About a week after the mysterious exploding grain of sand in a recent Mortal Kombat anniversary video, NetherRealm Studios has released a more concrete teaser. This new video shows a clock ticking down, past 9, 10, 11… and then skipping over 12 straight to 1.
The message seems pretty clear—following 2019’s Mortal Kombat 11, the new entry won’t be MK12, but rather some kind of reboot or reset. That also lines up a datamined leak that suggests the new game is called Mortal Kombat 1.
Of course, if you played Mortal Kombat 11’s story through to the end, a timeline reboot will make perfect sense to you. Spoilers: that game ended with all of history being erased back to its very beginnings, thanks to the efforts of time-manipulating villain Kronika, and ultimately a deified Liu Kang and a newly mortal Raiden set to work overseeing a new timeline. The clock and sand imagery here harks back to that moment, so I’d guess they’re continuing from that premise—meaning it’ll be a reset, but one that does carry on from the events of the previous game.
The end of the Aftermath DLC also showed Liu Kang meeting and preparing to train the original Kung Lao—the ancestor of the one usually present in the games, who originally won the Mortal Kombat tournament and saved Earth 500 years in the past. That could suggest a game set in the 1500s with a more classic martial arts feel. But probably more likely is a new present day altered by such tamperings with history.
This kind of timeline tomfoolery is nothing new for the series—2011’s Mortal Kombat was itself a reboot based on the idea of time travel reshuffling the events of the original game, and the modern series has been following on from that ever since. I don’t know if Ed Boon just really likes Doctor Who, but it has proved a clever way of drawing on the series’ long history without being bound to its canon.
We shouldn’t have too long to wait to find out exactly what shapes Mortal Kombat 1—if that does turn out to be its name—will be twisting the timeline in this time. According to a Warner Bros investor’s call in February, the game is hoped to release before the end of this year.
Sorry, Injustice fans—maybe next time.