It’s time, as Bruce Buffer usually states, to get to grips with what EA are bringing to the mat when it comes to UFC 3. A beta kicked off this week, giving players access to a few portions of the game, including local multiplayer, online multiplayer, and UFC 3’s Ultimate Team mode. Along with that is the practice mode which helps players get some knowledge of what to expect in what could be considered a bit of a refresh for the franchise.
EA have stated that a lot of the core aspects of the action have been reworked. The fighters themselves feel a lot heavier to move around, at times a little sluggish, there’s no parrying, and a number of other changes. Only the lightweight division is accessible in the beta, and while there is some speed there, I feel that will be better shown off by the likes of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and others in the flyweight division.
Instead the lightweight division encapsulates the tactical and technical aspects of MMA where you attempt to break down an opposition to gain points, a knockout, or a submission. During a match there are different health bars to consider. You have one for your fighter’s legs, their head, their body, their block, and their stamina which is the most important of all.
Stamina regulates how powerful your fighter’s strikes are, how dominant they are during a clinch or the ground game, and how fast they can move. The more stamina the fighter has the more damage they can do, or be in a better position to hold a submission if the opponent has less stamina. Everything costs stamina and as a fight carries on it will naturally decrease. By round five both fighters could be shuffling around the octagon.
While targeting specific body parts to do damage is a sound strategy, there’s always a chance of a flash knockdown or knockout. Try to dodge the wrong way and an incoming fist or leg could daze your fighter as they fall to the floor. Unlike in previous iterations where this would almost always lead to ground action and clinches, the dazed fighter can stumble back to their feet and mount a better defence by blocking strikes.
With this being a beta there are some issues to be found that need to be ironed out. For example, there are delays at times when trying to launch a strike, or you may go to throw a punch but the opposition strikes first, which may require a different approach. Instead of being able to try a kick, the game will sometimes try to throw the punch again despite no input to do so.
In UFC 3’s Ultimate Team you have the opportunity to create a team that mixes real fighters with created fighters, with each one fitting a different division slot in the team. The main things that come out of the packs and the market are moves, which could lead to imbalances online. Moves have different rankings which in turn affect how effective they are. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that you may face a player whose fighter has much more powerful moves than your own.
With recent events fresh in the minds of many such an approach will not go unnoticed and the recent pushback against gameplay affecting microtransactions could easily sweep up UFC 3. The online play itself functions very well in the beta with no sense of any delays between players and no disconnections either. Whether this will be the case at launch is another matter depending on how much bigger that audience will be compared to the beta audience.
All in all, the UFC 3 beta does show promise for the full release when it comes to action in the octagon, improving over the last iterations. At the same time it would have been good to get a better spread of fighters across the divisions instead of focusing on one, just to see how they stack up and how differently they’ll play to lightweight. Ultimate Team doesn’t seem too different from before outside of having real fighters in the mix, but it will likely be under a lot more scrutiny when it comes to the contents of its packs.