Netherrealm Studios and Warner Bros have recently released the Aftermath expansion for Mortal Kombat 11, bringing with it a substantial campaign addition, three new characters as well as a free update that adds new Friendships, stages and stage fatalities to the game. By all measures, it’s a brilliant update, with a fantastic five chapters worth of story mode that’s on-par, if not better than the original story, but there’s no avoiding how expensive it is.
With a £35 asking price just for the DLC, you’re paying a lot for a title you might have already spent around £80 on, if you’ve already purchased the Kombat Pack and base game anyway. There are two versions of the Aftermath Kollection, which includes Aftermath and the Kombat Pack, or both sets of DLC plus the base game, which cost £40 and £50 respectively. These are comparatively better priced, especially for new players, but it’s hard for existing players not to feel nickel and dimed by the price, doubly so when you consider that the Nintendo Switch physical versions are just codes in a box.
Clearly, the story mode content is the most significant part of the expansion, but for players who are more concerned with the competitive aspect of MK 11, you’re paying an exorbitant amount of cash just for the privilege of a couple of extra fighters. I’ve heard it said in the past that story modes for fighting games exist just for the casual players who won’t stay with the game for weeks and months, so Aftermath’s value for some players seems questionable, especially considering there are now rumours that the characters will be available to purchase separately.
But the real kicker regarding MK 11 is its approach to cross-play, or should that be kross-play? Currently, the feature is enabled, but only exists to allow for matches between PS4 and Xbox One players. Players on the PC and Switch have to stick with their own, but it doesn’t end there. Cross-play is only in effect for certain casual game types, so if you’re looking for competitive games, you better hope your platform of choice has the population to sustain it.
It’s here where Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid begins to show up MK 11 completely. With expensive DLC and the weight of Warner Bros behind them, Netherrealm Studios still haven’t felt the need to add full cross-play support to its game. Meanwhile, nWay Inc, the little developer that could who’s responsible for the latest Power Rangers game, have found a way to enable cross-play across all platforms. It’s remarkable.
The two games have followed a somewhat similar release trajectory too, with Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid and Mortal Kombat 11 both available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch and now Google Stadia. Despite that, Mortal Kombat 11 decides to offer highly priced premium content and little in the way of connectivity, while Power Rangers has been adding free fighters since launch, along with a new story mode, stages and more, on top of reasonably priced premium content.
Once you throw cross-play into the mix, and it’s hard to argue which game offers more value for money, especially if you’re making the decision to buy on the Switch or Stadia. It’s likely both of those platforms will have reduced populations on their own, so being able to play Power Rangers with other players guarantees so much more value for those players.
The Aftermath update could have been a big coming out party for Mortal Kombat 11 to adopt cross-play in a much more meaningful way. Plenty of new and returning players would have found their way online to sample the new characters, Friendships, stages and so much more, so cross-play would have given players more reasons to keep coming back.
I published an article a few months back about how the fighting game genre would benefit from the rise in cross-play enabled games, boosting server populations for the benefit of players at all skill ranges, and in that time, the only real fighting games that adopted cross-play were Power Rangers and MK 11, in its limited manner. I’m not saying that I’m responsible for both of these events, but I’m not not saying it either.
It just astounds me that a smaller indie team like nWay could just thoroughly upstage Netherrealm in this manner. While I might personally prefer playing MK 11 over Power Rangers, just because 1v1 fighters come more naturally to me than 3v3 fighters, there are some lessons to be learnt here. Cross-play is here to stay, and once again, I’m out here shouting that fighting games should do more to adopt it.
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