A few weeks ago, EA Sports unveiled Israel Adesanya and Jorge Masvidal as the cover athletes for its latest UFC game, UFC 4. While the trailer touts the game’s new Backyard and Kumite environments, one of the biggest improvements to this year’s iteration comes in the form of Career Mode.
Ahead of its release on August 14, we sat down with creative director Brian Hayes and producer Raman Bassi to discuss changes to Career Mode, where fighters can impact an unscripted storyline like never before.
While fighters in UFC 3 could pick up general injuries during training and having a hard-fought bout resulted in your career shortening, there were no tangible repercussions for getting rocked in a fight, injuring your leg, or worse, getting knocked out. That all changes this year, with real-time injuries and medical suspensions.
“Injuries happen. It’s a real, impactful moment. And these can happen during fights,” Bassi said. “If you get rocked in career mode, you’re going to feel that during and after the fight.”
The new injury system amplifies taking risks, such as short-notice fights, where the potential for injury has to be weighed against the reward of taking the bout.
Get Cut, Fight Your Way Back
New to this year’s game is also the ability to decline fights. Since every decision your fighter makes matters, you can run from opponents all you want, but Dana White could cut you from the UFC. Unlike in years past, getting cut doesn’t actually end your career.
“We wanted to give fighters the opportunity to make more choices,” Hayes said. “Because fight offers matter, there’s a system where you can get cut from the UFC back to WFA and have to fight your way back. That’s authentic UFC in terms of making decisions and the ramifications of those decisions. There’s new choices as well that didn’t exist before.”
If you do end up back in the WFA, your fighter doesn’t actually have to come back to the UFC. The WFA is a full organization of its own and fighters can stay there as long as you’d like them to. Fighters could even theoretically fight their entire career in the WFA.
Relationships are a big theme in this year’s game, from a fighter-coach relationship to working with promoters, other fighters and entertaining fans. Fighters will be onboarded by Coach Davis, who teaches the fundamentals. Once fighters make it to the UFC, you have the opportunity to invite real UFC fighters to camp. These situations offer a variety of opportunities, including the ability to leak training footage, a la TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt.
“If you want to learn an overhand, you can invite someone like Tyron Woodley to camp,” Bassi said. “Land that overhand and unlock it. What could end up happening is if you knock out Woodley, you get a message from your manager: do you want to keep this footage or let it go? You can actually make the choice to invite this guy to your camp and embarrass them. Or you can develop a rapport and it’ll be cheaper to train with them in the future.”
Follow Your Own Path
In last year’s game, fighters start out in the WFA and after a few fights get called up to the UFC. This year, fighters can start in the amateur circuit, the WFA, Dana White’s Contender Series, or straight to the UFC. Fighters have more control over their future and can hold off on moving up until they’ve developed the attributes worthy of fighting some of the top professionals in the sport.
“When you step up to the UFC, that’s a tough challenge,” Bassi said. “Sometimes your attributes aren’t that far. This year, you’ll make the choice if you’re ready to take that next step. You can build up, win the WFA belt and maybe jump into the top-10 in the UFC.”
Along with the overhauled Career Mode is a brand-new fighter evolution system. Every time a fighter connects on a strike, successfully completes a takedown or submission in training, sparring and in fights, the quicker fighters can advance levels. Those disciplines include specific sparring techniques in kickboxing, boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu or developing a balanced fighter.
Fighters can narrow their skillset in addition to earning points that can be used to purchase perks and regain attributes lost due to injuries suffered in training or fights.