EA Sports UFC 2 released in 2016 to decent reviews, but many folks found the career mode underwhelming (myself included) due to no real feeling of game completion. You trained, you fought, you won a title, and eventually had to retire. There was no real story or feeling of accomplishment tied into that mode. It was a decent game overall, but with no real end-game goal, it left folks wanting more. EA heard our complaints and addressed this issue with UFC 3. I recently sat down with Creative Director Brian Hayes and he walked me through a character’s road to the UFC, and showed me the path to being the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time).
Before jumping into the career mode, Brian and I did a little toe-to-toe warm-up as he showcased some of the polished animations. The fluidity of a multiple strike combination caught my eye and it turns out that combinations are handled differently now in the development process. With previous titles they would use motion capture to record different strikes separately and then let the AI copy and paste them together as needed, creating a lack of fluidity at times. With UFC 3 they decided to motion capture a full combination from a fighter, creating a lot more work for themselves, all the while creating a much more fluid fight scene for the gamer. The Real Player Motion tech EA is using is a definite improvement.
Path to the UFC
Your path to the UFC in the game isn’t a set path, but instead can go in several different directions depending on how you perform inside the octagon. UFC 3 doesn’t start you out in a professional setting against the best, but rather in the World Fighting Alliance, which serves as a minor league fighting group that the UFC looks at in order to find up and coming fighters. You are given a couple of goals to achieve in order to catch the eye of the UFC, and possibly Dana White himself. First round stoppage is almost always your main goal, but how you stop the fight might be another. KOs are great but submissions can also be entertaining to watch.
After you go through a couple of fights, you will then go one of a few ways. You may make the jump straight to the UFC, you may get invited to the reality show, or if you weren’t all that impressive, have to fight a couple more times in the WFA. Even if you make it to the UFC, nothing says you’ll stay there if you don’t perform well. Getting sent back down to the WFA is is an option for those struggling with the competition. It seems very similar to what happens with baseball players, except that getting sent down in UFC 3 probably means you got the snot beat out of you versus having trouble hitting the curve or chasing those outside sliders.
Path to Greatness
Once in the UFC you are given both short term goals and long term goals. This is where the career mode improvements start to really shine. It’s no longer just about training and winning, but also about creating a fan base for those all important PPV buys and making sure those stadiums and arenas are sold out. What you do outside the octagon can have almost as much impact as what you do inside the octagon. Picking your next opponent, training at the best gym for you, and staying active on social media all play into your future and all are required in order to meet your current and future goals.
While in a training camp, a cool new feature is that you’ll have the chance to spar with a character that mimics your upcoming opponent that has the same strengths and weaknesses. Once completed, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to work on and possibly what moves or strikes you should add to better prepare yourself for the fight. For example, Brian sparred against a guy that was susceptible to overhand strikes, but his character’s overhand was pretty weak at the time. He proceeded to upgrade it and when fight night came around, used it for a first round KO.
Bells and Whistles
Another one of the complaints from last year was the lack of any type of story or pre-fight build-up being shown. While there are still no weigh-in or pre-fight press conferences for you to act out, there is some story telling with the UFC Minute hosted by Megan Olivi. Here you’ll get to see your character in things like your first UFC PPV promo or watch confrontations at press conferences and weigh-ins between you and your biggest rivals. It’s one of those things that can help draw you in and possibly connect on a more personal level with the game.
Full Interview with Brian Hayes
The interview continued as Brian played through his career for several fights, and contains questions, answers, and commentary and is chock full of information. It can also be downloaded in MP3 format from this link.
UFC 3‘s career mode is looking to be a huge step forward from past titles and makes the journey to becoming the G.O.A.T. memorable and fun. The game releases February 2, 2018, and it can’t get here fast enough.