Why Anti-Air in MK11 is Broken

Mortal Kombat 11

In most 2d fighting games, there is an element of Air combat that players need to be aware of. When this element is the highlight of the game, they usually enter the subgenre of platform fighters. Like the Super Smash Bros series, Rivals of Aether, or Brawlhalla.

But, when the focus is not on the air’s air interactions, developers have to nail the balance of Air and Anti-Air. Unfortunately, NetherRealm Studios, for all their great design in Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate, has yet to adequately address an issue that has existed in the game for a few years now.

Hitboxes & Anti-Air – A Crash Course

At its simplest, approaching your opponents in MK11 by jumping is generally the most advantageous way of doing so. Although, in theory, it shouldn’t, jumping leaves you in a parabolic arc, which is very predictable and leaves you with a limited set of things that you can do to respond to your opponent. But for most Mortal Kombat 11 characters, Anti-Air is not a viable option. The “universal” anti-air is Standing 1, or the uppercut, but it is not reliable for every character.

This also brings us to discussing Horizontal versus Vertical hitboxes, and the complex design decisions that go into them. Generally speaking, attacks in fighting games will have a preferred orientation for their hitboxes. For example, think of a jab as a pure horizontal action, while an uppercut is a vertical one. Even with complex animation, there will still be some preference for one orientation or the other. Of course, there are some exceptions, but they are often special attacks or part of a combo or string.

The benefit to the player that comes from these oriented hitboxes is having an intuitive feel for them. Also, in the case of horizontal hitboxes, they can cover a vertical space very efficiently. That is why most anti-air you see in Fighting Games is a very high horizontal hitbox, with the player’s hurtbox below it and a few invincibility frames for good measure.

Mortal Kombat 11
Courtesy of WB Games

Mortal Kombat 11’s Approach to anti-Air

This is where MK11 deviates a bit. A lot of the Anti-Air in the game is a vertical hitbox or a relatively low horizontal hitbox with the hurtbox sticking out just enough to make some air attacks safer. And, at the same time, quite a few of those air attacks have horizontal hitboxes. Meaning that unless the grounded player reacts perfectly to the attack, they are likely to eat a big hit. Even if they respond in time, hitting an opponent out of the air rarely results in not much damage to the downed player. It might lead to the start of a combo, but a grounded player would instead get their combo started standing to be able to squish out all the damage possible.

Even with all of that said, it is not like everyone jumps in the game. If everyone did, then we would see a lot more air-to-air interactions. Jumping into a fight is still a risky maneuver. But for many high-ranking players, it often outweighs the risks when done sparingly and one that opponents won’t mind risking in good matchups.

The system might not be irreparable, but it is in dire need of a lookover if MK11 remains the main title for the series in years to come. And if the next entry in the franchise is in the works. Air and Anti-air should be one of the core elements NRS revisits for it. There is no denying the underlying engine of the game is excellent. Now it just needs some more tweaking.

The Two Best Anti-Air Character for Mortal Kombat 11

With all of that said, who is then the best character to keep jumpers in check? Here is a non-extensive list, and keep in mind that although these are good, they are only as good as the players controlling them, so practice good fundamentals, always!

Mortal Kombat 11
Courtesy of WB Games

D’Vorah

Her DF2 (Down Forward 2) is a brilliant piece of Anti-Air. Eight frames, making it fast, and includes a Krushing blow when used as an Anti-Air! To top it off, it leaves enough room after to allow for some genuinely gnarly combos, making D’vorah one of the few characters that player will not want to jump in for an attack.

Mortal Kombat 11
Courtesy of WB Games

Jade

Her D2 (Down 2) is considered one of the best ways to respond to a jump in the game. Its large hurtbox and relatively far range allow it to be used safely to react to incoming air attacks. But of course, as if by some sort of twisted curse. Jade also has a brilliant anti-anti-air attack, her DB1, where she throws a razor rang, can be used in the air, and it is beneficial to counter those who dare input an anti-air attack against her.

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