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Installing Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate Is A Nightmare

It shouldn’t be this hard to play Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate.

Sure, last year’s base release didn’t have the best install method, but it was pretty par for the course. Much like Street Fighter V, you could launch the game right away, but that didn’t mean you could actually play it. You were limited to a few modes, and treated to a “hey, this isn’t actually here yet” message when you tried to do most things. I’m not a big fan of this approach, personally, but it’s pretty par for the course at this point.

But the release of yesterday’s Ultimate edition promised to be the definitive version of the game. I assumed this to not only meant a speedier install, but maybe even more stuff to do upfront so I could get to playing faster. After all, what good’s a next-gen release if it’s got all the same last-gen problems?

After I put the disc into our PS5 last night, I plugged in my fight stick and sat down, ready to dust off my Johnny Cage and waste some newcomers online. I got my title splash, confirming this was definitely the “Ultimate” version, and jumped right into the familiar menu. Then I realized something: playing online was greyed out. So were the story modes. So was the arcade mode. So were most of the tutorials. In fact, most of the characters weren’t even installed yet.

I let out a long sigh. Cool. Great. It was like the original game. No problem – I’d just mess around with Jade and Johnny in training mode, brush up on my combos, wait until the game’s countdown finished, and then I could actually play. That’s when, in the open case in front of me, I realized that the game came with a DLC voucher. I thought it was just some extra skins, or a preorder bonus, or something to that effect.

Nope! It was actually a code to essentially unlock half of the entire game. See, MK11 Ultimate comes with Aftermath and both Fighter Packs released so far, which is kind of the reason I bought it. I assumed that when I put the disc into my PS5, got the “Ultimate” title splash, and saw the highlighted characters in my roster, that meant I actually had the full game. God, wasn’t that stupid of me?

Already frustrated, I went to the PlayStation Store and punched in my code. The store then informed me that I’d redeemed a code for thirty items, which seemed ridiculous, but I was already too fed up to care. All thirty (thirty! thirty!) items of DLC began to install, and I jumped back into my training session.

That’s when the pop-ups started.

One after another. “This item is queued.” “This item is downloaded.” “This item is installing.” “This item is ready to play.” Three or four notifications per download, all at the same time. For those keeping count at home, that puts it in the ballpark of 90-120 pop-ups in the span of a few minutes. The sheer amount of pop-ups, coupled with how fast they pop, put early aughts porn sites to shame. These were all comically small downloads, too, meaning they weren’t the actual characters, but rather “checks” to see if I had the right version of the game.

Grimacing, I went back to rooting around in the menus, desperate to see if any other parts of the game had installed. Thankfully, both the base campaign and Aftermath were ready, so I decided to blast through the new DLC story while I waited. But upon launching the campaign, I was thrown straight into a fight as Nightwolf. At first, I thought it was just a cool in media res thing. Unfortunately, after winning, it took me straight to the next fight… and then another after that. This was when I realized that something was definitely up.

As it turns out, Ultimate was letting me play Aftermath without any of the cutscenes installed. Despite saying the campaign was ready, and despite letting me start it, I couldn’t actually take in any of the narrative content. That was the last straw. I quit out of the game and went to go play Miles Morales, completely fed up with how frustrating it was to play this thing.

I’m excited to actually play today, but last night’s experience really soured me on a game that I truly love. There was a better way to handle all of this, yet WB Games and Netherrealm don’t seem interested in it. When you put in a definitive version of a game, it should just be that – the definitive version. Every single piece of content up until that point should be on the disc, and if it can’t fit on the disc, it should be handled with one easy download.

What WB Games has done here is, essentially, ship a game with the same obnoxious installation of the last-gen version. Not only that, but they’ve added in an extra bit of annoyance with the DLC voucher, which is a predatory and anti-consumer practice that they’ve been trying to push for years. Remember online passes? Yeah, that was them, and this is that all over again. If you buy a secondhand copy of MK11 Ultimate, it doesn’t seem like you’ll actually get all of that “Ultimate” content if you don’t have a voucher. Imagine buying this version because Mileena and Rambo are on the cover, only to discover that you can’t actually play as them. That’s wrong. That’s false advertising.

Obviously, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate is still the most complete version of a truly stellar fighter. But byzantine install methods, scummy DLC practices, obnoxious pop-ups, and strange bugs aren’t the best foot to put forward, especially as the first “next-gen” fighting game. If this is how things are going forward, we’re in for an exhausting generation.

Next: Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge Is Everything Fans Want (And More)

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  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath

Bella Blondeau is a lovable miscreant with a heart of gold… or so she says.

She likes long walks in dingy arcades, loves horror good and bad, and has a passion for anime girls of any and all varieties. Her favorite game is Nier: Automata, because she loves both robots and being sad.

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