The last Mortal Kombat game to release on PC was a complete disaster. Constant crashing, inconsistent framerates, and buggy online play ensured a poor reception, the outcry amplified by the comparably smooth performance of the console versions. Weaker proprietary hardware ran Mortal Kombat X better than the best PCs, a fatality of the soul. Of course, a poor port was to blame.
After adopting a new port studio, fixing Mortal Kombat X with the MKXL release, and holding back the PC release of Injustice 2 to ensure it got a better port than MKX did at launch, the team at NetherRealm Studios is confident that Mortal Kombat 11 will be an ideal PC game, and one that'll manage to keep up with the busy update schedule of its console siblings.
"The people that did the XL version of Mortal Kombat X, where it was dramatically improved, they're doing this version also," Lead Designer Paulo Garcia tells me. "And because they've been working with our code engine for the past three years, they've actually become a lot faster."
Those people are Polish QA, localization, and port house QLOC, a studio behind some of the sturdiest PC conversions, like DMC Devil May Cry, Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen, Dark Souls Remastered, and, appropriately enough, Injustice 2.
QLOC first came on board to bring the Mortal Kombat XL update to PC, taking over port duties from High Voltage Software. The update was something of a surprise, arriving months after its release on consoles and the announcement that PC support for Mortal Kombat X was done for, effectively cancelling XL and the last character pack.
But when Creative Director Ed Boon threw out a Twitter poll asking what people wanted from Mortal Kombat X next and the response was swift and strong: the previously cancelled updates and DLC on PC. XL released on PC a few months later thanks to QLOC, leaving Mortal Kombat X in a much better state. As of this writing, the bulk of recent Steam reviews make far fewer references to performance problems.
Injustice 2 was the next collaboration between the Mortal Kombat team and QLOC. The project streamlined their collaborative processes and, though Injustice 2 took an extra six months to release on PC, brought ongoing PC support much closer to NetherRealm's in-house console development cadence.
"Early on we would give them like essentially like big dumps of what engine was and then they would port things to catch up, where now we're a lot more integrated and they're working with our engineers back and forth like on a day by day basis," says Garcia. "The patches for Injustice 2 started coming quicker and quicker until they were able to get the patches out almost right after ours [on console]."
Some of Injustice 2's updates released day-and-date with the console versions, an impressive pace considering all the time zones between NetherRealm in Chicago and QLOC in Poland. Given how volatile game development can be, that's some fine teamwork.
Garcia can't make any promises about PC-specific Mortal Kombat 11 features such as ultrawide monitor support or tell us how it'll perform on current hardware—the work is still ongoing. And there's no guarantee that every patch or DLC pack for Mortal Kombat 11 will arrive the same day, or even the same week, it does on consoles, but Garcia is confident they'll get close and they'll stay close.
"You can't predict everything, like, there's so many things up in the air, but the main goal is to make sure that [Mortal Kombat 11] is the exact same game on all platforms."
We'll find out how exact NetherRealm Studios and QLOC get when Mortal Kombat releases on April 23.