This article contains spoilers for Mortal Kombat 1.
Mortal Kombat 1’s story mode has a bombastic conclusion.
Thousands of characters from a multiverse of timelines face off against each other as Liu Kang and Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath’s ending have their final battle. It has a fairly definitive conclusion, with Liu Kang winning and the multiverse continuing to exist, mostly in peace. When it comes to what’s next for the “new era” Liu Kang created, NetherRealm Studios does leave some plot points, especially in the canon Tower character endings, to potentially follow up in a sequel.
Some of the threads that NetherRealm can follow up on are character-specific, like Reptile looking for who was murdering Zaterrans who could turn human or Jax and Kenshi joining an Outworld-focused division of the FBI. Five narrative beats, in particular, could potentially set up the main conflicts of the game’s inevitable sequel. If a follow-up to Mortal Kombat 1’s story does come around, these are some developments that you should expect it to follow up on.
Throughout Mortal Kombat 1, Havik is a minor player in Liu Kang’s new era, serving as a grunt for Shang Tsung before getting part of his face melted off by Scorpion. It looks like this character introduced in Mortal Kombat: Deception will play a much more significant role in a Mortal Kombat 1 sequel, though. A post-credit scene in the game shows a Titan version of Havik, who likely is the master of his own timeline, walk in the aftermath of Mortal Kombat 1’s final battle.
After killing a Jax variant, he waxes poetic to evil-looking versions of Kenshi, Tanya, and Quan-Chi about how glorious it was to see warriors from across timelines all fighting in one place and how it ended too quickly. He concludes by saying: “Next time, it won’t.” It’s safe to assume that this version of the character, referred to in-game as “Lord Havik,” will be the next multiversal threat to Mortal Kombat’s timelines. He will surely create lots of chaos for the heroes.
Reiko’s ending introduces a very important being in the Mortal Kombat universe. General Shao’s minion is tasked with obtaining a doomsday weapon, which is revealed to be Onaga. Making his first full appearance in Mortal Kombat: Deception, Onaga is a mighty dragon king who used to rule over Outworld and posed a great threat when reawakened.
In Liu Kang’s new era, General Shao’s ancestors trapped a monster version of Onaga inside Mount Tsaagan. Reiko goes there to free Onaga and unleash its fury upon Mileena’s kingdom. This ending concludes on a cliffhanger, with Reiko fighting Onaga and saying it would be an honor to sacrifice himself to help General Shao. Whether or not Reiko survives, it looks likely that Onaga could be freed and may serve as a major threat to Liu Kang’s timeline. Or Onaga could help ward off Lord Havik.
The Shang Tsung from Liu Kang’s timeline is still alive after the events of Mortal Kombat 1’s story mode, but he’s imprisoned. The character’s Tower ending reveals that Shang Tsung escaped, though. Furthermore, he washed ashore on an island with a mysterious well of souls. He vows to learn how to wield this power and become invincible with it.
Essentially, Shang Tsung now has access to his island and the Well of Souls, as he did in Mortal Kombat 11’s timeline pre-reboot. This will massively power up the character, giving him the strength to once again interfere in Liu Kang’s plans in a successor to Mortal Kombat 1. As he’s one of Mortal Kombat’s most iconic villains, it’s a safe bet that we’ll see this version of the character again.
During Mortal Kombat 1’s story, Sub-Zero betrays Liu Kang and sides with Shang Tsung. Even after that side loses, Sub-Zero quickly breaks free and starts work on the Cyber Lin Kuei, according to his Tower ending. This all causes Scorpion (who’s Kuai Liang in this timeline) and Smoke to defect from the Lin Kuei and form the Shirai Ryu.
At some point during all of this, Smoke’s ending also reveals that the Shirai Ryu recruits Hanzo Hasashi, the person known as Scorpion in most timelines. This conflict between the Shirai Ryu and Lin Kuei is still in full effect following the conclusion of Mortal Kombat 1, so any narrative-focused follow-up to the game will need to address this conflict. It’ll also be interesting to see what happens to this version of Hanzo; will he become Scorpion or something new entirely?
An older version of Shujinko is a Kameo fighter in Mortal Kombat 1, but a younger version of the character also appears in Kung Lao’s ending. In it, Kung Lao gets cocky and decides to train Shujinko, who can absorb other people’s powers and skills. Shujinko ultimately gets too much of an ego and becomes a “threat to the realm,” so Liu Kang strips his powers and wipes his memories.
It’s quite the character arc and loose end to relegate to a single Tower ending, but it could play into a Mortal Kombat 1 sequel’s plot if Shujinko manages to regain his memories. Shujinko played a crucial role in resurrecting and defeating Onaga in Mortal Kombat: Deception, so it wouldn’t be surprising if NetherRealm finds a way to tie these two remaining plot threads together, too.
Regardless of which of these things NetherRealm decides to follow up on, it’s clear that Mortal Kombat 1’s conclusion still gives the Chicago-based developer plenty to work with.