The fighter career mode in UFC 3 provides a fun, easy to use single player campaign that does a solid job of teaching moves/controls. While somewhat bare bones, the career mode in UFC 3 is far and away the best single player MMA campaign to date. The current installment provides a great base that can certainly be expanded upon in UFC 4, or whatever the upcoming UFC video game will ultimately be titled.
In career mode, players start out in the “WFC” and usually get UFC contracts after one or two victories. The game uses a series of rivalries to advance the player through the WFC, the lower rung of the UFC and ultimately, the top 5. Once the rival is defeated, the player moves on.
The player must also balance their time effectively in order to properly prepare for each fight. This must be done while also managing promotion.
Training camps typically last anywhere from 3-to-6 weeks and the player’s fitness level is displayed. Choosing to train attributes gains a couple fitness points with each session while sparring can raise player fitness level by up to 30 points. The player is given 100 points to spend on various activities, training sessions and learning new moves each week.
Injuries can occur due to over-training while going over the maximum fitness level can have a negative effect come fight day. There are also promotion options, though they are rather limited in the beginning.
While the current game’s career mode was a-lot of fun, it gets redundant fast and there is plenty of room for growth. By simply expanding upon several existing concepts in UFC 3, the career mode in UFC 4 has potential to be leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. Here are six ways UFC 4 can improve its career mode.
Dana White’s Contender Series
We’ll start off with something that will almost certainly be included in UFC 4: Dana White’s Contender Series. Launched in July, 2017, DWCS has seen immense popularity. Many of the fights are promoted for free on YouTube and provide great first statements for several upcoming UFC fighters. This includes Sean O’Malley, Ryan Spann, Yorgan De Castro, Sodiq Yusuff and many others.
Given the popularity of Dana White’s Contender Series and the UFC Apex, I’d be shocked if we don’t see it in UFC 4’s career mode.
Improvement on Fighter Progression, Ranking and Retirement
One of the primary issues with the career mode in UFC 3 was that it felt robotic. After a while, career mode just felt like a series of mini games that didn’t mean much. This is due in part to the incredibly generic, bland universe of the single player campaign.
The top fighters in each division don’t seem to retire and the belt hardly ever changes hands. If it does, a predictable fighter takes it. For example, you’ll probably be fighting Khabib for the lightweight belt, but there’s a chance McGregor takes it from him. Either way, the player knows who to prepare for the entire time.
The fighters also don’t age at all. If anything, they only get better over time. Nate Diaz will have high 90’s attributes as late as 2028. The top 5 hardly ever shuffles up and younger fighters never progress.
I wanted to fight at middleweight due to the dearth of prospects in that division (relative to release) and was disappointed to find that they never progress. Adesanya will be 17-1 and not ranked while the game matches the player up with a 48 year-old Michael Bisping, a fighter you KO’d in the first two fights ago. You may just find yourself defending the belt in a trilogy fight against someone you KO’d three times already (sorry Dustin Poirier).
In UFC 4, it would be great to have a more immersive career mode. A few basic tweaks to both fighter progression and regression would go a long way.
Increased Ability to Initiate Rivalries and Select Fights
Another way UFC 4 can cut down on the robotic feel of its predecessor would be an expanded ability to select fights and initiate rivalries. In UFC 3, the player is simply given a rival at each stage of their career. The rivalry fights early on can be a-lot of fun, but there is simply no control over who the rival will be.
Even a slight expansion of the player view on the outside world would do wonders. Being able to see what other fighters are saying and reacting accordingly would be a great feature.
For this to work, the player would need to see progressions of other fighters plus fight outcomes. There needs to be a reason for the rankings based on fighter progression, not a random number generator that only includes 20 names. If this were added, it would be easy for the player to select rivals that make sense for the rankings. Even the basic overview provided in FIFA would work.
The Ability to Change Weight Classes
In UFC 3’s career mode, the only way for the player to change weight classes is to defend their belt four times then win a super-fight with the above class. If the player wins the super fight, they will stay in the heavier division with a “legendary contract”, which is essentially a license to play until you become the GOAT.
In UFC, it would be great if there were an ability to jump weight classes. This would expand upon the prior points, making the game feel more immersive and organic. It would expand upon rivalries and add new variables.
Perhaps there could be an attribute gain or decline based on going up or down in a weight class?
More Engagement/Involvement with Gyms
UFC 3 features several fictional gyms, each specializing in boxing, wrestling, BJJ or kick-boxing. They each include varying tiers of fighters and provide the ability to learn new moves. As the player levels up in the UFC, there are opportunities to learn more high level moves.
The gyms have some level of sophistication to them, at least compared to the rest of the world building. Knowing which fighters are in your gym provides some level of immersion and the player must leave the gym if they want to, or have to face a member somewhere along the line.
There are also ways to earn discounts for each gym. If the player stays with a particular gym for multiple fights, there are options to use weekly training points on loyalty building activities. This includes cleaning the mats, teaching classes and handing out flyers. All simply pressing a button and moving on, I’d like to add, because we certainly don’t need some 2K style, cringe inducing cut-scenes.
Simple expansion upon the gym features would be nice. Perhaps leaving a gym would lead to a high chance of a rivalry with the preceding gym? Maybe there could be rivalries with other gyms where the player attempts to clear them out? These would be simple immersion efforts that could be fun.
Non-linear UFC Progression
Lastly, the career mode in UFC 4 could use some less predictable UFC progression. The randomly dictated rivalry system provides for some ridiculous outcomes, particularly later in the game. For example, the player could be riding a three fight winning streak and still earn a title shot because it’s simply guaranteed.
Fixing this would be an expansion upon prior points in simply cleaning up the game and addressing the robotic feel.