With Mortal Kombat 1 launching today (19th September), it feels like the right time to release our interview with Derek Kirtzic from NetherRealm Studios, who is the Senior Systems Designer on MK1.


In a branded booth at the Gamescom 2023 conference, Kirtzic told us about the decision to relaunch the series with this numerical reboot, rather than making the next game Mortal Kombat 12. We also spoke about the new Invasions mode, which starts with a fun tutorial set in Johnny Cage's house.

When we mentioned to Kirtzic that Cage's abode has the exact same OTT vibe as Ken's Mojo Dojo Casa House from the Barbie movie — in fact, Cage has a lot of Kenergy himself — the developer took the comparison well.

As you can see in the fun little social clip below, Kirtzic even jokingly promised to give Ken a cameo — sorry, Kameo — in the game. And given that both MK1 and the Barbie film were produced under the Warner Bros umbrella, it doesn't actually feel that outrageous a suggestion.

Kirtzic also exclaimed: "He's got a K, it works!" But judging by the play-fight at the end of the Barbie movie, we're not sure Ken would hold his own very well against the likes of Sub Zero. At least as a Kameo fighter, who provide backup for the main roster, he could stay out of the way a lot of the time.

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Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ryan Gosling and Ncuti Gatwa as Kens, getting ready for a fight
Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ryan Gosling and Ncuti Gatwa as Kens in Barbie. Warner Bros Pictures

As for the decision to call this game Mortal Kombat 1, rather than Mortal Kombat 12, Kirtzic said that it all began with the ending of Mortal Kombat 11's Aftermath expansion that "basically wiped out all the realms".

Kirtzic added: "So it only makes sense to start from the ground up. Start at one, right? New timeline, bringing back some old characters, revisiting some of the characters but putting a new twist on them, things like that. So it only made sense for us to go with the one."

This should make the game very welcoming to new players, as well. As Kirtzic put it: "With it being Mortal Kombat 1, a newcomer doesn't necessarily need to know these previous characters, because we're reestablishing them or reintroducing them.

"So if they had no familiarity with them before, that's okay, because we're reintroducing them and telling a new story about them. So they don't necessarily need to know the 30 years that they were represented as before."

Another fun feature of Mortal Kombat is always the gruesome Fatalities, one of which was shown off at Gamescom: Opening Night Live this year. See what Kirtzic says about that in the video above!

Returning fans will have plenty of new features to enjoy, as well. Kirtzic summarised: "We've got the aerial combat, which we haven't done [in] probably like I think close to 16 years or so. And then we have the Kameo system, which is just an easier way to have your fighter assisted.

"Instead of, like, having a tag system where you have to learn a whole other character, we wanted to keep it simple and friendly and casual, but also have the depth of the competitive aspect of it as well."

Even if you're not super familiar with the usual Mortal Kombat roster of characters, you might see some familiar faces in the game's DLC, which includes super-powered familiar faces from the popular TV shows The Boys, Invincible and Peacemaker.

"I've never been more excited for our DLC characters," Kirtzic said, adding: "I'm a huge fan of The Boys, Invincible - and Peacemaker was one of the funniest dang things I had seen in a long time.

"And for us to be able to put those characters inside of this game is truly like an honour to represent them and they fit they totally fit in — like I'm sure that whatever Peacemaker's gonna say in our game is going to be just hilarious. I can't wait. And Homelander, he just it makes perfect sense along with Omniman, right? So it was complete honour to be able to get those characters and put them in this game."

So if you've ever wondered who would win in a fight between Homelander and Omniman, this is your chance to find out! And maybe later we'll get to see Ryan Gosling's Ken entering the fight as well. We can dream, at least.

Mortal Kombat 1 launches on Tuesday 19th September for PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S and Nintendo Switch. You can order your copy now.

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