UFC 4 is coming to PS4 and Xbox One, with a release date of 14 August, EA has announced.
Real-life rivals Jorge Masvidal and Israel Adesanya will share cover athlete honours, as the mega-publisher returns to the Octagon for the first time in two-and-a-half years. Predecessor UFC 3, sporting Conor McGregor on the cover, was released in February 2018.
GamesRadar ‘attended’ a digital reveal of the new fight sim last week and there were plenty of encouraging signs. Where in the past EA has shied away from aping THQ’s UFC Undisputed series, now it’s clearly open to including elements that worked for the competition – such as spectacular OTT KOs, and the wheel-based submissions system, where you have to cover the entirety of an opponent’s energy bar in order to tap them out.
Striking and takedowns are significantly reworked. A new ‘tap or hold’ system enables more fisticuff variation, where tapping launches a basic strike but holding unleashes more damaging ones – with timing paramount, lest you’re caught off guard. EA has also added what it calls ‘Integrated Real Player Motion Technology’ into clinches and takedowns, and they look far more natural as a result; like a fluid back-and-forth tussle rather than a stop-start series of animations. See for yourself in the trailer above.
Those who remember the days of being wowed by Fight Night’s quite literal smash-mouth KO’s will be particularly enamoured by the new knockout visuals. UFC 4 moves away from the true-to-broadcast camera angles of its predecessor, with a lower standard viewpoint that presses home the impact of a match-ending blow. Eyes close, sweat flies and shoulders crumple, and it all looks even juicier in close-up slow-mo replays. The return of ‘KO’ and ‘Stand & Bang’ modes – takedowns are eliminated completely in the latter – are clear nods at bringing casual players on board.
Series veterans are catered for too. Myriad create-a-fighter vanity items are all unlockable via engagement with the game (DLC purchases grant you the same items, but faster) and career mode features smart new touches. For instance, upgrading the effectiveness of a particular hold or move happens organically based on how often you use it in real-time while sparring, or in training, or during real fight. You can reject fight offers, and full WFA simulation means you can also play out an entire career in the minor leagues without ever joining the UFC, should you so choose.
Quick Fights, Invite-A-Friend bouts, 64-player ‘Blitz Battle’ tournaments and an Online World Championship series - where created fighters and licensed pros can tackle one another, at long last - make up the suite of net-based options. Especially cool is the inclusion of 12 fighter archetypes, which enable you to brawl across weight divisions: if you’re a flyweight and you’re matched with a heavyweight, the game will adjust your attributes before the bout to make it a fair contest. Neat.