With the recent release of EA Sports UFC 4, the game has undergone a few changes and improved on the foundations laid in the awkward but unique experience of the first game.
In addition to expanding an already impressive roster, the game includes new battle locations, tons of customizable options, and gameplay updates to keep players from contracting arthritis from ridiculously complex button inputs.
MORE: EA UFC Review 4: Close, But Not Quite A KO
Sporting News spoke with Creative Director Brian Hayes to discuss what happened in the new game after receiving feedback from UFC 3, bringing a vital part of the 'Bloodsport' movie into the game. , the real story of why Joe Rogan didn't comment this year and if we'll ever see another Fight Night game.
SN: What were the things in UFC 3 that you felt needed immediate attention before this installment?
Brian Hayes: One of the most important things for us was to focus on accessibility. We've done things so that the Controller isn't as much of your opponent as possible. Mixed martial arts are complicated because they are with the systems of hitting, wrestling and submission. We wanted to improve accessibility so that you can focus on battling your opponent rather than pushing buttons. There is a standing hitting entry pattern that we call dynamic hitting entries. In UFC 3, there were in-game strikes that you had to hold down like five buttons to do so. Now there is no keystroke that requires more than three buttons to hold at the same time, so this is a pretty big win that reduces the ergonomic complexity of throwing keystrokes.
It also allowed us to trigger teardowns and initiate a clinch on button inputs, so you don't have to switch buttons into sticks. We've also added grapple assist controls, which is just a simple system where pushing up is an attempt to stand up, pushing right will improve your stance and pushing left will allow you to attempt a submission. We've done a lot of things to make sure like I said your commands aren't something you feel like you're fighting against, you just feel like fighting the person through the cage .
SN: It also feels like there was work to emulate fighting styles and how fighters move according to weight classes. A fighter like Israel Adesanya is quick and uses his length and kickboxing while Francis Ngannou feels like a heavyweight where a punch can finish him.
BH: I'm sure we could do more to make it even more realistic and authentic, but we wanted all fighters of different weight classes to feel different. It’s different from driving a semi-truck with a Lotus Elise. They should feel different. And you should have to change your strategy depending on what you are controlling.
SN: How did the idea of including Kumite come to fruition?
BH: One of our goals for the game this year – almost as much as accessibility – was to create a title that stood out from its predecessors. It had to be different because we knew this was a fourth generation of this game and it comes at the end of a console generation. We started to think about different environments. The fights in the yard immediately stood out because of the story of Kimbo Slice and Jorge Masvidal. But there are a lot of fighters who were introduced to mixed martial arts through a movie like “Bloodsport” and “Enter the Dragon”. This is what we decided to do. These are two environments that end up being a lot of fighter origin stories and they just happen to be really great.
SN: Joe Rogan is not involved in the commentary this year. What happened?
BH: To be honest, Joe Rogan never liked doing voiceover work. Not even since the first iteration of EA UFC. This is something he finds very distasteful and drives him crazy. In UFC 3 what we cut in the interest of saving his kind of mental and emotional well-being. All we did was harvest the commentary lines from the UFC shows. We even tried to make him better by including him as a playable character in the hope that he would be more flexible. It just didn't work. But it's okay now as there are several commentators on UFC shows to choose from. It’s not Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg’s only team anymore as it was with EA UFC 1.
SN: Daniel Cormier is certainly a suitable replacement.
BH: He wanted to do it. What are we going to say? No? He is an experienced fighter with his own show who breaks the fight. He's also part of a gym full of killers. Not to mention that he is an accomplished professional and that he really enjoys doing it. He will also help us polish the scoring system with his knowledge of the fighting game. His credentials are virtually unmatched, so it was a great opportunity for us to work with him.
SN: How did you choose Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury as playable characters this year?
BH: We always include special characters and have had Mike Tyson, Bruce Lee, and even Dana White. We see that these playable characters end up being quite popular with fans of the game. They love the idea that you can have these mythical showdowns. As heavyweight boxing experiences a resurgence, it makes sense to have the two best heavyweights in the game.
SN: Is that just a way to appease people because what a lot of people are asking for is another Fight Night game?
BH: I don't know if it calms people down. Having Joshua and Fury in the game doesn't stop people from tweeting me about Fight Night. But it's really fun to put those big heavyweights in a Kumite fight and let them throw in their hands with the best in the UFC. I would say I like it, but it doesn't appease me or the fans who are waiting for another Fight Night game.
You know, I hate calling my CEO, but tweet Andrew Wilson and the big dogs at EA Sports. That would be my recommendation.
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