EA UFC 4 Review: The Good, The Bad, And The Bottom Line
my evaluation of ea ufc 4 started a little over a week ago. Originally, I thought receiving a review copy at the same time as ea access clients would be less than ideal.
Reading: Ufc 4 career review
however, I have found that it has allowed me to evaluate the latest edition of the ea ufc franchise as much as I have with any game in recent years. With that being said, let’s dig into the good, the bad, and the bottom line of ea ufc 4.
what ufc 4
in ea ufc 3, the gameplay was my favorite part of the experience. That explains why, up until the day I received the ea ufc 4 review code, I was still regularly playing its predecessor online.
Is the gameplay in ea ufc 4 as good as it is in ea ufc 3? it’s even better.
hitting is more fluid, and the new approach to clinching is a real game changer. During a pre-launch livestream, executive producer brian hayes said the idea was to make clinch play an extension of stand-up wrestling, rather than a precursor to ground play.
this was such a smart decision.
In real-life mma, clinch battling is much more like a stand-up exchange than a wrestling, though takedowns, trips, and wrestling can still be part of the equation. Fortunately, in EA UFC 4, you can use all of these things like weapons and defense in the revamped clinch game.
The back and forth movement in the clinch and the ability to chain together punches, knees, trips and throws provide some important layers for advanced fighters. there are several ways to deal major damage and several moves you can use to avoid the clinch and fight your way out of it. This whole section of the game is one of the best aspects of the game.
traditional stand-up is still as addictive as ever.
It’s been enhanced with some appropriate detours from the TV-style presentation so you know when you or your opponent have taken major damage. a large head injury glows red on the screen, while similar damage to the leg glows bluish-green.
if you don’t seem to like this effect, try it out in a few fights to see. if you still hate it, you can turn it off and continue with the presentation you had in ea ufc 3.
That’s a refreshing aspect about various parts of the game. You can go back to an old favorite if you don’t feel one of the new features or elements. that’s a best practice for any annual or semi-annual release because it’s never a good idea to force something new on someone who was already satisfied.
Overall I think stand-up is one of the highlights of the game and it’s still pretty addictive.
The downside of the foot component is that there are still a few moments where the game’s collision detection system seems to have some issues. I’ve seen too many cases where it looks like a hit should have landed, but there was no visual event to represent the impact and/or no damage was done by the person being shot.
This seems to happen on some of the spin attacks and side kicks, but not always. It’s not enough to ruin the game by much, but it’s something that could use some post-launch attention.
field play and submissions have always been the hardest aspect of the game to deal with, and that goes for users and developers alike. I can’t say I ever got to the point where I loved that part of the game in ea ufc 3, but I did get to a place of average acceptance and capabilities.
ea ufc 4 introduces a new system that seeks to simplify things. In some respects, it succeeds, but in others, which I think are more mainstream, it falls a bit short. stopping takedowns is a bit more difficult in this year’s game, but I don’t hate the change.
in real mma, the top priority for guys facing khabib nurmagomedov, daniel cormier and the like is stopping the takedown. if they lose that battle, they are likely to lose the fight. That element is somewhat present in EA UFC 4’s takedown gameplay, forcing you to upgrade to stop takedowns if you don’t want to keep losing from getting hit or submitted.
on the other hand, the submission mechanic that replaced the one from the previous game makes it too easy to submit opponents. For chokes, there is a meter that is very similar to what you see in wwe 2k, and you basically have to keep the colored covered part from overlapping with the attacking wrestler part.
if you can spend enough time during the process avoiding the overlap, you escape. Your chances of escaping or succeeding are affected by the wrestler’s stamina, the state of the wrestler’s head being choked, and the guys’ or girls’ submission and defense skills.
The formula isn’t flawed, but the size of a fighter’s color portion seems to be too large, especially before any damage is done. this makes it very difficult to avoid being sent.
The same problem exists with joint submissions. For this part of the game, there is a meter similar to a pendulum. you control your portion of color with the triggers. holding the left trigger causes your part to move to the left, and the right trigger does the opposite. again, the mechanic is based on a chase to overlap the shapes.
holding down the triggers will push the shape to the top of the pendulum and shrink it slightly, but it’s still too easy to overlap and therefore too hard to escape sends from.
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obviously super advanced players will understand this and perform better in this part of the game. However, that small percentage does not represent the majority, and I think many people may find it more difficult to escape submissions in ea ufc 4 than in ea ufc 3.
thankfully you can change the transition system to reflect what you used in ea ufc 3, but this new presentation deal is still a bugaboo.
A slight change that reduces the size of the defending fighter’s form would do wonders for this part of the game. obviously the size of the form should still be affected by resistance, abilities and damage, but a sweet spot can be found by making each of these stages a bit smaller.
I still love the overall gameplay, but ground play remains the most flawed aspect of a near-perfect victory in virtual boxing.
what ufc 4
the good stuff
Career mode in ea fight night champion, a game that was developed by the same core group responsible for ea ufc, set the standard for single player, story-like experiences in a sports game. champion mode was a stellar achievement.
Simply put, ea may have redefined excellence in this space with ea ufc 4’s career mode.
When it comes to depth, variation and immersion, this race mode hits the spot. the best I can say about it is that it makes every aspect of the preparation, the excitement and the fight feel necessary. the goal is to become the g.o.a.t.
This state can be achieved by reaching specific waypoints. you can monitor your progress as you move up the legacy rankings. In addition to a great experience, your reward is unlocking Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, and Bruce Lee, if you haven’t pre-ordered them yet and received them anyway.
there is a lot your wrestler can be involved in throughout his career.
You can be injured during training/sparring and in real fights. if the injury is severe enough, it can be called permanent and you will be notified that you will not be able to regain that aspect of your abilities or awareness for the rest of your career.
I was getting too slack in one of my early fights and suffered a knockout blow from a head kick, and as soon as my character’s body hit the mat, an overlay appeared on the screen detailing three consequences. permanents for my cocky attack defense.
which ufc 4
That might have been the worst thing that ever happened to me in a video game.
there’s something that partially eluded the impact I’ll get to in the next section, but this was one of those gaming moments I’ll probably always remember.
similar to ea ufc 3, preparation for a fight is based on the time allotment. you can choose how you will spend your weeks leading up to the fight. there are multiple types of promotional activities, including trash talking on social media and actually live streaming a sparring session. You literally get a cell phone-like view as you try to destroy a training partner. the better you do, the more interest you will generate in your fighter and his next fight.
it’s great for immersion and it’s meaningful because you really are in control and there’s a clear benefit to getting it right.
what ufc 4
You are challenged to create excitement for the fights by being either a friendly fan favorite or a maverick looking to create enemies in order to polarize. you can do this using social media, or you can even rough up real wrestlers in training sessions to create trouble.
at the center of your journey are the evolution points. you can use this in-game xp to improve your fighter’s abilities and to repair “permanent” damage from previous injuries. ep can be earned by doing just about anything, and is the lifeblood of career mode.
It all feels like a real trip, and I stayed connected the whole way.
the bad thing
Coach Davis was introduced as an integral part of the career mode experience, but after about five fights, he barely shows up in the whole thing. It would have been nice if he somehow impacted things with his own side story that had an impact on your career. maybe you could even have been able to switch trainers and gyms due to conflict.
this would have made an already solid career mode even better.
The concept of a permanent injury in the game was refreshing, and I wish you couldn’t use ep to undo that aspect of realism. On legend difficulty, you can’t replay games, but I think you can still use ep to repair things previously tagged as irreparable.
it would have been better without that mulligan.
The only other issue I have with the mode is the unrealistic length of runs for some of the rival fighters. On light travel, I saw Donald Cerrone and others fighting into their 50s. Cowboy is tough, but that seems unlikely, and even if he’s still active, it’s not likely he’ll fight for titles like he did in this career mode experience.
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A few new fighters are introduced into the mix, but it doesn’t happen fast enough. I’m sure the developers didn’t want to lose their attachment to the real ufc, but it would have been better if the new fictional fighters were introduced with cutscenes, some voice-over work, highlights of their fights, etc.
These feasible additions would have given these fictional wrestlers an identity. that would allow them to seamlessly replace licensed fighters during the latter part of the career mode experience.
the good stuff
ea ufc 4 has several ways to fight online. The online world championships are back, but with some news. When you win the championship, each successful defense is marked with a jewel on the royal belt that appears on screen. this adds some prestige to the owc.
There’s a similar relegation system in play, so you’re trying to move up the division with every match, as you’re rewarded with points for wins and points deducted for losses.
The matchmaking structure and selectable wrestlers in OWC have changed. this year, you can use created fighters. in fact, your main created fighter is available in all weight classes and you can choose his fighting style before each fight. it’s very similar to choosing a loadout in a first-person shooter.
The game uses a star system to rate all fighters, and all cafes are 4-star, so you won’t see your created guy or gal outclassed and overwhelmed.
You can also do quick matches, online head to head fights in any weight category and stipulations (stand and bang, ko mode, mma rules). There is also a leaderboard for this feature, and it offers a few fewer restrictions than owc. users who do not want their weight classes chosen may find this a more desirable online option.
ea ufc 4 introduces a new mode called blitz battles. it’s essentially various small tournaments, but the bouts are 1 minute fights with rotating stipulations ranging from sab, ko, mma, boxing only, and others. You have one minute to finish off your opponent, or a decision is made based on regular judging standards. the idea is to get you in and out of matches quickly.
because the fights are so short, the strategy can be completely different, but overall it’s a blast to play.
In addition to the traditional online h2h, owb and blitz, there are also online tournaments. In its entirety, EA UFC 4 offers one of the most complete online experiences I’ve seen in a sports fighting game.
the bad thing
in owc, the weight class is determined by ea at the start of each day. while their coffee is available in all weight categories, this feels too restrictive. sometimes i want to get into owc fights, but i can get pretty tired of fighting men’s flyweight fights.
Being forced to wait a day until you can fight in another weight class is less than ideal. hopefully this is something that will be changed in a future update.
this has now been changed, by hayes. owc weight classes change every hour.
presentation and overall depth
the good stuff
daniel cormier and jon anik offer so much more as a commentary team than joe rogan and anik, and that’s because the two were able to record some of their lines together. these dual recording sessions produced a conversational value that had not existed before.
the stat references and such are also a nice touch. there’s still room for improvement, but the comment doesn’t make you want to turn the sound off. the positive aspects of the audio extend to other parts of the title.
I’m usually not one to care much for a game’s soundtrack, but this one has some certified hits that make me nod.
From a pure sound effect standpoint, I appreciate the sound differences between fights that take place in an arena, as well as backyard and kumite environments. in fact, the fights that take place in the kumite headquarters in ko mode feel like a traditional fighting game.
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about that concept originally, but now I want ea to add a few other places via dlc in the coming months.
the ea ufc 4 roster is sizable with over 220 fighters including legends and some newcomers like dana white, lee, fury and joshua.
The roster lost 58 fighters and added 20, but minus 38 isn’t really a big deal considering the most popular people are still in the game. fighters like pedro munhoz, askar askarov, jennifer maia and augusto sakai should be there, but their absence doesn’t break the list.
It should also be noted that ea has list additions and lookalike updates on their schedule. In fact, they’ve already updated a handful of wrestlers, including Donald Cerrone, Paulo Costa, TJ Dillashaw, Paul Felder, and Cody Garbrandt.
what ufc 4
If there was one word to describe ea ufc 4, I’d say it’s cohesive. this is perhaps most evident with the universal profile, which is a game-wide xp system that rewards you with points that are converted into coins for everything you do in the game, across all modes.
daily challenges, mode-specific achievements, and many other things are part of this concept, and it all fits together nicely.
the end result
There is no such thing as a perfect game, but there can be a perfect experience with a title because the little issues you may experience don’t drastically hinder your enjoyment. the latest ufc game is very close to that rare benchmark. In this day and age where launch day is just the beginning of a game’s journey through patches and tweaks, EA UFC 4 is perhaps an update that strays from its own brand of perfection.
- Platforms: Playstation 4 and Xbox One (will be backwards compatible with PS5 and Xbox Series X)
- developer: ea
- publisher: ea
- Launched: August 14, 2020
- price: $59.99 for the standard edition
- review score: 9.5 out of 10
ea provided a review code for the xbox one version of this game.
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