Ranking Every Mainline Mortal Kombat Game (Best To Worst)

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Get over here!! Ahem, I mean, please kindly step this way as we’re ranking all of the mainline Mortal Kombat games from best to worst.

There’s a whopping twenty four titles in the Mortal Kombat series with the majority of those titles being spin-offs or tangentially connected to the main series.

For this list, we’re looking at the main series of twelve titles that began with the original game in 1992 all the way to the latest reboot, 2023’s Mortal Kombat 1.

The Mortal Kombat series has seen plenty of highs and lows throughout its thirty-two year history, with a plenty of games being bloody brilliant, while the remaining ones verging on bloody awful.

Of course, all of the games can be considered ‘bloody’ in content, with buckets of the red stuff being spilled in every fight. Unless you’re playing the original Mortal Kombat on SNES that is, in which case, you might need a towel to mop up all that sweat!

It’s time to find out which Mortal Kombat games set our souls on fire and which ones left us colder than Sub-Zero in the frozen food section of the local Iceland.

1. Mortal Kombat 11 (2019)

Mortal Kombat 11 (2019)

The best Mortal Kombat for pugilists with an unquenchable bloodlust is Mortal Kombat 11.

It is the third part in the modern reboot of the franchise, and the perfect culmination of everything great that we have seen in the franchise to date.

Mortal Kombat 11 has it all; incredible graphics, gruesome fatalities, friendship finishes, and fatal blows (similar to X-ray fatalities) across 37 playable characters.

Mortal Kombat 11 (2019)
IMAGE CREDIT: retro dodo

I mean, I think I said enough to convince you it’s got everything that makes Mortal Kombat fun and worth the punishing grind.

Having sold over 12 million copies to date, and winning the Fighting Game of the Year at the 23rd Annual D.I.C.E. Awards and The Game Awards 2020, Mortal Kombat 11 is one of the most successful in the entire franchise.

2. Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)

Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)
IMAGE CREDIT: retro dodo

Mortal Kombat 3 sprints into second place thanks to the introduction of a new ‘run’ button.

Midway introduced the new run mechanic in response from players who felt the previous games gave defending players an advantage when engaged in fisticuffs.

Characters lacing up their running boots wasn’t the only major change though with chain combos allowing players to deliver a flurry of attacks without interruption, providing the first hit in the combo connected of course.

Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)

Mortal Kombat 3 was exceptionally popular in arcades but despite the new faster pace, the absence of characters like Scorpion and Kitana upset many fans.

An upgraded version, Ultimate Mortal Kombat released in arcades in the same year and added several new characters along with updated gameplay mechanics.

3. Mortal Kombat (2011)

Mortal Kombat (2011)

NetherRealm Studios formed after the end of Midway Games and the Warner Bros. acquisition. Warner Bros. was now the owner of the Mortal Kombat franchise, and ready to give it a new start.

The first game developed by NetherRealm Studios would be one of the absolute best to appear in the Mortal Kombat franchise.

Mortal Kombat (2011) features the modern 3D aesthetics while also returning to a more conventional 2D fighting format of the classic game titles. Which, in our opinion, is the best setup for a fighting game.

Mortal Kombat (2011)

Needless to say, the games commitment to graphic violence led to some of the usual controversies.

Mortal Kombat (2011) was refused classification by the Australian Classification Board, making it a prohibited item to import into Australia. Similar restrictions happened in Germany and South Korea.

Despite the controversies, the Mortal Kombat reboot was a wild success. It received very positive reviews and won several game of the year awards. And sales were through the roof at over 4 million copies sold.

It also took the number one spot on our list of the 10 Best PS3 Fighting Games.

4. Mortal Kombat X (2015)

Mortal Kombat X (2015)

Mortal Kombat X was the 2015 addition to the franchise that was developed by NetherRealm Studios for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

The graphics, controls, combat mechanics, characters, and single player story were all near perfect.

And you know what’s cooler than Mortal Kombat fatalities? X-Ray special moves! These were also introduced in the 2011 reboot, but were perfected in Mortal Kombat X.

Mortal Kombat X (2015)

There were twenty four characters at launch, and the upgraded Mortal Kombat XL includes all nine of the additional characters that were introduced in DLC packs. Those characters include iconic movie characters such as The Predator, Jason Voorhees and Leatherface.

Much like “Deadly Alliance” and “Deception”, you can view Mortal Kombat X as a direct sequel to Mortal Kombat 2011. And it’s a very close call which is the better of the pair.

But in this case, we gave the slight edge to the reboot, as it really set a super high standard for the new generation of MK.

5. Mortal Kombat 1 (2023)

Mortal Kombat 1 (2023)

Mortal Kombat 1 is the most recent entry in our rankings of the mainline Mortal Kombat series.

The second reboot for the series, Mortal Kombat 1 doesn’t entirely wash away the story that came before it and instead builds upon Liu Kang’s ending from Mortal Kombat 11.

Some multiversal shenanigans see our beloved fighters entering a new timeline and an alternative dimension to fight over.

Mortal Kombat 1 (2023)
IMAGE CREDIT: retro dodo

Mortal Kombat 1 is a stunning titles that takes advantage of the power of modern PCs, Xbox Series and the PlayStation 5 although the Nintendo Switch version fares much worse.

The future is looking bright for Mortal Kombat 1 with a future roadmap promising more story content and additional characters.

6. Mortal Kombat 2 (1993)

Mortal Kombat 2 (1993)
IMAGE CREDIT: retro dodo

Mortal Kombat II took one of the best fighters in gaming history and expanded on the formula.

The play style and visual presentation were a continuation of the original Mortal Kombat game, and the combat mechanics were expanded, and the popularity of Fatalities led to multiple for each character.

And as I’m sure you could guess, MKII was one of the main targets of video game violence protestors although that didn’t stop Mortal Kombat II from absolutely crushing it in sales and reviews.

Rayden Wins

Almost universally loved, MKII is widely considered one of the absolute best in the series. And we tend to agree. There just happened to be quite a few we loved even better.

Needless to say, Midway went absolutely hog wild with the ports at that time. Mortal Kombat II was made available for arcades, MS-DOS, Amiga, Game Boy, Game Gear, Sega Genesis, 32X, Sega Saturn, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and PlayStation.

Plenty of options for you to go back and play this classic title on one of the 7 Best Mac Emulators or 10 Best Emulators For PC.

7. Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004)

Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004)

Mortal Kombat: Deception was the follow up to Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, the game that renewed the franchise in the early 2000s.

In response to fan outcry, Deception brought back multiple Fatalities per character, and even gave players the option to commit a hara-kiri suicide move during the “Finish Him” sequence.

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance introduced the single player “Konquest”mode, an adventure style experience that set in a small open world area, and it returns once more in Deception.

Suv-Zero vs Dairou

There are twenty six playable characters in total, including nine entirely new ones, and the return of series favourite Liu Kang.

In many ways, Mortal Kombat: Deception is a direct sequel to Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance that improves on an already great game and players seemed to agree.

8. Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002)

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002)

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was the very first MK game title that was produced for home consoles without a planned arcade release.

It was also the first in the franchise to be released without the series’ co-creator John Tobias.

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance took the franchise in an entirely new direction, making each characters combat style entirely unique, and introducing three possible fight styles per character.

Sonya's Kiss Of Death

There were twenty one playable characters in total, although series veteran Liu Kang was nowhere to be found.

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance reduced the amount of special attacks and Fatalities, making combat more competitive and skill focused.

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was well received, and considered a rebirth for the franchise at a time when the familiar formula started to feel overplayed.

9. Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe (2008)

Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe (2008)

As the name suggests, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is a crossover fighting video game where the Mortal Kombat and DC Comics universes collide.

Following similar crossover fighting titles made popular by the likes of Capcom or SNK, Midway leveraged the incredible roster of DC characters and pitted them against some of our Mortal Kombat favorites in their own lineup.

Wonder Woman vs Shang Tsung

The story mode in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe swaps between two different perspectives; the perspective of the Mortal Kombat roster and the perspective of the DC roster. Making for a quite interesting story.

Play as Baraka, Raiden, Sub-Zero or Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman (to name a few). I mean, how cool is that?

10. Mortal Kombat (1992)

Mortal Kombat (1992)
IMAGE CREDIT: retro dodo

The classic that started it all… 1992’s Mortal Kombat.

In many cases, it is the original that sets the bar super high, and also establishes a level of sentimental connection that will be hard to top.

For me, in particular, the very first Mortal Kombat game will always be one of the very best.

If you were around at that time and remember what it was like the first time you saw Mortal Kombat, you know what I mean. It was groundbreaking.

Sub-Zero vs Scorpion

The realistic graphics, due to their unique approach of photography based sprites, blew us away when we saw it at the arcades in the early 90s.

And the Fatalities? Come on man… how freakin’ cool was that in 1992?!

While it sits towards the bottom of our ranking, Mortal Kombat remains one of the most historic video games in history.

11. Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006)

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006)

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon made quite a splash at the time of its release in 2006.

Armageddon is the seventh mainline entry in the franchise, and represents the chronological finale to the original Mortal Kombat story.

And one of the most remarkable achievements of the game was that it included every single character to appear in all of the previous game titles.

Sub-Zero vs Goro

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon packed sixty two characters in total (63 on the Nintendo Wii version, as mentioned on our list of the 10 Best Nintendo Wii Fighting Games).

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon truly delivered a gigantic package of playable content. that included custtomisation options like ‘Kreate-A-Fatality’ and ‘Kreate-A-Fighter’, along with the Mario Kart inspired “Motor Kombat” minigame.

Truly one of the absolute best Mortal Kombat game. But if you’re wondering why it scored so low on the list, it’s cause there are that many games that are even better!

12. Mortal Kombat 4 (1997)

Mortal Kombat 4 (1997)

Mortal Kombat 4 marks a low point in the series history that also coincides with the last time that the franchise would appear in arcades.

MK4 holds the distinction as the first game in the series to feature 3D graphics instead of the charming rotoscoped characters we all know, love, and admittedly, decapitated.

Shinnok vs Raiden

Graphical shift aside, Mortal Kombat 4 preserved the gameplay of its predecessors almost entirely but for the inclusion of usable weaponry.

The fourth mainline Mortal Kombat features seventeen playable characters with almost half of the roster composed of entirely new Kombatants.

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