With its release on August 14, the much-hyped UFC 4 had fans hoping that there would be a series of great improvements on its predecessor that was released in early 2018. Unfortunately, the UFC series seems to be taking notes from the Madden or 2K series where you basically get the same game every year with some mostly inconsequential game mechanic changes.
While fans were hoping for a whole new game the only significant changes made were the grappling mechanics, the camera movement and the fighter rating system. If anything the developers ignored player calls for more nuanced game mechanics, so the more advanced players could shine and instead made the game much more simple. Rather than being able to use specific ground moves such as sweeps and reversals, the UFC grappling mechanics were simplified down to only three options at any position: Getup, Submit and Ground and Pound. Each move getting you closer to said result. While I appreciate their update to the clinching game, where the movement in the clinch felt very wooden in UFC 3, they, again, removed clinching positions in favor of making the few animations they had more complex.
In terms of the game modes, they did update the career mode and made the narrative much less linear than the first game and also allowed the player much more control on how they develop their created fighters ratings and skills. This was the best update in the game because if you played the Career Mode in UFC 3 once you have no need to play it again, in UFC 4 there are more builds to choose from and you can actually take part in your fighter’s training and drills, so you can grow as a player along with your fighter. Unfortunately, the game failed to make such drastic improvements to other game modes and the quick fight, as well as online competition options, remain relatively unchanged.
This game feels more like the developers knowing that they should put out another installment of the series rather than having a fully fleshed-out plan as to how they were going to make it fresh and different from its predecessors. Here’s hoping that it is a long time until UFC 5, so the series can avoid rereleasing the same game in the vein of other major sports game series.