When I reviewed Mortal Kombat 11, I was wowed by the excellent story campaign and the solid core fighter that NetherRealm had crafted. Unfortunately, the complete package was marred by several of the games-as-a-service modes: the Towers of Time and the Krypt. Both are built around ideas and mechanics that generally find themselves in free-to-play titles. It was a sad misstep on an otherwise great experience.
I've been keeping up with Mortal Kombat 11, mostly to see if NetherRealm's fixes would vastly improve the experience, especially with regards to the Towers of Time. While the rewards have been somewhat balanced for the effort you put in to complete objectives, the general problem of nonsense modifiers is still present. These modifiers generally want you to use Konsumables in order to overcome their effects, like elemental damage or additional AI tag partners. Even with the small fixes, I can't say I'm really enjoying the Towers of Time, especially when compared to Injustice 2's similar Multiverse mode.
But that changed when I realized I didn't have to be the one to actually tackle them. In Mortal Kombat 11, you can sub in the AI to fight for you at any time. This isn't a new feature, but it's one I missed in Injustice 2, and almost completely missed in Mortal Kombat 11.
I've been dutifully playing in AI Battle, which is Mortal Kombat 11's passive online mode. In AI Battle, you make a team of three fighters from the entire roster, and then customize their gear and movesets. You also have the ability to customize which moves the AI leans on, with various sliders focusing on Grappling, Combos, Zoning, and Rushdown. You set aside one team for defending, and you can establish an attacking team. Then you send your attacking team out on simulated fights, while your defending team takes on anyone who comes after you.
I've always enjoyed these passive game modes, where you can send off someone in your squad or party to perform a task without your active input. In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, you could send your recruits on contracts; in Final Fantasy Tactics, I'd push my useless members into errands. It's the same idea: Make up a team to tackle a task, send them off, and see how they do. Mortal Kombat 11 keeps track of them in a log, and you can watch all the simulated battles in fast-forward, which is a trip.
So I was well-acquainted with the AI's prowess and had a solid squad of AI fighter squads for attacking and defending. Some unique gear, a few augments, and my personal mix of moves and AI tactics. It didn't occur to me that I could use these fighters elsewhere.
I was about to grind through a random tower in Towers of Time when I noticed an additional option I had never paid attention to before. By hitting Square on the DualShock 4 while choosing my fighter and variation, I could sub in an AI fighter for myself. My mind was blown. I didn't have to face a particularly annoying tower or modifier on my own. Instead, I could delegate that task to my chosen AI fighter.
I'm in the middle of moving, requiring a lot of unpacking and other tasks that take me away from the game. With the AI fighter option on Mortal Kombat 11, I'll frequently start a fight in the tower, go pull a box from my car, and come back to see my ringer having finished the fight. Yeah, sometimes they come up against a match that's too hard, but that usually means I wasn't paying attention and forgot to use a Konsumable.
The option actually has me spending more time on Mortal Kombat 11. I spend my those few extra minutes in my day tweaking my AI meters and variations to make the best possible fighter. The poor modifiers and severe difficulty spikes than categorize Towers of Time are less annoying, because I'm not the one banging my head against a specific vicious combination. And the longer towers look more enticing if my AI friend is the one taking that lengthy journey. I'm more apt to try out various towers, but I still feel the sweet success because these are my AI fighters; I'm like the coach of a team, but the sport is Fatalities.
And since I have to do less grinding overall, I'm spending a little more time in online play and the Krypt as well. My AI fighters are doing the hard work of getting Koins, Soul Fragments, Konsumables, and an occasional item or skin. That leaves me time to actually play the parts of the game that I do enjoy, rather than gritting my teeth through another Towers-modified fight where the screen darkens when I get close to an opponent, or my control scheme is reversed.
Mortal Kombat 11's AI fighters are fantastic. Sometimes they feel like a band-aid for the poor implementation of the Towers of Time, but overall, I'm loving the ability to say, "Nah, I don't feel like taking this Tower myself right now." I can switch back and forth between fighting some of the challenges or letting my customized AI fighter do the work instead. It's just nice to have the option either way.
If you've been struggling with Mortal Kombat 11's Towers of Time (or Klassic Towers), I'd take some time to make up an AI fighter and sub them in instead. Especially if you're a busy person, or just one that's not as great at Mortal Kombat 11, AI fighters can smooth out the playing field a bit. You'll still have to work on your skills for online play, but when it comes to the solo grind, the CPU is here to help.