The UFC octagon has remained empty for far too long, with over 3 years passing since the last entry in EA’s mixed martial arts series. That disappointing drought ends with the release of EA Sports UFC 5, the newest installment that brings the world’s premier MMA organization roaring back to life. Developed once again by EA Vancouver, UFC 5 marks the first current-gen exclusive release for the franchise on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and PC.
Building upon its predecessors, UFC 5 aims to capture the spectacle of championship fights and grueling training regiments through improved visuals, new online modes and subtle but meaningful gameplay tweaks. With over 300 playable fighters across weight classes and an expanded career mode, UFC 5 appears packed with content for MMA devotees and casual fans alike. The question remains – does UFC 5 earn a triumphant victory lap, or does it tap out to its previous iterations? Stick with us as we step into the octagon to see if EA Sports UFC 5 is worth lacing up your gloves for.
After testing UFC 5 extensively, a mixed decision seems appropriate. While the visual overhaul and presentation mimics MMA broadcasts impressively, legacy issues like repetitive career activities and stiff animations still linger. However, novel additions like doctor stoppages and the intuitive new submission system demonstrate steady and satisfying progress for the franchise. UFC 5 may not quite capture the nuance of real-life martial arts, but for virtual fisticuffs it remains a compelling and content-rich option over previous entries. Now let’s delve deeper into the specifics across gameplay, modes and more to see where UFC 5 excels, and where it still requires additional training.
Stepping Into a New Visual Arena
UFC 5’s move to current-gen consoles ushers in a noticeable graphical overhaul, marking the most significant visual leap the series has seen. Powered by the Frostbite engine, UFC 5 displays far superior lighting, textures and character models than its PS4/Xbox One predecessors. The realistic depiction of fighters truly shines here, with painstaking detail applied to elements like skin, hair and even visible vasculature in strained muscles. EA Sports has always touted its “Feel the Fight” mantra, and UFC 5 gets closer to that goal with visuals that mirror broadcast quality.
The venues hosting the virtual throwdowns also showcase impressive fidelity, from the hyper-real Las Vegas arena bathed in glitz to grittier regional gyms. Subtle touches like multi-layered sweat and blood effects make bouts feel increasingly intense and visceral. Even minor cuts gain grimace-inducing focus between rounds. Outside the cage, aspects like pre-match lavish walkouts orlapsed training montages demonstrate solid cinematic flair too.
On the technical side, UFC 5 runs smoothly at 4K resolution and 60 frames-per-second on PS5 and Xbox Series X. The increased frame rate makes action feel snappier compared to the more sluggish 30fps of UFC 4. Loading times have also been slashed drastically thanks to the new hardware, getting players into fights or training instantly. Some hiccups still manifest though, mainly through occasional camera stutters during grappling exchanges or wonky physics glitches after knockouts. But besides those sporadic immersion-breakers, UFC 5 impresses with its revamped visual sheen.
However, some legacy animation problems rooted in past entries linger despite the coat of new-gen paint. The signature movements and styles unique to each fighter impress, but basic attack animations still appear stiff or recycled. Knockout physics can get downright silly at times too, with exaggerated ragdoll contortions. And character models shine during gameplay, but suffer from low-resolution and wildly inaccurate facial textures in menus and modes like Career Mode.
On the whole UFC 5 marks a generous graphical leap over its predecessors, even if some lingering flaws like awkward animations remain. The fighter models and damage effects bring bouts to life like never before, even if some presentation elements come up short. For visuals, UFC 5 earns a split decision – while the improvements are noticeable, judicious tweaking and added polish could make the next entry a first-round knockout.
Let the Bodies Hit the Floor: Audio Design in UFC 5
The sights of UFC 5 impress, but does the game deliver an equally impactful audio experience? The thuds of stiff jabs, roar of raucous crowds and all other octagon sounds combine for an authentic and hard-hitting audio showcase.
The signature sounds of combat come through clearly, with every clean connection of fist on flesh packing apalpable sense of power. Comments from your corner crew help sell the intensity of exchanges too. Even subtle elements like squelches from bloody cuts make you wince. This raw, viscerally pleasing audio draws players into the action seamlessly. However, certain effects like dull body impacts or weak crowd ambience in certain venues undermine the experience somewhat. But overall, UFC 5’s audio design excels at amplifying the immersion of virtual fisticuffs.
The musical accompaniment plays a key supporting role as well. UFC 5 features a soundtrack blending pulsing electronic beats and metal-tinged intensities, from rappers like The Game to mosh pit favorites like Pantera. The selections create fitting ambience whether you’re dominating the octagon or grinding through another grueling training montage. Custom hip hop tracks even play over fight introductions, letting you embellish your virtual persona. However, the default soundtrack leans heavily towards aggressive hard rock that becomes repetitive quickly. Providing genre variety could keep the tunes from going stale as quickly.
Finally, the voice acting performances remain a mixed bag. Commentary from UFC icons like Daniel Cormier can be fittingly insightful, but only for major exchanges as recycled one-liners still dominate. On the plus side, pre-fight interviews finally include full voice overs for opponents rather than just subtitles as in UFC 4. But wooden line reads continue to hamper the dramatic tension these interactions aim to build. At least your endearingly crass coach brings some humor through his impassioned, expletive-laden banter.
While the hard-hitting effects capture octagon action brilliantly, extra tuning is needed for aspects like music and voice work. But pound for pound, UFC 5’s audio provides the punch players expect even if it never truly knocks it out of the park.
Mastering the Meta: Gameplay and Control in UFC 5
Any fighting game lives and dies by the depth of its gameplay systems and controls. On that front, UFC 5 impresses with a layered fighting meta refined through substantial but nuanced changes. Longtime fans will find familiar mechanics to master, but new systems like the overhauled submission system also supply additional fighting dimensions to explore.
At its core, UFC 5 retains the strategic thrust and parry of MMA. Exchanges unfold through combinations of carefully timed strikes, reactive blocks and counters, with grappling, clinches and takedowns mixed in. Moment to moment gameplay remains measured and tactical, forcing observant reads of opponents for openings instead of blind button mashing. The basic inputs for throws, kicks and combos will feel intimately familiar to UFC veterans. So UFC 5 remains approachable for experienced players to quickly grasp, even if over 50 new moves have been added to master like new clinch positions.
For newcomers though, the initial learning curve proves demanding. The complex inputs required for takedowns, submissions and other advanced techniques mean new players face potential frustration or confusion. However, UFC 5 now offers two control schemes – “Standard” simplifies inputs through combinations of triggers, bumpers and sticks. Meanwhile “Legacy” retains the intricate button combinations veterans expect. Standard controls combined with adjustable difficulty settings make UFC 5 the most accessible entry yet for new fans, though mastering Legacy controls remains essential to truly excel.
Speaking of mastery, UFC 5 now rewards players for putting in the work and truly learning a fighter’s moveset through the new evolution system. The more you utilize specific attacks, the more those attacks level up for greater proficiency and damage. This provides a satisfying meta-progression where practice directly strengthens your fighter’s skills, not just arbitrarily assigned stat points. It incentivizes dedicating time to individual fighters rather than hopping between the 300+ roster options at whim.
That expanded roster remains both a blessing and curse. Having a massive stable of fighters like Adesanya, Nurmagomedov and Nunes gives options for dream matchups. But when each fighter boasts 80+ moves and modifiers, memorizing how to use each one effectively becomes nearly impossible. Still, absorbing a fighter’s full repertoire through practice unveils nuances that mirror their real-world style. Optimal use of range for a striker like Adesanya plays differently than endless chain wrestling as a specialist like Usman.
Speaking of grappling, UFC 5’s overhauled submission system also adds a dynamic new layer to ground game dominance. Previous entries used convoluted minigames to escape submissions. Thankfully, these have been replaced with a more legible battle of angles using the right stick. Fighters must now find the proper position to increase pressure on a submission attempt, or switch angles to alleviate it if defending. This redrawn tug-of-war feels far more natural and seamless than stilted minigames interrupting the flow of a fight.
In terms of AI challenge, UFC 5 represents a marked step up from UFC 4. Now, computer-controlled fighters showcase more intelligent defense and counters even on lower settings rather than standing motionless as you wail on them. They effectively evade reckless lunges and punish predictable attack patterns. Yet ramping up to Legendary difficulty reveals the AI’s limits through its tendency to spam clinches endlessly or end fights immediately with rapid submissions. Mastering the improved AI earns a satisfying sense of accomplishment, but human competition is still required to fully test mastery of UFC 5’s refined mechanics and satisfyingly strategic meta.
The Main Event: Modes and Features
UFC 5 seeks to capture the full MMA experience – not just perfecting your ground game, but building your virtual career from unknown amateur to superstar legend across various modes. Alongside expected staples like Career mode, online multiplayer has received expanded attention through new ways to take your custom fighter online and earn prestige.
At its core lies the Career mode, allowing players to craft their own unique UFC hopeful and guide them through the trials of training camps and matches en route to championship glory. Career remains the ultimate MMA fantasy fulfillment, letting you build not just your fighter’s moves but their personality through choices in interviews. While engaging, Career does suffer from repetitive training mini-games and sparring sessions between the actual fights. But once you make it to the UFC, the heightened presentation and sense of progression as you headline major events and primetime fights makes the journey rewarding.
Beyond solo Career, UFC 5 adds Online Career for the first time, synced and connected through EA servers. Here you can take an original fighter into ranked online matches to increase your skill rating against others. It provides all the progression of solo Career with attributes to upgrade through Evolution Points earned from wins. But measuring yourself against human opposition raises the stakes. Even though losses hurt more, defying the odds and climbing the leaderboards proves tremendously gratifying.
If competitive prestige doesn’t appeal, you can just hop into quick fights online too. The wealth of customization for original fighters also applies here, from hairstyles to tattoos. Expect outlandish and meme-worthy creativity from other players. Alternatively, Blitz Battles offer scheduled daily tournaments for players to compete in over a 24 hour period. These scheduled events help focus the online player base into a shared activity rather than diluting the potential matchmaking pool.
For casual play, Couch Play now enables local multiplayer with a friend sharing the couch. And UFC 5 also offers far more customization options for Exhibition fights against the AI such as round limits, rule sets, damage modifiers and more. Experimenting with different settings keeps the action novel. Between the wealth of modes and mutable rulesets, UFC 5 offers no shortage of ways to up the replay value.
In terms of progression, UFC 5 expands the Evolution system for fighter development along with more cosmetic and vanity unlocks. You’ll earn virtual currency through fights to spend on items like emotes.Microtransactions also exist for fast unlocking, but thankfully don’t create any pay-to-win advantages. Everything gameplay-affecting can be earned through skill alone.
While the overall offering of modes hits expected bullet points, small innovations like Online Career demonstrate UFC 5’s ambition to push the franchise forward into the games-as-service era. Some foundations like Career do need revitalization, but the variety and options on display ensure there’s a little something for all virtual MMA enthusiasts.
Squashing the Bugs
With increased complexity comes increased potential for flaws. UFC 5 delivers welcome new content and features, but also suffers from lingering technical quirks that can hamper the experience. However, EA Sports appears committed to smoothing out the rougher edges through patches.
During our time with UFC 5, occasional immersion breaking bugs did manifest at points. The camera proves unreliable in certain positions, wildly swinging around the venue before resettling on the fight. We also encountered some collision and physics oddities, like fighters contorting into unnatural poses following knockouts. Occasionally the controls would also fail to respond promptly, leading to punches whiffing without contact.
However, the most glaring issues surfaced within the menus and modes beyond fighting itself. Career mode highlights the limitations via poorly optimized loading times and low-resolution character models in cutscenes. Meanwhile creating a character presents its own hurdles, with confusing menu navigation. Sometimes hair or tattoos would also unequip themselves mid-creation.
Online modes delivered smooth matchmaking but the asynchronous leaderboards failed to accurately track progress, an issue compounded by server disconnections at launch. These problems clearly illustrate UFC 5 was released in need of additional fine-tuning.
Thankfully, EA Sports has committed to ironing out bugs post-launch. Early patches have already resolved some of the most egregious flaws like crash bugs. And the developers continue targeting camera, physics and presentation issues plaguing matches. The overall package demonstrates its strengths best when technical gremlins don’t interfere.
While UFC 5 would have benefitted from more polish, EA Sports’ ongoing support inspires optimism the experience will keep improving. The solid fighting foundation shines between blemishes. Dedicated patching can elevate UFC 5 to reach its full potential – smoothing out technical flaws is simply the final round after launching the ambitious core product. As long as the developers remain committed to tweaking, the future looks bright for virtual mixed martial arts through EA’s steady support.
Opening the Octagon Gates: Accessibility in UFC 5
Sports games like UFC 5 straddle a fine line between simulating athletic mastery while also remaining approachable for all fans. On accessibility, UFC 5 takes measured but meaningful strides to open its complex fighting systems for both disabled players and interested newcomers. While more options never hurt, UFC 5 does offer multiple ways to tweak the experience and tailor it to your individual needs.
New control schemes remain the most significant addition, with the Standard controls dramatically reducing the input complexity. Manipulating the sticks and triggers to strike, grapple and block proves far more intuitive than memorizing endless button combinations. Adaptive triggers on PS5 controllers allow for variable resistance too when blocking. For the visually impaired, audio cues indicate low health, stamina loss and more to provide essential fight feedback.
Those with cognitive disabilities can also benefit from adjustable fight intros skipping pre-match pageantry and the option to remove screen shake and camera cuts during impacts. For fine motor challenges, toggles allow for simplified submissions, ground transitions and clinch positions mapped to fewer directions. And colorblindness gets accommodations through alternate on-screen prompts.
Octagon accessibility extends through a range of difficulty options as well. From switching off flash KO critical hits to increasing health regeneration, UFC 5 provides customizable levers for anyone to find the sweet spot matching their skill level. Other welcome options include toggling the HUD, auto-blocking and auto-transitions for reduced physical inputs. Combined with extensive controller remapping, these assist settings make UFC 5 the most accessible and tweakable entry for disabled players yet.
However, certain limitations still persist. Navigating menus can prove cumbersome without text-to-speech or screen reader support. Sparring training also lacks difficulty settings during Career mode. So newcomers still face barriers when simulating the dedication needed to go pro. But with a baseline of accommodations now established, hopefully UFC 6 can build on this accessible foundation. For now, UFC 5 succeeds as an inclusive first step to welcome more players into virtual martial arts mastery.
Chasing Greatness: Career Mode Narrative
Past UFC games emphasized multiplayer competition and fantasy match-ups. But UFC 5 puts renewed focus on using its Career mode to tell a memorable underdog story. While fairly formulaic, UFC 5’s Career mode supplies a serviceable narrative skeleton to immerse players in taking their own created fighter from unknown amateur to celebrated UFC legend.
After designing your scrapper, their journey mirrors many MMA icons’ humble origins – battling in backyard Brawls and low-tier promotions to earn a UFC contract. Once brought into the big leagues after Dana White’s Contender Series, you’ll experience the trials and tribulations of clawing up the rankings against established stars. Juggling grueling training camps with the pressure to hype fights and please fans nudges Career closer to a true sports RPG.
Your coach becomes a consistent companion, with veteran actor Bas Rutten reprising his motormouthed role through vulgar but encouraging fight advice. UFC superstar Valentina Shevchenko also guides your ascent with sage wisdom as your image and fanbase grows. Outside the ring, building heated rivalries through callouts and social media chatter makes moving up feel more personal. Even post-fight interviews let you shape responses to hype the next matchup.
The broad Career arc hits familiar notes, but anchoring it around your custom character crafts a bespoke underdog narrative. The expanded fighter customization including tattoos, celebratory emotes and costumes allows your persona to rival the spectacle of real UFC superstars. Once you become champion and headline PPV events, UFC 5’s presentation truly shines in servicing that power fantasy.
However, pacing issues and repetitive training do undermine Career’s strengths at times. The need to grind training mini-games before every match slows momentum considerably. And non-interactive menu text for camp events falls short of true sports storytelling compared to titles like MLB The Show. Still, laying the foundation now gives future UFC games ripe opportunity to evolve Career into a truly cinematic underdog story rather than just a feeder for multiplayer.
The familiar but personal rise from unknown to celebrity in Career mode gives UFC 5 a worthwhile narrative spine absent from past entries. While just the first round, Career shows the rich promise these games hold for memorable sports storytelling.
After extensive rounds spent trading virtual strikes and takedowns, UFC 5 emerges battle-tested. While not quite a flawless victory, EA Vancouver’s latest entry contains noticeable improvements that build on a solid fighting foundation. For faithful UFC fans, or enthusiastic newcomers, UFC 5 supplies plenty of hard-hitting action to get excited about.
The visual overhaul truly stands out, bringing UFC matches to life like never before. Fighter detail and animations make bouts more visceral, even if some legacy issues like stiff movement persist. Audio design also better captures the roar of the octagon through impactful sound effects. And outside of some camera quirks or goofy physics, next-gen polish has raised presentation values considerably.
Gameplay refinements prove significant as well. The redesigned submission system no longer interrupts matches, while the AI provides stiffer challenges even on lower difficulties. The new evolution system rewarding move mastery provides a fulfilling meta-progression loop separate from standard stat gains. And while the wealth of mechanics means overcoming a steep initial learning curve, UFC 5 has become more accessible for newcomers through simplified controls and customization.
The wealth of modes also ensures fighting variety for all interests, be it competitive ranked matches online or in-depth career role-playing. However, upcoming patches to address lingering bugs and glitches will help UFC 5 further realize its potential.
Some legacy problems like repetitive career activities do persist, preventing UFC 5 from true greatness. But the strong technical leap paired with added gameplay nuance ultimately move the franchise forward in positive fashion. Both casual fans and devoted martial arts enthusiasts can find plenty to enjoy in EA Sports UFC 5 thanks to this success in blending cinematic spectacle with strategic fighting depth.
So then, is EA Sports UFC 5 worth stepping into the virtual octagon for? With meaningful improvements across the board, seasoned players have good reason to return. And curious newcomers can discover the appeal of immersive, tactical MMA action. UFC 5 earns its main event spot as a compelling iteration that lives up to its full fighting potential. This round goes to EA Sports.
EA Sports UFC 5
While not revolutionary, EA Sports UFC 5 improves upon the strong foundations of its predecessors through meaningful gameplay additions, improved visuals and expanded career options. Minor legacy issues hold UFC 5 back from true excellence, but the increased accessibility, customization and dedication to an authentic MMA experience make this a rewarding virtual octagon for both veterans and newcomers alike. The enhanced gameplay systems, next-gen graphics overhaul and wealth of modes make UFC 5 a compelling update over UFC 4.
- Improved visuals and graphics, especially on next-gen consoles.
- Expanded roster with over 300 playable fighters.
- Meaningful gameplay additions, such as the overhauled submission system.
- Enhanced accessibility options, making it more inclusive for a wider range of players.
- Varied game modes, including an engaging Career mode and online options.
- Rewarding meta-progression system through the evolution system.
- Realistic and impactful audio design that adds to the immersion.
- Lingering legacy issues like repetitive career activities and stiff animations.
- Occasional technical quirks and bugs that can hamper the experience.
- Some issues with AI behavior on higher difficulties.
- Limited improvement in commentary and voice acting.
- Menu navigation and presentation could be more user-friendly.
- Career mode pacing and repetitive training activities.
- Lack of variety in the default soundtrack.