UFC 4: Interview with EA Creative Director Brian Hayes on special characters, career mode, submissions, and more!
We chat with the Creative Director and Producer of EA’s MMA game and talk gameplay, tips and more.
We got the chance to speak with EA Creative Director Brian Hayes for UFC 4, and Producer Nate McDonald about some of our burning questions on UFC 4.
Keep reading for a deep dive into some of UFC 4’s game mechanics, why you shouldn’t panic in submissions, and also how EA are making this the most authentic experience to date
There are a lot of famous faces from boxing and martial arts in the game, can we expect to see any other iconic fighters feature in the future?
BH So the fighters that we have announced are thus far the only ones you can for certain expect.
But those are the kind of acclamations that we’re always interested in exploring but there’s nothing else to announce about any other special characters going to be available in the game.
As you can see, with the inclusion of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, and Bruce Lee has been in the franchise since Day 1, it’s definitely something we enjoy doing, we think the fans enjoy having access to characters like that.
We can’t say that you can expect more, but it’s always something that we look in to.
So this one’s a little more gameplay specific – what would your top tips for winning a match in UFC 4?
BH: After our brief closed beta we did, the biggest tip anybody would tell you is to go for submissions, because people thought they were a little overpowered – but we’re getting on top of that!
For a lot of people, one of the biggest things they fail to recognise is that while mixed martial arts is a fight and is the sport of fighting – this isn’t a fighting game and stamina plays a vital role in your success.
A lot of people continue to throw strikes when their stamina is tanked – it has long-term effects and it has short-term effects in terms of making your more susceptible to damage from a counterstrike etc.
So for new users, the thing to be really aware of is – don’t just go gas pedal to the floor, non-stop action from the sound of the bell to the end of the round, because that’s just a recipe for disaster.
The other thing that I find often helps me, is getting into the habit of watching your opponent on the screen, as opposed to watching your character.
Once you understand what the controls do, just trust that when you hit the button your fighter is going to do what you want. But keep your eye on your opponent, as he’s the one you’re going to need to make reads off of.
You need to see, is he in range for the strike you’re thinking about throwing? Is he in range for that strike I’ve seen him throw?
READ MORE: UFC 4 Gameplay – Everything you need to know
It’s about shifting your focus to seeing what your opponent is doing and reacting, as opposed to watching the work that you’re doing.
NM: Totally, the only thing I would add is that I would definitely encourage people to take a look at the tutorial options that we have in-game, because that will help increase that learning curve.
We have a lot more tutorial options in the product that we’ve had in the past. There’s onboarding into career mode right off the bat, that’s fairly in-depth.
We have a training manual that has over 100 clips with training tutorial, control tips, and we’re going to have other tutorial videos in the game as well.
Amazing – that’s going to be great for me, for sure!
B.H: The trick there is, for everyone out there, and this applies to everything – you know what’s a good idea? Read the instructions!
Very true indeed! So staying with the gameplay, submission defence has been made more accessible, but how do you find a good balance without making it too easy? How easy is it to master now?
The submission defence is probably the bit that people are having a little bit of difficulty picking up, as there is some nuance to it.
The controls themselves are pretty simple, it’s not hard to figure out what to do with the stick or what to do with the button.
The little nuance that people are sort of having trouble with is whether it’s the trigger-based submission game or the stick-based submission game – the faster you move your coloured wedge across the submission game’s mini hub, your wedge will grow in size.
So if you move too fast, you’ll be creating a bigger wedge for your opponent to stay on top of.
Part of the reason we put these things in there is that if you are training in jujitsu, and you get into a dangerous situation, I guarantee you your coach is not going to go, ‘Okay, panic now! Freak out! Just lose your mind, frantically flail as much as you can to get out of the situation.’
Relax and use the technique – that’s where we put our headspace when we added these nuances to the controls.
How is the new career mode more immersive than ever before?
The biggest thing we focused on throughout the career mode trends this year was really trying to give the player more choices, and then to make sure that every one of those choices has consequences, and has an impact on the direction of your career.
Probably the single most obvious example of a new choice that you didn’t have in career mode previously that you have now, is the ability to accept or decline a fight offer from the UFC.
In previous iterations of the game they may have said, ‘Hey, you’ve got a fight offer to face Khabib!’ and you just have to say, ‘well, that sucks for me, guess I’ve got to fight Khabib!’
Whereas now, if that situation were to arise in the UFC or career mode you can say, actually you know what, I’m totally 100% sure I’m not ready to fight Khabib right now.
We do have a mechanic where if you decline too many fights against the UFC they may actually end up saying, well actually you know what, we’re going to sever your contract, you go back down to the minor leagues.
So you have to make those decisions about what fights do you want to take, and when – and what ramifications that can have on your career.
There are also choices in terms of the way you evolve your character’s attributes and abilities, that is actually determined by a new real-time fighter evolution system.
If you want to improve moves, you better start practising them. And if you want to make sure you don’t become too one dimensional as a fighter, you need to actually vary up what you’re doing in fights.
The way you choose to attack your opponent, the strikes you choose to practice actually affect the way your fighter develops throughout their career.
That sounds awesome, you can really create the fighter you want to be…
B.H: And it is very ‘sim’ in its execution as well.
Obviously the thing is when you’re starting off your career, and you’re not the most talented fighter in the world you need to go through that process of – your front kick to the head isn’t that snappy, but if you want it to get any better, you need to keep using it.
It’s the whole ‘working on your weaknesses’ kind of thing.
The new commentary is now recorded with two commentators together. How has this improved commentary for the game?
B.H: One of the big things is that we worked with John Anik and Daniel Cormier, who work a lot together these days.
They’re a duo that has growing chemistry and existing chemistry created from many events together.
The opportunity to work with both of them and to do two-man recording sessions – for various reasons we were never able to do on any prior iteration of the EA Sports UFC series – just allows us to get to a level of authenticity, just organic, fluid back and forth with the commentary.
READ MORE: Pre-Order UFC 4 now for Xbox One and PS4