The fourth game in EA’s UFC series, EA Sports UFC 4 was released this past August to a largely positive response. UFC 4 currently has a score of 78 on Metacritic, and has been labelled “the best MMA video game ever made” and “EA’s strongest MMA game yet”.
The game has a number of different modes, improved and more realistic gameplay in areas like the clinch in comparison to its predecessors, and almost the entire current UFC roster able to use. It's easy to see why UFC 4 has quickly become popular with fans of the promotion.
With this in mind, here are 5 things you need to know about the UFC 4 video game.
#1 UFC 4’s roster contains an eclectic list of fighters
It should come as no surprise to learn that UFC 4’s playable roster features all of the UFC’s current mega-stars.
The likes of Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Stipe Miocic and UFC 4 cover stars Jorge Masvidal and Israel Adesanya are all available to play as, and the game even features lesser known fringe contenders like Johnny Eduardo and Gian Villante.
However, more surprising is the sheer amount of fighters that are no longer with the UFC that UFC 4 has on offer. Not only can you play as retired UFC legends like Tito Ortiz, Forrest Griffin and Georges St. Pierre, but you can even choose fighters who are currently with rival promotions.
That’s right – Bellator stars Cris Cyborg, Lyoto Machida and ‘Rampage’ Jackson are readily available, as are Ronda Rousey and Cain Velasquez, who most recently appeared in WWE.
And even more fascinatingly, a number of fighters who’ve never set foot in the UFC’s Octagon point-blank are available to use in UFC 4. UFC President Dana White and beloved announcer Bruce Buffer are admittedly gimmicky additions to the game – White is available to use in four different weight classes – but that’s not all.
Famed martial arts actor Bruce Lee is available to use again as he was in UFC 2 and UFC 3, but UFC 4 also allows players to choose two of the world’s top Heavyweight boxers. Both Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua are available to play, meaning UFC fans can use UFC 4 to put them into the dream matches we’ll probably never see in real life.
#2 EA responded to the concerns of fans when it came to UFC 4’s pop-up adverts
While UFC 4 received plenty of critical acclaim upon its release in August, it didn’t take long for a large amount of fan backlash to hit EA regarding the game. The backlash was aimed, unsurprisingly, at a usual point of contention with fans of most forms of media – adverts.
A Reddit post in early September was created to point out a number of onerous adverts within UFC 4, most notably pop-up adverts for the second season premiere of Amazon Prime Video’s TV series The Boys.
The adverts were largely visible when the game was showing “Replay” moments, with a clip used on the Reddit post showing a full-screen pop-up at one point. Within days of arriving on Reddit, the post had garnered over 86,000 upvotes, and at the time of writing, now has around 95,000.
Most fans appeared to be most angry with the fact that while adverts are understandable in free-to-play games, UFC 4 was obviously a full-priced, premium product.
Thankfully, EA were quick to listen to the backlash and responded in kind. Within days of the Reddit post’s appearance, the company removed all pop-up adverts from UFC 4, and were quoted as stating that “it is abundantly clear from your feedback that integrating ads into the Replay and overlay experience is not welcome”.
Hopefully, going forward in future UFC video games, EA won’t make this same mistake again.
#3 UFC 4 features alternatives to the Octagon including backyard fighting
The UFC has always been synonymous with its Octagon – an eight-sided cage that acts as the battleground for the UFC’s top stars.
While other major MMA promotions such as PRIDE and Affliction have used a boxing-style ring, the sport as a whole has become so associated with the Octagon that it’s still known as ‘cage-fighting’ in many circles.
However, while most of the action on UFC 4 takes place inside the Octagon, EA have also added in a handful of alternative modes that make gameplay even more fun.
In Career Mode, for instance, all fighters begin life by fighting in an all-new fighting location named ‘Action Avenue’, which features a cage in a parking lot, reminiscent of the amateur MMA shows known across the US as smokers.
Of more interest to fans, though, will be the ability to put on fights in two completely unique locations. The first is titled ‘The Backyard’ – and sees UFC 4’s fighters clash inside a chain-link fenced area literally in a backyard.
It’s been suggested that the location is a tribute of sorts to the late Kimbo Slice, who became an internet sensation for his backyard brawls in the late 2000’s. It could also be a link to cover star Jorge Masvidal, who also fought in similar fights before becoming a professional MMA fighter.
Even crazier is UFC 4’s ‘Kumite’ location. Named after the infamous martial arts tournament in 80’s Jean-Claude Van Damme movie Bloodsport, the setting actually resembles something from the early Mortal Kombat games. It’s essentially an underground temple, complete with statues of cobras leering over a circular ring.
To add more fun to these settings, players can buy Backyard and Kumite customization packs for the game. This allows them to deck their fighters out in gear that you wouldn’t normally see in the UFC, such as jeans, masks, caps and “rope gloves” – which resemble the hand wrappings worn by Van Damme in another 80’s cult classic, Kickboxer.
#4 There’s no PRIDE or WEC, but UFC 4 allows players to fight in the WFA
The UFC has swallowed up a number of rival promotions en route to becoming the MMA behemoth that it is today. Some of the more notable promotions either folded into or bought out by the UFC include Japan’s PRIDE, the WEC, WFA, StrikeForce and Affliction.
Due to the UFC owning the rights to all of these promotions, it’s hardly a surprise that past UFC video games have made use of them. 2012’s UFC Undisputed 3 for instance, developed by THQ, contained a ‘PRIDE mode’ that allowed players to fight in the PRIDE ring complete with that promotion’s unique rules.
However, despite Undisputed 3 receiving rave reviews for its inclusion of PRIDE, EA have thus far avoided using any of the major promotions swallowed up by the UFC in their games. Instead, 2018’s UFC 3 allowed players to fight in the WFA promotion – probably the smallest and least notable of all of those bought out by the UFC.
Despite many fans calling for PRIDE mode to be included in UFC 4, EA have once again chosen differently. In UFC 4’s career mode, players can choose two different paths into the UFC. They can either fight their way through the WFA, or fight on Dana White’s Contender Series.
While it’s cool to see the inclusion of DWCS, particularly as it’s now the primary way for top prospects to make their way into the UFC, it definitely would’ve been nice for EA to make use of some of the older, more beloved promotions that the UFC has swallowed over the years.
Perhaps if EA create UFC 5 in the near future, gamers will be able to pit their fighters against each other in PRIDE, WEC and StrikeForce then.
#5 UFC 4 will see its fighter rankings updated on a regular basis with the help of Daniel Cormier
One of the most interesting points about how EA have developed UFC 4 is the system that they’ve used to rate the fighters in the game. Rather than simply awarding the UFC’s fighters a rating that would stay with the game, EA have gone into much deeper territory for UFC 4.
According to reports, the fighters that feature in the game can see their rating go up and down, depending on their performances in real-life UFC events. And in a massive move, EA have been able to recruit former UFC Light-Heavyweight and Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier to help them with this process.
Essentially, Cormier will be working alongside EA to give them feedback after major UFC pay-per-views as to which fighters should see their UFC 4 rating go up or down. That means that as well as looking to boost their ranking in real life, fighters will also be looking to ensure they stay at the top of the table in UFC 4, too!
Given that he’s also one of the voices of the game – Cormier provided commentary for UFC 4 alongside his broadcast partner Jon Anik – it’s arguable that no other UFC figure has had as much sway in a video game as ‘DC’, not even UFC President Dana White.