If it wasn't clear already that Mortal Kombat 1 is going to be a big shake up for the series, Ed Boon casually dropping that Scorpion and Sub-Zero are brothers now was a big tip off. Riffing off the timeline-resetting ending of the previous game, the new game's narrative seems to be focusing back on classic versions of characters like Johnny Cage, Kenshi, Kitana, and Mileena, but remixing their storylines in new ways.
Along with everyone's favourite ninjas now being related, we've also got a young Raiden training to use his powers, Cage and Kenshi coming to blows over a prized samurai sword, and Kitana trying to save Mileena from succumbing to a supernatural disease (seemingly the new explanation for her… dental issues).
The core fighting looks mostly familiar—just as weighty and kinetic as ever, with the usual escalation of X-ray moves and fatalities into ever gorier realms. But it has its own big twist: Kameos. In every fight, you'll choose a main character to control from the core roster, but you'll also choose a Kameo fighter from a second roster. This sidekick can be summoned in the action to do their special moves—a neat way to extend your combos. It's not like a full on tag team mechanic, more a customisable way to add new moves to your arsenal.
For the most part, fighters are either on one roster or the other—and it seems like that does mean that Sonya, Jax, and Kano, for example, won't be full-fledged fighters this time around, just Kameos. But some fighters are on both, and brilliantly they can team up with themselves. Finally, Subzero can team up with the only guy who's ever really had his back: Subzero.
I'm expecting the Kameo system to be a little controversial with fans. This kind of multi-fighter mechanic is something I associate more with Japanese-style fighting games than a very western arcade brawler like MK, and though the Kameo roster will presumably allow the game to feature an even bigger cast of characters, I suspect there'll be much wailing and gnashing of teeth from everyone whose beloved main has been relegated to support duty.
I'm totally ready to give Kameos a chance, though, and with the slightly more grounded, realistic art style gesturing at a kind of back-to-basics approach for this sequel, it's nice to get confirmation that it'll still have plenty of goofiness too—both in its story and its fights. Start thinking of your duo names now—I'm officially dubbing Subzero + Subzero "Two Scoops".