UFC 3 Features Retooled Striking And A Bigger Focus On Career Mode

by Brian Shea on Nov 03, 2017 at 11:00 AM

When UFC 2 launched last year, I enjoyed the solid foundation it built upon, but felt the career mode was lacking. Apparently, developer EA Vancouver heard that from its players as well, as career was the most played mode in the game, but one of the least satisfactory modes according to a user poll. In response to this, developer EA Vancouver is overhauling career mode to make it more focused on your athlete's journey to become the greatest of all time.

On your fighter's path to become the GOAT, you have to balance your time between training and promotion to help your fighter perform well and generate hype around his or her fights. This results in an interesting balancing act during the training camp lead-up to each fight. Do you spend all your time training and improving your skills for your next fight? Or do you take some time to hang with your fans on a video game streaming service? How you perform in and out of the Octagon influences your next contract, which can earn you fight money to train at better gyms. You also develop rivalries with other fighters in the UFC, with whom you go back and forth on social media.

EA Vancouver is also improving the action inside the Octagon. The introduction of Real Player Motion technology enhances fighter movement by pulling together more than 5,000 new animations captured from real fighters rather than the previous method of piecing together animations through an algorithm. The result is smoother transitions and more realism and fluidity in fighter movement. In addition, fighter personalities shine through true-to-life walk-in, introduction, and victory animations. Better fighter likenesses and prettier graphics combine with the new announcer Jon Anik (who is also UFC's real-life announcer) to deliver a presentation package that progresses well beyond that of its predecessor.

The striking gameplay has also received an overhaul, but the scheme still feels familiar for those who played UFC 2. In the second game of the series, you not only used the left stick for movement, but also to modify strikes like uppercuts and head kicks. In UFC 3, the left stick is purely for movement, while the modifiers are sent to the bumpers and triggers. In addition, uppercuts are now thrown by pressing two face buttons at the same time, resulting in more intuitive exchanges. This took me some getting used to, but by the end of my first match, I was trading strikes like a true contender.

The addition of vulnerability frames encourages more counter-punching, as strikes do more damage if you hit them during certain portions of their attacks. More powerful strikes have wider vulnerability frames, meaning that you have a bigger window to do serious damage if your opponent is throwing a Superman punch than if they're throwing a quick hook. For example, I was able to easily rock my opponent by interrupting their head kick with a straight right. The new controls also allow you to feint attacks by pressing the block button when throwing a strike. The ground game hasn't changed as drastically, but new cage positions, reversals, and tutorials further evolve this all-important aspect of MMA.

Ultimate Team players allow you to not only upgrade your original fighters, but licensed fighters as well. The streamlined customization system makes new items more impactful, and it's now easier to manage your fighters. In addition, if you pre-order the Champions Edition, you can choose a current or former champion to add to your team, as well as 20 premium packs to unlock for your fighters. The champions you can choose between are Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Conor McGregor, Demetrious Johnson, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

I enjoyed what I played of UFC 3, and the changes to the career mode have me optimistic. If UFC 3 can truly deliver on the balancing act of generating hype and training, it could be a fun and unique take on career mode. UFC 3 is already building on a solid foundation, so hopefully this can be the MMA game fans are waiting for. UFC 3 releases on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on February 2.