The return of Mortal Kombat is finally here, and with it brings us the full Mortal Kombat 1 characters list for the 2023 game. A mix of new and returning fighters make up the roster, so before you start practising any combos for your main character, it’s worth knowing who you can choose from. After all, even those with MK experience could find a character they haven’t yet played; Kenshi’s last playable appearance was in 2015’s MK X, while Reiko was last playable in 2006’s Armageddon.
Mortal Kombat 1 quickly fought its way onto our best fighting games list thanks to it’s excellent gameplay and standout roster, as our Mortal Kombat 1 review notes. But what fighters make up this incredible roster? Find out just that and more below, though you’ll want to use our Mortal Kombat 1 tier list to find out which character is worth picking right now from a meta perspective.
Mortal Kombat 1 characters list
The 30 Mortal Kombat 1 characters are:
- Liu Kang
- Kung Lao
- Shang Tsung
- Johnny Cage
- Li Mei
- General Shao
- Homelander from The Boys (Kombat Pack DLC)
- Omni-Man from Invincible (Kombat Pack DLC)
- Peacemaker from DC Comics (Kombat Pack DLC)
- Quan Chi (Kombat Pack DLC)
- Ermac (Kombat Pack DLC)
- Takeda (Kombat Pack DLC)
As you can see, there’s a lot of variety in the MK1 characters roster. From old favorites that have been absent from the last few entries, like Reiko, to revamped mainstays. In fact, there’s even brand-new crossover characters including Homelander, Omni-Man, and even Peacemaker.
In the base game roster, players can choose from 24 characters. However, the Kombat Pack DLC will periodically release six new characters to bring the total to 30. While this Kombat Pack isn’t necessary, there are some incredibly entertaining characters set to be released in this DLC. So, if you’re a big fan of MK1 and want an even bigger list of Mortal Kombat 1 characters to choose from, it’s worth picking up.
The roster of fighters is separate from the Mortal Kombat 1 Kameo Fighters mechanic, which are characters that are selected separately and will offer assistance during fights.
Read on below to find out more about each of the MK1 characters you can play as during the story and in multiplayer matches.
The most iconic character in the Mortal Kombat franchise, Scorpion (also known by his human name, Hanzo Hasashi) is a resurrected ninja who is strong, fast, and capable of performing amazing feats while using Hellfire, an element found in abundance in the Netherrealm.
He has appeared in every Mortal Kombat game since the series started so it’s not surprising to see him in the roster, but we’re still happy he returns here.
His affinity with Hellfire makes him a deadly fighter, setting anyone in his path ablaze. Scorpion is also highly agile, being able to dart around the arena and pull enemies towards him.
Next to Scorpion as one of the most iconic characters in the Mortal Kombat franchise, Kuai Liang, better known as Sub-Zero, is a dangerous cryomancer that is as deadly as he is fast. He can create various weapons out of pure ice, landing devastating blows against anyone in his way.
This version of Sub-Zero is also the one to end the rivalry between the Lin Kuei and Shirai Ryu, working with his long-standing enemy Scorpion. Furthermore, Sub-Zero and Scorpion are brothers in Mortal Kombat 1, playing into the game’s reinvention of the universe.
Liu Kang is one of the few characters to have made an appearance in every single Mortal Kombat game. Nevertheless, for those unaware of him, Liu Kang has been the protagonist of the series numerous times, usually being seen as a threat by Shang Tsung and his master, Shao Khan.
In this timeline, Fire God Liu Kang is the main character, after successfully resetting the universe in the Mortal Kombat 11 expansion, Aftermath.
Making use of quick kicks and jabs, you can swiftly knock opponents around the arena in style.
The eternal God of Thunder and protector of Earthrealm, Raiden should be familiar to anyone who has played Mortal Kombat before, being one of the characters seen in every game in the series. He’s seen as a father figure by Liu Kang and Kung Lao, however, in Mortal Kombat 11 he is corrupted.
This version of Raiden is hoping to avoid the mistakes of his future self after Kronika removed the old version of Raiden from the original timeline.
As the God of Thunder, Raiden makes use of lightning to perform shockingly good attacks. He’s able to conjure bolts of lightning and generate electricity from his hands to overwhelm opponents.
Instantly recognizable by his razor-sharp hat, Kung Lao is one of Earthrealm’s champions, similar to Liu Kang, however, he’d much rather live a life of peace. Unfortunately, things aren’t as simple as that in the Mortal Kombat universe, and he is on a constant path to prove he is equally as strong as his friend Liu Kang.
Kung Lao is able to dish out blazingly fast attacks and at quick considerable range thanks to his iconic razor-rimmed hat. You’ll want to make great use out of his unique weaponized headwear to extend your combos as you push enemies around the arena.
Back from the dead, Princess Kitana was originally murdered after betraying Shao Khan and siding with the Earthrealmers. However, in Mortal Kombat 11, she was brought back thanks to some time-jumping shenanigans and helped Raiden and his friends defeat Kronika. In the end, she worked with Liu Kang to mould a new future, but the Aftermath expansion changed those plans.
She’s a deadly opponent, performing agile acrobatic moves with her pair of steel fans that can be used both as a projectile and as a melee weapon. If you want to defeat Kitana, you’ll have to be even quicker than she is.
A genetic experiment created by Shang Tsung, Mileena was adopted by Shao Khan and became a ruthless assassin. She has been an antagonist for most of the series, constantly jealous of her “sister” Kitana, typically showing a sadistic side of herself.
While she was somewhat missing in Mortal Kombat 11, aside from being a DLC character post-launch, though she’s back in the standard roster for Mortal Kombat 1.
Mileena is a ferocious fighter, making use of her Tarkatan DNA to deadly effect, rivaling the brute force of Shao Khan himself. Pair with this her great speed, and she’s a force to be reckoned with in the arena.
An Earthrealm soul-stealing sorcerer, Shang Tsung is a major antagonist for the series, his abilities are almost unmatched. His allegiance with Shao Khan allows him to move between the realms unnoticed by the Elder Gods.
In the Aftermath expansion for Mortal Kombat 11, Shang Tsung failed in beating Liu Kang to create his own timeline, which would’ve been a lot more apocalyptic than the one we see in Mortal Kombat 1.
Making use out of his Wolverine-like arm claws to deadly effect, Shang Tsung certainly feels like one of the more brutal Mortal Kombat 1 characters. He’s also got a kick combo with surprisingly long range, which is a great move to take advantage of to turn the fight in your favor.
Action movie star Johnny Cage returns in Mortal Kombat 1. Despite his silly nature, immature behavior, and overall ego, Johnny Cage has become one of Earthrealm’s greatest defenders alongside the likes of Raiden and Liu Kang as the series went on.
Taking his rockstar style to the max, Johnny Cage has some of the most unique animations in the game. Expect lots of outlandish kicks and heavy punches with this version of Cage.
One of the most badass characters in the fighting series, and that’s saying something, Kenshi is a swordsman with psychokinetic abilities, with a hatred for Shang Tsung after the evil sorcerer tricked him into wielding a powerful sword.
As an expert swordsman, Kenshi is a swift and strong character at close range. Pair that with his affinity for telekinesis, which allows him to push and pull enemies around, and Kenshi is certainly a fighter you want to avoid in a fight.
A good friend of Kuai Liang, and a member of the Lin Kuei, Smoke is an incredibly talented assassin who excels at close-range combat thanks to his superb speed and combos. In the first two timelines, he is turned into an unwilling villain, forced to serve antagonists against his friends.
As you might have guessed from his name, Smoke has access to smoke teleport attacks that are great for messing with your opponent. He’s also got one of the best anti-air attacks that will knock enemies out of the air from a distance, with the enhanced version even pulling them towards you.
Starting off as a trick invention by Mortal Kombat creator Ed Boon, Rain was originally a Demi-God as the son of Argus. He is an Edenian Prince, using a variety of water-related magic that can control opponents at range, and deal great amounts of damage.
Rain’s name is also rather telling, letting you in on his unique water-themed attacks right away. With several large, sweeping attacks and long combos, Rain can be a deadly fighter despite him lacking speed.
In the first few timelines, Tanya has been a cunning and deceiving Edenian that serves as an antagonist, usually siding with the villainous Mileena. In MK1, she is still fulfilling this role, albeit in a position of higher authority to protect “the Empress”, Mileena.
Her fighting style is extremely agile and fast-paced, with a staff capable of being used like a whip or a blunt-force weapon. Landing these staff attacks on your enemies feels incredibly satisfying, especially when you use her dash to get the drop on your foe.
Baraka, a general of the Tarkatan Horde, is a ferocious and dangerous character who is loyal to Mileena and the Outworld Empire in previous games. In the MK1 timeline, Tarkat is a virus rather than a species, which debilitates and turns people into monsters, with Baraka once being a respected merchant.
His appearance in Mortal Kombat 1 is much more feisty, being much faster and having a range of combos that can be devastating if you’re caught on the receiving end of them.
Li Mei was originally an Outworld citizen, being betrayed by Shang Tsung in an attempt to save her enslaved village from the evil sorcerer. In the second timeline, she was attempting to find sanctuary for her fellow villagers in Earthrealm.
Her abilities in Mortal Kombat 1 retain her magic seen in previous timelines, but her spells have a more firework look to them, with little particles flying off enemies. Unfortunately, despite her flashy acrobatic animations, Li Mei is generally a weaker fighter.
Debuting in the last Mortal Kombat game, Geras returns as a protector of the Hourglass, an artifact that is used to change and bend time at the Keeper of Time’s will. He is an artificial construct, who was loyal to Kronika, the antagonist of MK11, though is now friendly with Liu Kang following his victory.
Geras is shown to have great skill, capable of using time to his advantage during fights. He has a mixture of control combos, as well as devastatingly strong attacks that make him a powerful and satisfyingly hefty Mortal Kombat 1 character.
Reptile is back and for once he doesn’t look bad. While his redesign will definitely raise some eyebrows, Reptile looks a lot better than he has in a while and he can now freely transform in and out of his giant lizard form. He also has a number of new attacks including a dive and a large projectile.
Whether in human or lizard form, Reptile is a ferocious fighter, with heavy hitting punches that see him shift between forms. His ranged attacks as a lizard are particularly strong for maintaining pressure on an opponent.
Ashrah hasn’t been seen in an extremely long time, making her last appearance in Armageddon back in 2006. Here she looks better than ever and the Edenian demon has a whole suite of new moves, abilities, and attacks.
Ashrah has all the fundaments of a great character, with some of the best attack strings, good damage, and impressive range thanks to her sword. She’s incredibly good at shutting down opponents using these combos and dominating the battlefield.
Another fan-favorite, Havik returns in his beloved body-mutilating form. The menace that he is can rampage at his opponents, tearing his arm off, clawing into them over and over again, and chomping at their faces.
He was last playable in Armageddon, like Ashrah, but has been seen as a cameo since then. However, here he is radically redesigned and in our opinion looking better than he ever has.
Shao returns once again, but he isn’t Shao Khan yet. Instead, he is General Shao, playing a key role in the story and returning with his large axe.
He is one of the most fearsome fighters in the game thanks to his abilities and sheer power, so watch out for his strong combos. However, he is also one of the largest and slowest fighters, so he can be predictable at times.
Sindel is back once again and here she has a brand-new style. Her hair is bigger and more prominent than ever before and she has some brutal combos and fast-hitting attacks that will keep you guessing in a fight.
In fact, Sindel is arguably the most broken of the Mortal Kombat 1 characters due to a very strong and hard to avoid attack chain when making smart use out of your Kameo Fighter. Outside of this, Sindel is very agile, making it easy to mess with your opponents combos.
The vampire queen is back after an extended absence. Trying to save her people, Nitara is played by Megan Fox in Mortal Kombat 1 and comes with an expanded and completely reinvented set of moves for the modern era of the fighting game.
Most notably, she comes with a lot of aerial moves and buffs that set the stage for interesting mixups and attacks that will combine well with your Kameo fighter of choice.
Reiko hasn’t been playable since 2006, but finally, the general of Shao’s army is back. He is one of the faster Mortal Kombat 1 characters, utilizing a variety of kicks, grabs, and fast dashes to keep you guessing and on your toes.
Most of all though, you’ll want to take full advantage of his annoying grappler playstyle to control the battlefield. Alongside this, he’s got access to an exceptional ranged attack that’s great for shutting down aerial combos.
Homelander – Kombat Pack
Homelander, the iconic villain of The Boys TV show is going to be the first DLC fighter in Mortal Kombat 1. While we’re yet to see any gameplay of him in action, we can expect to see his superpowers represented in game. From laser beams to flight and incredible strength, Homelander is known for his overwhelming force and brutality. All in all, he’s a perfect fit for Mortal Kombat 1.
Omni-Man – Kombat Pack
Keeping this theme up, Omni-Man is the twisted hero turned villain of the Invincible TV show. Boasting similar powers and philosophy to Homelander, it will be interesting to see how Omni-Man differs in terms of playstyle.
If you’ve seen the TV show, then you’ll know just how brutal and overwhelming Omni-Man’s powers can be. From heavy-hitting punches to rapid attacks making use of his flight, Omni-Man will be a terrifying new arrival. In fact, several of his abilities, Fatalities, and X-rays recreate scenes from the show.
Peacemaker – Kombat Pack
Peacemaker, from the titular TV show and comics by DC, is another announced crossover character in the Mortal Kombat 1 Kombat Pack. This violent vigilante loves peace and America so much that he’s up to do just about anything for it.
His skills with firearms and hand-to-hand combat will no doubt make him a fun addition the roster, let alone the inherent irony and entertaining personality of the character.
Quan Chi – Kombat Pack
Quan Chi is a necromancer and brutal dark sorcerer that hasn’t been seen as a playable character since Mortal Kombat (2011). Fans of this fighter have had to wait a very, very long time for his return, but Mortal Kombat 1 will do just that.
While he’s likely to retain his brutal melee and ranged magic from previous iterations, Mortal Kombat 1 could see a spin on his playstyle given how long its been since his last appearance.
Ermac – Kombat Pack
Ermac is a ninja adept at telekinesis. Like Quan Chi, he hasn’t been seen properly since Mortal Kombat (2011), making him a great pick for the Kombat Pack DLC roster.
In previous games, Ermac has been an incredibly agile character that can teleport and hover, meanwhile catapulting enemies across the arena. However, he too could see some big changes to his kit with his latest appearance all these years later.
Takeda – Kombat Pack
Takeda is Kenshi’s son and a member of both the Shirai Ryu and the Special Forces. Having made his first playable appearance in Mortal Kombat X and again in 11, it’s not been quite as long since Takeda’s last entry.
Nevertheless, he’s a lightning-quick fighter that can chain punches and kicks together with rapid lethality. As an apprentice of the one and only Scorpion, Takeda is also adept with blade whips and swords can be used to weave combos together and disrupt opponents.
These DLC characters include not only iconic MK characters, but also crossover characters that are almost too good to be true, such as Homelander. These DLC fighters will, however, have a staggered launch. Right now, we know that Homelander will be available Spring 2024, so it’s expected the remaining characters will be released on a regular cadence afterwards.
These characters will feature brand-new moves and skills for you to learn the ins and outs of as you take them into the arena. It’s a great way to keep the meta fresh with new match-ups and fighters that will keep players on their toes as we move away from the original release.
If you’re simply browsing the list of Mortal Kombat 1 characters to see if the game is worth picking up, whether you’re a series veteran or a newcomer, you can get the game below.
That covers all the Mortal Kombat 1 characters you can play as right now, including the Kombat Pack DLC characters on the way. We’re glad that many of our favorite fighters are returning from previous game most of all, as losing characters never feels good. If you’re looking to take the fight to friends on other platforms, it’s worth finding out how Mortal Kombat 1 crossplay works beforehand.