Shang Tsung Mortal Kombat 11 Variations Won't Include the Ninjas

TJ Denzer,

June 17, 2019 8:14 PM

Shang Tsung is a much anticipated character in Mortal Kombat 11's opening DLC, but those hoping to use his ninja moves in ranked/tournament play may be disappointed.

Mortal Kombat 11 is doing it right by coming out of the gate with Shang Tsung as DLC played by the incredible Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa of the original MK film. One of the often highlighted points of Shang Tsung has been his ability to use moves from various ninjas in MK11, but we learned at E3 2019 that those moves will not be part of Shang Tsung’s ranked/tournament variations.

At E3, we got a full demonstration of Shang Tsung from NetherRealm Studios. The sorcerer of souls has been built up in a two-pronged way for his playable debut. One variation is very faithful to traditional Shang Tsung and especially Mortal Kombat 9 with a triple fireball amplification, a ground geyser fireball attack, and other goodies. The other variation was built fresh for Mortal Kombat 11, offering Tsung a deployable lantern. Reactivating the lantern heals Shang Tsung, but damaging enemies while the lantern is out can also strengthen the amount the lantern will heal for, making for a neat decision-making opportunity on when to pop the heal. The soul steal and health-taking throws also make a return to continue to build on the traditional Shang Tsung playstyle.

The focus on traditional Shang Tsung and some new tricks for his second variation unfortunately seems to mean there was no room for ninjas in his tournament variations.
The focus on traditional Shang Tsung and some new tricks for his second variation unfortunately seems to mean there was no room for ninjas in his tournament variations.

It was after seeing both of these variations that we realized the ninjas were absent from both of them. During Shang Tsung’s reveal trailer and Kombat Kast gameplay showcase, a highlight of his movelist was the ability to transform into the ninjas Rain, Smoke, Reptile, and Ermac in order to use one of their signature moves as his own. When asked if these moves would be part of the tournament variations at all, the answer was an unfortunate no. It seems strange given that Shang Tsung’s ability to use them has been an often highlighted feature of his gameplay videos.

On the matter of tournament variations, we asked if there was any possibility if a variation like that could come down the line, and furthermore if additional tournament variations might be added for the roster, offering players more options in ranked and tournament play with each character. The answer for now was that we’d have to “wait and see.”

“We’re not really catering to one side [casual] or the other [professional] heavily when it comes to changes in Mortal Kombat 11,” our NRS rep said. “A move that’s super strong in top-level play might not have as much of an effect in casual, or could cripple the character if it were changed. We take things like that very seriously and there are a lot of people looking at feedback and playtesting this stuff very carefully at any time to decide what changes should happen. I know it’s not the most exciting answer, but when it comes to tournament variations, the answer for now has to be we need the game to breathe more before we decide on adding new variations or changing current ones.”

The current efforts of NetherRealm Studios on the balance of Mortal Kombat 11 and the short time the game has been in the competitive circuit makes them understandably cautious to make big changes like further tournament variations.
The current efforts of NetherRealm Studios on the balance of Mortal Kombat 11 and the short time the game has been in the competitive circuit makes them understandably cautious to make big changes like further tournament variations.

Indeed, though variations have been a subject of debate among pros in the Mortal Kombat scene like Dominque “SonicFox” McLean of Echo Fox and Dragon of Gravity Gaming, Combobreaker and Summit of Time have been the only major tournament outings for the game as of yet. The Kombat League is still on the way. NetherRealm may indeed have cause to be cautious when it comes to major changes.

Even so, not having access to the ninjas in any sort of ranked play in Mortal Kombat 11 is bound to disappoint some players looking to get their Rain or Ermac on even by extension. That said, those looking for the proper return of Shang Tsung with all of the bells, whistles, and form stealing tricks we’ve come to know and love about him should be satisfied when he comes on June 18, 2019.

Will you still be playing the sorcerer when he launches? Let us know!



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