With only a few short months before release, EA Sports UFC 3 is shaping up to be another quality entry into the venerable fighting series. With a public beta test under its belt and final touches being added, here is what UFC 3 needs to do to tighten up the game and become a successful release.
Tighten Up Animations
Let’s get this out of the way: UFC 3 is a very well animated game. Fighters move fluidly and realistically, hair sways and moves, and body parts quiver under the pressure of a power strike. That being said there are a few places where the animations, more specifically the range to trigger certain animations, needs to be tightened up. Too often in the beta I would get hit by a jab when my opponent was in clinch range.
This is a bit jarring to see as no actual fighter would throw a jab at that range. Instead, EA should refine the distance parameters so that when close like that, jabs are replaced by short elbows. Other areas that need work are cage interaction and more clear animations during ground transitions.
Speaking Of Ground Transitions
For better or worse, the submission system is largely unchanged from previous games. The problem lies in that the defensive windows to block transitions are far too short. Top control is a great way to quickly end a fight and sap the opponent’s stamina.
Also, the visual cues for knowing how to block the transition seem a bit subtle and so it makes blocking transitions more a guess than it should be. By all means, skill should matter in these situations but a middling grappler should not feel more dangerous on the ground than knockout artist and cover athlete Conor McGregor does in stand up.
EA needs to either expand the reversal window, or slightly exaggerate the tell that a fighter gives when initiating a transitioning. This is even more important when taking latency into account.
Servers And Online Play Need To Be Good Right Out Of The Gate
It’s one of the most frustrating things in multiplayer games during launch. You have the game downloaded and ready to go. You hop online for a match and all of a sudden you’re drowning underwater as the lag sucks all of the wind out of your sails. From other sports games like MLB: The Show to NBA 2K, sports games, especially, seem to have latency issues at launch.
It’s bad enough in a team game but even worse in a one-on-one game where a little lag could be the difference between stuffing that take down or being tapped because you’re a hair late blocking that transition. EA typically has good servers and net play, but even during the beta there were pretty heavy instances of lag spikes.
With a little less than two months before launch, EA needs to make sure their online play is solid out of the gate or risk frustrating early adopters.
Please Make A Ranked Version Of Knockout And Stand And Bang Modes
As previously touched upon, a player that can master the ground game is going to wash a lot of his opponents. For a player like myself, having to not worry about that online is something that I can only dream about. If we’re being honest, striking is where this game shines, and not having a ranked system for one of the most wild and fun modes in the game is a disservice.
Beyond that, in the direction gaming is going, having these modes online and ranked would be a fun way to introduce UFC 3 into the expanding world of eSports. With EA seemingly keen on building their eSports base, having a fighting game in the mix seems like an obvious strategy.
Take A Page Out Of Madden Ultimate Team’s Book
UFC 2 had a version of Ultimate Team and unfortunately it was severely lacking. There were different pro fighter cards but no variations on cards between fighters. Running programs like the Most Feared or Zero Chill in MUT would go a long way towards adding some flair to an otherwise bland Ultimate Team mode.
There’s definitely an opportunity to elevate this mode with things like tournaments, round robins and other modes that utilize more than a single fighter on your Ultimate Team. The UFC is more a niche market than the major sports series, and having a stand out card collection mode could help draw attention to the series and add to the player base.
Make Sure The Balance Is Right
Conor McGregor is one of the most feared fighters on the planet. At any moment, he can uncork a power left hand and put his opponent to sleep. Unfortunately, he was also one of the worst fighters in the beta. With the ability to take unblocked head shots being far too high, and McGregor’s stamina being slightly lower than some of the other elite fighters, he became a fighter that actually struggled to do well.
That’s simply unacceptable for a cover athlete. Sure he’d rock the opponent quite easily, but since that essentially leads to the opponent covering up and backing off instead of falling down in many instances, you have to waste a lot of stamina chasing your opponent down.
In comparison, a quick hitting fighter with loads of stamina like Nate Diaz can spam a 1-2 combination over and over without much fear of running out of stamina. Nate is a great fighter, but he’s not nearly the knockout artist that UFC 3 would have you believe. On top of that, leg kick damage is insane.
I had fights during the beta where the first leg kick would put me in a rocked state. Considering leg kick damage doesn’t recover and leg kick TKOs are a thing, the amount of damage it takes to reach that rocked state needs to be severely increased. Instead of getting rocked in rounds 1 and 2, having movement speed reduced and leading to getting rocked in rounds 3 and beyond makes for a much more realistic experience.
Fortunately, EA is already releasing information on changes they’ve implemented based on the beta feedback. Hopefully it’s more solidly balanced upon release.
EA Sports UFC 3 is already shaping up to be the most comprehensive, deep and realistic simulation of mixed martial arts that we’ve ever seen. The game is gorgeous and plays extremely well. There is a new and potentially deep career mode and the core gameplay is as exciting as ever. While not perfect, UFC 3 can be a very successful release provided that EA continues to accept and implement feedback from the community.
EA Sports UFC 3 will be released on February 2, 2018
What are your thoughts? How would you change the game to make it more successful? Please comment below.