With the recent release of EA Sports UFC 4, the game has seen a few changes and improved the foundation that was laid in the chunky but unique experience of the first game.
Aside from adding to an already impressive roster, the game includes new battlegrounds, tons of customizable options, and some gameplay updates to prevent players from getting arthritis from the ridiculously complex keystrokes.
MORE: EA UFC 4 Review: Close, but not quite a knockout
Sporting News spoke to Creative Director Brian Hayes to discuss what went into the new game after getting feedback from UFC 3 and brought in a staple from the movie “Bloodsport”, the real story of why Joe Rogan didn’t comment this year and whether we’ll ever see a Fight Night game again.
SN: What were the things about UFC 3 that you knew needed immediate attention on this episode?
Brian Hayes: One of the biggest things for us was a great focus on accessibility. We have done things to avoid turning the controller into your opponent as much as possible. Mixed martial arts are just as complicated as the strike, grappling and submission systems. We wanted to improve accessibility so you could focus on fighting your opponent instead of figuring out which buttons to press. There is a stand-up striking input scheme that we call dynamic striking inputs. In UFC 3 there were some hits in the game that you had to hold down like five buttons. Now there is no longer a strike that requires more than three buttons to be pressed at the same time. This is a pretty big win, reducing the ergonomic complexity of throwing punches.
It also allowed us to activate triggering takedowns and clinch the keystrokes so you don’t have to jump off the keys to the sticks. We also added Grapple Assist Controls. This is just a simple system where the pushing up is an attempt to get up. Pressing right will improve your position and pressing left will try to make a delivery. Lots of things we’ve done to make sure that like I said before, your controls aren’t something you want to fight, just the feeling of fighting the person in the cage.
SN: It also seems that there has been some work to emulate the fighting styles and movement of fighters depending on the weight classes. A fighter like Israel Adesanya is quick and makes use of his length and kickboxing, while Francis Ngannou feels like a heavyweight that one punch can end.
BRA: I’m sure there is more we can do to make it more realistic and authentic, but we wanted the different fighters in different weight classes to feel different. It’s different to drive a semi-trailer than a Lotus Elise. You should feel different. And you should change your strategy based on what you control.
SN: How did the idea of recording the Kumite come about?
BRA: One of our main focuses for the game this year – almost as much as accessibility – was to create a title that would stand out from its predecessors. It had to be different because we knew it was a fourth generation of this game and it was at the end of a console generation. We started thinking about different environments. The backyard fights immediately caught the eye through the story of Kimbo Slice and Jorge Masvidal. But there are many fighters who were introduced to mixed martial arts through a movie like “Bloodsport” and “Enter the Dragon”. That’s what we decided to do. Those were two environments that ended up being a lot of origin stories of fighters and they just look really amazing.
SN: Joe Rogan is not part of the comment this year. What happened?
BRA: To be honest, Joe Rogan never enjoyed doing voice over work. Not even from the first iteration of EA UFC. It’s something that he finds very uncomfortable and that drives him crazy. In UFC 3, which we cut back to save his mental and emotional well-being. We only collected comments from UFC broadcasts. We even tried to do better by including him as a playable character in the hopes that he would be more flexible. It just didn’t work. But it’s okay now as there are multiple commentators to choose from on UFC shows. It is no longer the only team from Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg as it was in EA UFC 1.
SN: Daniel Cormier is certainly a suitable replacement.
BRA: He wanted to do it. What shall we say No? He is a knowledgeable fighter with his own show that breaks bouts. It’s also part of a gym that’s full of killers. Not to mention that he’s an absolute pro and really enjoys doing it. He will also help us optimize the rating system with his knowledge of the fighting game. His credentials are virtually unrivaled 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?
BRA: We always have special characters with us and we had Mike Tyson, Bruce Lee, and even Dana White. We see these playable characters are very popular with fans of the game. They like the idea that you can have these mythical matchups. With the resurgence of heavyweight boxing, it makes sense to have the top two heavyweights in the game.
SN: Is this just a way to appease people because a lot of people have asked for another Fight Night game?
BRA: I don’t know if it appeases people. Having Joshua and Fury in the game doesn’t stop people from tweeting me and asking about Fight Night. But it’s definitely fun to get these big heavyweights involved in a kumite fight and toss them into your hands with the best of the UFC. I’d say I like that, but it doesn’t calm me or the fans who are waiting for another Fight Night game.
You know, I hate calling my CEO, but I tweet on Andrew Wilson and the big dogs at EA Sports. That would be my recommendation.