‘EA UFC 5’ details and Q&A: Career mode upgrades, new damage system, changed submissions

The next iteration of the UFC video game series is just weeks away from release with “EA UFC 5,” which will be available Oct. 27 (with access on Oct. 24 with purchase of the Deluxe Edition) on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S with a price point of $69.99.

There have been a number of significant overhauls to the newest version of the franchise, from the introduction to the Frostbite engine, which will lend to more responsive gameplay and the ability to engage in what EA Sports executives predict should be a superior fighting experience than past versions of the game.

Some notable evolutions for “EA UFC 5” include a new Real Impact System featuring more than 64,000 possible combinations of facial damage, doctor checks and potential doctor stoppages stemming from that damage, upgraded striking and reactions, as well as a brand new Seamless Submission system that will alter the way in which grappling sequences unfold inside the octagon.

Additionally, there will be the introduction of cinematic knockout replays, advanced fighter likeness, a greater diversity of playable characters (including Fedor Emelianenko, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson), the launch of fighter alter egos, an online career mode and much more.

For more details, check below for a Q&A with MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn and “EA UFC 5” game developers Nate MacDonald, Raman Bassi and Jazz Brousseau.

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Details about the Real Impact System

Cuts, bruising, and swelling accumulate in accurate locations based on the damage you inflict and take in-game, including over 64,000 possible combinations of facial damage a fighter can sustain. Causing a cut near an opponent’s eye can impair their vision and cause them to take more damage on that side, as they don’t see subsequent strikes as well. Bust an opponent’s nose to potentially hinder their breathing and slow their stamina recovery. Take too many low calf kicks and your character may start to limp with related mobility decline. Authentic damage adds a whole new layer of strategic possibilities to the fight.

How do doctor's checks and stoppages work?

If a player sustains a significant injury the ref can now step in, pause the action and summon the ringside doctor to inspect the damage. If the player is unable to shift tactics and protect the injured area from future damage, the doctor might stop the fight. This gives players more strategic opportunities to gain result-influencing advantageous as one thrives and survives.

New strikes and hit reactions

The game features all-new animations for ground and pound elbows, spinning attacks, and a variety of other punches, kicks, knees and elbows. New striking animations emulate heavy hitters, professional kickboxers and more, giving you all new ways to stand and bang. In addition, new hit reaction animations and physics make sure you feel the impact of a clean connection.

Seamless Submissions

The new Seamless Submissions functions as a revamped extension of the existing grappling systems with faster animations and the removal of mini-games. Beginners can use Grapple Assist for help on the canvas, while veterans will have new depths to uncover and enjoy.

Cinematic knockout replays

Harnessing the power of Frostbite, players can now rewatch their finishing blows in stunning clarity. Captured in super slow motion with cinematic camera angles and lighting, the impact of fight-ending shots increases authenticity as well as the entertainment spectacle.

Advanced fighter likeness

Powered by Frostbite and a significant upgrade to lighting and rendering features (including dual-lobe skin and eye shading, strand-based hair, updated fighter body types and industry-leading facial animation technology) fighter likenesses acutely represents their real-life counterparts.

Visual effects

Improved fidelity means when fighters absorb strikes, the results show on their face and body in an authentic, wince-inducing fashion. Plus, all new fluid physics and particle systems make blood and sweat drip and spray as it does during the heat of the action in the octagon.

New in-game cinematics

Frostbite powers brand-new cinematic moments where attention to detail and fighter fidelity make you feel like you’re in the arena for a sold-out UFC PPV. From the roar of the crowd to Bruce Buffer’s iconic introductions, new in-game cinamatics bring a whole new level of excitement, authenticity and immersion to UFC 5.

Fight week challenges

In the week leading up to and after all the biggest UFC events, players will have access to limited-time Fight Week Challenges. These challenges give players the opportunity to unlock rewards inspired by those events, including new Alter Egos, created fighter Vanity Items, player profile customization assets and fighter emotes.

The introduction of alter egos

Alter Egos lets you play as your favorite fighters in their authentic career-defining moments, such as a fighter’s memorable UFC debut, when they captured the title, and more.

What will the 'EA UFC 5' roster size look like?

“The roster size, if we’re talking about at launch, will be over 250 unique fighters. If we add fighters that are in all the different weight classes and we add Alter Egos, we’re going to be at 300-plus at launch. Beyond that, there will be Alter Egos being added monthly and new licensed fighters in the UFC, based on what their trajectory looks like in the real world. It won’t be a locked roster. We will be adding to the roster every month during the life cycle of UFC 5.”

Will character models be updated post-launch?

“If there’s a fairly significant change in the fighter, or someone gets a new, large, fairly noticeable tattoo, or someone goes from having a full head of hair to shaving it off, if that were to happen, we will make those updates.”

Can you share more about the Alter Egos?

“Each Alter Ego will have its own version. It will be very authentic of the way they look from the era or event they’re based off of. That doesn’t mean we’re always going to stick with authentic representations of the past as well. We have the origins that we showed during the presentation from outside the world of UFC, and we hope to add more to that as well.”

What's can you share about the new submission system?

“With seamless submissions, it’s going to be clean. It’s going to be an extension of the ground game. There’s no more mini-game that’s going to pop up over your fighters. It’s going to be the same HUDs and submissions are going to flow within one another. There’s going to be transitions, submissions, reversals, sweeps, inside the submissions, so it’s a lot more smoother.”

Outside of the new submission system, how has the ground game evolved or been changed?

“60 frames is going to change the way anyone is going to pick up and play the controller. We’re 60 frames because of Frostbite, so the ground game is much more smooth and much more reactive. Users can put in their inputs a lot faster this year. Just because of that change alone you’re going to see the ground game get a lot faster, a lot more intense. You can do ground-and-pound faster, we’ve added elbows in ground-and-pound this year. Our real damage system is going to play a significant impact on the ground game itself. Just because of these elbows and the ability to cut and hooks, it’s going to a different way to play the ground game. You do not want to get hit this year, on the ground or on the feet. It’s going to be a lot quicker.”

What more can you share about the new damage system?

“With the new damage system, you do not want to get hit this year. I think last year, at last on UFC 4, you fish for hit reactions and you fish for knockdowns. You didn’t really care how much damage you sustained or it didn’t really matter too much how much you got hit, as long as your damage meter was somewhat recoverable. This year on UFC 5 with our real impact system, you do not want to get hit. Elbows will cut you and it will change the meta of the game. If you get cut over your eyebrow it affects your vision, but it’s going to allow you to be more vulnerable on the side you’re cut on. Essentially your fighter can’t see. Your fighter is going to have a harder time bringing up their hand to block. It’s going to affect the speed of their block coming up. That’s the whole new mechanics of striking this year and our damage system.”

What about the striking? What are some of the marquee changes?

“We’ve added all new strikes and hit reactions this year. There’s spinning attacks and body punches and calf kicks. You can have a normal leg kick, but if you do the input, you can also throw a calf kick. We’ve also added hold inputs as well for power punches. You can throw your hook, but if you hold the input, you can throw an overhand. Same with a question mark kick. It’ll be the same input as your roundhouse kick, but if you hold it, you’ll throw a question mark kick. There’s a lot of little nuances and mechanics we’ve added to the game. Striking is a big part of that. If you throw a roundhouse kick and miss it, you could turn your body and throw it into a spinning backfist.”

There were frustrations with the knee-to-elbow combination in close range. Has that been addressed?

“The body knee-elbow combination is an interesting one. It’s something that we’ve seen in UFC 4 quite a bit. Glad to say we’ve looked at it and fixed it as best as we think we can. In our internal competitive testing, we think we’ve fixed it. Then again we’ll see what happens when we go live. It’ s always interesting to see the new meta when we go live.”

How do you approach the balance of realism and arcade-style play?

“We’ve added game styles this year. What game styles allow you to do is essentially pick the way you want to play, anywhere you want to play. Game styles, you can apply them in career mode. You can search for them in quick match online. You can apply them in any mode. Fight mode. Tournament mode. Any part of the game. What these game styles are is basically a pre-defined set of gameplay sliders. There’s a stand-and-bang game style, which disables the ground game and allows you to stand and strike. You can apply that to career mode. Now you can have a stand-and-bang only career mode. Or there’s a knockout game style for our casual users and you have a health meter just fall to zero, then there’s going to be a knockout. Or there’s a simulation game style, where if you’re a core user, a hardcore user and a big fan of MMA, and you want a true-to-life experience, as real as it gets, there’s a simulation game style you can apply to any mode in the game and it will be much harder stamina, much more real impact damage. You basically do not want to get hit at all in that mode. That’s real time, real clock as well.”

What details can you share about the changes to Career Mode?

“There will be a whole new introduction to Career Mode. Valentina Shevchenko will welcome the player along with Coach Davis and they’re going to guide the player through their career. There’s going to be new cinematics, new locations and then a refined focused on onboarding. We’re also updating training camp. Allowing players to simulate training and sparring to repeat fitness to get to the fights faster. We know training camp can really bog you down, especially when you’re doing a 40-fight career multiple times. The challenge packs are going to make a difference in career mode as well. Once you finish a challenge pack, you’re going to essentially – you’ll get a grade for it. You might get a grade for it – B or an A – and you can simulate that. It will give you fitness and evolution points to buy more perks, attributes – all that stuff. We’ve added a lot more stuff in-game. There’s fan social media challenges where fans are going to ask you to do certain things in fights, and if you accept it and do it, you’ll get more hype and more fans for your upcoming fans. But if you decline it you’re going to have a pissed off fan. There’s also new sponsorship in career mode. There’s PRIME Hydration, Toyo Tires, ESPN+, Venum, they’re all sponsors who will sign on with you and it will give more opportunity to do things. But again, the more time you spend on social media, the less time you’re doing training and that will affect your upcoming fight.”

Has there ever been consideration for a "Dana White mode" or a MyGM style of mode where you run the UFC?

“We’re always looking at opportunities and trying to listen to the community as far as what ideas are resonating with them. We take all of those inputs and try to make the most informed decisions we can to try to appeal to the broadest ideas. We take those ideas as well as a plethora of other ideas from the community and our design council and talk through those and what’s next.”

Is there any chance of a return of PRIDE mode?

“PRIDE mode is not in UFC 5. But we are always talking about where we can take things with the product, from things we can do from our post-launch plans or what we would potentially do for future iterations of the title. But for launch specifically, there is no PRDIE-specific mode in the game.”

Will there be any fouls such as low blows, eye pokes, etc.?

“There are no fouls in UFC 5.”

Will there be a PC version of the game?

“There will not be a PC version of UFC 5.”

Will there be cross-play for online?

“There will not be cross-play for online. With the focus on frostbite for UFC 5 and the additions and upgrades we’ve made with that technological leap, that was our devs team’s main focus for the title.”

What about the way fights are judged? Any adjustments? Can fights end in a draw?

“Yes. Fights can end in a draw this year. The judges can score 10-9, 10-9 and 10-8 to make it a draw, or score 10-10 rounds. We’ve added that.”

Will there be a return of voice chat in online?

“There will not be a return of voice chat unfortunately. No.”

Fight picks

Now available before real-world UFC events, players can make predictions for the main card of every PPV. Players are automatically seeded into Fight Picks leaderboard pools after making their picks, with custom friend leaderboards also accessible. Following the event, top-ranking players on the leaderboard will earn UFC Coins.

Fight week contracts

Fight Week Contracts give players a daily fight offer where they can take on AI opponents under preset gameplay settings. Players can earn in-game currency by showing up and winning, while the difficulty of the contracts increases over the course of the week. The player’s cumulative wins, losses and finishes are tracked in the Contracts tab.

Punch card

Play to earn your way through a set of predetermined rewards, including in-game currency, player profile customizations, created fighter Vanity Items and Alter Egos. In addition, completing Profile Challenges rewards players with XP that levels up their Punch Card’s earning capability.

Online Career Mode

Online Career includes skill-based matchmaking, division progression, and title chases across four divisions. Players can compete with a different Created Fighter in each division, allowing players to showcase multiple character customizations and Vanity Items.

Online fighter evolution

Fighting in Online Career matches earns Evolution Points which can be used to improve your Created Fighter’s attributes, moves and perks. Once a player reaches the level cap for a fighter, they’ll prestige, which will reset their evolution to its starting point for a new fighter but increase the level cap; unlocking additional future moves and perks.

Pre-order game perks

The game’s pre-order offer celebrates the best of mixed martial arts with three of the greatest fighters in the history of combat sports – Fedor Emelianenko, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson.

Pre-order perks will include access to the game three days prior to official release, the addition of Emelianenko, Ali and Tyson to immediate game play, three Bruce Lee Alter Egos (lightweight, featherweight, bantamweight), four Alter Egos for Jon Jones, Israel Adesanya, Alexander Volkanovski and Valentina Shevchenko), an Origins Bundle with Conor McGregor (2013 version), Leon Edwards (2015 version) and 22 Vanity Items, a UFC 30th Anniversary Vainity Bundle, and five Online Career Mode XP Boosts.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie