The fighting game genre has a history dating back to the 1970s, but it entered the mainstream in the 1990s when arcade games gained popularity. It was during this time that two of the most recognizable series, Mortal Kombat and Tekken, began their journey.

Both series have seen numerous releases on PC and various consoles since the 1990s, becoming significant elements of pop culture. Mortal Kombat, developed by NetherRealm Studios since 2009, and Bandai Namco’s Tekken have been competing for the title of the best fighting game since their first releases.

In September 2023, the latest instalment of Mortal Kombat was released, followed by the new Tekken in January 2024. How do these two games compare? Let’s dive into the Tekken 8 vs Mortal Kombat 1 comparison!

Historical Context and Evolution

Mortal Kombat was initiated in 1992 and first appeared on arcade machines. Mortal Kombat 1, released on September 19th, 2023, is the twelfth full instalment in the series, available on PC, PS5, XSX, and Switch. It explores the revived universe created by Liu Kang, the God of Fire, featuring visually updated characters due to an entirely new setting.

Tekken, with its first release in 1994, also started on arcade machines and simultaneously on the PS1. Tekken 8, released on January 26th, 2024, is the latest, eleventh instalment, available on PC, PS5, and XSX.

The game continues the storyline, focusing on the conflict between father and son – Kazuya Mishima and Jin Kazama. Besides those two, we encounter many familiar characters and some of the newly added heroes. Both of the games focus on 1vs1 fights.

Gameplay Mechanics and Style

Both games have been vying for the title of the best fighting game for years. Which one leads in the rankings? Both… and neither. It depends on players’ personal preferences, affinity for specific universes and characters, and hardware capabilities.

Both games focus on player vs. player or player vs. computer battles, controlling a chosen character and engaging in fights through casual matches or following the storyline campaign.

Combat emphasizes basic attacks, blocks, special character-specific moves, and combos — sequences of different moves and attacks. Mortal Kombat 1 distinguishes itself with unique Fatalities for each character, enriched with cutscenes, activated through special control sequences. Additionally, MK1 introduces the Kameo Fighters system, featuring additional characters aiding the main hero during battles.

Video credit: Warner Bros. Games ANZ /

In Tekken 8, a mechanical variation includes the ability to switch between the basic and Special Style modes, simplifying inputs for more complex combos. The game also introduces the Arcade Quest mode, allowing players to create a customizable avatar, gaining experience by… playing Tekken on an arcade machine!

Video credit: Bandai Namco Entertainment America /

Graphics Design

When it comes to graphics, both games showcase impressive visuals. Comparing the audiovisual effects of these games with their predecessors from a few years ago, one cannot help but notice tremendous progress. In the latest instalments, we are presented with detailed, interactive 3D arenas, well-crafted character models, and excellent attack animations.

Mortal Kombat 1 was developed on the Unreal Engine 4, while Tekken 8 is built on Unreal Engine 5. However, it’s easy to observe that despite the slightly inferior graphics engine, MK1 keeps up with its competitor, all thanks to its more realistic graphics.

Character Roster and Development

When it comes to characters, in both games, we will encounter well-known, iconic warriors. In both cases, the roster of characters has, however, been expanded with a few new playable heroes with special abilities and a unique appearance.

Tekken 8 offers a roster of 34 playable characters, with additional ones expected with future DLC seasons. Here is the full list of characters, including the 4 newly introduced heroes (at the beginning of the list):

  • Azucena Milagros Ortiz Castillo
  • Jack-8
  • Reina
  • Victor Chevalier
  • Alisa Bosconovitch
  • Asuka Kazama
  • Bryan Fury
  • Claudio Serafino
  • Devil Jin
  • Eddy Gordo
  • Feng Wei
  • Hwoarang
  • Jack-7
  • Jin Kazama
  • Jun Kazama
  • Kazuya Mishima / Devil Kazuya
  • King II
  • Kuma II
  • Lars Alexandersson
  • Lee Chaolan
  • Leo Kliesen
  • Leroy Smith
  • Lili de Rochefort
  • Ling Xiaoyu
  • Marshall Law
  • Nina Williams
  • Panda
  • Paul Phoenix
  • Raven
  • Sergei Dragunov
  • Shaheen
  • Steve Fox
  • Yoshimitsu
  • Zafina

Mortal Kombat 1 has 22 playable characters, with one added in the pre-order (Shang Tsung), and an additional six characters added through the Kombat Pack. Here is the full list of characters, including the additional ones from the Kombat Pack (at the beginning of the list):

  • Ermac
  • Homelander
  • Omni-Man
  • Peacemaker
  • Quan Chi
  • Takeda
  • Ashrah
  • Baraka
  • General Shao
  • Geras
  • Havik
  • Johnny Cage
  • Kenshi
  • Kitana
  • Kung Lao
  • Li Mei
  • Liu Kang
  • Mileena
  • Nitara
  • Raiden
  • Rain
  • Reiko
  • Reptile
  • Scorpion
  • Sindel
  • Shang Tsung
  • Smoke
  • Sub-Zero
  • Tanya

Here are all Kameo Fighters:

  • Cyrax
  • Darrius
  • Frost
  • Goro
  • Jax Briggs
  • Kano
  • Kung Lao
  • Motaro
  • Sareena
  • Scorpion
  • Sektor
  • Shujinko
  • Sonya Blade
  • Stryker
  • Sub-Zero
  • Ferra
  • Johnny Cage
  • Khameleon
  • Mavado
  • Tremor

Apart from the fact that the diversity of characters creates ample opportunities for enjoyment and diversifies the gameplay, their relationships with each other result from plot twists and impact the appearance of the world in each subsequent instalment – both in Mortal Kombat 1 and Tekken 8, the story campaign continues the narrative from previous releases.

Competitive Scene and Tournaments

Tekken 8 and Mortal Kombat 1, like other fighting games, excel in social settings and friend gatherings, allowing split-screen battles for friendly competitions. Which one is better then? There is no clear-cut answer.

Both games have their strengths and weaknesses in the competitive scene, boasting a massive fan base and offering online multiplayer capabilities. They even have official esport tournaments where players from around the world compete for the championship title. Currently, you can both participate in and follow players’ actions in tournaments featuring the latest instalments of both series.

Conclusion: The Legacy of Two Titans

In conclusion, the clash between Tekken 8 and Mortal Kombat 1 cannot be definitively resolved. Both games offer cutting-edge audiovisuals, a plethora of unique characters, engaging story backgrounds, and emotionally charged battles. They excel as party games and solo titles.

Although they differ in gameplay modes, storylines, and universes, there are more similarities than differences. The choice between them ultimately depends on individual preferences. If you prefer brutal Fatalities, realistic graphics, and the chance to embody characters like Homelander or Peacemaker, choose MK1. If you are interested in a deeper lore, a larger character selection, anime-style graphics, and an additional RPGish Arcade Quest mode, Tekken 8 might be the better option.

Regardless, the new instalments of Tekken and MK have only heightened players’ appetite for more, suggesting that future iterations of these games are inevitable!