A solution for us was the sleek and utilitarian Special Forces combat suit. Clearly influenced by her mother's military career, but also could showcase her fearless and brash attitude.
For her alternate appearance, we wanted to pay homage to her dad's kombat garb of years past: Wrist wraps, workout-inspired cloths, personal branding, and a similar color scheme.
Cassie strives to step out of her parent's shadow while defining herself. By mixing these elements, we were able to present Cassie with a style unique to her.
D'Vorah's polished, diplomatic facade conceals an egotistical, malicious nature. To support her personality, we pursued an appearance that was not overtly grotesque, but allowed for hidden offensive capabilities, such as the pincers hidden within her back and barbed ovipositors. Her black and yellow palette was chosen to signal her dangerous and treacherous behavior.
As an advisor to Outworld's emperor, and the only member of her race, the Kytinn, to rise to such an exalted position, D'Vorah stands out as an oddity amongst her peers. A hood and cape was added to communicate her regal position, but also to hide her outsider appearance.
Ermac is a regal entity, pledging allegiance to Outworld's emperor, and serving as an advisor. Ermac's Kurrent costume was designed to showcase an imperial authority, while harkening back to his appearance in Mortal Kombat: Deception, showcasing their chest design from that game now bolted into the chest, holding the construct together.
For his Tournament appearance, we wanted to create a raw take on Ermac - a starving monster, perpetually seeking sustenance.
Ok. The original idea was that he was a human from Earthrealm who had somehow gotten to the wastelands of Outworld eventually earning a reputation and a living as a bounty hunter. Visually, he was going to have a very rough, nomadic look since was a loner and pieced his costume and gear together from things he found, stole, or took from his victims. We wanted him to look like he had just walked across the nastiest desert on Outworld.
Along with his revolvers, we knew he needed a rifle for longer range attacks and some kind of bladed weapon for close attacks. We thought it would be cool if his sword was made from the arm blade of a Tarkatan he had crossed paths with during his adventures.
One thing that was always a bit controversial with the look of the character was his hat. We weren't sure how well a cowboy hat would fit in with the rest of the game. As a result, we went through a lot of iterations of the character with and without hats. We even experimented with making the character female for a while, pushing her loo r, away from a western influence and into more of a post-apocalyptic style.
After exploring various ideas of how the pair would look and function, we settled on the idea of a large, brutish, mindless character with a small, impish character on its back. The smaller character would pick fights and the larger character would fight them. Once we decided to make the smaller character female (Ferra) and the larger one male (Tort), their personalities came together quickly.
Visually, we settled on a barbaric meets post-apocalyptic style. This seemed to suit both of the characters' personalities well and made for a very intimidating new addition to the roster. Ferra has a more flamboyant design since she's the brains and mouth of the pair, while Torr looks like a living bulldozer, destroying everything that gets in his way.
While some early sketches show a rebellious, clearly non-military character, Jacqui eventually became an army brat who followed her father into the Special Forces, using power gloves to give her a similar fighting style.
The gloves themselves went through a lot of iterations in terms of size and add-on weaponry before we found the right balance that made her look formidable without being too clunky.
We really liked the smoother hands, forearms, bicep, and shoulder we settled on. It is a stark contrast to the Revenant version of the character, where we applied the artistic interpretations of the NetherRealm (violent and sinister).
We knew Johnny would be heavily involved with Special Op Forces, and began looking for tactical equipment that would suit Johnny's fight style. The challenge was finding a balance between something too serious or stoic and something too goofy.
As we developed outfits, we were able to establish a timeline for this shift from Hollywood action film star to a fulltime Special Forces advisor.
Once we knew we were in the right ballpark in terms of stature, augmentation, and overall feel, we decided to tend towards a sleazy looking face and facial hair on a mostly unencumbered body. The only thing Kano would need on him would be what he needs to fight; some light armor and lots of blades.
We liked seeing shoulders reminiscent of the Mortal Kombat: Deception Kenshi and the silhouette created in conjunction with the coat tail. From there, we equipped him with what we felt was the bare minimum amount of armor he would need. Being a confident master swordsmen, weighing him down and making him look heavy felt like it would be a mistake.
Past incarnations have tended to favor the royal qualities of the character over the warrior aspects, so we decided to 111 reverse that for her prime costume. She has a stealthier, more ninja inspired design with blue as an accent color against the black parts of her costume.
Even in her alternate flashback costume, she looks more streamlined and ready to fight with less billowy cloth and ornamentation than before.
We also get to see Kitana as an evil revenant under the control of Quan Chi. It was fun exploring the dark side of Kitana, bringing a harder, more decadent edge to her.
When the story started moving in the direction of creating a usurper to the throne of Outworld, we knew that a t powerful Aztec inspired warrior god would fit the part perfectly.
As in Aztec art, we used a lot of animal inspiration in our early designs. Panthers, snakes, and birds informed a lot the early sketches as well as iconography of the sun and moon. Eventually, we narrowed it down to snakes for his costume design and the sun for his powers.
His prime costume represents his more godlike aspects. The blue body paint, the elaborate headdress, and gold embellishments make him look otherworldly.
His alternate costume represents the warrior, the man who fought and destroyed all who stood in his way to power. He wears the bones of his enemies as trophies bound together with the hides of the beasts he's slain.
Kung Jin is the black sheep of his family. Rather than becoming a monk like Kung Lao, he breaks away and becomes a thief, living on his own by his wits and his bow. His look is inspired by the nomadic archers of Mongolia with layers of leather, fur, and rough woven fabrics making up his costume.
He wears his prime costume in the current timeline in the story when he's accepted his role as a hero, so he looks more like a warrior than a thief. He wears more armor and his palette has more earth tones than his alternate thief costume, which gives him more of a stealthy appearance.
Once we knew that he needed a magical bow we designed something more substantial that could be used as either a staff or a bow.
Our first finished concept was a 'What if Kung Lao Survived MK': a young face in an embellished version, his traditional outfit. We then needed to create a version that had not only survived the second tournament, but the 25 years since then. We had created this outfit for the young Kung Lao, but didn't want to see it go to waste, and used it for this 'Kurrent' look.
For the Revenant version, we reversed the stereotypes for Kung Lao: gave him armor that looks like serrated razors, an altered hat blade, and a mask to hide his shame. Unfortunately, we had to lose the mask for the sake of functionality.
For the 'Champion' skin, we wanted to present a unified outfit, direct and powerful. We stuck to the classic black and red color palette with little ornamentation.
Inversely, for our 'Tournament' skin, we wanted to show a young Liu Kang, still in the process of becoming Earthrealm's savior. The outfit initially featured heavy furs and armor. We pared that down, considering his fightstyle is extremely fast. We ended up with an outfit that we think embodies the Shaolin Monk.
Her regal appearance required rethinking the characters approach to those around her, and how she would choose to appear. Our thought here was that she would still attempt to mimic her 'sister' Kitana, while showing her more menacing characteristics. We ended up combining elements from her Mortal Kombat Deception outfit with a more ninja-inspired appearance.
For her Rebellion leader appearance, we wanted something less imperial looking, something rough and combat ready.
We agreed that the visual of two very large blades on each shoulder, with a grid of straps across his sternum was a deviously dark look. Of course, we wanted more, and decided to affix a vampire skull onto his chest for good measure.
During our initial drafts, we created an outfit that shared some elements with his MK9 appearance that we thought would be a fitting step up for his appearances in storymode that take place in the past.
We began to work towards a more traditional look to ensure the initial impression for Raiden would be the same benevolent God we had seen in previous Mortal Kombat games, eventually settling on our final design. You will notice on his tabard representations for Earth, Wind, and Water, the meteorological elements of Earthrealm.
When designing Raiden's corrupted state, we looked to Shinnok for inspiration. We wanted armor, cloth detail, and color scheme to clearly show Shinnok's influence on Raiden. While he is not pure evil, this Raiden is was designed to show a more militant approach to protecting Earthrealm.
We began this character with the intention of making him gaunt, featuring light leather armor, a spit sack and tail.
We had to revise this approach due to technical constraints, and revise the physical stature of the character. We began pursuing a more primal-influenced look, featuring bones as a main element of the look. His vicious nature makes this pairing feel right.
Rather than using the power of the new console hardware to push the fantastic elements of the character, we decided to use it to make Scorpion feel as realistic as possible. We wanted players to see sweat and dirt on his skin and the wear and tear on his costume. He needed to look like he could walk out of your tv and into the real world.
The end result of that work is his prime costume. We knew we were on to something good when we got such a positive response from the teaser trailer featuring Scorpion and Sub-Zero fighting in a moonlit forest.
Since the story of Mortal Kombat X takes place across such a large span of time, we had the opportunity to revisit Scorpion's costume from Mortal Kombat 9, bringing nee. of that real world feel to what was a far more fantasy inspired costume. We also got to design what he looked like before he became Scorpion, when he was still a man named Hanzo Hasashi. This helped inform the designs for the Shirai Ryu ninjas as well as Takeda later on in development.
One challenge was determining just how powerful the revived God would be, and how he would choose to display this power. We decided that for his initial appearance, his looks should seem confident and assured of victory; as if Earthrealm was already won. For his second appearance, after being locked away, we thought Shinnok should return with a more predatory presentation.
Another level of detail was adding elements of Shinnok's amulet into his armor. You will notice both outfits include gold armor with green gems. Because this item is so di important to the character, we wanted to make sure the connection was visually established.
The challenge in designing costumes for Sonya that span the timelines of several games is her consistency. She's always been a soldier and she's always been a hero. We met that challenge by giving her costumes that reflect the world around her.
Her prime costume is her peace time look. She's acting in a tactical advisor role and wears more of a civilian look, softer, sleeker, and less geared up. We also shifted her palette from the usual army greens towards greys and blues.
Sonya's alternate costume is her wartime look. This is the Sonya we’re used to seeing, she’s in full combat mode with a flak vest, came pants, and gear punches all done in shades of army green.
We wanted players to see sweat and dirt on his skin and the wear and tear on his costume. He needed to look like he could walk out of your tv and into the real world. We knew we were on to something good when we got such a positive response from the teaser trailer featuring Sub-Zero and Scorpion fighting in a moonlit forest.
For his alternate costume, we got to show Sub-Zero as master of the Lin Kuei. He looks more like a leader and a teacher than a warrior. Without his mask, we get to see a much more human side of Sub-Zero than we normally get to see.
We also got to design a look for him as he transitioned into Cyber Sub-Zero, which we released as a skin in Mortal Kombat 9. You can see how his costume changes from that of a traditional ninja to something more hi-tech as well as the early cybernetic enhancements that will allow him to use his powers once he’s made the shift from man to machine.
Being a student of Hanzo Hasashi, it made the most sense that he would be trained in the use of a weapon similar to Scorpion's harpoon, something he could strike and ensnare victims. The arm-mounted, deployable whips became a favorite very quickly, as it held the potential for a unique combat style, and brutal fatalities.
Upon establishing a weapon of choice, we explore the two takes on the character: the high tech member of Special Forces (Kurrent), and the ninjutsu-influenced student (Shirai Ryu).