Mortal Kombat 11
Release date: April 23 (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch)
Mortal Kombat 11 is in a league of its own because the decades-spanning team at NetherRealm is absolutely nuts. Their fixation with design and performance remains, but MK11 is more of a nostalgia-inducing romp than a modern classic. Story mode is an earth-shattering John Woo soap opera; the fatalities are absurd and eye poppingly gorgeous; and its lessons on attacks, cancels, frame data, zoning, and character movesets help to create one of the best fighting game tutorial that gaming has ever seen. It's attached to the loot grind, but with old faces (Liu Kang, Kitana), cult favorites (Frost, Noob Saibot), and customization that digs into modular loadouts and 30 different pairs of specs for Johnny Cage, boredom in MK11 isn’t an option. It sets the bar for fighters and sequels with a budget, and it's a stunning thesis on how a studio can bring together tweens, veteran gamers, and SonicFoxes to shadow kick you in the neck.