During the live beta for EA Sports UFC 3 we were treated to a few new features for the game, which were mostly drowned out in the news by EA’s insistence on making the Ultimate Team Mode yet another pay-to-win fests with the Ultimate Team card packs, not unlike the premium loot boxes featured in Star Wars: Battlefront II.
Let’s talk about the most obvious change: the impacts.
EA Sports UFC and EA Sports UFC 2 both failed miserably when it came to giving users proper force feedback on hits and when getting hit. Light hits barely registered and hard hits didn’t feel very hard at all. Well, all of that has changed for EA Sports UFC 3. The developers weren’t lying when they said they retooled the way the game plays and feels. Every hit that connects actually connects in a big way, whether it’s a jab, a knee, or a roundhouse kick to the head.
The controller gives proper rumble feedback in different ways. When you connect with a hit you get instant feedback, and the character reactions and hit-detection looks really good here.
Another new feature in EA Sports UFC 3 is the new lunge and retreat attacks. By tapping left or right on the left analog stick while also tapping one of the face buttons for a punch or kick will allow the fighter (if the move is in their repertoire) to perform a retreating punch if you move back, or a lunging punch if you move forward.
Previously, if you attempted to perform a forward punch in EA Sports UFC 2 you had to have it purchased in your movelist as a strike attached as a modifier to the left bumper or as a special when pressing L1 and L2 together. In this case, for the third game, you can use quick feints and dash jabs bothr forward or when retreating, which is a very much-needed addition to the game since it was missing in the previous two outings.
Another big change is the new quick-submission system for those who would rather take it back to the old days of the UFC like the one for the PSX back in the early 2000s, and they’ve also added all new hit-stuns and reduced endurance for strikes that the fighters can endure. This was something that really bothered me in the first two games, where you could wail on someone from bell to bell and they would still be standing because the stats on paper say they should. In EA Sports UC 3 this has all be undone.
For one, leg kicks and targeted limb strikes now play a much larger role in the game than in previous titles. You can now perform sweeps by weakening a fighter’s inside or outside leg. Thigh kicks, calf kicks and shin strikes do massive damage over time when used consistently throughout a bout, something that rarely ever paid off in the other two games.
One neat new addition to the game is that you can weaken a leg up to the point where a fighter begins to stumble or hobble around – at this stage in the game the fighter loses stamina and octagon momentum, forcing the hobbled pugilist to strategically move about in a much smarter manner.
During the hobble phase you can also use a strong low kick to completely sweep an opponent out from a standing position and into a fallen state – this also counts as a knockdown. Thus, making leg sweeps so much more important this time around compared to EA Sports UFC 2, where you could just keep damaging the leg of an opponent and the only serious outcome would be easier gate passes for a submission hold on your opponent’s leg.
Of course, the beta had some obvious animation, AI, and logic glitches that I would hope will get fixed in time for the game going gold, but otherwise the foundation looked really good and the more impactful hits, strategic elements and improved animations could help the game reach the heights that the other previous two EA Sports UFC games failed to reach.
Nevertheless, EA’s biggest hurdle is likely going to be the looming cloud of microtransactions hovering over the game’s release. A lot of gamers don’t forget or forgive so easily that they might fall right back into that trap, especially with lawmakers and gambling commissions constantly peeping over EA’s shoulder like a game journalist peeping into the window of a yoga class for single ladies.
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