Beginner’s Guide – Essential Tips and Tricks – Mortal Kombat 1 Guide – IGN

Beginner’s Guide – Essential Tips and Tricks – Mortal Kombat 1 Guide – IGN

Getting up to speed in Mortal Kombat 1 can be a little tricky, even if you’ve played every past Mortal Kombat or you’re a fighting game veteran, or both. Mortal Kombat 1 adds Kameo Fights, assist kharacters that can be called in battle to help kombatants, and a greater focus on aerial kombos.


In this IGN Mortal Kombat 1 guide, we’ll share some tips and tricks to get you up to speed with Mortal Kombat 1, whether you’re a long-time kombatant or taking your first steps into the Mortal Kombat universe.

Watch the Opening Cutscene

We know what you’re thinking: “watch the opening cutscene, IGN? Really?” Yes, dear reader. This cutscene plays automatically the first time you boot up MK1, so make sure you watch it. It’s been a few years since MK11 and Aftermath, and the MK story is very, very different in MK1.


Unlike 2009’s Mortal Kombat, this is a full-on reboot. A lot has changed, and the opening cutscene will catch you up on quite a few things and explain how much time has passed before you jump into MK1’s story mode. You can jump into the Kampaign without it, but you’ll be missing out on some valuable information if you do. Plus, it’s narrated by Liu Kang. Who doesn’t like Liu Kang?

Head to the Tutorial

Yes, we know, nobody likes tutorials. You paid good money for this game, and you’re here to punch people and pull off sick Fatalities! But before you step into the ring, it’s a good idea to learn how to throw a punch. Even the best fighters need to train.

You’ll find Mortal Kombat’s tutorial under Learn in the main menu, and it’s a good one, up there with some of the best in the genre. MK1’s tutorial will walk you through everything: how to move and attack, how to use Kameo Fighters, how to play offense, how to defend yourself, how to read and use Frame Data, and how to play Neutral. These are vital lessons.

It can be a lot to take in if you’re a new player, but you don’t have to do every lesson at once. It’s okay to get a feel for the basics and then start playing matches. Remember, the goal of a fighting game is to have fun, and learning to play well is a marathon, not a sprint. Go at a pace that feels comfortable for you. Plus, you’ll get Koins you can spend to unlock cool collectibles in the Kollection!

Spend Some Time in the Lab


Once you’ve got a feel for the basics, head to Training Mode (or what we in the FGC call “The Lab”), and start trying characters out. You don’t need to practice flashy kombos, nail down complex oki situations, or even understand your kharacter’s neutral. Right now, your goal should be to experiment.

Try out your character’s normal and special moves and see what feels good. If you’re super curious, you can even check out their frame data, if that will help you decide. You might also want to do some simple kombos and see what feels natural to you.

Don’t get discouraged if no kharacters stand out immediately. The hardest part of any fighting game is finding the character for you, and Mortal Kombat 1 is no exception. You don’t have to find the answer right away. Just play around and see who you enjoy.

Play the Kampaign


Okay, now you’ve got some knowledge under your belt and hopefully a good idea of some of the characters that you like. Now it’s time to play the game! It can be very tempting to stay in Training Mode forever, practicing kombos, testing characters, and learning new tech, but the best way to get better at a fighting game is to play the game.

We recommend starting with Mortal Kombat 1’s Kampaign for a few reasons. First, it’s just a lot of fun. Secondly, Mortal Kombat 1’s Kampaign will let you play as most of the last, giving you a good idea of how everyone works in real match situations, so it’s a great way to see what characters you like in a low-stress setting.

Don’t be afraid to go into your move list during matches to learn new strings, special moves, and anything else you want to know. Finishing the kampaign will unlock Havik.

Learn Your Defensive Mechanics

All right. You’ve beaten the campaign, you know some characters you like, and you’re ready to dive into MK1 proper. Now it’s time to learn some stuff that will serve you well no matter who you play.

First, you’re going to want to learn MK1’s defensive mechanics. That means learning how to do things that will serve you well in any fighting game (like blocking low by default, and trying to react to high hits), but it also means mastering Mortal Kombat-specific mechanics like combo breakers, flawless blocks, up blocks, and your various wakeup options. Luckily, the tutorial will teach you all of this stuff, so you won’t have to learn it on your own.


We know what you’re thinking: “But IGN, I didn’t pay $70 to block! I want to do some combos!” We’ll get there, but we’re starting with defense for a reason. Defense is one of the hardest aspects of any fighting game to learn, and most players tend to master it last.

By learning the basics now, you’ll master techniques you can bring to any character, and have a leg up on many players early on. Plus, knowing how to escape combos (and avoid being hit in the first place) in a game where an experienced player can take half your health bar with a single touch will be really helpful.

Choose Your Kharacter and Kameo


So now you know how to play defense, at least a little bit. Now it’s time to choose a main. There’s no single strategy for this. Some people pick their main because they look cool, because they like their storyline or personality, because they vibe with certain aspects of their kit, or because they have cool kombos or Fatalities. There’s no one right way to pick a character, but we can offer a few hints.

First, head into training mode and play around with their basic strings and special moves. See what feels good to you. Ideally, you’re going to be playing this character for a long time, so it’s nice to like how they feel and what they can do once they hit you.

You’ll also want a general idea of what the moves you should be using in neutral are, and the range your character likes to play at. Are they a zoner who likes to sit back and chuck fireballs? Are they a rushdown kharacter that wants to be in your opponent’s face? Maybe they’re a mix-up kharacter or an all-arounder. You don’t have to learn everything about your kharacter right now. It’s enough to have a basic understanding of their gameplan and how they want to approach the game.

Learn some (Basic) Kombos

This goes hand in hand with choosing your character, but once you have a combatant you think you like, head over to their combo trials and try some of them out. You don’t have to master these; you don’t have to learn do to your characters most damaging kombos, which is known as being optimal, right out of the gate. Right now, it’s more important to see how your character’s combos work.

By that, we mean watching what launchers the kombo trials use and what buttons they use to continue combos when a character is in the air, seeing what moves the kombos start with, and watching what moves they end with.


Generally, the best way to learn a combo isn’t to just memorize a long string of inputs. Instead, you want to understand a character’s combo theory – what moves they use when and why. Once you understand that, you’ll be able to find kombos on your own. Remember, you don’t have to be optimal right away (or ever, if you don’t want to). Finding easy, solid, reliable kombos is where you want to start. A combo you can hit 100% of the time is always better than one you can only hit 50% of the time, even if the former does less damage.

Play Invasions


Now that you have a fighter, it’s time to play the game. Invasions are a great place to start. Here, you can practice the stuff you’ve been learning in training mode against a wide variety of characters, many of whom have special bonuses you’ll have to play around. This is also a great place to level up your kharacters and profile, unlock new Fatalities, Brutalities, cosmetics, and the last few Kameo Fighters. Use Invasions to experiment with new characters and Kameos, too.

Find a Kommunity


One of the best ways to get better at any fighting game is to play with friends, especially if they’re at or around your skill level. Playing with friends is a great way to practice matchups, test out combos, improve your defense, and get better together.

Having a training partner is a core part of getting better, but don’t be afraid to reach out to people you play online or join Discords to find people to play against. Yes, grinding ranked matches is a core part of getting better, but you’ll get more out of playing with a regular squad and sharing tech.

Keep Practicing

As you play, keep track of where you’re making mistakes. Are you struggling to get hits in neutral? Losing because you get opened up on defense? Dropping your kombos? Watch your replays and make notes of where you’re making mistakes.

Practice those scenarios in Training Mode, then try to apply what you’ve learned in matches. Improvement can take a while, so don’t feel bad if you’re not progressing as fast as you think you should be. It’s also okay to take breaks. Keep practicing, and you will improve.

Looking for a guide to the Mortal Kombat 1 Kampaign? Check out our full Kampaign walkthrough here.

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