Mortal Kombat 11 has been out a couple of weeks at this point, releasing on April 23rd last month. The game has received critical praise for its graphics, story mode, and fighting system which was drastically overhauled since Mortal Kombat 9 and Mortal Kombat X. However, one of the issues experienced by those of us in the fighting games community is the restriction of Kustom Variations in Ranked Sets and for sanctioned tournament play. Many thought the ability to swap special moves and create custom loadouts for your character of choice would be the norm and allow players more freedom; however, this is definitely not the case and after playing for a bit, I wish it was.
E-Sports has becoming prominent within the gaming community and constantly on the rise as far as fighters are concerned. I understand that NetherRealm Studios wants to make sure that tournament play is as balanced as possible, but I believe it should have allowed the freak-flag to fly high and allow players the taste of individuality it hinted at with this new introduction system that seemed to build on Mortal Kombat X‘s.
When the game first started I wanted to main Geras and I played him with my own Kustom Variation and absolutely loved him; this dude definitely looked cool and played even better. However, I soon found out that Kustom Variations could not be used within Ranked Sets or official tournaments, that I needed to scrap what I had created and practiced with and use one of the default variations assigned by NetherRealm Studios. This completely killed the buzz for me; I did not like either of Geras variations and eventually dropped the character.
Geras is on many tier lists as being S-Tier or even being within a tier all of his own; that his tournament variation is particularly strong and he has a lot of things to make his kit excellent. However, it was not for me and did not fit how I played. That is the point of Kustom Variations; something could be seen at large as amazing but just because it fits many others preferences does not mean that it fits all people who like what that character has to offer.
Jacqui Briggs is my current main character and right now I am using her “NEXT GEN” tournament variation after giving “1st ROUND KO” a try and deciding that it is not for me.
It should be noted that 1st ROUND KO is widely preferred by those currently using Jacqui Briggs due to the combo-extension ability of her Lethal Clinch special move while having the ability to lead into an easily controllable Krushing Blow for big damage once its simple conditions are met. Also, this variation has the ability to cancel moves for feints and to easily continue stagger pressure or leave your opponent wondering whether-or-not they can attack. However, many have complained that the “Robo Grappler” special move is worthless since you have to successfully break a throw, spend a meter to attempt a grab which CAN be broken anyway; this means you have potentially spent an offensive meter for something that is not guaranteed. Bionic Bounce could be used in this variation to help close distances, resulting in a more offensive tool kit that keeps her close.
NEXT GEN gives Jacqui a Grenade Launcher special move which deals damage over time, Tech Dome which guarantees a Krushing Blow off of back throw and decreases her physical damage taken while inside, and an air special move which is incredibly punishing on block for lackluster damage and no combo ability. This variation would have been so much better to me if I could at least replace Tech Dome with something more worthwhile; Hyper Knee would be perfect to help replace the loss of an in-combo Lethal Blow easily gained through Clench.
The official Mortal Kombat discord group has also stated that some tournament variations simply “suck”, despite them not thinking that the character is bad overall. Sure, it is a possibility that we will see alterations of current variations and the addition of brand new ones (and also the introduction of new moves) added, I wish we could work with the things we already had to provide an experience tailor-made to each player. For me, this winds up being exactly the same as Mortal Kombat X with the exception of having one less variation to begin with.