Mortal Kombat X Guide for Beginners

mortal kombat x guide

Diving into Mortal Kombat X can be a daunting task for many beginners. This Mortal Kombat X guide is going to be focused on you!

We will focus on the basics of Mortal Kombat X, and each installment will progressively get more in depth.

Before we get into this Mortal Kombat X Guide , let’s cover the abbreviated input commands…

1= Front Punch (X or Square)
2= Back Punch (Y or Triangle)
3= Front Kick (A or X)
4= Back Kick (B or Circle)
NJP= Neutral Jump Pinch
NJK= Neutral Jump Kick
JIP= Jump in Punch
JIK= Jump In Kick

Now let’s start with the basics…

Part 1: The Basics

Normals and Pokes

This is the foundation of almost any fighting game. Normals are just your normal attacks while pokes are specific moves used to interrupt combos or keep your opponent at a distance. Most characters down 3 and 4 will be their best pokes, but this can vary for each character.

Some normals strike overhead. It is important to know and understand your character’s ability to overhead strike. Overhead attacks must be blocked standing. Because of this, overheads mixed with low pokes and other low moves can really disrupt what a player wants to do and can put them in a 50/50 guessing game as far as defending your attacks. This is the basic foundation of Mortal Kombat X

Unique Attacks

Some players have specific normals that have special qualities. Ermac is a great example here. You can charge his B2 to create a hard knock down. This means the opponent can’t tech roll out of the knock down. You also can dash out of the charge keeping your opponent on their toes.

Jump Ins, Dashing, Movement

Each character moves and feels different. Walk speed is crucial in Mortal Kombat X so get a good feel for how fast (or slow) your character walks both forward and backward. Another key component to movement is a character’s front and back dash speed. Also, the range of the dash is important. This will allow you to properly time juggles and close in on zoners (characters who use space and work well from a distance). These will be topics we will discuss later in guide.

Jumping is important as well. We need to know how high and how far your character jumps. This is important for closing down space as well as continuing or evading pressure situation. Pressure is when an opponent is consistently attacks.

When done correctly, jumping can be great. When done incorrectly, it leaves you susceptible to damage and punishment. When you jump your character is stuck in the jump animation and cannot block. Remember this and think of the risks before you abuse the jump mechanic. Also, get familiar with the types of attacks your character uses in the air. Some take longer to start up than others and cover ground differently.

Endurance Bar

The endurance bar in Mortal Kombat X is very important. You need full endurance as well as two bars of meter to combo break. To combo break simply hold block and press forward on the controller. This allows you to interrupt combos to prevent further damage.

The endurance bar is also used for running. You can do this by dashing and pressing block. You can cancel the run at any time by using a move or hitting the block button again.

The endurance bar is also used to back dash and use interactables in the environments in which you fight.

The video below covers all of the above topics. Check it out before we move on to part two!

PART 2 Combos, Strings, Stun and 50/50s


The Mortal Kombat X combo system works by using combo strings. Combo strings are a series canned inputs and animations used to inflict damage on your opponent.

Here is what I look at to determine which strings I will use..

1. Is it safe on block?

This is important to know. Using strings that leave you susceptible to huge damage after completion should be thrown out of your string list. The only time I would suggest using strings like this is mid combo after a pop up or stun special (Scorpion spear, Erron Black Sand, Sub-Zero Freeze).

2. How far does the first hit travel?

Knowing the distance you can stand away from your opponent while still inflicting damage is key. Keeping a safe distance to avoid damage is very important in Mortal Kombat X. Become aware of how far the first hits travel and understand the best distance for your character.

3. On which hits can I cancel into a special move or run?

On certain strings you can cancel into a run or a special move. This will keep your opponent on their toes and allow you to keep them guessing. In many instances this is a great way to also extend combos, particularly combos that launch.

4. What are the frames of start up?

Understand how long it takes for the initial hit to come out is vital. If the initial hit comes out very slow, it may not be the best option to punish opponents who use moves with fast recovery.

Launching and Run Canceling

Launching means that the hit pops your opponent into the air. Almost all strings or hits that launch can be linked into a combo by your character of choice. You just need to figure out how to take advantage of the launch.

You have three options…

1. Run Cancel

To run simply dash by hitting F,F, then hit block.

You do not need to hold block or forward once you trigger the run animation

You could literally put the controller on the floor and the character will run until their energy meter is depleted.

Knowing and understanding this makes run canceling much easier.

Once the run animation is triggered, you can press any input and it will cancel the run into that specific input or move. This includes block, X-Rays, normals and special moves. Using a run cancel will stop your character in his or her tracks with whatever input you press. This helps your character cover more ground and puts them in position to begin another string once your opponent is launched.

2. Special Move

Many special moves can move a character quicker than any run cancel or normal move.

A great example of this is Lui Kang. His Bicycle Kick as well as his fire ball and flying kick can inflict damage from far away quickly. Adding these to the ends of combos can increase the damage.

There are other specials that travel and/or cause a stun where your opponent cannot block. Sub-Zero and Scorpion are great examples of this. Sub-Zero’s Ice Ball and Scorpion’s spear are two special moves that travel distance and stun your opponent in an unblockable state. These types of special moves can lead to major damage and are integral in extending combos for many characters on the roster.

3. Advancing Normals

Using a traveling normal, particularly one that leads to a string or one that can be canceled by a special move, works well. These traveling, or advancing normals are great for not only extending combos after launch but also for keeping a safe distance from your opponent during the neutral game. A great example of an advancing normal is Erron Black’s F2 and F1.

Hit Stun and 50/50s

Some hits in Mortal Kombat X leave your opponent in a hit stun. Hit stun basically means the opponent cannot move and must absorb a hit. The opponent can block during this stunned state, but they must absorb whatever hit you deliver.

This is where 50/50s come into play and true mind games get to work. This is my favorite part of Mortal Kombat X.

A 50/50 is a situation where the offensive character can land an overhead or a low and link it to combo. Because the overhead must be blocked standing and the low must be blocked crouching, the defensive player must guess how to block the string. That’s where the name 50/50 comes from. It is a 50% chance.

Part 3: Zoning, Spacing, Corner Reversal

Keeping the spacing beneficial to what you want to do is extremely important in Mortal Kombat X. For a zoning character like Quan Chi, Jaqui Briggs, or Kenshi you may want a large amount of space from your opponent.

For someone like Johnny Cage or Sonya, you may want to keep the spacing tight.

This is why combo finishers are so important.

Check out this outstanding video that goes over multiple options for combo enders and discusses the benefits of proper spacing. The video also discusses how to end combos to reversal out of the corner.

Part 4: Wake up

Wake up refers to situations where one opponent is on the ground. We will take a look at the options one has defensively first.

Delay Wake Up: By holding the down button you can force your opponent to stay down longer than usual. This will mess an opponents timing up on certain strings and pressure.

Back Dash: When Back dashing, your character will have frames of invincibility. This is great for getting out of pressure that is non advancing.

Armor Wake Up/ X Ray Wake Up: Certain characters have enhanced moves or X Rays that will allow for a hit or armor and inflict damage to their opponent.

Block: Simple and sometimes the most effective.

Tech Roll: Allows for a backwards roll. Be aware that some knocked downs are hard knock downs. This means you will not be awarded the opportunity to tech roll. All sweeps are hard knock downs.

Now Let’s look at options for the offense…

50/50 Overhead or low combo string: Forcing your opponent to guess is always a great thing.

Neutral Jump Punch: A well times NJP will avoid many wake up attacks and punish your opponent with full combo.

Cross Over Jump: This is when you jump over your opponent and land a jumping attack. This is great for reversing sides and makes it difficult to input wake up attacks and the controller scheme flips mid jump. A well times cross over jump can be a real headache for the defense.

Block: If you think your opponent will wake up with an attack, simply block and punish.

Spacing: With certain zoning characters it may be a good option to increase or reduce space once and opponent is knocked down.

Quick Two Hitter: A quick two hitter can negate armor. Certain characters have moves that hit so fast that it breaks armor before the move comes out. Thunder God Raiden, Jaqui Briggs, and Kung Jin are among these characters.

Part 5: Anti Air and Air Conversions

The air game is different for every character. Some characters like Scorpion, Ermac and Kung Jin convert in the air very nicely. Other characters not so much. Understand that whenever you jump you put yourself at risk to be hit. You can not block while in the air and there are frames of recovery on landing.

Figure out moves that your character has to convert and keep your opponent grounded. Here are some universal anti air options.

D2 or Uppercut: Most characters have a decent uppercut that will inflict good damage and punish the opponent when jumping. A well timed jump or cross over jump will be difficult to uppercut at times. This move works best against opponents who recklessly jump in.

NJP: NJP is one of the best anti airs. It will smack opponents to the ground and allow for a launch. You can damage your opponent up to 40% or more depending on the character you are using.

Special Moves: Some characters have great special moves that have anti air qualities. Raiden, Jax and Kitana to name a few. Know and understand your character’s special move options and use them in jump-in situations.

Armor Moves: Enhanced moves with armor will eat the opponents jump in and punish them. Jason and Kung Lao have two of the best anti air enhanced moves. Both lead to big damage. Figure out the best anti air moves for your character.

Sweeps and Low Pokes: Oddly enough, sweeps and low poked of many characters lower the hit box to the point that a jump in punch cannot land. However, jump in kicks usually can not be avoided using this tactic. Know your opponent and use this tactic wisely.

Air Conversions

Dive kicks as well as teleports allow for combo conversions. If you air-to-air with someone with a jump punch, you also can often run under them and convert to a juggle combo. Learn your characters options in these situations.

With this basic information, you will be able to develop your fundamentals in the game of Mortal Kombat X.

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