horse of evil energy super is. The big twist, as shown at the end of the trailer, is that pure-hearted Kilik is now being corrupted by Soul Edge's demonic influences.

    Hey, it worked like gangbusters for Street Fighter. ...Okay, I'm done with that now.

    Also interesting is our first new character, Groh, who is some kind of medieval secret agent? He definitely seems fun and kind of has a low-tech Darth Maul quality to his swordplay. Can't wait to see more from him.

    Gavin Jasper wants Olcadan back, damn it. Follow Gavin on Twitter!

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    What we know about Zone of the Enders: Anubis Mars, including latest news, release date, trailers, and much more!

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 2, 2018

    Konami has announced it releasing a remake of the 2003 cult classic mech title Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner called Zone of the Enders: Anubis Mars.

    This new version of 2nd Runner appears to be a full-fledged remake of the game and not a simple HD upgrade. In a press release, Konami noted that “All visual and aural elements have been remastered for native 4K resolution” and that “the new game retains the unique and beautiful visuals of the original title, but boasts textures in updated 4K while using surround sound techniques to offer layered and immersive audio effects."

    Konami also stated that this version of the game is based on the PS3 HD version of 2nd Runner, but we imagine that developer Cygames - who has been tasked with constructing this remake - will fix that versions' visual and audio bugs.

    The really big news is that the PS4 version of 2nd Runner will feature VR support. At this time, there’s been no word on whether or not the full game will be playable in VR, but the teaser trailer for the title does briefly show off some VR action that hints at a very playable - and quite striking - reimagining of the title. We’re interested to see more of the game’s VR mode in action.

    Here's everything else we know about the game:

    Zone of the Enders: Anubis Mars Release Date

    Konami has confirmed that Zone of the Enders: Anubis Marswill release for PlayStation 4 and PC in September. 

    Zone of the Enders Anubis Mars Trailer

    The latest trailer for Anubis Mars compares the various versions of 2nd Runner and includes a sneak peek at how the game will look in 4K:

    You can also find the debut trailer for the game here:

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    Everything we know about Star Citizen, including latest news, release date, trailers, and more!

    News Den of Geek Staff
    Apr 2, 2018

    Star Citizen could very well be the space simulator to end all space simulators - if it ever actually comes out. The game has been in development at Cloud Imperium Games, founded by Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts, since it was successfully crowdfunded in 2012. Boasting an enormous massive multiplayer universe, elements of space trading, first-person shooter combat, Star Citizen is one of the most ambitious video games ever put into development. 

    Several delays and an engine change later, the game is still in early Alpha state with no solid release date. Still, we've seen plenty of the game through trailers and gameplay videos.

    There is still hope, though. Star Citizen continues to be developed by a large staff of talented creators who seem determined to produce the game that was promised at some point in the future. When, exactly, that future may come is just a matter of debate. 

    Here's the latest from Star Citizen:

    Get a Free Trial of GameFly on Us!

    Star Citizen Release Date

    While Star Citizen's roughly playable builds regularly receive some kind of update, there's no word on when the game will be released. It's quite possible that Star Citizen's development team will release an Early Access model for the game that will continuously be updated for the foreseeable future. In any case, we'll be sure to update you as information regarding the game's fully-playable builds becomes available.

    Star Citizen Trailer

    Slowly but surely, Cloud Imperium is revealing more about Star Citizen's single-player campaign. This new look at Squadron 42 takes us to a dangerous gas cloud called "The Coil." Check out the video below:

    And here are two more Squadron 42 trailers. This first one features a new look at Mark Hamill in the game:

    And here's over an hour of gameplay:

    During the CitizenCon 2947 livestream broadcast, Star Citizen designer Chris Roberts took the stage to present a video that shows off the massive size of the game's worlds. 

    The footage specifically focuses on the ArcCorp planet which has been shown before, but never quite like this. Roberts described the planet's vast cityscape as "Blade Runner esque," which certainly does help capture the spirit suggested by the city's spewing flame towers and jam-packed structures. Impressively, Roberts also suggests that everything in the city can be interacted with by the player in some way. There aren't any instances of painted features designed to make the cities look larger than they are. 

    Roberts described that particular planet as being similar to Star Wars' Coruscant, but also showcased another planet that seems to have been decimated at one point or at least hasn't been fully terraformed as of yet. 

    The team certainly seems to be aiming for a shocking amount of variety in regards to the design of every major planet. That isn't to say that there won't be largely barren planets, but rather that they hope to make each new planet feel like a discovery. 

    Get a Free Trial of GameFly on Us!

    Thanks to this gameplay video update on Star Citizen's development, we do know that the game's first-person combat is coming along nicely. 

    The purpose of this video, besides showing off the kind of stunning visuals millions and millions of crowdfunded dollars will buy you, is to showcase the progress that Star Citizen's Vision Stabilization engine has made. In short, this improved engine allows for developer Cloud Imperium Games to implement tighter and less visually jarring first-person combat. Previously, some of the game's early users had reported that the character motions dictated by these mechanics were far too loose and had a tendency to generate a floaty sensation. 

    Currently on version 3.0, the most recent build of Star Citizen arguably stole the show at Gamescom with this nearly 52-minute long gameplay video that takes on the daunting task of trying to explain the almost incomprehensible scale of the game. 

    Not to beat the No Man's Sky horse to death, but one of the most impressive things about this demo in comparison to other titles in this genre is how substantial the universe feels. While certain elements of the experience don't feel nearly as important as the presenter hopes they might come across as ("The elevators in this game really move! *clap, clap, clap*), Star Citizen's developers seems to understand that pretty environments and theoretically infinite content will not get you far if there is not a solid core of gameplay at the center of it all. Watching the demo players navigate a character to a new planet, accept a mission, and carry it out isn't mind-blowing on paper. But, in the context of the full scope of this creation, it does show that there's a promising traditional game at the heart of the title. 

    We still eagerly await the day that all questions about Star Citizen will be answered by the retail release of the game itself, but, until then, it's nice to know that it's still capable of wowing people. 

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    What you need to know about Scorn, including latest news, release date, trailers, and much more!

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 2, 2018

    Scorn is one seriously disturbed game. Its emphasis on grotesque representations of the human form with a slightly alien twist are not only worthy of the Giger style, but showcase a certain grotesque brilliance that doesn't seem to be beholden to any previously established work. 

    What that minimalistic teaser doesn't tell you, however, is that Scorn is much more than a visually disturbing work of art. According to the tiny team of developers over at the Serbian studio Ebb Software, Scorn is actually a first-person adventure title that is apparently looking to trend closer to a first-person shooter, but with a few twists on the genre's most dated concepts. 

    Specifically, Scorn is interested in doing away with the idea of enemies that are automatically hostile to you (similar to what we saw with the Big Daddies in Bioshock) and the popular notion of in-game cutscenes. Instead, Scorn's story is intended to be conveyed via the game's environment. The game's website even suggests that you're at risk of missing potentially crucial bits of the story if you are not willing to explore every inch of this horrific world. That's a feat made all the more difficult by Scorn's supposed lack of a traditional HUD. 

    Mostly, though, the game is designed to get under your skin and creep you out. Scorn may not be a traditional horror game, but its emphasis on atmosphere certainly has the potential to disturb players more than any game wielding that tag. 

    Here's everything else we know about the game:

    Scorn Release Date

    Scorn is set to be released for the PC in two parts, with the first part, Dasien, set to debut in October 2018. There is no confirmation regarding the release of console versions of the game at this time.

    Get a Free Trial of GameFly on Us!

    Scorn Trailer

    Alongside the launch of their Kickstarter campaign for the game, developer Ebb Software has released a new trailer for Scorn

    This latest preview for the game emphasizes the "meaty' H.R. Giger inspired design that initially helped Scorn capture the attention of gamers everywhere. This time, however, we get a better look at how the game's organic weapons will affect the combat. 

    Whenever a game invokes the name of H.R. Giger as a creative inspiration, they almost always put themselves on pretty shaky ground considering that Giger's legendary surrealist paintings and visual effects work remain some of the most surefire sources of nightmare fuel in existence. In other words, it's a tough comparison to live up to. 

    While you may initially scoff at the idea of the upcoming Steam Greenlight game Scorn using the hallowed name of Giger, its recently released teaser trailer suggests that Scorn may indeed be a piece of work worthy of the famed creator himself. 

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    What we know about Age of Empires IV, including latest news, release date, trailers, and much more!

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 2, 2018

    Age of Empires IV game is finally on the way!

    Microsoft has passed off development duties of the famous real-time strategy game to Relic Entertainment, creators of the Dawn of War franchise. What Relic Entertainment have in mind for the franchise is truly anyone's guess. The above reveal trailer only serves as a stylish confirmation that the game is in development. It showcases war throughout various time periods and regions which is, creatively speaking, in-line with the standards of the series thus far. 

    Get a Free Trial of GameFly on Us!

    Of course, some people are a bit worried that Relic Entertainment might not be the premier name in strategy game design that they used to be. Dawn of War III was berated by many longtime fans for its changes to the franchise formula as well as for some of the features it lacked in comparison to previous Dawn of War games. 

    Still, Relic Entertainment's library contains far more hits than misses, and there is a timeless quality to the Age of Empires franchise which has helped ensure that the original titles remain some of the most popular strategy games in the world. 

    Here's everything else we know about the game:

    Age of Empires IV Release Date

    Age of Empires IV doesn't have a release date at this time. The game will arrive on PC.

    Age of Empires IV Trailer

    Here's the first trailer:

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    Everything we know about The Crew 2, including latest news, release date, trailers, and much more!

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 2, 2018

    When Ubisoft announced that they were going to release a sequel to the 2014 online racing title The Crew, the reaction was...tepid. The Crew was an interesting game, but it was also a highly flawed experience that didn't really take advantage of its most intriguing concepts. 

    So how will the studio fix The Crew's biggest flaws? Well, if the first trailer for the game is any indication, then they apparently plan to do it by just reinventing the game's wheel. 

    At this early stage, it appears that the biggest addition to The Crew's world are boats, bikes, and planes. The Crew 2 will allow you to hop behind the wheel of a far greater variety of vehicles while you explore the game's vast open-world setting (which appears to largely take place in America). While the transition from vehicle type to vehicle type is presented fairly smoothly in the gameplay trailer, we're guessing that these races will be separated into various missions during the game itself. That being said, there's always the possibility for a sort of "Triathlon" experience that allows you to use multiple vehicle types in a single race. 

    Here's everything we know:

    The Crew 2 Release Date

    The Crew 2 is coming on June 29, 2018. The game will arrive for PS4, XBO, and PC. 

    The Crew 2 Trailer

    Here's the debut trailer:

    That cinematic trailer for the game's premise hints at The Crew 2's expanded scope, but if you really want to appreciate just how much more this game has to offer, you have to check out the first gameplay trailer for The Crew 2

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    What you need to know about the World War Z game, including latest news, release date, trailers, and much more!

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 2, 2018

    While it's a little late to the party, there is a new game based on World War Z in the works. From what we can tell, this game seems to be based on the book or the general property rather than the World War Z film. That's probably for the best given that the film made some pretty serious departures from the original content. It also wasn't very good.

    This adaptation of World War Z will be helmed by Saber Interactive; the team behind Quake Champions and TimeShift. It's described as a four-player co-op action game (no word on whether four players will be required) that requires players to navigate a series of major locations across the globe and escape the zombie hordes. 

    Escape seems to be the word of the day here. As it stands, it seems like this game will emphasize survival and evasion through things like traps and utilizing environmental elements to your advantage. This doesn't seem to be exactly like a Left 4 Dead type experience where you just blast through hordes with your other survivors. Instead, there appears to be more of an emphasis on pure horror and strategy. 

    Of course, that's all a bit speculative at this early point considering that we really haven't seen actual footage from the game. However, Saber Interactive did state that the missions themselves will heavily emphasize the "unique survivor stories" of your companions and that there will be action set-pieces here and there. So while it walks like Left 4 Dead, and talks like Left 4 Dead, we're going to guess that this game will find ways to distinguish itself from that legendary franchise. 

    Here's everything else we know about the game:

    World War Z Release Date

    There's no word on this game's release date. However, we do know that that World War Z will be released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC when it does hit shelves.

    World War Z Trailer

    Here's the first trailer:

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    From the iconic trilogy to the forgettable PlayStation 2 era guys to the new blood, here's a complete Mortal Kombat roster ranking.

    FeatureGavin Jasper
    Apr 3, 2018

    Presenting, the definitive ranking of Mortal Kombat characters! I’m counting everyone, with only a few exceptions. Here are the criteria...

    - It has to be an actual Mortal Kombat character and not a guest fighter. That means no Freddy Krueger, Kratos, Jason, Predator, or anyone from the DC Universe.

    - Dark Kahn doesn’t count for the same reason.

    - It has to be someone who was playable in the one-on-one games. I’m not going to get into boss characters from, say, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero or Mortal Kombat: Special Forces if that's all they've appeared in.

    - I’m lumping alternate versions of characters together. No reason to split Human Smoke and Robot Smoke.

    - Similarly, I'm not counting Tri-Borg as being a single character. He's more of a Voltron of existing characters.

    Also, I’m ranking these based on style, storyline, and personal preference. Not over who has the better infinite combos and all that jazz. Just be warned: there will be spoilers!

    You can watch a video breakdown of our top 5 right here, but keep scrolling for details on all 73 (!) Mortal Kombat characters!

    Let’s get it started with the worst of the worst.

    73. REIKO

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat 4

    It’s one thing to be lame. It’s another to be built up as something exciting, only to be anything but. Reiko was introduced in Mortal Kombat 4 as Shinnok’s general. In actuality, he was just a reworked Noob Saibot given a different design in order to have more original characters in the game. In the arcade and Nintendo 64 versions of the game, his ending would simply show him running into a portal. That was it. How mysterious.

    Then in the PlayStation and Dreamcast versions of the game, we got to see the full ending. He went into the portal where he then put on Shao Kahn’s helmet. OH SNAP! Reiko is Shao Kahn?! I mean, it doesn’t make a lick of sense, but that’s still a big deal! Then Midway swept it under the rug and said he wasn’t Kahn. He was just wearing the mask. Um...good for him.

    Reiko is like opening the biggest gift at Christmas only to see you got a pair of used socks.

    Reiko appears as a major villain in the Mortal Kombat X prequel comic, where they build him up as a threat, only to have him die a humiliating death and show Havik as the true main villain. In the game's story mode, Earthrealm and Outworld start out in decent relations due to the "Reiko Accords." It's probably a treaty based on them coming together in agreement that Reiko is the worst.

    72. HSU HAO

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

    The bulky Hsu Hao was created for two reasons: 1) They came up with the Red Dragon organization as a rival to the Black Dragon, and Midway needed Red Dragon to catch up. Just having Mavado wasn’t enough, so they came up with another, lesser member of the group. 2) Since Kano’s laser eye was so cool, they figured it was worth expanding on with other body parts. Hsu Hao was given a laser heart.

    In Mortal Kombat X, Kano has the same laser heart. Hao is completely redundant and is ultimately forgettable. Makes sense that they killed him off immediately in the Mortal Kombat X comic.


    First appearance: Mortal Kombat Trilogy (PlayStation)

    In a time when Midway was abusing the hell out of their color scheme ninja party, they introduced Chameleon, a male ninja who constantly changed colors and move sets.

    Unlike his female ninja counterpart from the Nintendo 64 version, Khameleon, Chameleon didn’t have anything resembling a storyline. This wasn’t until appearing in Armageddon(which he originally wasn’t going to until fans got on Midway’s case), where he got the most generic ending/explanation ever.

    70. MEAT

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat 4

    Meat was one of the lamer concepts for a hidden character. He was just a bloody skeleton model used as an unlockable player skin. No moves or gestures of his own. Just a costume.

    With Armageddon, they gave him some backstory. Meat is an escaped experiment created by Shang Tsung with no sense of identity. So yeah, he’s just a gross, bloody dude.

    69. JAREK

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat 4

    Rather than use Kano in Mortal Kombat 4, they just grafted his entire move set onto a really ordinary-looking stand-in named Jarek. Jarek was the last remnant of the Black Dragon organization, who, unlike Kano, sided with Earthrealm against invading forces. Other than Kano’s moves, Jarek lacked anything interesting that Kano brought to the table.

    He was a major part in the most hilariously bad Mortal Kombat ending, though, but more on that later.

    68. TANYA

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat 4

    Yet another Mortal Kombat 4 character who was just an example of, “Eh, we need more new characters. Let’s just alter an existing one.” Tanya was different enough from Kitana that that wasn’t a problem, but since then, she’s been a one-dimensional villain whose only quality is betrayal. They never came up with anything interesting for her to do.

    Tanya is in Mortal Kombat X as DLC, which sticks out as a sore thumb among two popular guest characters and an obscure name that fans have been wanting to see more of. Seriously, who was excited at all about that part of the announcement?

    Tanya does show up in story mode, but still brings nothing interesting to the table.

    67. DAIROU

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deception

    Chances are your response to this is less, “How dare you rank Dairou so low!” and more, “Wait, who the hell is Dairou again?” This bland-looking mercenary is part of the whole Chaosrealm vs. Orderrealm subplot in Mortal Kombat: Deception that didn’t go anywhere. Dairou came from the realm of Seido, where order rules all, and was a prison guard. He found out a prisoner killed his family and went against the rules by exacting revenge. Since then, he became an outlaw with no regard for what Seido represents.

    Not the worst backstory, but nothing was really done with it. He was just a pawn for Darrius (who in actuality killed Dairou’s family and pinned the blame in order to twist him in the right direction), and he looks so unbelievably generic. Give him a mask or spikes or a fannypack or something!

    66. LI MEI

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

    Li Mei was nearly as forgettable as Dairou, only distinguished by her ridiculous outfit of a bandana and underwear. Li Mei was a villager enslaved by Shang Tsung and Quan-Chi who was used as a guinea pig by having her soul shoved into an undead soldier’s husk of a body. That was undone, but it ultimately corrupted her by the next game.

    So at least her betrayal was more organic than Tanya’s every waking moment. Still, she’s hard to care about and her cameo in the new game is completely forgettable.

    65. SHUJINKO

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deception

    God, I hate Shujinko.

    On the surface, the gimmick of an old man who could do the attacks of much of the cast due to years of wanderlust and training is pretty cool. Unfortunately, they explained this through Deception’s Konquest Mode, which proceeded to depict our main hero as one of the most gullible, susceptible dumbasses in video games. No matter what someone told him to do, including villains, he would blindly do it without a second thought.

    Not only did he unleash the Dragon King onto the realms through decades of questing without questioning, but then he stepped on Scorpion’s toes. This game touted Scorpion as the new marquee hero character, only to say, “PSYCHE!” and put Shujinko in his spot. No thanks.

    64. MOKAP

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

    Well, that joke didn’t age well. Mokap was included as a hidden character in Deadly Alliance, based on Carlos Pesina, who did the game’s motion capture.

    Mokap is the guy responsible for doing the motion capture for the CGI in Johnny Cage’s movies and is constantly wearing the mocap balls on his outfit because of it. He didn’t really work well as a comedy character because the game did little to differentiate any of the characters in terms of personality, so he didn't do anything silly outside of wear his motion capture uniform.

    He’s no Dan Hibiki is what I’m saying.

    Mokap did have his moments in Deception’s Konquest Mode. Not only does he walk around like a doofus, practically BEGGING you to punch him out, but at another point, if you do punch him, he’ll crouch down and yell, “OW! MY BALLS!”

    RELATED ARTICLE: A Guide to the Secret Characters of Mortal Kombat


    First appearance: Mortal Kombat Trilogy (Nintendo 64)

    The female catch-all ninja may not have the variety of her male counterpart Chameleon, but at least they put some semblance of effort into her character. She had a bit of a storyline about being part of Reptile’s endangered race and is the only honest chance at bringing his people back to prosperity.

    She’s still forgettable and became little more than a footnote in the franchise.

    62. ASHRAH

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deception

    Ashrah is a character with promise. A demon born in the NetherRealm, her conscience got her in trouble with Quan-Chi and while trying to escape assassins, she came across a heavenly sword that purified her soul based on how many demons she killed. Her whole thing became about ironically earning salvation through outright slaughter.

    There was nothing special about her “female Raiden” design or play-style that grabbed anyone, so she faded into the background. With a new coat of paint, she might become worth revisiting in a new run of games, but otherwise...meh.

    61. FUJIN

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero

    First appearance (fighting game): Mortal Kombat 4

    Fujin has a good foundation. Why should Raiden be the only heroic god fighting for humanity? Fujin is the God of Wind and has a unique enough look along with a crossbow that shoots energy blasts. That’s pretty cool. Too bad they couldn’t come up with anything for him other than Raiden’s sidekick. Mortal Kombat 4 set it up that he’d be taking Raiden’s place, but then Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was all, “Nah.”

    Even Rodimus Prime got a better deal than this guy.

    60. HOTARU

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deception

    In the battle between order and chaos, order tends to be the more boring, but Hotaru has just enough of a cool factor from his insect-like samurai armor to at least break into the top 60. Otherwise, all he really has going for him is his zealot-like behavior in following Onaga. A man who worships order sounds like he could be almost admirable, but then he goes and follows a demonic dragon man because he’ll put all of reality under his thumb and therefore create order.

    But yeah, he’s still plenty vanilla once you get past that.

    59. JADE

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat II

    Jade gets to show up in modern games because she was in Mortal Kombat II, but she doesn’t really bring anything to the table. She’s Kitana’s friend who happens to look just like Kitana, but usually more tan. The most she did was decide not to kill Kitana when Shao Kahn told her to.

    Even her Armageddonending was boring as hell. The most they could do for her was, “She wanted all evil to go away and it did. Hurray!”

    Not only did they decide to just graft her trademark attacks onto Kitana in Mortal Kombat X, but the game seems to completely ignore her ever existing outside of that. All the victims of Sindel show up as Quan Chi's undead soldiers except for Jade for some reason and I didn't even notice until someone pointed it out well after the fact.

    She gets to at least break the top 60 due to being such a rad secret character in her first showing.

    58. TAVEN

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Armageddon

    As a debuting protagonist character, Taven at least had a leg up above Shujinko. I mean, Taven was another failure, but at least that wasn’t his fault. Plus Taven’s campaign led to him mainly fighting the other kombatants while Shujinko merely did whatever they asked of him like a doof.

    Showing up in a game based around including every single playable Mortal Kombat character, Taven’s generic design didn’t do him any favors.

    57. DRAHMIN

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

    Drahmin is like a collection of cool concepts that doesn’t make for much of a sum. The basic backstory is great. He was an ancient warlord in Outworld predating Shao Kahn and Onaga who died and went to Hell, where he suffered for so long that he completely lost his mind. He wears a mask that keeps his mindless rage in check. His arm is a metal club. He’s constantly covered in flies.

    Put it all together and he doesn’t quite pull it off. His buddy Moloch does a lot more with less.

    56. DAEGON

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Armageddon

    Daegon has the same problems as his brother Taven, but the twist in his backstory at least allows him to rank higher on the list.

    Meant to team up with Taven and help defeat Blaze when necessary, Daegon woke up from his slumber years earlier and became a bit corrupt. He killed his parents and started up the Red Dragon organization, intending to kill Taven when the time was right.

    A good start, but there was nothing especially magical about the character that makes me ever want to see him again.

    55. BO’ RAI CHO

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

    It’s hard to believe that you can make a character so embarrassingly lowbrow for a game series about over-the-top murder porn, but here you go.

    Bo’ Rai Cho is Liu Kang and Kung Lao’s master, retconned into the story with a pretty great explanation: he probably could have taken out Goro and Shang Tsung in the Mortal Kombat tournament back in the day, but he’s from Outworld and that would only count in their favor. The best he could do was train a worthy Earthrealm student to do the job for him.

    To liven up the sage master trope, Midway decided that Bo’ Rai Cho needed to be a fat, drunk guy who farts and pukes all the time. He’s basically a Shaw Brothers Boogerman, and the gag wears thin after the third time you use his puke attack.

    After Mortal Kombat X, I moved Bo' Rai Cho up the list a bit because I rather like the loudmouth, friendly way he was portrayed in the game's story. When he keeps his bodily fluids to himself, he grows on you.

    54. KAI

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat 4

    Kai probably should be lower on the list, but I don’t know. I kind of like him. Maybe I’m distracted by his cool tiger stripe tattoos. Maybe it’s how his look and fighting style felt fresh in Mortal Kombat 4 because all the other new characters were completely derivative. Kai didn’t really find a worthwhile spot in Mortal Kombat lore, especially after his position as “Liu Kang’s friend” was usurped when Kung Lao was brought back in Mortal Kombat Gold.

    Still, I'm ranking him over those others because of the concept art for his almost-inclusion in Deadly Alliance. Look at how badass this redesign is:

    Why they didn’t go with that in Armageddon, I have no idea.

    53. BLAZE

    First appearance (background): Mortal Kombat II

    First appearance (official): Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

    Blaze is kind of adorable for how much of a reach he is. Someone saw a tiny, burning Liu Kang in the background of Mortal Kombat II and figured, “That is most definitely a character you can fight somehow!” Then that rumor transformed into a secret character in Deadly Alliance who didn’t resemble Liu Kang at all, but was completely on fire. Then he somehow became the end-all end boss in Armageddon.

    Too bad Blaze never had any actual character to him. He was always just a walking plot device.

    52. KUNG JIN

    First Appearance: Mortal Kombat X

    I think the sly, subtle moment between Raiden and Kung Jin where they reveal that Kung Jin is gay is really sweet, well done, and very welcome. I even like the idea of him being the silver-tongued member of the new generation of heroes who sympathizes with the poor and hungry driven to thievery. It’s just that there’s nothing else to hang your hat off of after that.

    In a game where they introduce so many new characters, Kung Jin is without a doubt the most boring. Look at his friends. You have the gun-toting, sassy military girl. You have the psychic ninja with barbed arm whips. You have someone with machine gun arms. Then there’s just the guy with the bow and the plain appearance.


    First appearance: Mortal Kombat 3

    Yeah, Nightwolf never did anything for me. He seemed to be there because throwing a Native American into your fighting game series was the in-thing to do back in the '90s. Other than his green laser weapons, Nightwolf was the most ho-hum member of the Mortal Kombat 3 cast. He did at least get more interesting over time, earning some points for being the one to take down Sindel when she went all John Cena on a huge chunk of the cast.

    That almost makes up for how lame he was on the Defenders of the Realm cartoon. Remember when he’d power up after his pet wolf jumped into his chest? What the hell was that about?

    50. MOTARO

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat 3

    I can’t fault Midway’s logic. They did a massive, four-armed sub-boss. Then they did a better-looking version. Where else do you go other than four-legged?

    Motaro added a nice wrinkle in the mythos with a rival centaur race against the Shokan race, but ironically enough, he didn’t have the legs to be more than a one-shot sub-boss. When they gave him only two legs in Armageddonbecause they couldn’t be bothered with programming a whole new body type, it just made him all the more laughable.

    It’s no wonder Raiden killed him in the reboot with so little fanfare.

    49. NITARA

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

    “Let’s toss in a vampire,” wasn’t the worst idea Midway had, and Nitara’s own side-story in Deadly Alliancewas interesting. Coming from a realm of vampires that had been merged with Outworld, Nitara was hell-bent on separating it. While her mission is rather righteous, she’s still a dishonest trickster who uses people like pawns, and there’s the whole “surviving on the blood of others” thing that comes with being a vampire. They never did anything of interest with her after Deadly Alliance, and she was easily forgotten.

    Also, I never got why she wore sleeves to go along with her leather bikini. Maybe she just has sensitive arms.

    48. SKARLET

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat 9

    Skarlet is female Ermac in just about every way, although they never outright say that. She’s a red ninja who was originally just an unfounded rumor that later became an actual character.

    As Ermac is Shao Kahn’s soldier made up of the souls of dead warriors, Skarlet is made up of their blood. While there’s something kind of lazy about having someone be “Blood: The Character,” Skarlet’s introduction is kind of badass.

    Before being released as DLC, she was shown chained up in Shao Kahn’s arena. Did she do something wrong? Was she a punished hero? Nope! She’s just such a dangerous asset to Kahn that he’d rather keep her chained up with intent to let her loose only if he’s desperate.


    First Appearance: Mortal Kombat X

    Gun arms are awesome. The fact that Jacqui can choose between shotguns, machine guns, and pulse cannons is even better. She has some fun spirit to her at times and she’s fun to play as, but she doesn’t stand out nearly enough.

    They’ll really need to give her something better to do in the next game, since her role in story mode is to get into generic fights meant to pad out the plot and randomly fall in love with Takeda.

    46. TREMOR

    First Appearance (game): Mortal Kombat: Special Forces

    First Appearance (fighting game): Mortal Kombat 9

    First Appearance (fighting game, fully playable): Mortal Kombat X

    Tremor owes a lot to his long-running mystique. Yeah, he's not really that great, but there's so little of him given to us compared to how engaging an idea he is that you can't help but ask for more. He started out as a boss in Mortal Kombat: Special Forces in 2000 and despite being the worst Mortal Kombat game of all time (not counting unfortunate ports of otherwise good games), fans had been bugging Midway/NetherRealm to put him in a proper game for a decade and a half since. Then he got a briefly playable moment in the PS Vita version of Mortal Kombat 9's Challenge Tower, which only made the fans more restless.

    Finally, he showed up as DLC in Mortal Kombat X.

    So who is Tremor? Tremor is a brown-clad Lin Kuei ninja (later redesigned to have stone flesh) who left his clan in order to join the Black Dragon for reasons never truly explained. Unlike Sub-Zero and all the other male ninjas who share the same body type, Tremor is super buff and physically imposing to the point that he’s considered to be the Black Dragon’s answer to Jax. He can even match him in causing earthquakes by punching the ground. There’s a lot of mystery to the character waiting to be unraveled.

    45. SMOKE

    First appearance (human): Mortal Kombat II

    First appearance (cyborg): Mortal Kombat 3

    Smoke is a lot like Jade, only more interesting, and I’m not talking about their secret character connection. Smoke had a similar storyline in the Mortal Kombat 3 games as Jade in that he was sent to go capture/kill his best friend and turned against it. Smoke is ranked higher because 1) he was a robot, automatically making it cooler, and 2) he went against his programming and did the whole “Remember who you are!” trope.

    After that, Smoke stepped down and became a lackey for Noob Saibot, giving us the unique Noob-Smoke tag team character in Deception. I really liked his long-haired redesign in the reboot.

    44. DARRIUS

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deception

    With the Orderrealm vs. Chaosrealm storyline going on in Deception, Darrius was a nice wrinkle.

    On the surface, he was a good guy. He lived in the realm of Seido and grew disgusted with the oppressive order, choosing to start a revolution. Considering how extreme guys like Hotaru are, that would normally paint Darrius as sympathetic. Instead, he’s also a complete scumbag. While he’s a self-proclaimed revolutionary, he’s done some terrible, back-handed stuff to prove his point and get followers, which could definitely use some expanding.

    He immediately fell into Mortal Kombat obscurity, but I feel he’s worth revisiting down the line.

    43. KOBRA

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deception

    One character type that always shows up in Mortal Kombat games is the down-to-earth fighter. As much of a space case as Johnny Cage is, he’s the outsider that we identify with who is blown away by this ridiculous world of sorcerers and four-armed gorillas. Same deal with Stryker.

    Kobra is what happens when you decide, “Wait, why do they all have to be heroes?” A martial artist who became too obsessed with brutalizing people, Kobra got recruited into the Black Dragon and was welcomed into the ridiculous world of sorcerers and four-armed gorillas. Kobra is Evil Johnny Cage, which makes it a shame that they’ve never really interacted. And I guess they won't, since Erron Black admitted to offing him at some point.

    Of course, he’s also a blatant knockoff of Ken Masters. So much that the programmers just called him “Ken Masters” in early builds of Deception, which got awkward when a gaming magazine saw that and reported that Street Fighter’s Ken was going to be in the new game.

    42. SHEEVA

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat 3

    After Goro and Kintaro hit the scene, Boon and the rest wondered, “Where the ladies at?” and made a female Shokan warrior. Sheeva’s status in Kahn’s party is a cool dynamic. Goro and Kintaro have already failed in the prior two games. Shao Kahn’s new #2 is Motaro, part of the centaurs, the Shokan’s natural enemy. Yet Sheeva’s still on the payroll as Sindel’s bodyguard.

    While she’s busy protecting Sindel and regularly pulling out her own atomic wedgie, Sheeva’s unaware that her race is being wiped out by her very own boss, punished because her own predecessors got their asses kicked. Of course, when Motaro got killed off so early on in the rebooted version of the story, and Goro and Kintaro were still hanging around, Sheeva became just another grunt.

    The best thing about Sheeva is her ending in Mortal Kombat 9, where Earth’s governments allowed her to rule over Australia, a jab at Australia’s infamous censorship policies.

    41. KIRA

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deception

    If Kobra is Evil Johnny Cage, then his cohort Kira is Evil Sonya Blade. With both Sonya and Kano not in Deception, it was a decent idea to create a character with a mix of their moves.

    Kira came off as a bit easier to take seriously than “Not Ken Masters,” but what really made the two of them great was their relationship as expanded on in their Armageddonendings. Being the counterparts to Johnny and Sonya, they also share the same love/hate relationship, only it’s darker. Both of their endings have the winner gain ultimate power, show emotion for the other, and then get stabbed in the back for it.

    Those two deserve each other.

    40. RAIN

    First appearance: Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3

    Rain was pretty dumb up until Armageddonand Mortal Kombat 9, where he became an egomaniac.

    In Mortal Kombat Trilogy, the TV shows, and movies, Rain was just the dude who betrayed everyone and joined Kahn’s side. Starting with Armageddon, Rain started showing personality as a power-hungry jerk who believed that he was owed everything because he was the greatest fighter and was the son of a god. This transitioned well into his Mortal Kombat 9 ending where he killed Shao Kahn for his perceived lack of respect. Raiden thanked him and called him a great hero before pointing out that Rain was the son of the Edenian god Argus. Rain took that as, “All right! That proves I’m great! To show how great I am, I’m going to destroy Earthrealm. Thanks, Raiden!”

    Thanks, Raiden. Dumbass.

    Rain makes a few appearances in Mortal Kombat X as Mileena's advisor. Naturally, he's out to stab her in the back. Of all the non-playable opponents, he's the one most deserving to be reintroduced onto the main roster.

    39. MAVADO

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

    The Red Dragon was one of the better ideas for expanding the Mortal Kombat lore. So far, all the Black Dragon gave us was Kano, Kano’s knockoff, and the gasmask guy who no longer wanted anything to do with them. It made sense to move on, and they gave us the Red Dragon, the rival group led by an anti-Kano villain who was a calculating and cold assassin. Mavado got added cool points for his bungee hook attacks and the very idea that he outright murdered Kabal for completion’s sake and stole his badass weapons.

    Mavado fell down the totem pole when they stopped caring about the Red Dragon in Deception(temporarily killing Mavado off in the process) and then decided to retcon him into second-in-command to Daegon by the time Armageddonrolled around.

    38. FERRA/TORR

    First Appearance: Mortal Kombat X

    Master Blaster from Beyond Thunderdome rules, so I was completely on board when they decided to introduce a knockoff in Mortal Kombat with a play style very reminiscent of Chang/Choi from Capcom vs. SNK 2.

    Ferra/Torr is great, though only exists as Kotal Kahn’s funny-talking muscle without the dignity of being a boss character. The duo is a bit paper-thin at times, but at least their symbiotic species is the most original new race the series has introduced in years. Their ending shows how their lifespan works and it’s honestly kind of tragic.

    Anyway, I hope to see more action from them in the future.

    37. FROST

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

    With Sub-Zero’s attempt to rebuild the Lin Kuei and give it legitimacy, adding Frost to the cast was a nice touch. The young protégé went through a tragic downward spiral through the games due to her ego. She went from being self-centered to greedy and power-hungry to completely insane, soon driven only by her desire to kill Sub-Zero. Not because she was outright evil, but because her own faults led her to mental illness.

    The new, altered timeline shows that Sub-Zero and Scorpion have been able to make their peace, but Frost opposes it. I'd like to see them continue with that point of view in the future.

    36. ONAGA

    First appearance (mentioned): Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

    First appearance (in-game): Mortal Kombat: Deception

    After Shinnok was a bust, and Deadly Alliance’s idea for a final boss was “two less-than-impressive guys one after the other,” it was refreshing to see them go with someone genuinely ominous. While only referred to as “The Dragon King,” Deadly Alliance’s story dropped plenty of hints that Onaga was going to be a major force to deal with in the sequel. Then he made his first official appearance by clowning the combined might of Raiden, Shang Tsung, and Quan Chi without breaking a sweat.

    He would never be nearly as cool as Shao Kahn (his former advisor, who killed him with treachery years ago), but he was the right villain for what the series needed at the time.

    35. SHINNOK

    First appearance (mentioned): Mortal Kombat Trilogy

    First appearance (in-game): Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero

    First appearance (fighting game): Mortal Kombat 4

    Shinnok should have been awesome. The endings for Mileena and Noob Saibot in Mortal Kombat Trilogy built him up as this Satanic ender of worlds. Then he showed up in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, which made him look like a jester as played by a guidance counselor.

    It didn’t help that in Mortal Kombat 4, he didn’t have any cool boss-like qualities to him other than being able to steal moves. He was just a lazy Shang Tsung. It wasn’t until Armageddonand Mortal Kombat 9 that they were able to make him seem like an actual threat.

    Shinnok ends up jumping up the list a bit because of his depiction in Mortal Kombat X. Although he isn't the end-all/be-all villain that Shao Kahn and Onaga were portrayed as, he was pretty fun as a hybrid of Emperor Palpatine and Loki, especially when he goes into an angry rant at being sucker-punched by Johnny Cage. Still looking like kind of a weenie at times, he at least has the terrifying Corrupted Shinnok final form to fall back on.


    First Appearance: Mortal Kombat X

    Takeda’s character design might be a little too try-hard for my tastes without being able to thrive on his own merits. He looks cool and I absolutely love his more futuristic ninja weaponry (which in turn makes the Shirai-Ryu look smarter than the Lin Kuei for knowing the right way to embrace technology), but for a guy who is the forgotten son of Kenshi and the prized pupil of Scorpion, Takeda isn’t good enough to step out of their shadows. He works best as an accessory to Scorpion, finally giving him some semblance of family and helping to give him closure.

    As mentioned earlier, his romantic exploits with Jacqui are there for the sake of scratching off a trope checkbox.


    First appearance: Mortal Kombat

    Sonya is the weakest of the original seven characters. The first lady of Mortal Kombat fits right in the line of awkward outsiders and unfazed adventurers. On one hand, the whole Outworld invasion concept is so alien to her, but on the other hand, she’s dedicated to hunting down a drug cartel run by a man who looks like a battle-damaged Terminator.

    As an individual, Sonya doesn’t have much going on, but she’s more defined with her rich relationships with Jax, Kano, and Johnny Cage. Her tendency to be a wet blanket hits critical in the new game, making it completely surprising that Johnny's ego wasn't the reason for their divorce. Then again, a lot of that is forgiven for that scene where she goes to town on Quan Chi and crushes his nuts.

    Just like how Johnny would have wanted it.

    Sonya was cut out of the Special Forces video game, and I can’t tell if that works for or against her on this list.

    32. JAX

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat II

    Jax was cool as hell in his first couple of appearances, playing the super-strong army dude who would charismatically break your face. He’s also a victim of some hilarious irony, as the man known for ripping off arms in Mortal Kombat II would have his arms replaced with cybernetic limbs in the sequel.

    After Mortal Kombat 3, Jax’s flame began to die down, even if his Mortal Kombat 4 ending is memorable for all the wrong reasons.

    I was going to have Sonya above Jax until seeing his story in Unchained, the PSP upgrade of Deception. It’s incredibly badass.

    Like the others killed in Deadly Alliance, he’s resurrected and mind-controlled by Onaga to be his soldier. Jax is freed from the mind control, but remembers the horrors of his actions, so he’s pissed. Then the ending had Shujinko narrate that having everyone’s abilities wasn’t enough for him to stop Onaga, but then Jax marched over and killed the Dragon King purely because he was so goddamn angry. He killed him by taking one of the artifacts that powered Onaga and shoved it straight through the monster's forehead. That rules!

    You know what else rules? Putting out cigars on your metal hand. Also, being reskinned as Carl Weathers in Predator.

    31. SAREENA

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero

    First appearance (fighting game): Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition

    Sareena showed up in Mythologiesas a demon underling of Quan Chi. She is essentially the anti-Scorpion in that Sub-Zero chose not to kill her when given the chance, and it ended up having a positive outcome. She aided him against Quan Chi and then asked him to help her leave the Netherrealm.

    Shinnok seemingly killed her, but as explained in the Deadly Alliance Game Boy Advance port Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition, she was able to reform and escape from the realm. From there, she was an ally of the second Sub-Zero and tried to be a better person, despite her demonic origins. A way better redemption story than they tried with Ashrah, Sareena exists as the original Sub-Zero’s one moment of humanity snowballing into something meaningful.

    30. HAVIK

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deception

    With Mortal Kombat 9 trying to ignore most of the post-Mortal Kombat 3 characters, it was no surprise that Havik, the Cleric of Chaos, was still thrown in there as part of Noob Saibot’s ending. While the whole Orderrealm/Chaosrealm subplot never quite caught on, Havik is strong enough to exist on his own.

    He’s a perfect chaotic neutral to throw a wrench in everything. He saves Kabal’s life, but convinces him to turn back to being evil. He wants to stop Onaga from ruling the realms, but as a means to resurrect Shao Kahn because he liked his style as a conqueror. Havik’s the ultimate wild card in the Mortal Kombat lore and really deserves to get more play.

    RELATED ARTICLE: The History of Mortal Kombat Comics

    29. SINDEL

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat 3

    Sindel had a major role in Mortal Kombat 3, and the very idea of being able to play as Shao Kahn’s Queen was a novel one. She remained a relatively boring fixture in the series from there on, but then the reboot happened, and we got that scene in story mode with Sindel’s rampage.

    Seriously, if you type “Sindel” into YouTube’s search bar, one of the top suggestions is, “Sindel kills everyone” and with good reason. Sindel takes a respectable leap up the ranks because holy shit that scene.

    28. REPTILE

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat

    Reptile deserves nothing but respect for being the first secret character in fighting game history, but I feel he’s lost his edge from game to game.

    In the first Mortal Kombat, he’s the holy grail of AI opponents. Then in Mortal Kombat II he’s shown to be a literal reptile with creepy reptilian attacks and Fatalities. In the games that follow, he starts devolving and no longer becomes much more than a throwaway villain. Setting him up as the host for Onaga in Deadly Alliance was an inspired twist, though, and I love his bandaged ninja redesign from Shaolin Monks.

    Reptile becomes endearing in Mortal Kombat X, where for once he's loyal to someone who doesn't treat him like dirt on his heel.

    27. SEKTOR

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat 3

    At first, Sektor and Cyrax were interchangeable outside of armor color and what kind of explosive device they liked more. As the games went further with Mortal Kombat Gold and Tournament Edition, we started to see some real contrast.

    Cyrax was an honorable warrior, but Sektor was a straight-up jerk. He insisted upon being turned into a cyborg and presumably didn’t even need to be given any programming. While Cyrax, Smoke, and Sub-Zero were reluctant and horrified, Sektor relished being a robotic killing machine, eventually even starting his own Lin Kuei offshoot to force more ninjas into becoming robots in the hopes of world domination. That’s messed up.

    Oh, and those noises he made in Mortal Kombat 3 were awesome.

    26. QUAN CHI

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm

    First appearance (game): Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero

    First appearance (fighting game): Mortal Kombat 4

    The true evil mastermind of the Mortal Kombat universe, Quan Chi is always three steps ahead of everyone else, while rarely ever taking the center stage. While he suffers from the writers trying to make him a little too slick and smart for his own good, it only makes it more pleasing when he finally gets his just desserts (go see Scorpion’s Mortal Kombat 9 ending for proof). The guy is just completely hateable, making it no surprise that NetherRealm Studios decided to include him in the reboot despite not actually appearing in the original trilogy.

    Richard Divizio as Quan Chi as Alec Baldwin as Robert Deniro is something that will never get old.

    I bet Noob Saibot does a mean Ray Liotta.

    25. MOLOCH

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

    Moloch was boss. I mean, literally he was a boss, yes, know what I mean.

    The oni beast fit the Goro role in Deadly Alliance and brought some utter brutality that hadn’t been felt in a Mortal Kombatboss since Kintaro. It was pretty impressive too that they pulled it off while skipping away from the whole Shokan/centaur party and going with something completely new and different. Considering one of Quan Chi’s pre-fight intros in Mortal Kombat X shows him casually carrying around Moloch’s disembodied head, I guess we won’t be hearing from him anymore.

    That’s too bad. The guy palmed a wrecking ball for crying out loud.

    24. BARAKA

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat II

    In the early days of arcade fighting games, there was this unwritten quota that your game needed to have some kind of token freak character. Street Fighter had Blanka. Samurai Shodownhad Gen-An. Mortal Kombat had Baraka.

    Looking like Nosferatu went through the Weapon X program, Baraka fit the evolved atmosphere of Mortal Kombat II perfectly. When the series got more outlandish, his novelty started to fade, outside of the always-fun Wolverine arm blades gimmick. He ended up in Mileena’s shadow and became nothing more than just another member of the rogues’ gallery, but during those first couple years of existence, he was the coolest thing about the series.

    23. D'VORAH

    First Appearance: Mortal Kombat X

    I said that there would be spoilers, so here’s the big one: D’Vorah kills Mileena in Mortal Kombat X. It’s rather perfect, especially in the way that D’Vorah does her in with a kiss. Despite being girl-on-girl, it’s gross as hell and is in no way erotic. It’s like Mileena passing the torch to the new, grotesque, backstabbing female villain.

    D’Vorah is a great new addition to the roster and is filled with all sorts of creepy surprises. Her various bug-based attacks, the way she’s always petting a larva that she keeps in her own stomach for safe-keeping, her tendency to describe herself as “this one,” and so on. She loses some charm once she’s depicted as just another follower of Shinnok, but at least she has her ridiculous ending with her Shinnok/bug babies running amok to make up for it.

    22. LIU KANG

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat

    Liu Kang sucked for a long, long time. A Bruce Lee knockoff whose story was that he always won and Kitana wanted to jump his bones.

    Midway realized how repetitive that was and killed him off at the beginning of Deadly Alliance, which was such a shocking moment and direction. Then he came back as a shambling zombie, which was just super. With the reboot, Liu Kang’s monotonous road to heroism took a nasty derail when he became completely insane and fed up with Raiden’s utter buffoonery, cursing Raiden’s name as he died in the god’s arms.

    Liu Kang and Shang Tsung’s non-canon endings in Mortal Kombat 9showed how far his distrust of Raiden would have gone, as Liu killed Raiden for the status of Protector of Earthrealm and became such a tyrant that Bo’ Rai Cho had to train Shang Tsung to stop him as a lesser evil. While that may not have come to pass, the canon path is just as sinister.

    As of the end of Mortal Kombat X, a demonic Liu Kang rules Hell alongside Kitana. Intriguing...

    21. KUNG LAO

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat II

    Kung Lao had the most stylish moveset, and his constant desire to redeem his ancestor’s loss was always a great source of inspiration when it came to generic hero types. In Deadly Alliance, they centered his story around avenging Liu’s death, but once he failed at that and they brought his buddy back anyway, they threw them into a friendly rivalry that was featured in various games.

    Liu Kang or Kung Lao? Come on, bro. Kung Lao’s magic razor hat always trumped Liu Kang’s turkey voice, so putting him one spot above seems about right.


    First appearance: Mortal Kombat 3

    Stryker was an unintentional joke in Mortal Kombat 3, looking less like a guy who would try and save the world and more like Randal from Clerks. He gradually became better over time, mostly due to being voiced by Ron Perlman on the Defenders of the Realm cartoon and that hilarious moment in the Armageddonintro where he sucker punched Mileena and cheesed it.

    He really became something worth caring about in the reboot, where he came off as a likeable, disgruntled, smart-ass who seemed to have a better handle on his unorthodox cop weapons. His own win pose was him throwing a grenade onto his opponent and glaring at the player while ignoring the splatter. Stryker suddenly became the man.

    I should also mention that his ending in Mortal Kombat 9 is the funniest thing. Poor Johnny.

    19. KITANA

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat II

    When they introduced the female ninjas in Mortal Kombat II, Kitana became one of the breakout stars of the series, easily having more meat on her character than Sonya ever did.

    She's a highly skilled assassin who has been alive several millennia, and only when the stakes are at their highest does she realize that her entire life is one big prank/conspiracy. While she’s a major victim of Shao Kahn’s treachery, Kahn becomes a victim of his own hubris. He could have snuffed her out as a child and probably should have. Instead, he chose to raise her as his prized assassin and make an evil clone out of her, never caring enough about how that could blow up in his face. And it totally did!

    It is pretty funny to me how, after Kitana embraced being a princess, she went back to wearing a mask for no reason other than how it was iconic. Personally, I always liked her simpler Mortal Kombat II look the best instead of how elaborate it got in later games.

    Kitana's ending in Mortal Kombat X, which looks to be canon, is wonderful. Had Raiden not gone back in time to stop the events of Armageddon, Kitana would have eventually stopped Shao Kahn at the cost of Earthrealm being completely destroyed. Kitana gets a vision of this and the knowledge makes her furious at Raiden. I know we like to joke about Raiden being a screw-up, but it really shows how far gone the undead Kitana's become when she can ignore the deaths of billions in order to be mad at Raiden for ruining her success and happiness.


    First appearance: Mortal Kombat

    Man, if any character was hurt from the move from sprites to computer-generated models, it’s Shang Tsung. The soul-eating shape-shifter was such a great villain, able to attack you with the repertoire of almost everyone in the game. A schemer who would posture at one moment and then beg and plead at Shao Kahn’s feet the next, he was the perfect second banana to Kahn’s dominant personality. His appearances in the first two games were the best, but it went downhill when he suddenly became thong-wearing Alice Cooper in Mortal Kombat 3. That was a strange phase.

    Shang goes higher up the list because of the great job Mortal Kombat X does of building him back up as a major villain. He has a notable presence in various endings (Erron Black, Johnny Cage, Cassie Cage) and makes his return during Ermac's. It's a delightful swerve, considering Ermac's story pointed at the return of Shao Kahn instead.

    17. KANO

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat

    The Bullseye of Mortal Kombat, Kano is a special kind of scum, and the series is better for him existing. Even while his copycat, Jarek, was willing to team up with the good guys to stop the greater evil, Kano constantly offered his hand to invaders without thinking twice. He would sell out humankind for the sake of power, survival, and probably for a laugh.

    It’s fitting that he’s the cockroach of the series in that when you think he’s gone for good, he creeps back in and shows that he simply won’t die. He’ll be taken off the board or even be considered dead every other game, but comes back slimier than ever.

    The dude’s design is completely top-notch, and outside of him having a headbutt, I like that it took three games before they decided, “He has a metal implant taking up a third of his face with a glowing red eye. We should probably do something with that.”

    He probably wouldn’t rank quite as high if not for Trevor Goddard’s rocking performance in the first movie.

    16. KINTARO

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat II

    Sure, he was just a knockoff of Goro and has virtually no story to speak of outside of the recent retcon that he was the one who mutilated Kabal, but separated from that, Kintaro is just plain better. As great as Goro was when Mortal Kombat hit the scene, he also had kind of a Gumby/ClayFighter thing going on.

    Kintaro’s design, model, and animation were leagues better, plus he made for a better gaming experience. Not to mention he came across as faster, tougher, and seemingly hit a hell of a lot harder. He’s a damn solid boss.

    Unfortunately, he's still trumped by Goro having NetherRealm behind him while Kintaro becomes increasingly obscure.

    15. GORO

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat

    Before Scorpion became the poster boy of the series, Goro was the true icon of Mortal Kombat. He gelled well with the game’s digitized actors gimmick. You had all these real people to fight when suddenly – oh shit – here comes an eight-foot-tall monster with four arms made of stop-motion animation who shows up to kick your ass before the game can even go back to the ladder screen to show your next opponent.

    What was impressive was that he was the boss everyone cared about despite not being THE boss. Shang Tsung was the big villain behind it all that you fought last, but it didn’t matter because compared to Goro, the game treated Shang like an afterthought.

    Goro best represented the alien nature of Outworld, especially in the first game when it took place in Earthrealm and had minimum otherworldly craziness. Goro’s a lot like Baraka in that his staying power dwindled from game to game no matter how many times they tried to remind you of how cool he used to be. At least Goro got special treatment over the years, being an added character in the home ports of Mortal Kombat 4, the Gamecube port of Deception, and the pre-order bonus for Mortal Kombat X.

    Originally, I had Goro below Kintaro on the list, but he's so great in Mortal Kombat X. For the first time in years, they really have a good grasp on how to make him work. That apparently includes tearing random dudes in half in the middle of conversations.

    14. KOTAL KAHN

    First Appearance: Mortal Kombat X

    Kotal Kahn at the very least represents a great idea: why do all the rulers of Outworld have to be complete monsters? Make no mistake, Kotal Kahn is no hero. He has people publicly executed for committing acts of desperate thievery and his lack of intent in challenging Shinnok paints him as a coward. But he’s still honorable, is a fairly strong leader, actually cares for his allies, and will do anything to protect his planetary kingdom. He’s essentially Mortal Kombat’s version of Black Adam and Namor.

    Kotal’s painted in a better light in the Mortal Kombat X comic where we see that his journey into Earthrealm centuries ago led to him becoming recognized and worshipped as the Mayan god of war and sacrifice, something that fits well into his appearance and fighting style. He also has the most badass fight against Goro, where he rides in on a T-Rex, fries Rain by summoning an intense sun beam breaking through the clouds, tears Goro’s arms off, and then refuses to kill him because that would be a greater insult.

    His ending in Mortal Kombat X suggests the main plot of the next game and I hope that’s the direction they’re going in. Kotal Kahn defending his world against Earthrealm in Mortal Kombat is a million dollar idea.

    13. CYRAX

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat 3

    Cyrax is what Smoke should have been. He started off as interchangeable with Sektor in Mortal Kombat 3, but got the more haunting ending where he was beaten up by Sub-Zero, reprogrammed to kill Shao Kahn, and then malfunctioned and got lost in the desert, buried up to his neck in sand. Rather than just move on, they used that to give Cyrax a redemption arc where Jax and Sonya rescued him and helped him remember his humanity.

    Cyrax became a Special Forces agent up until his death in Armageddon. Then the reboot happened and showed that much like Sub-Zero and Smoke, Cyrax also opposed the whole “turn everyone into robots” concept, which came off as more tragic because he was alone and his capture and transformation were only alluded to.

    12. KABAL

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat 3

    If Star Wars has taught us anything, it’s that being covered in respirators doesn’t hurt your stature as long as you’re ominous and mysterious enough to offset the fact that you can keel over at any moment.

    When introduced in Mortal Kombat 3, Kabal was the absolute definition of anti-hero. He had the striking appearance filled with mystique, the many scars, the sweet hookswords, and the evil-turned-good backstory. It just sucks that they chose not to really do anything with him for a while after that. He should have been in Mortal Kombat 4 or at least Gold.

    Then they stealth killed him and brought him back as a villain again, which kind of ruined him. Then again, considering his history, it does say a lot that Kabal’s main quality is his complete lack of conviction. Even Kano will act proud of who he is. A man with no spine is dangerous in his own way.


    First appearance: Mortal Kombat X

    Finally, they did it. They introduced a new main hero character who is actually likeable.

    Cassie is the best of both worlds between her parents. She has Sonya’s military leadership and access to all sorts of fun government weaponry, but with Johnny’s swagger, sense of humor, and tendency to hit people in the junk. Similarly, she follows up Johnny’s autograph signing Friendship by doing a Fatality based on her doing a selfie. Usually something like that would come off as too corny and forced, but they go so over-the-top with it, to the point of showing a Facebook knockoff page with scrolling comments from other kombatants, and it’s one of the true highlights of the new game. Sonya’s exasperation that Cassie is online friends with Kano is amusing to no end.

    Cassie is everything you’d want out of a good female protagonist and it’s wonderful that NetherRealm was able to hit the potential on such a fun character design. Adding to that, her ending shows her killing Shujinko and that in itself gets her ranked above Kotal at the very least.


    First appearance: Mortal Kombat X

    Erron Black is the Boba Fett of Mortal Kombat. He gets punked out in the main story, but he’s still this mysterious and menacing mercenary bastard dressed in an outdated outfit. Everything about him just oozes cool.

    He’s nigh-immortal as payment for assassinating a would-be Mortal Kombat contender back in the 1800s. He was kidnapped by Tarkatans back during the events of Mortal Kombat 3, but killed them all and chose to remain in Outworld as a gun for hire anyway. He wears a mask purely for style points. Not only does he use outdated – yet effective – Wild West weaponry, but also sand grenades and a sword fashioned out of a Tarkatan arm (which may very well be Baraka’s if you look at the chronology).

    Yet nothing beats Erron Black’s X-Ray attack where he literally has a bullet with your name written on it. How fitting that the breakout character from Mortal Kombat X would be #10.

    9. RAIDEN

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat

    I could basically just explain Raiden’s spot in the top ten with Christopher Lambert saying, “The fate of billions will depend upon you, heh heh heh... Sorry,” in the movie, but I might as well go on.

    Originally introduced as a one-dimensional villain, Raiden was retconned into being Earthrealm’s go-to mentor character in Mortal Kombat II. Despite having a presence in nearly every game, they’ve done a fantastic job keeping him fresh. He wasn’t in Mortal Kombat 3 or Ultimate, which only hyped him up for Trilogywhere they just used his sprites from Mortal Kombat IIand added a lame new move. He took center stage in Mortal Kombat 4and by Deadly Alliance, his leader shtick was starting to get a little tired.

    Deceptionsuddenly reinvented him. He died and was reborn as a corrupt parody of himself. No longer a compassionate god with the heart of a human, he instead became cold and merciless, wiping out anyone he deemed a threat to Earthrealm. He went back to his classic self in the reboot, which painted him as the biggest screw-up. It was hilarious! He kept trying to change history and nearly every time, he just proceeded to make things worse. In fact, here’s Mortal Kombat 9summed up.

    Accidentally killing off most of the cast? You better believe that’s a paddlin’!


    First appearance (as Sub-Zero): Mortal Kombat

    First appearance (as Noob Saibot): Mortal Kombat II

    Bi-Han is the older Sub-Zero and the one to appear in Mortal Kombat and his own spin-off game. While Mythologies: Sub-Zero was pretty mediocre, the storyline was actually quite good and reminds me a lot of Vincent Vega’s downfall in Pulp Fiction.

    Sub-Zero did a mission that blew up in his face, and when he tried to make things right, he was told by a higher power that he was capable of being a good person if he strayed away from his life as an assassin. He chose not to and his sins caught up with him. Had he gone away from the Lin Kuei, he would have not only become something more, but he wouldn’t have been killed by Scorpion, much like how if Vega had left the life of crime behind like Jules did, he wouldn’t have been shot dead on the crapper.

    Noob Saibot represents the dark sickness that comes from the cycle of violence. As explained in the reboot, by giving into his thirst for vengeance, Scorpion unleashed something horrible onto the world. Interestingly enough, the two have never had any interaction despite their relationship and how they were both on Quan Chi’s payroll at the same time (say what you will, Quan’s fantastic at management). Regardless, Bi-Han makes for a great foil for Scorpion and the other Sub-Zero.

    7. KENSHI

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

    Without a doubt, the best design to come out past the original trilogy, and I can’t imagine too many would disagree with me. With a look that feels like Solid Snake mixed with Daredevil, Kenshi showed up in Deadly Alliance as a completely fitting warrior with some serious staying power.

    The blind swordsman is dedicated to exacting revenge on Shang Tsung for tricking him, removing his sight, and feasting on the souls of his ancestors. He’s more than a man of vengeance, though, as he’s also a member of the Special Forces and honorably works towards their ends.

    Despite being revealed as a good buddy of both Sub-Zero and Scorpion, Kenshi is far from a Mary Sue character. In fact, in his first appearance, he canonically gets his ass handed to him by Mavado and spends the next game healing from his injuries. His ending in Armageddon is also a bit of a downer.

    6. ERMAC

    First appearance: Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3

    Originally a false rumor, Ermac first made an official appearance in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 as a ninja with telekinetic attacks who had zero story. Really, his ending was a lame thing about how he only beat up Shao Kahn to prove he existed. Wonderful.

    In Trilogy, they finally gave him an identity as a being made entirely of warrior souls that Shao Kahn had collected over the years. That made him unique enough, as one of Kahn’s enforcers, but Ermac didn’t really come into his own until Deadly Alliance (where he was mentioned, though not actually in the game) and Deception, where he broke the bonds of Kahn and became the series’ new, wise mentor character, replacing the darkened Raiden while sporting a sweet, red mummy/ninja outfit. They also made him powerful enough to take on Kung Lao, Kitana, Jax, Sonya, and Johnny Cage all by himself.

    NetherRealm added to his concept in the reboot. It was revealed that not only was Ermac the one responsible for Jax needing metal arm replacements, but – in a really ingenious twist – of all the souls residing in Ermac, one of them is King Jerrod, Kitana's father. That’s why without Kahn controlling his will, Ermac’s more heroic. Jerrod is the dominant personality.

    5. MILEENA

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat II

    Mortal Kombat gets some well-deserved guff for the way the female characters are over-sexualized, but I always thought it was pretty funny of them to focus the male gaze on the monster-faced woman. Really, back when Deceptioncame out, they released an official image of a topless (albeit covered) Mileena, and in Mortal Kombat 9, the reward for completing Challenge Tower is an outfit where Mileena wears some strategically-placed bandages with her ass hanging out. Yet at the same time, she’s facially nightmare fuel. While having Kitana and Sindel walk around in bathing suits is cheesy, there’s a creepy, succubus-like feel to it when it’s Mileena.

    Despite being defined by her jealousy of Kitana and her relationship with Baraka, Mileena finds a way to outshine them both. She’s playful, entitled, psychotic, and completely unpredictable. Despite her bloodthirsty nature, and the fact that she was created to be the ultimate killing machine, Kitana’s Mortal Kombat 9 ending shows that even Mileena has the potential to do good. Especially when you move her away from Kitana, Mileena has a freaky charisma to her that would make nearly any story direction an interesting one.

    4. SHAO KAHN

    First appearance: Mortal Kombat II

    When they announced Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, everyone talked about how silly a matchup it was, but not me. I knew the reason why these two worlds would collide: there is nobody in the realm of fiction more fitting a counterpart to Darkseid than Shao Kahn. Piss off, Thanos. You don’t even rank.

    Shao Kahn the Konqueror is such a wonderful villain. A barbarian sorcerer pimp who will stop beating the everloving hell out of you just to tell you how much better he is. I already mentioned his hubris in Kitana’s entry, but really, his only downfall is that he’ll give you the slightest chance to win by stopping, pointing, and saying, “You weak, pathetic fool!” And yet, he’d still probably take you out with a magic sledgehammer to the skull.

    There’s a reason why Kahn keeps being brought back to the forefront and why he immediately came back in Mortal Kombat 3 instead of trying to replace him with a bigger threat. Simply put, you can’t get better than Kahn. They peaked too early.


    First appearance: Mortal Kombat

    Until recently, the Mortal Kombat games have done a weak job expressing personality in its fighters in-game. Especially in the first game, we got a Fatality, a win pose, and the animated clip of each character during the bio screens when nobody was playing the game.

    Sure, Scorpion had his, “GET OVER HERE!” but it’s not like it really meant anything to the character. Johnny Cage, though? He pumped his fist, pulled out his sunglasses, slipped them on, and posed with his arms crossed. With that and his legendary split-punch attack, you KNEW that he was a tremendous-yet-loveable douchebag. He would keep that going throughout the series.

    Cage owes a lot to Linden Ashby’s performance in the movie, which gave a perfect idea of what he should be. While a goofball character, I’ve always loved the bittersweet storyline going on when they put him in Mortal Kombat Trilogy, where Johnny knew that destroying Kahn would ultimately cause his own death, but was determined to take him out anyway.

    Regardless, we didn’t get peak Cage until the reboot, where his douchiness went completely critical: the glasses breaking during his new win pose, the fact that he has “JOHNNY” tattooed on his chest and “CAGE” on a belt buckle, the fact that he starred in a movie called Ninja Mime, his cheesy one-liners meant to woo Sonya...Cage went from pretty great to greatly great.

    Mortal Kombat X shows that Johnny ages like fine wine. His many, many pre-match conversations make him all the more lovable.


    First appearance: Mortal Kombat

    Swerve! No, Scorpion isn’t #1, but it was close. It’s neat how such a secondary character became so likeable that no matter who they put in the main hero role, he was the one that everyone considered the true icon of the franchise. He was only missing in one fighting game, Mortal Kombat 3, and they were able to sell an upgrade mostly based on, “Hey, this one has Scorpion in it!”

    Scorpion is all-purpose. He can be good, evil, somewhere in-between, but he’s always got that badass aura. No matter how gullible he gets, he’s still a fire-spitting, demon ninja from Hell. Mortal Kombat X finally gave him closure on the revenge front and took away his flaming skull by making him human again, but it's okay because his new beard is pretty righteous.


    First appearance (as Sub-Zero): Mortal Kombat II

    First appearance (as Cyber Sub-Zero): Mortal Kombat 9

    In that DC crossover, they were very protective of Batman. Anyone could beat up Superman because they had an in-game explanation for that. Batman, though? He’s only human, but he’s the greatest human warrior there is, so nobody should be allowed to beat him in the story mode. At least nobody from a visiting reality where all people do is fight.

    The second Sub-Zero, Kuai Liang, was the one Mortal Kombat character allowed to kick Batman’s ass. Then in his ending, Sub-Zero went on to don a cape and become the Batman of the Mortal Kombat world. Why? Because Sub-Zero is the best Mortal Kombat character.

    There’s so many great things about Kuai Liang Sub-Zero. The fact that his first official appearance is in the Mortal Kombat II comic, where he steps out of a high-tech aircraft piloted by ninjas, only he’s wearing a 3-piece suit with sunglasses, and he’s handing out Lin Kuei business cards.

    In Mortal Kombat 3, he’s so disgusted by the thought of being turned into a robot that he stops wearing his classic duds and instead becomes Henry Rollins with red paint over his eye. The whole idea that he tried to take over the Lin Kuei and turn them into an entire ninja clan of good guys. The fact that he started dressing up as the Shredder for kicks. Knowing that Luke Perry voiced him on the cartoon. That whole thing in Mortal Kombat 9 where, as Cyber Sub-Zero, he single handedly saved a bunch of soldiers from Kano, Goro, Kintaro, and Ermac, and the soldiers were all in awe about how rad he was.

    All of that, and Sub-Zero had easily the best ending in Mortal Kombat history.

    Agree? Disagree? Should Jarek have been in the top 10? Sound off in the comments below!

    Gavin Jasper is disturbed by the amount of Sub-Zero/Elsa shipping fan art there is on the internet. No, really. That is a thing. Follow him on Twitter.

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    "It’s not the case that there’s some power-hungry monster at the top," says Aaryn Flynn, former general manager of BioWare.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 3, 2018

    Aaryn Flynn, former studio general manager and vice president of BioWare, recently spoke with Kotaku regarding what it was like to work under Electronic Arts. 

    "I think the shift is in some ways empowering," said Flynn of EA's acquisition of BioWare. "Because one of the things that I always felt was tough about being at BioWare when we were independent, talking about Edmonton, is that you feel very isolated when you’re up in Edmonton, at least I did. To be part of a community of developers who can all share and relate to you…"

    Flynn explained that being purchased by Electronic Arts opened up a whole community for BioWare.

    "When you join EA, and you get to be part of that, all of a sudden you’re connected with all of these folks who have this perspective that’s similar to you, they kinda grew up doing the same things, they have their own war stories, they have their own all that. But then they can bring perspective you don’t have...So yeah, I think the best part of it is the empowering part of it. And you know, like they said in Dead Poet’s Society, I told you to drink from the marrow of life, not choke on the bone."

    Naturally, Kotaku wanted to get an inside perspective regarding some of the missteps that EA has made as a company in recent years and whether those missteps affected the design decisions and direction of BioWare on a creative level. So far as that goes, Flynn admits that he doesn't really see EA as an overwhelming overlord of creative decisions. 

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    "It’s never a case that it comes [down], and it’s like, 'thou shalt do this.' It’s quite an open company in my experience," said Flynn. "I’ve had the privilege of having conversations with folks in very senior positions about the status of things, and things like that. And again, these are conversations we have, you know, it never goes that way of 'thou shalt do this' and 'thou shalt do that.' It’s never that. It’s always, 'Look, what do we think we can do? This is what we’re trying to achieve, can we do this? Do you think we can?' It’s more that than it is anything else. It’s unfortunate [when] things don’t work out, and that’s tough, and everybody should be held accountable to that, and that’s how it works when you’re in business. But it’s not the case that there’s some power-hungry monster at the top. It’s not that."

    While there will no doubt be people who will dismiss these claims as PR rhetoric, this isn't the first time that top-level employees in EA companies have stated that the publisher doesn't really have as much direct influence as people tend to think. The extent of that claim is up for debate, but it feels like there is more going on here than just the presence of an "evil empire."

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    What you need to know about Insomniac's Spider-Man game, including latest news, release date, trailers, and more!

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 3, 2018

    Insomniac's take on Spider-Man isn't just one of the PS4's biggest upcoming exclusive, it's one of the biggest titles in Marvel's new approach to game releases. Spider-Man will not be directly associated with the MCU or a particular film, but will instead tell a unique story of the studio's design. 

    Spider-Man will focus on young Peter Parker's battles against a still unconfirmed roster of classic comic book villains. As this game seems to take place relatively early into his superhero career, Parker will need to learn how to balance being the hero that NYC needs with the daily pressures of young adult life. 

    Here's the latest from Spider-Man:

    Spider-Man News

    Game Informer has an exclusive story about Insomniac's Spider-Man coming out and have released some new gameplay footage from the title to celebrate the occasion. 

    This footage reveals a great deal of Spider-Man's combat system and exploration mechanics. Spider-Man's combat will seemingly utilize a kind of multi-man system featured in titles like the Arkham games, but Spider-Man's gadgets and abilities will allow him to dispatch of the city's baddies with considerably more flair. Navigation is also bolstered by Spider-Man's inherent abilities. We don't get a full feel for how swinging around the city works, but it looks like players will be asked to target where their next navigational web is going. 

    Spider-Man Release Date

    Spider-Man will be out in 2018. The game is coming exclusively to the PlayStation 4.

    Spider-Man Trailer

    Insomniac and Sony debuted the latest trailer for Spider-Man at the Paris Games show. This preview focuses on Peter Parker's role in the story and expands the game's little mythology twists more than previous previews have done. 

    Another arrived for Insomniac's Spider-Man game at D23 2017. Check it out below:

    While we never doubted Insomniac's ability to do something special with the Spider-Man series, the first gameplay trailer for their Spider-Man title goes a long way to assuring us that they really understand what makes this character so special. 

    While there are aspects of the Arkham series in this Spider-Man game, the seamless web-slinging travel and breathtaking large-scale action sequences really help Spider-Man stand out as one of the best games shown at E3 2017.  

    In what must be considered a piece of dream casting in the gaming world, Insomniac Games (developers of Ratchet and Clank and Sunset Overdrive) are going to be helming the next Spider-Man game. Announced at the Sony E3 2016 conference, the game looks to stay true to the comics all the way down to Peter Parker's witty banter. 

    Have a look at the trailer:

    More on this as we learn it!

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    That awful PC version of Chrono Trigger might one day actually be playable.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 3, 2018

    Chrono Trigger's awful PC port will supposedly be fixed in the coming months. 

    Square Enix has updated the game's Steam page with a message that expresses their awareness of the ports' issues. They plan on fixing some of these problems via a series of updates that begin with the release of an April patch that will add high-resolution graphics to the game as well as the option to experience the title's original visuals. 

    The studio has not disclosed what future updates might include or when those updates will be released. 

    In case you missed it, Chrono Trigger was quietly released on Steam back in February. While Chrono Trigger has been made available for several platforms since its SNES debut, PC gamers have had to make do with...err...less than official ways of playing the classic JRPG.

    Now, you can play Chrono Triggervia Steam for the low price of $14.99. This version of the game does come with two of the additional dungeons featured in the 2008 DS port of the game and doesn't suffer from some of the re-imagined graphics that plagued recent PC editions of classic Final Fantasygames. 

    However, and this is a big warning that you should consider, the release version of the PC game is a fairly straight port of Chrono Trigger's mobile version. Not only does that mean that it hasn't necessarily been cleaned up and polished as much as it could have been, but it seems that this build of the game might feature some problems unique to the mobile port. Some users on Steam are even reporting that if you drag your mouse across the screen, you can see the virtual joystick from the mobile version of the game.

    That's...a bit disturbing. While Chrono Trigger isn't a technologically demanding game, there are certain design concessions that had to be made for the mobile port of the game. Those concessions - such as blurry textures and questionable font - are supposedly also present in the PC version of the title. The number of negative reviews the game received upon its release seemed to indicate that there are serious issues present in this port. Fans on Twitter are already collecting some of the most baffling screenshots from the game. This one is especially troubling:

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    Considering that Chrono Trigger is one of the greatest and most beloved JRPG games of all-time, a port such as this in the year 2018 is honestly unacceptable. Fans probably weren't expecting a complete reimagining of the game, but these kinds of issues are impossible to justify when you're talking about a major company like Square Enix porting a 23-year-old game to PC. 

    We hope that these upcoming updates do fix the game because it really has aged wonderfully and is well worth playing to this day. Be sure to keep an eye on whether or not these upcoming updates restore the title to its former glory. 

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    The internet's dream of a 100 Hanzo Overwatch match will likely never come true.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 3, 2018

    The battle royale genre has become something of a meme amongst those who enjoy the concept and those who don't. We're all bracing for a future in which more and more studios attempt to capitalize on the success of the battle royale concept. To that end, some fans joke about "Game X getting a battle royale mode." Recently, the Diablo-esque Path of Exile even featured a battle royale mode for April Fools Day (which was surprisingly quite good). 

    Now, Overwatchdirector Jeff Kaplan is fielding questions about the viability of an Overwatch battle royale mode. Surprisingly, he's not outright against the idea. 

    "A lot of times when I hear some of our fans pitch it, they’re like ‘Oh, just put a card in the Arcade one day that’s a battle royale mode,’ and I’m like ‘Fuck, that would be awesome,’” said Kaplan in an interview with Kotaku. "But there’s a lot of design and tech work to get us to that place and not just feel like a me-too game.”

    Kaplan goes on to admit that a lot of the team does play quite a bit of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds - no word on whether or not they're Fortnite fans - and that his enthusiasm for such an idea is partially based on that. However, he recognizes that the core concepts of Overwatch would make a simplistic implementation of the typical battle royale mode quite difficult. 

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    “First and foremost, Overwatch is a game about heroes, and part of what makes the core loop work in a battle royale game is the search, the looting, and the fairness that everybody’s sort of equal,” said Kaplan. "Overwatch wasn’t designed to be a 1v1. Every hero’s not balanced against every other hero.”

    Since Overwatch does actually feature a special 1 vs. 1 mode and other gameplay options that don't really fit the core game, Kaplan goes on to say that even if they forced every player to pick from just a few heroes, there's still the technical issue of having to create a play space that is large enough to accommodate the Battle Royale experience. Ultimately, Kaplan feels that "battle royale for Overwatch starts to get into new game territory."

    While that isn't an outright denial of the battle royale in Overwatch possibility, it does throw a bit of cold water on the idea. Of course, Kaplan's comments do make sense and are encouraging in that it's nice to know that not every studio wants in on the battle royale trend as soon as possible. 

    Still, it might be fun to see this idea in some format on a limited basis. 

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    Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords may very well be the greatest Star Wars game ever made...despite its major flaws.

    FeatureMatthew Byrd
    Apr 4, 2018

    The motivation behind most video game mods is often simple or even arbitrary. Whether its adding Teletubbies to Left 4 Dead 2 or changing every dragon in Skyrim to resemble Macho Man Randy Savage, your average mod is intended for little more than to share the amusement of its creator. But occasionally, a video game mod goes much deeper than that. It doesn’t aim to simply alter an existing game, but rather add to it in a meaningful way by generating new content worthy of the original experience or fixing major issues that were otherwise never addressed.

    Of these more substantial video game mods, there is one that has managed to separate itself from the pack in terms of ambition, passion, and purpose. It is known as The Sith Lords Restored Content Mod and its mission is to make what just may be the greatest Star Wars game ever released whole again.

    A Disturbing Lack of Faith

    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic wasn’t even on store shelves when the decision was made to choose a developer for the sequel. Usually making this arrangement before the game is even released is a sign of a publisher’s desire to quickly cash in on a good thing as soon as possible. Given the value of the Star Wars franchise, it’s very possible that was the case, but a wrench would be thrown into this money machine’s cogs as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic became the consensus game of the year for 2003 and a clear contender for the greatest Star Wars game of all-time.

    In short order, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republicwould establish a legacy that few games ever get to enjoy. Fortunately for the legions of fans that Knights of the Old Republicwould draw, BioWare hand-picked a developer with a legacy of its own to handle sequel duties: Obsidian Entertainment.

    Though a brand new company, Obsidian Entertainment so happened to be founded by some of the most important members of the PC RPG revolution in the 1990s. Among them was designer Chris Avellone, whose work on Planescape: Torment established him as one of the industry’s foremost authorities on the greater possibilities of video game storytelling. Avellone had developed something of a reputation as a media guru who would absorb every piece of possibly relevant content he could get his hands on in the name of inspiration.

    Buy Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II on Amazon

    For his work on Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Avellone reportedly grabbed every single piece of media and content he could get his hands on that bore the Star Wars name. His usual devotion to the source material of any adaptation he worked on was especially necessary in this case, as Knight of the Old Republic took place in a period barely referenced by the Star Wars films, but was also just another sign that Knights of the Old Republic II was in the right hands.

    In fact, publisher LucasArts was apparently so confident in the abilities of Obsidian Entertainment to provide the next installment of the Knights of the Old Republic franchise that, despite the developer’s considerable head start, they gave them a mere 14 months to finish the game and a skeleton crew to work with.


    The Dark Side…

    Developer Obsidian and the considerable talent among their founding members may have not been the typical recipients of the “get it done” video game sequel, but their situation was fairly standard for such an arrangement. They were not only given a development time that wouldn’t even be possible were it not for the fact the project would be able to borrow heavily from pre-existent in-game resources, but had to complete the game while still finding their identity.

    Obsidian team member Anthony Davis would later argue that LucasArts was hardly the villain of this tale as they would take on large chunks of the development process and spare additional resources when possible. Instead, the flaws that made it into the game were the result of an ambitious developer attempting to create something truly extraordinary while still trying to figure out things as a team on a limited timeline.

    There are quite a few flaws to be found in Knights of the Old Republic II.
    Many of the game’s technical problems can be attributed to Obsidian’s reliance on the original Knights of the Old Republic game engine combined with some cuts to the testing and QA time. This means that not only are many of the character warping and combat detection glitches found in the original game still very much a factor, but both the graphics and gameplay are more or less a direct pull from the previous title.

    That’s not to say that Obsidian did not make improvements to the first game (the expanded character skill development options and greater influence over your party members moral alignment are particular highlights), but Obsidian’s time crunch did not give them much room to fix the original’s technical shortcomings nor advance the core gameplay in any truly significant way. Yet, when the shortcomings of KOTOR IIbrought about by the short development time are discussed, it is more often than not the game’s story that is cited as the biggest victim.

    A quick glance at the game’s wiki pages devoted to the content that didn’t make it into the game reveals enough scenes to comprise an entirely new experience. While some of what was cut equated to little more than a throwaway line of dialog or a comedic scene, there are far more substantial moments that weren’t incorporated into the game that deal with important character backstories and entire levels.

    But nothing in the game was affected quite as much as KOTOR II’s finale on the surface of the planet Malachor V. While you can play through around three-quarters of the game without really feeling like you are missing significant chunks of the game’s story, the thin veil that Obsidian had constructed to cover up the story's missing elements unravels in a singular moment when you finish an anti-climactic battle with what is supposed to be the universe’s most dangerous entity (the haunting Darth Nihilus) and suddenly find yourself heading to the game’s final moments without a real understanding of how you arrived at the conclusion or what exactly you hope to accomplish there. Even worse your fellow party members, who have until this point become just as integral to the story as yourself for all intents and purposes, simply disappear from the experience. What characters do appear again are involved in moments that have little to do with what came before and leave little emotional impact.

    From there you engage in a couple more anticlimactic altercations, have the option to receive a brief glimpse into future events beyond the game and watch the credits. If this rushed explanation is frustratingly lacking in satisfaction, then it is doing an excellent job of recreating the experience of the game’s finale. It’s the video game storytelling equivalent of a parent trying to rush to the ending of a bedtime story when the children refuse to fall asleep. Only those kids didn’t have 40+ hours of emotional investment tied into the outcome. The power of a story’s ending cannot be overstated and Knights of the Old Republic II’s ending is nothing short of a travesty that nearly destroys the majority of the experience that came before.

    Or at least it would have if what came before wasn’t perhaps the most compelling Star Wars story ever told.

    …And the Light

    Looking back on the story of 1977’s Star Wars, it’s hard to not view it as a relatively simple tale of good vs. evil. It’s an utterly fascinating and well-crafted take on that set-up, but really you’re dealing with the story of a farm boy who becomes a hero by rescuing the princess from an evil sorcerer. Yet despite its simplicity, there were trace elements of something deeper in place. These include rumblings of a Clone War, the conflict between the Rebels and the Empire, and let's not forget the mysteries of the Force. On their own, these are all small—sometimes even assumed—elements of the driving plot. However, they all combined to generate a level of intrigue that helped raise Star Warsfar above the typical sci-fi yarn of the time.

    This soon led to the Star Wars saga’s infamous expanded universe: a series of books, comics, and other media designed to build upon the nuggets of information in the movies and create a bonafide mythology. The same mythology that Obsidian designer Chris Avellone reportedly immersed himself in.

    When it came time to contribute to the wider Star Warsuniverse, Avellone took a cue from the expanded works and pursued something more ambitious than the typical good vs. evil fare. In that regard, KOTOR II has often been compared to The Empire Strikes Back in terms of Star Wars follow-ups that shifted the tone of the story. While the comparison is apt from a plot quality perspective, the difference between the two pieces of work is that Empire Strikes Backincorporated a darker tone that explored the notion of evil triumphing over good.

    KOTOR II, on the other hand, offers no such luxuries. It deals not in good and evil, but rather moral ambiguity. Knights of the Old Republic made a name for itself by allowing players to choose between the light and dark side of the Force through their every action, but here you are constantly forced to somehow discern one from the other through a lingering shade of grey. In doing so, KOTOR II became one of the first major pieces of the Star Wars canon to honestly examine why the pursuit of the light side does not make one a hero, nor does a fall to the dark side represent the actions of a black hat villain. It argues, rather successfully, that in the heat of the moment the choice between the two is not an easy one.

    But the complexity of this tale goes far beyond expanding the difficulty of the gameplay’s choice system. Taking place five years after the story of the original Knights of the Old Republic, the world of Knights of the Old Republic II is one that is more than willing to move on from the pain and destruction that the Jedi and Sith have caused with their latest war. In fact, few of either party even factor in the sequel's universe.

    What Jedi do remain have elected to abandon the Order and their cause in favor of exile or an attempt to re-enter society. Meanwhile, the Sith are represented by Darth Sion and Darth Nihilus, two villains who certainly look the part of bad guys but are both far too tragic to completely despise. Sion is a Sith lord whose obsession with immortality has granted him a wish that he now regrets. Nihilius was once a Jedi who survived a catastrophic battle that left him needing to absorb Force energy and those that wield it in order to survive. Together, they hunt the last of the Jedi down.

    This is where your character comes into play. As a former Jedi exiled after causing the death of thousands, your character has severed his/her connection to the Force and the abilities that come with it. You begin the game alone and unaware of your past. In that regard, it is very similar to the setup of the original Knights of the Old Republic, as both see you playing a major figure with a bout of amnesia. Unlike the original game where your character was an important catalyst for the fate of the universe, here you are just another Jedi on the run who is ultimately a tool in a conflict that is without glory. An instrument that can perform great change in the universe, but a tool nonetheless.

    And the person controlling this tool—besides the player—is one of the greatest gaming characters ever created: Kreia. Kreia presents herself as a mentor, but what she really is a sort of Rashomon presenter. Only rather than being an unreliable narrator, she is something of an unattached one. Her true identity as a disgraced Jedi that became a Sith Kord is secondary to her presence in the game as a twisted moral compass. Kreia may be a Sith, but she is one that is no longer interested in seeing either side survive. Her true goal is to destroy them both.

    Kreia’s stance on this issue means she is a mentor that ultimately does not care about your moral direction. She will not hesitate to inform you of the futility of your actions regardless of their alignment. You will beg her to provide some guidance in a world that is devoid of such a thing, but by refusing to do so, she serves as a sadly appropriate guide through a world where right and wrong seem so irrelevant. The few moments she does lean towards one side or the other stem from regrettable old habits and a lingering belief that such sides always have existed and always will should she not intervene.

    There is more to the tale that is well worth covering, but what it all boils down to is one of the most subtle deconstructions of the binding elements of the Star Warsmythology ever devised, as well as one of the most complicated and satisfying video game plots ever presented. It is a driving plot that serves as sufficient motivation for more casual players, while those wanting something deeper can easily get lost in its ambiguities.

    Though this does beg the question: where do the ambiguities end and the cuts begin?

    A New Hope

    The Sith Lords Restored Content Mod—which began life as The Sith Lords Restoration Project—has passed through a series of modders and teams over the years who never quite got around to restoring the game to its original state but have been able to implement significant pieces of missing content. Not just missing sections of dialogue used to enhance character motivations or in-game items, but entire planets and levels as well.

    Yet the most significant piece of content that was restored is the game’s ending. Despite all of the technical shortcomings and other missing elements, it is the game’s original ending that stands as the biggest blight on its legacy. The restoration efforts address this shortcoming brilliantly. 

    The restored Knights of the Old Republic II ending doesn’t completely reimagine the finale, but rather uses pieces of dialogue hidden within the game’s code to insert a few simple scenes that address the original ending’s most glaring issues.

    Most notably, this new ending actually attempts to explain how you arrived at the game’s final planet and what your motivation there is. While it still feels like there is a missing scene between the fight that precedes the final area and the final area itself, the added moment where Surik has a vision of the final boss' current location at least gives you a reason for being there.

    Perhaps even better, this new ending provides on-screen conclusions for two of the game’s most important characters: Atton and Visas Marr. The Visas Marr moments wrap up the relationship plotline that had been brewing for some time, while Atton’s content finally allows him to have a showdown with Darth Sion and finally properly end what is possibly the most enjoyable character story in the game.

    What’s so truly incredible about the restored ending isn’t so much how it becomes the missing piece of the entire experience, but that it manages to provide something so much more satisfying with assets that were already built into the game and were just never implemented. While it’s understandable that such a rushed development cycle led to certain sacrifices, how such an appropriate ending hidden within the coding of the game itself was left on the cutting floor is a mystery.

    Largely due to this fixed conclusion and technical remedies, it’s hard to argue against the content restored version of the game as the definitive version of Knights of the Old Republic II. At the same time, it is for the most part a director’s cut and, like most director’s cuts, not everything that didn’t make it into the final game was meant to. Infamously removed levels like the HK Droid Factory actually turned out to detract from the pace of the overall experience somewhat, while other scenes devoted to expanding upon character relationships and arcs at times shed too much light onto pieces of the story that were meant to be shrouded.

    The driving force behind the ambitious content restored mod was the compelling nature of the game’s original story and a desire for fans to uncover the aspects of the game apparently buried under corporate cutbacks. It was an admirable goal that bared many fruitful results, but the truth is that Knights of the Old Republic II is far from a victim of setbacks. It is a work of art that is equally compelling whether you are focusing on its broader strokes or the negative space between them.

    Like Beethoven’s No. 10, treating Knights of the Old Republic IIas merely unfinished is the surest way to deafen yourself to the symphony it is.

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    It may be a while before we get another Star Wars game from EA. Respawn's project may not arrive until 2020.

    NewsJohn Saavedra
    Apr 4, 2018

    While there are several Star Wars projects currently in the works at Electronic Arts, the 2018 slate is remarkably slim on any new adventures in the galaxy far, far away. In fact, with the cancelation of Visceral Games' highly anticipated action-adventure title, which was due in 2019, EA currently has nothing new to offer Star Wars fans in the foreseeable future - other than continued support and expansions for Star Wars Battlefront II and The Old Republic.

    Both EA Vancouver, which is starting from scratch on a new title to replace Visceral's "Ragtag," and Respawn, the studio behind the Titanfall games, are up to bat for Electronic Arts. Unfortunately, it might be a while before we see either of these games. 

    Speaking during an EA Q3 2018 earnings call (via IGN), CFO Blake Jorgensen revealed that we won't see Respawn's title until "Fiscal 20," meaning the fiscal year that runs from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. Jorgensen also said that, while EA's 2020 slate isn't confirmed, Respawn's game will probably arrive before a third Battlefront game, which hasn't been nailed down in terms of timing. EA recently revealed that Battlefront II did not meet the publisher's sales expectations amid the microtransaction debacle last year, so it's a little surprising to hear that the publisher is already considering another sequel. 

    EA first announced Respawn's Star Warsgame in 2016, but we've not heard much more about it since then. EA, which has preferred to promote one Star Wars game at a time, might not reveal anything more about Respawn's title until this year's E3, more than six months after the release of Battlefront II

    It will definitely be a while before we hear more about EA Vancouver's project and it remains to be seen if there's anything else in the works at Criterion or Motive, the other two studios that worked on Battlefront II with DICE. 

    We'll bring you more as we hear it!

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    There are plenty of great Twitch streamers out there. Here are 25 streamers you should be watching this year!

    The Lists Jason M. Gallagher
    Apr 4, 2018

    Later this year, Twitch will launch its take on a reality show with its Stream On competition, a program designed to help up and coming streamers make playing video games their full-time job. But if you're currently searching for the next big broadcaster on Twitch, you don't have to wait for a reality contest to start hitting that follow button. 

    Your friends at Den of Geek have collected a list of 25 of our favorite up and coming streamers that we feel are worth a watch. From outrageous personalities to expert gamers, we've picked a variety of excellent streamers for your viewing pleasure.

    Most of the streamers on this list are currently under 100,000 followers (with one exception), the majority are under 50,000, and there are even a few who are just starting out.

    So the next time you're clicking through different streams complaining that you can't find anyone to watch, take a look at this list and see if any of these rising stars are online. And don't forget to follow Den of Geek's own Twitch channel!

    Here are the 25 Twitch streamers to watch in 2018:


    When people talk about what qualities make for a good streamer, "high energy" is often near the top of the list. TigerWriter is the perfect example of this adage, as the man just never lets up. It's not uncommon to tune in and find him headbanging or dancing along to whatever crazy loud song he's playing while a variety of crazy-looking videos and memes flash across the screen. Tiger is a variety streamer, and he's decent enough at most games he tries, but it's his larger than life personality that keeps earning him new followers.


    New streamers are always trying to find a way to separate themselves from the rest of the pack but Bennyfits has taken things to a whole different level by giving life to a puppet on each and every stream. That's right, there are no human beings here, just Bennyfits, a puppet that can and will absolutely destroy you in Overwatchand a variety of other games. He's basically Cookie Monster, but instead of cookies, he loves headshotting noobs.


    Paladins doesn't have quite the same following as Overwatch, but if you're looking to get into a different team-based shooter, Ozon3Tv can help show you the way. He's actually a former Grandmaster at Overwatch who jumped ship for the Hi-Rez Studios-led game, and his skill clearly made the transfer successfully. Ozon has grown his following by staying very active with his chat while also throwing in the occasional giveaway.


    Takarita is most comfortable running through World of Warcraft with her hunter, but she sometimes jumps around to a variety of different games on her "strum." She brings in viewers with her ultra-friendly personality and seems to take a lot of pride in showing off her cooking skills as well.


    Bloodyfaster is a self-described singer, computer engineer, and the "World's Okayest Gamer." When she's not singing on stream or running through the latest horror game, she also finds time to generate some good karma by using her stream to raise money for good causes.


    If you're looking for a new fighting game pro to follow, we recommend Daigothebeastv, who can really bring the pain in Street Fighter V. If you love Japanese culture, Daigo's stream will bring it to you in spades as the Tokyo-based streamer's channel is often filled with fans from his home country.


    Darbian has been speed running on Twitch for years, but he exploded into the mainstream last fall, when he broke his own world record for one of the most beloved video games of all-time, the original Super Mario Bros. Since then, Darbian has kept at it, steadily growing his stream with each new speedrun. Darbian also holds world records in other games, including Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels.


    There are no shortage of popular Hearthstone streamers on Twitch today, but if you're looking for quality play from someone who is still somewhat under the radar, Johnnystonehs might fit the bill. Johnny loves talking strategy with his stream and will frequently explain his card choices to viewers, making it the ideal stream for someone learning to play like a pro. He even offers a paid coaching service for both Hearthstone and poker to those looking to get serious about their card games.


    If you're looking for a late-night stream to relax to, Okaydrian might have what you need. He's a variety streamer who made a name for himself by trying to give his viewers a little education about different terms and concepts found within the games he plays. For example, if he's playing a sci-fi game that mentions a particular scientific concept, Okaydrian will actually pause the game, look up the concept, and give his viewers a full rundown of what it really means. He's also gotten in good with Twitch, thanks to his hosting skills at various conventions across the country.


    Zeenigami has grown his channel to 30,000+ followers primarily through finding a mobile game that no one else was really streaming called One Piece Treasure Cruise. He now streams other games, like League of Legends and Diablo 3, but his initial success with One Piece is a great lesson for new streamers. It might take a new streamer a while to find a niche worth pursuing, but if you can find a way to bring value to your channel that can't be found anywhere else, you'll soon be on your way towards building a new career for yourself.


    The IRL section of Twitch has really taken off over the last year, and there are now Twitch streamers who only broadcast in IRL for the most part. EXBC fits this description, as they are a married couple who happily stream their adventures in South Korea to an audience around the globe. Heosu and Esco stream everything from their latest bite to eat to their entire trip to a local amusement park. Viewers seem to get a kick out of this up close and personal view of the couple's world that lets fans feel like they're almost right there with them.


    Zilea (aka Fabian) is a former pro at World of Warcraft PvP who took home an arena title at BlizzCon 2009. He's since moved on from WoW and dedicates his stream entirely to Hearthstone. His stream has grown in popularity thanks to his frequent Skype calls with friends and viewers, although the fact that he is so open and accessible has caught the attention of the occasional troll… but that's just part of the fun.


    FrostPrime_ plays a lot of League of Legends, but he's been able to grow his stream to 20,000 strong by jumping around to many smaller niche games, bringing his sense of humor and sarcastic wit along with him. Frost has also managed to grow a significantly larger fanbase on YouTube, where he makes fun videos inspired by League.


    Jake has built a small fan base for himself mostly through Destiny 2 and Fortnite. But no matter which game he plays, he never stops talking. Talking to the chat, talking to the in-game NPCs, or just talking to himself. His ability to always have something to say keeps viewers interested and is must-watch material for anyone looking to learn how to build a successful stream from scratch. It's also why a stream with only a few thousand followers was recently featured on the front page of Twitch.


    Thorlar has been streaming daily for just over a year and has built a large and still growing following due to this consistency. Thorlar's overall presentation is something new streamers should pay attention to, as he uses a variety of graphics to spruce up his surroundings. Thorlar is a proud variety streamer and that includes plenty of games from generations gone by.


    Sowz got his start with DayZ but now jumps around to multiple other games within the survival genre, stating that he "loves the random interactions" that come with the territory. Sowz places a priority on interacting with his chat, often encouraging conversation and debate. Sowz still maintains a full-time job out in the real world, but has a countdown timer on his page so that his fans know exactly when he will log on next.


    If you followed World of Warcraft's hardcore raiding scene some years ago, you probably already recognize Affinity. The streamer was once part of the super hardcore Blood Legion guild, regularly pushing for World Firsts with every new content patch. Today, things are a bit more casual for Affinity in Azeroth. He plays other games too, like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. This former raider just recently decided to go full-time on Twitch and seems to be making the most of it, putting in 8 hours or more each day like clockwork.


    You'll realize just how clever "Mackenseize" is as a nickname once you read the paragraph about epilepsy in her bio. The streamer was diagnosed with a seizure disorder as a teenager but has managed to make a full-time career out of Twitch, calling it the "opportunity of a lifetime." While the rare on-camera seizure can be scary for her fans, Mackenseize has always managed to push through, streaming a wide variety of games to her passionate community while also working with the Epilepsy Foundation to raise awareness of this "invisible disability."


    TheMexicanRunner is a hardcore speedrunner with an affinity for classic games. He's currently working through "NESMania," a quest he created to defeat every single officially licensed game from original Nintendo Entertainment System. When he's not getting his retro on or making an appearance at Awesome Games Done Quick, you can see him playing more modern titles like Cuphead.


    SimCopter1's Twitch story is a case of just being in the right place at the right time. He says he got started in 2014 after an internship ended and suddenly found himself a Twitch Partner within just a few weeks after his initial streams managed to luck into some crazy viewership numbers. He's since grown his follower count to north of 50,000 while playing a wide range of PC games like FTL and Stardew Valley.


    Kat is one the many streamers who have been riding the PUBG train in recent months and her positive attitude is often a breath of fresh air within a community that is sometimes known for its toxicity. She often teams up with other female streamers before heading into battle. Her "Girl Squad Friday" stream is a popular recurring event.


    If you're looking for a new Nintendo streamer to add to your list, you should start by taking a look at Aurateur's amazing skills at Super Mario Maker. He also regularly streams Mario Kart 8 and other Nintendo titles, such as Zelda and Pokemon. It's not all Nintendo all the time though, as Aurateur is also known to kick back and have some fun with his viewers with a game of Jackbox from time to time.


    If you're a big fan of Persona 5 or trying to learn more about Kingdom Come: Deliverance before jumping in, CohhCarnage has been our favorite streamer in both respects. With more than 77 million total views, what entices gamers to tune in is the down-to-Earth nature of his streams. Here's someone who just enjoys playing games.


    As the username implies, you're likely to get a large dose of Link and Zelda in Linkus7's channel. This young streamer prefers to speed run most of his adventures in Hyrule, and he's not shy about jumping around to multiple different games throughout the franchise's storied history. When he's not off defeating Ganon, you can also find him trying to be the fastest gamer alive in a variety of Mario games.


    Adam first made a name for himself in the gaming industry as the co-designer of Dungeon World, and his streams often feature a heavy dose of Dungeons & Dragons chat. He'll sometimes just log on to play the latest big release though, always interacting with his chat while maintaining a chill vibe.

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    Everything you need to know about State of Decay 2, including latest news, release date, trailers, and much more!

    News Den of Geek Staff
    Apr 5, 2018

    State of Decay caught quite a few gamers by surprise back in 2013. Few people had ever heard of the title prior to its release, and those that had probably didn't expect it to be the fairly unique take on open-world zombie apocalypse action that it was.

    While almost everyone that played State of Decay was caught off-guard by its quality, the sequel will likely not enjoy such an advantage. In order to replicate State of Decay's surprising success, developer Undead Labs is going to have to pull out all the stops for State of Decay 2. Fortunately, it sounds like that's exactly what they have in mind.

    Here's everything we know about State of Decay 2:

    State of Decay 2 Trailer

    State of Decay 2 was at PAX East this year to show off a new trailer for the game. Check out all the gruesome zombie action below:

    Here's the first trailer for State of Decay 2:

    State of Decay 2 Release Date

    State of Decay 2 is coming on May 22. The game will arrive for XBO and PC.

    State of Decay 2 Details

    Despite only costing $30, State of Decay 2 will not feature any microtransactions. 

    Jeff Strain, Undead Labs' studio head, confirmed to IGN that the studio doesn't plan to implement any microtransactions into the game. The studio didn't elaborate on that message, but we assume this only applies to in-game transactions and not any potential future DLC releases. 

    In a blog post on the State of Decay 2 website, Undead Labs outlined some of the ways it hopes to improve the original experience by expanding the size of the game's maps. Yes, that's maps as in more than one. According to this latest update, State of Decay 2 will launch with three separate maps that are all "roughly the size of the original."

    So what do Undead Labs plan to do with all that new space for activities? Well, the developer wants to make players feel like they are "moving from one small town to another" in order to create a greater sense of immersion in the overall world. The studio also hopes that this expanded overall game size will eliminate some of the repetitiveness of the original's late game by removing the constant need to engage in the same series of missions. 

    Undead Labs also alludes to future expansions by stating that, "the multiple map set up makes it easy to expand the world down the line, if you know what I mean."

    The developer also suggests that you'll be able to transfer your survivors and resources between maps but seem hesitant to confirm the specifics of this set-up at present. It will be interesting to see how this new set-up affects the story and progression structure of the original game. Will you be able to explore these areas from the start? Will each map feature unique resources and survivors?

    Of course, we'll have the answer to all of these questions when State of Decay 2 launches in just a few weeks.

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    World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth will launch in August! Here's a new trailer and everything else we know...

    News Den of Geek Staff
    Apr 5, 2018

    The next World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth, takes the game back to its roots a bit by focusing on the battle between the Horde and the Alliance. Each side will be able to explore three new zones. The Horde will have access to the islands of Zandalar while the Alliance will be able to traverse the island of Kul Tiras. These new areas will reportedly contain "allied races" which players will be able to recruit and eventually play as. 

    Perhaps the most exciting addition this expansion brings to the table is the inclusion of a new islands system that adds an almost rogue-like element to the game. Basically, players will be able to build parties of three and explore these island areas. The catch here is that these areas change slightly every time that you visit them. You'll also be able to access new areas called Waterfronts that support 20 player fights over locations that are reportedly of strategic importance to both the Horde and the Alliance. 

    Battle for Azeroth also includes a new legendary neck piece called the Heart of Azeroth. This neck piece will allow players to unlock new abilities that are directly tied to their armor. This system sounds very similar to the one that Blizzard implemented in Legion that allowed players to build upon existing weapons via in-game artifacts. Finally, Battle for Azeroth will raise the current level cap to 120 and will include a feature that allows players to buy a boost up to level 110 should they wish to do so. We can't wait to see who hits the new cap first. 

    Here's everything else we know about the expansion:

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    World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Release Date

    World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth arrives on Aug. 14. 

    Anyone who pre-orders Battle for Azeroth will be able to access the Allied Races, a tweaked version of existing races within World of Warcraft. Following a bit of a grind with these new variants, you'll be able to properly start a new character at level 20. 

    Pre-ordering Battle for Azeroth ($50) will also allow you to access a level 110 boost so you can enjoy all of Legion's late game content. Those that opt for the Deluxe Edition ($70) of the expansion will also be able to access some free goodies in other Blizzard games like Overwatch

    The full list of pre-order incentives can be found here

    World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Trailer

    Check the new trailer for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth below!

    Here is the debut cinematic trailer for Battle for Azeroth:

    While that trailer lives up to Blizzard's legacy of creating cinematics worthy of the big screen, it, unfortunately, doesn't tell us much about the game itself. Fortunately, Blizzard has released another preview for the expansion that elaborates on its features a bit more:

    World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth PvP

    The World of Warcraft team hopes to emphasize the game's player vs. player elements once more by changing the way that PvP works. 

    Game director Ion Hazzikostas told Kotaku that the team plans on turning every one of the game's servers into PvP servers. However, everyone will need to opt-in to PvP combat if they wish to participate in battle. The catch is that players will only be able to turn PvP on or off inside of major cities. Out in the wild, you'll live with the decision you've made. 

    “Doing this gives us a foundation upon which to build,” said Hazzikostas. “I think in the past when we talked about ideas for PVP content in the world, we often ran into the question of ‘Well, what does this mean for people on PVE servers?’ Are there just millions of people who don’t get to experience this content at all, even if they want to?”

    Hazzikostas also admitted that the WoW team has fallen behind somewhat in terms of expanding the game's PvP battles. While he admits you can't make those battles perfectly balanced, he states that the team is hoping to implement some kind of level-scaling system that might help battles feel a little fairer. 

    Hazzikostas previously noted that Battle for Azeroth will incorporate elements of the Warcraft RTS games. Specifically, the expansion's Waterfront battles will play out like a WoW take on the classic strategy titles. 

    “In searching for inspiration for how that might unfold, classic RTS roots felt like the perfect place to turn,” said Hazzikostas. He later explained that your first job will be to get your team's base fully-functional which will require you to gather resources such as "lumber or gold" to upgrade town halls. You'll also need to clear supply lines of foes in order to allow "peons to do their thing."

    The next phase of battle requires teams of players to decide how existing resources will be spent on the battles ahead. This includes the building of certain weapons and other combat resources. Finally, you will actually do battles against other teams with the resources you have accumulated. 

    We're curious if the resource gathering elements will grow tedious over time and how deep the base building is, but this certainly sounds like a significant addition to the game that wonderfully touches upon Warcraft's oft-forgotten RTS roots. 

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    Hearthstone pays homage to the world of horror in its new Witchwood expansion.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 5, 2018

    Hearthstone's next expansion will take us deep into a haunted forest. 

    The Witchwood will kick of Hearthstone's Year of the Raven and trigger the beginning of a new card rotation. With over 300 Hearthstone cards set to leave the game's standard mode, you can expect The Witchwood to drastically shake-up the game's competitive meta and inspire a variety of new strategies. 

    As for the expansion itself, we're looking forward to seeing what the minds at Team 5 come up with when they're able to work within the pseudo-horror confines of this latest expansion. We've already seen some impressive cards as well as a first look at the expansion's new single-player adventure. What lies deeper in The Witchwood remains to be seen...

    Here's everything we know about The Witchwood:

    Hearthstone: The Witchwood Release Date

    Hearthstone: The Witchwood arrives on April 12.

    Pre-ordering The Witchwood for $49.99 will award you with 70 packs. This is up from the usual 50 packs players previously got for that pre-order price (which was slightly below the standard rate for individual card packs).

    This move will no doubt please players who have stated that the typical pre-order incentive doesn't yield enough of the new card collection. Even those who don't pre-order will receive three free card packs and a random class Legendary card just by logging in. 

    Hearthstone: The Witchwood Trailer

    The next Hearthstone expansion is a horror-themed add-on called The Witchwood

    Hearthstone: The Witchwood Cards

    Hearthstone has introduced plenty of new cards for The Witchwood expansion. You can view all the new cards here

    Several of the new cards are actually quite interesting. Hagatha the Witch, the new Shaman hero Legendary, is a great card for slower Shaman decks. Glinda Crowskin, meanwhile, should lead to the creation of entirely new types of Warlock decks. We're also quite excited about the oddly named Nightmare Amalgam and its various uses. 

    You can find the full upcoming card reveal schedule hereHearthstone players will also want to be sure to start completing daily quests from March 27 through April 9 in order to get free card packs from various expansions. You can find the full details about how that system works via this blog

    Hearthstone's Dean Ayala explains how odd and even decks will work in The Witchwood in this new video:

    To help sell the idea of only filling your deck with odd or even cost cards, the Hearthstone team revealed four new cards that all take advantage of that mechanic. For instance, Murkspark Eel is a 2 Mana 2/3 Beast that deals two damage when you play it...but only if your deck only has even cost cards. Black Cat, meanwhile, is a 3 Mana 3/3 with Spell Damage +1 (which is not bad on its own) that also draws you a card when you play it if your deck only has odd cost cards. 

    It looks like every hero will receive at least one card of this design in the upcoming expansion. Most likely, each will receive one that takes advantage of the odd numbers and one for even numbers. 

    Hearthstone: The Witchwood Details

    Fans of Hearthstone's single-player modes can also look forward to a new adventure called Monster Hunt. This mode lets players choose between one of four heroes exclusively designed for this single-player adventure and embark upon a trip into the Witchwood. Along the way, they'll encounter a series of eight "ever more challenging encounters" that all lead up to a showdown with an unidentified final boss. Fortunately, every victory will award you with new gear that should make progressing deeper into the woods just a bit easier. 

    Considering that the release of this expansion will also herald the beginning of a new set rotation - which you can read more about here - there's a very good chance that The Witchwood is going to drastically shake-up the Hearthstone meta through the introduction of many new strategies and deck types. 

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    The definitive edition of the definitive Hitman game.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Apr 5, 2018

    2016's Hitman is being re-released as Hitman: Definitive Edition

    Hitman: Definitive Edition is currently set to release on May 15th in the US and May 18th in the UK. It will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC and will feature the base Hitman game and all associated DLC. For those curious, that means that you get all Hitman: Season Onecontent, the Summer Bonus Episode, and the Blood Money Requiem Pack. However, the disc itself will only ship with the base content. All other content will have to be downloaded digitally. 

    The Definitive Edition of Hitman even includes some new cosmetics based on previous IO games. Players will be able to unlock wardrobes and unspecified items based on Freedom Fighters, Mini Ninjas, and Kane and Lynch

    As exciting as that all is, it's not the part of this announcement that is catching everyone's attention. It appears that Warner Bros. is publishing Hitman: Definitive Edition, which wouldn't be interesting were it not for the fact that the game was originally published by Square Enix before they and IO parted ways. Given that the official statement makes reference to this being part of the deal between WB and IO, it sounds like future Hitman games may have found a new publishing home.

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    For the time being, though, we cannot recommend Hitman enough. This 2016 title may have utilized a controversial seasonal format, but in its complete state, it is the best Hitman game ever made.

    Whether you are a fan of the series or have always been curious about the Hitman titles, it's a must-play game.

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