Over the last month, players around the world have been getting to grips with Mortal Kombat X. By now, you should have picked out a character to learn thoroughly, and at least have the basics of the game ingrained. If you’re struggling to turn that into consistent wins online, you’re in the right place.
It’s often said that practice makes perfect, but that’s not quite true — in reality, perfect practice makes perfect. If your training isn’t targeted, you won’t see the improvements you’re looking for as quickly as you might like to.
The five approaches in this guide will help you point your efforts in the right direction. If you want to stay competitive online, you’ll need to put the necessary time in to get better — but these tips will help you use the time you spend practicing to its maximum potential.
Learn How to Cancel
Cancels are one of the most important techniques in modern fighting games — and if you can learn the theory behind them in Mortal Kombat X, you’ll be able to implement it in a host of other titles.
Certain moves in any fighting game are tied to animations that prevent them from continuing a combo. This is done to prevent players from simply being able to hit light kick over and over again and keep a combo going until their opponent has been turned to much.
However, there are some moves that can cancel this animation as its happening and replace it with more offense, allowing you to continue your combo. In Mortal Kombat X, these moves are typically special attacks, and their exact implementation differs from character to character.
Using cancels to improve your combos is one of the first steps towards being a competitor in this game. It’s possible to figure out how cancels work for individual fighters, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re cheating if you use the Internet for a bit of direction. If you want to get good at fighting games, a proper understanding of cancelling is crucial.
Test Yourself Against Human Competition
While it’s tempting to practice up against the computer until you’re ‘ready’ to face another human, it’s important to understand that you’ll never really be fully prepared ahead of time.
The best way to improve is to compete against other players. You’ll get beat to begin with — you’ll probably get beat a lot — but that’s all part of the process. Don’t get discouraged; focus on one particular aspect of your game, and concentrate on improving in that area rather than notching up wins.
Computer opponents are simply no match for the complexity of a real human player. There’s a reason fighting game bosses are known for being cheap, and it’s because it’s nigh on impossible to create an AI fighter that has the same cunning and ingenuity as a human.
You can look at that fact one of two ways. Some people would think of that competition as too fierce, that they’re going to hop online and immediately get bodied, which may or may not be true. Others would take the stance that fighting against that sort of opposition is exactly the sort of environment that forces players to improve.
If you can adopt the latter mindset and avoid frustration, you’re going to see improvement much quicker than you would endlessly battling the computer.
Make Use of Your Replays
It’s easy to think of replays as a way of recording your most impressive wins — but you’ll be better off using the feature to look back on your losses.
While it’s not as much fun to relive a defeat, it’s a far better way to step up your game. You’ll see things about your own performance and your opponent’s that you missed in the heat of the moment, and analyzing both performances is key to understanding what went wrong.
Did your bread-and-butter combo get shut down every time? Were you getting zoned out by projectiles when you wanted to be up close and personal? Was your blocking simply not up to scratch? It’s difficult to make these judgements during play, but it’s far easier when you can sit and watch the match back a few times over.
By all means, record your Flawless Victory and post it on Twitter — but make sure to be just as eager to record a bad loss. Thinking about what you did wrong, and what your opponent did right, is the best way to establish your own strengths and weaknesses and figure out which areas of your game need the most help.
Watch Experts Play On Twitch
Back in the early days of Mortal Kombat, players would need to head down to the arcade to see the best of the best play. Now, you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
Fighting games are always popular on video game streaming sites like Twitch and Hitbox. Matches are short, so it’s easy for viewers to drop in and out — but more importantly, it’s a genre that players can improve at simply by observing the techniques used by an expert.
Of course, you shouldn’t expect to be able to comprehend all of what’s going on the first time you see high-level play. It’ll take some time for you to properly grasp the strategies being implemented and the decisions being made, but understanding those techniques will help you improve if you take the time to do so properly.
To begin with, focus on one area of your game that needs improvement — it could be blocking, or projectile use, or movement, or anything else. Observe how someone else does it, and try and figure out what works for them, as well as what doesn’t.
Tournament broadcasts are another great resource that you can find on streaming services. You’ll see the most viable characters pitted against one another, and that’s a great way to see a broad range of strategies play out in a competitive environment.
Play Your Opponent, Not the Game
It’s easy to get caught up in the details of combos and special attacks when you’re starting out in a fighting game, but you’ll soon realize that they’re not the biggest obstacle in your path.
You should master your chosen character, that’s a given — but to really get competitive, you need to be able to focus on your opponent. As unlikely as it may seem, Mortal Kombat X is more like a game of chess than you might expect, albeit with far more blood and gore.
For example, say you’ve worked out a combo with your chosen character than can rack up 40% of damage to your opponent. That’s great — but unless you can find an opening for it, it’s not going to help you pick up a win. To find that opportunity, you’ll need to figure out your opponent’s weaknesses.
Whether you’re spotting a tendency to block low rather than high, or an over-reliance on a special attack that you know how to punish, understanding your opponent is the key to mastering Mortal Kombat X. Specific strategies might not carry over, but you’ll have a better chance of excelling at other fighting games, too.
Once you’re in control of your favorite Mortal Kombat fighter, it’s time to focus on your opponent. Find their Achilles heel and exploit it, and you might just be surprised at how quickly you start to rack up wins.
Do you have your own Mortal Kombat X tips? Let us know about them in the comments section below.