The mystery game in Electronic Arts's sports stable has been confirmed to be the return of mixed martial arts. EA Sports UFC 4 will pick the series back up off the mat this summer on Aug. 14.
The last entry in the UFC series was 2018's EA Sports UFC 3, and it found itself at a bit of a crossroads. Microtransaction issues plagued the game, and the series quietly missed 2019. Returning now in 2020, the next entry in the MMA sim is mere weeks away, and looks to bounce back.
Real Player Motion Technology, or RPMT, is the focus in UFC 4, with locomotion and movement playing a larger role in bouts. The old submission minigame has been eschewed for a "chase the cursor" mechanic similar to modern wrestling games; ground and pound situations have more options for defenders like head movement and counters, and the clinch is intended to be more fluid. Alongside a new dynamic set of striking inputs, where players tap or hold buttons for different strikes, it seems like the idea is to make things much more fluid.
A new commentary team will be joining the in-game broadcast as well, following issues last year with getting Joe Rogan in the booth. Former UFC Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion Daniel "DC" Cormier will provide commentary alongside Jon Anik.
Created fighters can also earn vanity items, which are a variety of cosmetics that can change the way custom fighters look, ranging from simple accessories to some pretty ridiculous headwear. These won't have gameplay effects either, but simply add a little bit of personality to each custom fighter.
Career Mode returns with a surge using the Fighter Evolution mechanic, where a career fighter builds up skills over time depending on the moves you chose to use. Use a lot of punches, or kickboxing moves? You'll get better at them every time you swing, just like The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind. Plenty of competitive modes are in as well, and fighters can freely move between weight classes in Fight Now, Custom Fight Now, Stand and Bang, Knockout, and Tournament modes.
When it comes to microtransactions, the developers affirmed that the cosmetics would all be earnable through in-game play, saying there are no items you can buy that affect gameplay. But in terms of platforms, EA Sports UFC 4 is only planned for the current generation of consoles, with no concrete plans for next-gen upgrades similar to Madden or FIFA.
That will hopefully change over time, as the EA team explores its next-gen options. Still, with only a few weeks to go until its August 14 release date, we won't have to wait long to see if this UFC can close out a generation on its feet or on the mat.