EA’s take on the Ultimate Fighting Championship is about to step into the latest generation of consoles for the first time. There’s a lot that fans can expect to see from the newest entry in the series. However, the most intriguing element of EA Sports UFC 5 is it’s leaving the Ignite engine with the past console generation. The series is now making the leap to Frostbite.
The first four UFC titles operated on EA’s Ignite engine, but with the additional power of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, the game will now run on the Frostbite engine. Frostbite has been EA’s primary engine for many years, powering games like the Battlefield series and Madden titles. Beyond allowing for more detailed characters, advanced body geometry, improved rendering, and dynamic lighting, Frostbite will give the team an opening to create more visceral hits and convey more realistic damage. Cuts, bruises, and swelling will build up over the course of a prolonged fight, with EA targeting something more true to the actual UFC product. Because of that, UFC 5 will be the first in the series to receive an M rating from the ESRB.
EA has been working hard on its damage system to such a degree that fighters can display up to 64,000 different levels of stacked cuts, bruises, and swollen facial areas. Such injuries are more than an aesthetic element. Players who take overt damage will notice it as the game goes on, as injuries can affect visibility, mobility, and stamina. That extends beyond the face, as well. A broken nose, for example, will lead to slower stamina recovery. A swollen eye will impair a player’s vision while also opening the fighter to greater damage by subsequent strikes to that side of the head. Legs can also be targeted, and too much damage there will result in slower movement and a reduced ability to take down opponents. Assuming players can survive an onslaught from an opponent, continuing the fight may not necessarily be up to them. Doctors will check on injured fighters in between rounds and, in rare instances, will stop the fight.
As for the action inside the Octagon, players will notice a revamped animation system with more physics-driven hit reactions. EA has been looking to refine the visual presentation when it comes to ground-and-pound elbows and body punches while also adding calf kicks and spinning attacks. Fresh animations can be seen in both the striker’s and the opponent’s reactions.
Submissions have likewise been given an overhaul to such an extent that the mini-game system used in previous UFC titles has been thrown out. Instead, submissions will utilize a transition-based system that utilizes the left and right analog sticks. EA is touting over 600 new animations and faster transitions between them, which will allow for a faster-paced submission system. It’s EA’s hope that this will allow players to focus on the fight itself rather than focus on HUD-based mini-games system that reduces any sense of immersion. Having said that, button prompts are still noticeable on-screen, as the EA team showed off an example submission exchange where players were prompted to move the analog sticks in certain directions to apply specific chokes.
In addition to being recognized as one of the most intense combat sports in the world, UFC is known for its penchant for highlights. With that in mind, EA is debuting a new cinematic KO replay system. This will use the Frostbite engine to enhance replays of the key moments where fighters land the killer knockout blow on their opponents. Players will hear a more enhanced sound and see greater effects, such as flying bodily fluids and more realistic facial and bodily contortions. The team wants to come as closely as possible to the visceral slow-motion replays one would catch during an actual UFC fight.
UFC 5’s Career Mode is retaining some of the previous games’ more popular ideas, including Coach Davis. He’ll be back to guide users through a new opening experience, which will set the stage for players to fight their way through training camps (including the UFC Performance Institute) and their first fights in the Octagon. They’ll also meet real-world fighters like one of UFC 5’s cover athletes, Valentina Shevchenko. Those who want to do more with their custom fighters can also take part in the new Online Career mode, which is open solely to created characters. The Online Career mode will allow players to show off their fighters and cosmetic apparel while earning points that will help them improve their characters.
EA will also look to stay closer to real UFC events than ever before, with the Fight Week feature allowing players to play out new fight contracts, predict the outcomes of real-life UFC fights, face off against fighter alter egos, and more. The publisher certainly hopes all of this will lead to a noticeable improvement from the previous entry in the UFC series. We’ll see if UFC 5 can make a leap forward for the flagship MMA series when it releases on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S on Friday, October 27.