UFC 3 release date, trailers, gameplay preview and latest news

We’ve finally had some hands-on time with EA’s next entry in the sports sim, EA Sports UFC 3, here’s everything you need to know about the game.

UFC 3 release date – When’s it out?

EA Sports UFC 3 launches on February 2, 2018 on PS4 and Xbox One. It takes advantage of the additional power from PS4 Pro and Xbox One X in a very bizarre way, which we’ll come to later.

UFC 3 trailer – How’s it look?

You can give the latest trailer for UFC 3 a look below:

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UFC 3 hands-on: 5 things you need to know

After a tumultuous year in the world of MMA – which has seen its biggest star try his green-gloved hands at boxing, had marquee names popping steroids left, right and center, and now features so many interim champions it feels like you can win a belt just by showing up to the arena – 2018 is going to be a crucially important year for the UFC.

The Vegas-based combat juggernaut needs Conor McGregor back in the eight-sided cage. It needs to figure out just what is going on in the welterweight, lightweight, middleweight and light-heavyweight divisions. Plus, it needs EA (which has had quite a year itself) to deliver the goods with EA UFC 3.

Having spent time clattering jaws and squeezing arteries in the recent closed beta, here are five things we’ve learned about EA UFC 3, ahead of its February 2018 release.

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New Striking

By far the biggest change from EA’s first two UFC games is in the striking department. The team has completely redesigned striking, moving away from the directional-based output of prior years into something resembling a cross between Tekken and a Rubik’s cube.

At first, it’s bewildering – simply throwing a jab, cross, hook, uppercut combo requires eight different buttons. But quickly, it begins to make sense. Now you can move in any direction while firing off strikes, so you can slide laterally while throwing a straight, or move forward with uppercuts.

Striking carries a far greater risk and reward this year. Clean shots will knock your opponent into the ‘rocked’ state far more regularly than before, while spamming heavy kicks or daft spinning attacks will drain your stamina quicker than trying to keep up with a Diaz brother in a Triathlon.

It’s clear that technical, patient striking will be the most successful – although with this being MMA, you can always shut your eyes and wing a couple of overhands at your opponent’s nose and get a lucky KO.

Head Movement

Complementing the new tactical striking is a stick entirely dedicated to head and shoulder movement. The right stick allows you to slip your dome off the center line, before landing a crushing counter.

Playing against online opponents in the beta, it’s been immensely satisfying to wait for a barrage of hooks, duck under a couple, and then return with the kind of uppercut that would make Ryu and Ken nod their heads in admiration.

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Strangely, you’re unable to move your head with the guard up – presumably a balancing decision – so it’s risky if you mis-time it. No one wants to duck head-first into a Barbosa flying knee, or slip smoothly right into the path of McGregor’s piston-like left hand.

It is possible to recreate that amazing Anderson Silva Matrix moment, though – if you’re deft enough with that stick. Just make sure you don’t answer the door when USADA comes knocking.

Ultimate Team

If there’s one universal truth on this earth, it’s that EA loves loot boxes. Maybe a little less so since Star Wars Battlefront 2 caused a $3 billion crash in its stock price – but don’t expect those shiny, dazzling little packs of nonsense to go anywhere soon.

Ultimate Team players in FIFA have been dealing with this for years, and don’t seem to mind, so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to see UT return for UFC 3. Albeit with more depth, more customisation, and potentially, more ways to spend (ugh) real money.

Given that MMA is an individual sport, the entire concept of Ultimate Team seems a bit alien for a UFC game. However, when it comes to microtransactions, like life, EA finds a way.

In truth, it’s all rather smart. You enter the online fray (or single player, if that’s how you want to roll) with a roster of four fighters across four weight classes. In EA UFC 3, these fighters can be created by you, or roster guys and gals that you win in packs.

From there, you add moves, boost and perks, effectively recreating your favourite fighters in your own image. It’s odd at first, seeing a Tony Ferguson without a takedown, but expect to see high-level fighters competing most of the time within a couple of weeks of release, much like FUT’s all-star XIs.

Resolution/Frame rate

Now here’s an unusual one. EA UFC runs at 60FPS on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, but 30FPS on the vanilla consoles, in what must be a first for a fighting game. This even translates to online. So, if you’re on the lesser tech then you could be battling against someone with a higher frame rate.

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The newer machines also let you up the resolution to an unspecified level – let’s just call it 4K – and drop the frame rate back down to 30. For me, though, the boost in visual clarity is wasted since the animation just feels choppier.

However, importantly, I didn’t notice a difference in response time during the actual fights, which is vital for online play.

Mannerisms
The original EA UFC suffered in capturing the personality of the sport, and while its sequel did a better job – with some signature taunts and a few animations – EA UFC 3 takes this to a completely different level. Eddie Alvarez plods forward with his shoulders raised, ready to take a couple and give a couple back. McGregor stands tall and rangy, slipping punches and just slightly overreaching on that classic left straight. And best of all, if you wrap someone up in a triangle with Nate Diaz, he flexes his skinny arms and throws up the double fingers, replicating his all-time moment against the long-forgotten Kurt Pellegrino.

I eagerly await Robert Whittaker’s bruising head kicks, Amanda Nunes’ stone-fisted hooks, and Jon Jones’ ‘running away from the scene of a crime’ animations in the final game.

With a couple more months until release, UFC 3 is shaping up to be a tidy if not mind-blowing advancement. Sadly, the grappling remains largely unchanged – presumably we’ll wait for UFC 4 for that – and there are currently some issues with submissions being hugely overpowered. But it’s safe to assume these will be ironed out before release.

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