EA Sports UFC 5 Preview – Championship Rounds


The EA Sports UFC franchise made its debut in 2014, with its UFC-unlicensed title, the first MMA game released by the company since 2010’s EA Sports MMA. While the first licensed UFC title was a bit disappointing due to an underwhelming feature set and a series trying to find its footing as an all-new franchise, it was a solid first effort.

Frostbite engine

Frostbite engine

With each subsequent entry, traditionally released over a two-year time frame, the franchise has significantly iterated, adding new fighting mechanics, improved animations, more feature-rich modes, and larger fighter rosters. With the last EA Sports UFC arriving in 2020, it’s been three years since players were last invited to step into the Octagon. If my time watching the game and talking to the development team is any indication, that extra year was well spent; EA Sports UFC 5 brings EA’s in-house Frostbite engine inside the cage for the first time in the series’ history.

The developers of EA Sports UFC 5 have seen the bungled transitions other sports franchises have made when moving to another engine, some of which have been plagued with glitches and unnatural animations, but the UFC team has the advantage of not being released on an annual basis. “That’s why it took us three years; we wanted to get it (the transition to Frostbite) right,” says producer Nate McDonald. “It’s important to us and it’s important that we give our players the best experience, especially on current-gen platforms. We really wanted to make sure we were delivering a high-quality, polished, and bug-free experience as possible. And that takes time, and here we are.”

The result is more detailed character models, new levels of lighting and shading, improved rendering quality, and several brand-new presentation elements that include environments and visual effects. A side-by-side look at the character models from UFC 4 and UFC 5 hammer home just how good the fighters look in this upcoming version. New skin and eye shading, facial animation and body technology, and strand-based hair make fighters look more natural and representative of their real-world counterparts.

Fighter damage

Fighter damage

Not only that, but EA Vancouver is leaning towards the violence that the sport of MMA is known for. UFC 5 adds the most authentic damage to date, including cuts, bruises and swelling that accumulate in real-time during fights. The damage is designed for real life with realistic details and what the development team calls “unedited authenticity”. Fighters have eight areas for cumulative damage, each with multiple levels of progression. When you combine all these areas and levels of damage, fighters can have 64,000 different damage combinations. If you’re a stretcher, you’ll definitely see a lot of blood and some deep bumps, but you’ll miss out on some rarer, more gruesome injuries like compound fractures or exploding cauliflower ears.

And it’s not just for show, because the damage has real effects on a fighter’s performance. For example, a broken nose causes slow recovery of stamina, while a cut from an eye causes poor vision and more weakness on the affected side. Meanwhile, accumulated leg damage means slower movement and less effective takedown attempts. If you take too much damage, the referee can stop the action so that a doctor can look at the affected areas. If the doctor considers the damage too substantial, they may stop the action. This adds an extra layer of strategy, as a heavily damaged fighter may need to get extra protection over an already damaged body part, or the medic may decide they need to break away to avoid stopping the action. Meanwhile, a fighter dishing out damage may decide to continue targeting injured areas to try and effect a stoppage. According to EA Vancouver, 90 percent of the time or more medics are called in, the fight goes on, but you have to remember and strategize.

As a result of all this, EA Sports UFC 5 is the first entry in the series to receive an “M for Mature” rating. The last time an EA Sports fight-sports game received an M rating was 2011’s Fight Night Champion, from the same team based in Vancouver, Canada. “From a sports perspective, we’re in a position to bring the UFC to the real sport in the most authentic way possible,” says McDonald. “The only real way to do it realistically is to go for that ‘M for Mature’ rating. It’s a real-sports game with authentic damage and real fighter comparisons. We know MMA is a very visceral sport, and damage is a part of that. It’s not something we’re portraying in an overly gratuitous way. , but if we want to recognize what a real-life sport is, this has to happen.”

Animation updates

Animation updates

That new detail looks great in action, highlighted by 60 frames per second performance. Slowed down using a new cinematic slow-motion replay featuring enhanced visual effects and sounds focused on impact, you can see sweat and blood spray as the strike lands, and faces and bodies contort briefly as the knockout blow connects. In some cases, blood may be sprayed on the camera lens.

In these slow-motion replays, you can really get a feel for the new animations that feature physics-driven reactions. New strike animations for things like ground and pound elbows, spinning attacks, calf kicks, body shots and heavy hits join improved fighter comparisons and damage systems.

Seamless submissions

Seamless submissions

The biggest sticking point with fans through the first four entries is how the grappling plays out. While UFC 4 mitigated some criticism by introducing a grapple assist system, the default grappling system in UFC 5 is now based on faster transitions for more seamless submissions. Gone are the UI-heavy minigames that block most of the screen; Now, the grappling system focuses on advanced immersion during a fight with minimal HUD elements that block your view. In one video, I got to watch top-level grapplers Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev trade submission attempts and battle for position. The grappling exchanges were smooth and well-animated, but importantly, it wasn’t as fast-paced and robotic as the previous system.

“The UFC 5 seamless submission feature is like a refined extension of our existing grappling system,” says producer Raman Bassi. “Basically, the minigames are gone; there’s nothing on your screen, barring the beautiful transitions that we have. (…) You can go from a submission, you can face it and turn it into your own submission. It’s an endless possibility for submission, and it’s a smoother, more authentic floor. gives the game. And much faster and more intense.”

Players can still use Grapple Assist if they don’t understand the intricacies of the grappling game, or they can activate the Legacy version which still leaves submission minigames out of the way but gives you more control over transitions, sweeps and submissions. I’ll have to wait until I get my hands on it to know if it’s a better system than the previous one, but I think the team listened to community feedback over the past decade.

Career mode

EA Sports UFC 5

Career mode

Outside of the Octagon, players can immerse themselves in a more cinematic experience, featuring the return of Coach Davis from EA Sports UFC 4. This time, he plays a bigger role in the story beyond the initial experience – in one scene, I see Coach Davis giving a pep talk to a drafted fighter ahead of a big fight. There’s also a new onboarding experience featuring former UFC champion Valentina Shevchenko that includes an introductory training camp before your Contender Series match. This first camp introduces you to the UFC Performance Institute, where most of your training takes place and teaches you the fundamentals of striking, grappling, health, damage and stamina.

Additional cinematics highlight your journey towards the ultimate goal of becoming the GOAT, and better training camps and AI make it a more varied journey to the top. Sparring challenges have received an upgrade, challenges include an upgraded grading system, and improved AI actually makes fights with higher stakes more difficult. You can also choose basic rules like stand and bang for your entire career or use the more realistic simulation mode to try and become a champion with real fight clock, stamina and damage.

UFC 5 also adds an online career, which takes elements from the ranked championships and makes a created fighter vs. created fighter campaign for players to fight. You can compete with different created fighters in each of the four categories, earning evolution points through the fight. You invest those points to grow your fighter, and if you max them out, you can prestige them just like in other online multiplayer games. The hope is that you will explore different productions with different characters.

Finally, EA Sports UFC 5 is adding additional integration with real-world UFC events. Daily fight contracts give you a new challenge against CPU fighters every day, asking you to complete certain tasks to earn UFC coins or other rewards. Contracts last seven days before they expire and get harder as the week progresses; A Monday deal may seem like a chore, but a Sunday deal should test your skills. You can look forward to picking fights for upcoming cards with UFC Coins and other prizes awarded for correct picks. Alter egos are unlockable variants of fighters that have a different appearance or abilities from the traditional era of their career; The first wave of alter egos included younger versions of Israel Adesanya and John Jones, as well as Alexander Volkanovski in full rugby attire and Valentina Shevchenko in kickboxing uniform.

EA Sports UFC 5

While sports games are often criticized for the repetitive approach required by an annual release schedule, the EA Sports UFC 5 team doesn’t have to worry about that, and it seems from what they’ve shown and played and talked to me about, I have high hopes for this next evolution of the franchise. EA Sports UFC 5 arrives on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S on October 27. Those who pre-order will get access to bonus fighters including heavyweight MMA great Fedor Emelianenko and heavyweight boxing legends Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. Pre-orderers can look forward to several Bruce Lee alter egos.

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