EA Sports Goes In-Depth with New UFC Submission Dynamics

April 4, 2014 7:43 am by Kenya Owens

From all of the teasers and releases about EA Sports UFC (set to appear this spring), we have already been able to tell a HUGE difference in its development. Graphics are slicker, moves are more exact, the character detail is more astounding. EA Sports have been trying to take the previous UFC installments to a whole new level of gaming, and with the PS4 and Xbox One being the flagship platforms, you have to make sure that your game is stepped up.

One thing that could honestly be said about previous UFC games is that they are a button-mashers dream. When UFC 2009 Undisputed arrived on the scene, the hype was mostly about being able to play as the new mainstream characters. The action was a lot like Tekken and it didn’t really go into the intricacies of mixed martial arts. I won many games as Chuck Liddell by hitting L1+Triangle about six times so I could head kick my opponent into oblivion. Hey, a win’s a win, right? Fighter’s with a notorious ground game were best on their feet.

Fast-forward to UFC Undisputed 3, released on Valentine’s Day of 2012, and THQ heard the concerns of the frustrated men and women who loved Jiu Jitsu and hated getting an overhand right 42 times till a match ended. The ground game involved being able to wiggle your body out of the way when on the ground to avoid hits, you could pull someone into a clinch when within a certain range, and you could better utilize the cage to hold your opponents or make it harder for them to hold you. The game finally became more challenging because I had to actually practice specific combinations for submissions and ground work.

Now in EA Sports UFC, they have put a monumental amount of work into making sure you get a virtual feel of how difficult submissions really are and how complex stringing together certain elements can be when you’re working with a person (or character) that actually fights back.

Brian Hayes, the EA Sports UFC Creative Director spoke with Mike Fridley over at Sherdog.com to go into detail about the innovations to the submission system.:

“Here’s the thing, you can roll in Brazilian jiu-jitsu with your eyes closed. In fact, a lot of times, in various positions and situations, you might only be able to actually see your opponent’s leg, or their butt. Maybe your face is actually pressed into the mats. Who knows? A great deal of the ground game in real life is about feeling your opponent’s weight, feeling where their center of gravity is, feeling their wrists in your hands, etc.

In a video game, realistically, we are only capable of giving the user visual information. So, ask a grappler how well they think they would do if they lacked all sensation in their body below the chin. It’s really easy to say, “let’s not have a submission mini-game.” It’s a lot more complicated when you have to actually give users the ability to perform submissions in a video game.

That being said, we are doing some new things and some different things than fans have seen in the past. Our submission system involves an onscreen mini-game. It’s based on two core principles:

One, the person you’re trying to submit is rarely interested in letting you make progress towards your goal of making them tap. In real jiu-jitsu they’re looking to move in a way that will alleviate pressure and make it possible to escape. In our game, they have the ability to try and escape by pushing the right stick up, down, left or right. You’ll be able to see where they are trying to escape and how close they are to escaping. You can push your right stick in the same direction to lock them down, but they can instantly move in another direction.

Two, there’s an element of timing to sinking a submission in deeper. You have to be ready to react when the opening presents itself. Whether it’s sliding a forearm under your opponent’s chin, or tucking your foot behind your knee in a triangle. This comes in the form of an onscreen prompt to flick your left stick up, down, left or right. Every submission has multiple moves that must be executed before it’s locked in 100% and each time you advance a move, the defender goes back to square one trying to escape.”

What do you think so far? How do you feel the new UFC will stack up to previous installments? Were you the button-masher? For all of submission specialists, would this make you more likely to give the game a try?

By Kenya Owens

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