If you don’t know already, The third installment in EA’s UFC series is slated to arrive in the first quarter of 2018, between January 1st and March 31st of next year. While EA UFC 2 was overall a competent and generally well received MMA game, there is still a great deal of room for improvement. Here I will detail my hopes and dreams for an in-depth career mode.
The humble beginnings should present your fully customized character with a choice. Your head coach thinks you’re ready to fight, but it should be up to you to go pro, or compete as an amateur. The game should allow you up to four amateur fights that will not only serve as a guide to gamers unfamiliar with the EA UFC series, but also give you a small stat boost and a few extra moves, giving you a bit of an advantage in your professional debut. In EA UFC 2 you were automatically placed into The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) reality show, making for a rather unrealistic start to your Mixed Martial Arts career. Once you go pro your debut should take place in World Fighting Alliance (WFA), much like THQ did in the critically acclaimed UFC Undisputed 3 title. Here you will begin your journey to potential greatness, or even a severe meritocracy. Either way, it brings a sense of realism to the game that fans of Mixed Martial Arts seek when starting out in Career Mode.
The training should be deep but fairly easy. Training is a huge part of the sport, but it is also not what the video game is about. So like in EA UFC 2 the training should be more optional. However, there should also be more options. If the player decides he wants to train for fights then there should be many aspects to doing so, such as game planning, stats training, and cutting weight. This would really help the overall feel of career mode.
Game planning should be quite simple, your coach scouts your upcoming opponent and finds out he is a wrestler so you work on stopping takedowns, or if you’re a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu focused character you work on reversals and submissions from your back. Game planning should give you strong but temporary one-fight stat boost that attempts to help you in a difficult style matchup.
Stat training should be the simple, normal workouts presented in EA UFC 2. This training will give you permanent stat boost but doesn’t lift your stats as highly as game planning will.
Weight cutting should be completely optional but add a different dynamic to the career mode. If you decide to make yourself 200 pounds while creating your character you can fight in the light heavyweight division (205lbs) without issue. However, if you decide to fight in the middleweight division (185lbs) you will need to cut 15 pounds to do so. Subsequently, you will be bigger than your competition giving you an edge in strength. However, the more weight you cut will also take a toll on your body, if you cut a great deal of weight it could affect your stamina and overall performance inside the octagon.
The most important part about making a Career Mode feel like it’s your career is putting it into the player’s hands. This is the area Electronic Arts failed terribly at in EA UFC 2. It is no secret the UFC owners bought out a multitude of former MMA promotions. This should be put to good use in creating a phenomenal Career Mode. As I stated earlier your character will automatically start off in WFA, which will be considered the bottom feeder of promotions to be a part of. Your performance in WFA will determine if you are offered the chance to compete in other promotions.
I understand this is a UFC game so the Career Mode should obviously promote the UFC as the superior brand… I mean Promotion, and prevent you from reaching true legend status without going there. But it is your career and if you want to be WFA champion for the entirety of it, that should be an option. There should be 5 promotions featured in the Career Mode and they should be ranked by prestige. Number one will obviously be the UFC. Number two could be Strikeforce, number three WEC, number four IFL, and lastly at number five the WFA.
If you are impressive in your first three WFA fights you should be offered a chance to compete in the IFL, or maybe even the skip them and jump to the WEC if impressive enough, but you will face tougher competition in those leagues. Alternatively, after three fights you should be offered the opportunity to compete in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) as an optional early path to the UFC, although that may cause a tougher path as UFC competition is likely far above you at that point.
You can decide to stay in each league and win the title in your respective division. If you win the title in WFA you will be offered a big fight with IFL and a mid-card fight with the WEC. The IFL title will give you a big WEC fight or a mid-card Strikeforce opportunity and so on and so forth. You can earn the opportunity to compete in the bigger leagues without winning titles but they will be lower viewed undercard contest. The opportunity to compete on TUF should be continually offered throughout your career outside of the UFC.
Overall the Career should be completely up to the fighter just like in real life. Your decisions and performances will shape the legacy you leave behind. Wins will bring you to legendary status while losses will bring you down and get you cut from the organization in which you fight for. Just like a real mixed martial arts career.
Declining With Age
Fighters get old and they aren’t the same anymore. Once you reach the age of 35 stat decline should start to slowly take place. By 40 the decline should speed up, and by 45 it will be difficult to manage high stats. You will be able to keep key stats high enough to compete but winning will come harder as speed and stamina take a major hit the older you become.
The retirement should also be completely optional. If you choose to fight until you’re 60, you can. Just know you probably won’t be able to compete at the highest level. If you quickly rise to become UFC champion and decide to retire on top at 26 years old. That is also an option. This further puts you in control of your destiny, your career.
In conclusion, I think there are a multitude of improvements needed to make an outstanding, realisticm and fun career mode. Still, to this day THQ’s UFC Undisputed beats EA UFC in the area of career. EA can quickly turn that around though with proper execution of the ideas that I’velaidd out. Now that the gameplay is finally up to par with the realism of the sport hopefully EA will attempt to do the same with the Career Mode in the upcoming EA UFC 3.