Mortal Kombat X uses a new Steam ‘streaming install’ … and messes it up

After completing a 3GB install in Steam, the PC release of Mortal Kombat X — the first time a Mortal Kombat game has come to the platform alongside its console counterparts — is supposed to load the rest of the install files, allowing players to begin goring each other sooner.

A notice on the game’s Steam page says, “we are using a new feature of Steam that allows the game to be played while the full download is streamed and installed in the background.” That actually sounds like a great idea … so why are people on Twitter, in the Steam comments and forums and on Reddit so angry?

Upon booting the game, players are greeted with the above screen.

Mortal Kombat X uses a streaming install system to allow the game to be played while additional content downloads in the background. If Online, Story Mode, Characters or Backgrounds are locked, the game content has not finished downloading. Please check your Steam download queue to verify the download status of Mortal Kombat X Install packs 01 through 29.

The issue: the Steam download queue doesn’t show any “install packs” and, even when working properly, won’t show them numerically like that. Without those packs installed, players can only select their faction, tinker around in the game’s options menus, but trying to start any matches will crash the game back to the desktop. That’s a rather frustrating outcome for a game you just sat down to play.

To find the install packs, look under the game’s listing in your Steam library. There they are, listed as DLC which needs to be installed. Because why not?

Mortal Kombat streaming install

I went ahead and clicked the checkbox next to each of the files and, sure enough, they began downloading immediately. I checked my Steam download queue and found it dutifully working its way through files of varying sizes. It looks like this:

Mortal Kombat streaming install

Despite what the game’s prompt says, the download queue does not show you the specific pack being installed, and it does not show a list of installed packs. You’ll find that information back in the game’s library page. Here I have two packs installed. Progress! But there’s a catch. Packs 5 and 9 are missing from this list. What do they do? Why are they missing? Who knows, it’s a mystery!

Mortal Kombat streaming install

It’s hard to see a game like Mortal Kombat X launch to great reviews, both here and elsewhere, only to fall on its face because of something as simple as communication. A single tweet from either NetherRealm — the studio responsible for making sure your purchase works — or Steam — the platform provider which was characteristically silent amid the launch of a potentially cool new feature — could have answered hundreds or thousands of questions and stemmed a lot of anger and confusion.

It’s exciting to see major AAA releases target Steam day and date with console releases. Heck, it’s exciting to see major releases like Grand Theft Auto 5 comes to Steam, even if it is over a year after its initial release. Which makes it all the more frustrating when its reputation as a wild west is given weight with basic — and admittedly short-lived — failures like this.

Polygon Overview: Mortal Kombat X