‘UFC 4’ Is The Most Ready-To-Play UFC Game Yet

While each of the last two iterations of the UFC video game saw relative upgrades over its predecessors, UFC 4 feels like the most significant jump of them all. The game added simplified striking, a new, straightforward submission system, an overhauled career mode, and new fighting environments, making one of the biggest jumps in the series.

After a few hours of gameplay, it’s clear that career mode is the star of this year’s game. Options are endless as you take your fighter on paths you choose: from deciding to fight as an amateur, to the WFA and Dana White’s Contender Series. There’s less concern about picking a camp based on technique, and you can really work on your all-around game with a variety of different training partners and UFC fighters. I haven’t encountered any real-time injuries just yet, but there’s plenty of time for my character to blow out his knee. What I can say is making friends and enemies through social has been a blast, and there’s a sense of realism in fans hitting your mentions and taunting your character even after you achieve a first-round knockout.

UFC 4 is no slouch when it comes to gameplay, either, with the much-needed introduction of Dynamic Striking Inputs. Taking from other combat games, a simple press of the button tosses out a quick strike, while holding the button down throws a slower, but more damaging shot.

“We made the controls everywhere we could less cumbersome, less daunting to learn for new or lapsed players. That includes updates to the striking control scheme, a tap and hold system. We used to have a control scheme, where there are so many strikes you can throw in an MMA fight, we had trouble finding real estate to throw these distinct strikes,” said Brian Hayes, Creative Director for UFC 4, in an interview with Uproxx. “There were times where you used to hold down five buttons at the same time to throw one strike. There’s a lot of complexities there. So with the new Dynamic Striking, there’s no strike in the game that, I believe, requires you to hold down more than three buttons at the same time.”

The presentation of those shots includes more blood splatter and a much clearer indicator if your fighter has been rocked. While the commentary team of Daniel Cormier and Jon Anik lose their minds after a devastating blow, players will see, hear, and feel the impact of a fight-changing shot.

The standup game feels like a nice upgrade, but the clinch system is a mixed bag. I love not having to play the mini-game to transition in and out of the clinch, but things happen so fast once you’ve locked up with your opponent thay it doesn’t feel like you have enough time to make a real impact.

Where UFC 4 really sees the biggest upgrades from a pick-up-and-play standpoint comes on the ground. While legacy players can still use the more advanced controls, holding the right stick left, up, or right can transition fighters into a submission attempt, to get up, or to move into a ground-and-pound position, respectively. The submission attempts are simplified as well, moving away from the two-stick system (it’s still there for legacy players) and instead to one of two basic mini-games. Players also have the ability to strike from the submission phase or deploy a high-impact slam to escape. In an overhauled ground-and-pound system, players pick their spots from the top, while opponents have more tools like head movement and well-timed counter transitions from their backs.

How fighters use these skills is partly dependent on their constantly changing ratings, which UFC 4 introduced this year in partnership with Daniel Cormier.

  1. Amanda Nunes, 5
  2. Jon Jones, 5
  3. Khabib Nurmagomedov, 5
  4. Valentina Schevchenko, 5
  5. Henry Cejudo, 4.5
  6. Israel Adesanjay, 4.5
  7. Weili Zhang, 4.5
  8. Stipe Miocic, 4.5
  9. Georges St-Pierre, 4.5
  10. Kamaru Usman, 4.5
  11. Demetrious Johnson, 4.5
  12. Alex Volkanowski, 4.5
  13. Max Holloway, 4.5
  14. Jorge Masvidal, 4.5
  15. TJ Dillashaw, 4.5
  16. Daniel Cormier, 4.5
  17. Rose Namajunas, 4.5
  18. Justin Gaethje, 4.5
  19. Petr Yan, 4.5
  20. Conor McGregor, 4.5
  21. Deiveson Figueiredo, 4.5
  22. Francis Ngannou, 4.5
  23. Cris Cyborg, 4.5
  24. Tony Ferguson, 4.5
  25. Joanna Jedrzejcyk, 4.5
  26. Marlon Moraes, 4.5
  27. Jose Aldo, 4.5
  28. Tyron Woodley, 4.5
  29. Robert Whittaker, 4.5
  30. Glover Teixeira, 4.5
  31. Yoel Romero, 4.5
  32. Jessica Andrade, 4.5
  33. Aljamain Sterling, 4.5
  34. Curtis Blaydes, 4.5
  35. Alistair Overeem, 4.5
  36. Cain Velasquez, 4.5
  37. Joseph Benavidez, 4.5
  38. Ronaldo Souza, 4.5
  39. Holly Holm, 4.5
  40. Colby Covington, 4.5
  41. Leon Edwards, 4
  42. Rafael Dos Anjos, 4
  43. Dustin Poirier, 4
  44. Ronda Rousey 4
  45. Tatiana Suarez, 4
  46. Cody Garbrandt, 4
  47. Dominick Reyes, 4
  48. Anthony Johnson, 4
  49. Paulo Costa, 4
  50. Darren Till, 4

This would theoretically mean that perennial contenders Cody Garbrandt, Paulo Costa, or Darren Till have an opportunity to supplant Ronda Rousey, who is ranked ahead of all three fighters at No. 44 despite not fighting since 2016.

The final significant addition to this year’s game comes in the form of new environments, the Backyard and Kumite. UFC 4‘s developers wanted to give fans something they hadn’t seen before in a UFC game as we begin the transition to next-gen consoles and the new environments happen to match perfectly with the personalities of the two cover athletes: Jorge Masvidal and Israel Adesanya.

“The big thought was we wanted to make sure, the fourth iteration of the UFC franchise, we wanted to show something different. Something when you see screenshots or the trailer, you can say ‘I have not seen that in a UFC game before.’ We wanted to increase the differentiation from one game to the next,” Hayes says. “The other part, as fight fans, MMA fans, viral fans, martial arts cinema fans, there’s a world there, that exists. There are fighters who started their combat life in the backyard. And there are fighters in the UFC who developed their passion because they watched a martial arts movie. Several fighters in the UFC, there are catalysts from where fighters came from. We wanted to provide something different and something that tapped into the origins of MMA.”

Mix in open weight challenges and a variety of game modes to keep fighters on their toes, and UFC 4 is perhaps the best iteration of the series yet. The game is out now, available on Xbox One and Playstation 4.