Mortal Kombat 11 Nightwolf Hands-On Impression, Moves, & Variations

TJ Denzer,

August 6, 2019 3:00 PM

Behind closed doors at Evo 2019, we got a look at upcoming Mortal Kombat 11 DLC character Nightwolf. Check out his tournament variations, combos, and more.

Evo 2019 was full of a lot of announcements, but NetherRealm Studios went early with theirs. Mortal Kombat 11 Nightwolf gameplay footage was revealed just before the fighting game tournament and we got our first look at the return of the shaman. That said, during Evo 2019, we had a chance to step behind closed doors with NetherRealm and give Nightwolf a hands-on try. If you’re looking to find out about his combos, tournament variations, and overall playstyle, we’ve got everything you need to be battle ready when Nightwolf drops on August 13 in Early Access for Kombat Pack holders.

Note: The inputs follow the following format.

1 = Front Punch

2 = Back Punch

3 = Front Kick

4 = Back Kick

5 = Throw

6 = Block

Nightwolf Mortal Kombat 11 Gameplay

(Image via Warner Bros/NetherRealm Studios)

If you were like us when you saw the trailer, you may have thought that Nightwolf was going to be heavy on zoning like Cetrion with his toolkit. That’s partially true. He has quite a few projectiles, but his rushdown was surprisingly good. Nightwolf’s basic combos feel decently fast and he has some variation of lows and overheads in his basic mix. Indeed, he has a fast lowkick combo similar to Scorpion’s and an overhead combo that feels good for catching opponents off guard.

Meanwhile, his Tomahawk Smash and Deadly Dance are advancing attacks that can not only close the gap between you and opponents quickly, but are also great for setting up combos. Nightwolf’s basics felt easily accessible and well-varied. We felt like he’s got enough tools in his basic moves and combo arsenal to compete with the rushdown offense of characters like Baraka and Kabal.

Nightwolf Tournament Variations & Special Moves

(Image via Warner Bros/NetherRealm Studios)
(Image via Warner Bros/NetherRealm Studios)

For those who compete, here’s what you’ve been waiting for. We took a thorough look at Nightwolf’s tournament variations and specials to see what he’ll be able to do in Tournament and Ranked play.

General Moves

Spirit Arrow: Back, Forward, 1 (Can be delayed to fire or amplified to three shots)

Reflector: Down, Back, 1 (Can be extended by holding 1)

Rhino Charge: Back, Forward, 4 (Can be amplified to follow-up hit knockdown)

Many of Nightwolf’s classic moves return and can be used in either competitive variation. His Spirit Arrow in particular is a good projectile with a short start-up that hits high and an ability to amplify to three shots much like Liu Kang’s fireball without the change in altitude on the final shot. It can also be held to bait your opponent into dropping their guard before letting a rip. The Reflector also returns in proper fashion to send projectiles right back to opponents, making zoning characters a target for eating their own errant long-range attacks. Finally, Rhino Charge is the classic shoulder charge. It’s a lot like Shang Tsung and Sub Zero’s slide attacks, and hits mid. It can also be followed up with an amplified second attack and knockdown, making it great for closing out combos or catching an opponent and knocking them back.

Nightwolf First Tournament Variation: Matoka Warrior

(Image via Warner Bros/NetherRealm Studios)
(Image via Warner Bros/NetherRealm Studios)

Rising Tomahawk: Down, Forward, 2 (Can be amplified for follow-up hit and launch)

Spirit of Kiba: Down, Back, 3 (Can be amplified to be uninterruptable during activation animation)

Nightwolf’s first competitive variation in Mortal Kombat 11 bring another classic move - Rising Tomahawk - to the table. When amplified, this launches opponents and makes for a perfect combo extender into further punches, a Rhino Charge, or both if you feel confident. Spirit of Kiba is a damage buff Nightwolf gets from calling in a spirit wolf. In normal form, it leaves you open to a hit and can be interrupted. However, if amplified, Spirit of Kiba gives Nightwolf short super armor during activation that can allow him to eat a hit without flinching and deliver a counterattack. Those looking for a classic Nightwolf feel with all of his original tools, plus the Spirit of Kiba buff will likely find Matoka Warrior satisfying and well-rounded.

Nightwolf Second Tournament Variation: Ancestral Gift

(Image via Warner Bros/NetherRealm Studios)
(Image via Warner Bros/NetherRealm Studios)

Helmsplitter: 2, 2, 1+3 (Krushing Blow if interrupting or countering opponent)

Razor’s Edge: Back+3, 4, 1+3

Moonlight Reflector: Down, Back, 1 (Can be extended by holding 1 or amplified into a teleport behind opponent)

Tomahawk Swing: Down, Back, Forward, 3 (Can be amplified to increase damage)

For Nightwolf’s second MK11 competitive variation, he loses the launcher in Rising Tomahawk, but he gains a few new combos, one of which has a Krushing Blow, a teleport, and a command grab. Ancestral Gift seems iffy. Rising Tomahawk seems like such a good move for combo play, but the teleport that’s added to the amplified Reflector is faster than teleports by Raiden or Kollector easily. One could reflect an attack, then amplify to get behind an opponent and cross them up with their own projectile. Then there’s Tomahawk Swing which is a command throw you could use to break a blocking opponent’s guard if you wish and even amplify for bigger damage.

Ancestral has some neat tricks, and you still have Spirit Arrow, a better Reflector, and Rhino Charge, but it still feels more gimmicky and situational compared to the well-rounded versatility that Rising Tomahawk and Spirit of Kiba bring to Makota Warrior.

Nightwolf Hands-On Conclusion

(Image via Warner Bros/NetherRealm Studios)
(Image via Warner Bros/NetherRealm Studios)

Nightwolf is feeling good. It feels like he has what he needs for most every occasion. We missed out on getting the bear spirit in a regular special move or the tracking light beam seen in the trailer attached to a proper competitive variation, but Nightwolf still has a lot going for his tournament variation move sets. He’s got Baraka-like advancing aggression, Liu Kang-level projectiles. Some good overhead and low attacks, and plenty more. What’s more, Nightwolf felt easy to pick up and play. In short time, we were able to put together a decent combo for 260+ damage that was easy to access. We’re certain once Nightwolf launches on August 13, other players will discover wildly better things this Makota shaman can do.

What do you think? Are you going to pick up and try Nightwolf when he drops? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out who won at Evo 2019’s Mortal Kombat 11 Grand Finals on Day 2 of Evo, among other great moments.


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