Since its launch in early 2018, there’s been nothing more frustrating to players in UFC 3 than the game’s submission system.
Despite attempts to make it easier to understand for players, fans still struggle to not only pull off submissions but escape from them as well. The quadrant system had a chance to work, but it’s clear that a different direction is needed from EA Sports in order to fix a broken system.
Though it’s been the same for the last two games, which has brought a sense of familiarity to many, it’s time for a complete overhaul of the submission system. And, to be honest, that’s really the only way EA Sports will be able to fix it: scrapping it and starting from scratch.
Of course, it’s great to talk about what needs to be done, but what would that new submission system actually look like? How can UFC 4 get it right?
Easy to learn, hard to master
Making submissions feel natural in the video game realm has been the most difficult part of development since MMA games entered the mainstream.
To try and get there with UFC 4, the best thing to do at this point is dumping the quadrant minigame altogether. While it can work when done right, I think players are so over it that they just don’t want to give it another chance in a third game.
For the new system, it should be a case of less is more in UFC 4. Rather than having instances where you could potentially go through four or five stages in a submission, it should be no more than two or three. Though, getting away from the multiple stages altogether is probably a better option.
What UFC 4 needs to do is move away from the submission minigame. Far too often, these breaks take away from the flow of a fight between players. Instead, a system where you have to move the thumbsticks into the correct position before the game locks you into a submission would work better.
With this system, you’d still have control of your fighter which would allow strikes, position changes, and even reversals. All would remain based on joystick movement while in various positions.
As far as advancing towards a submission, moving your thumbsticks in the proper position to transition should be all that’s needed. Again, this isn’t in the form of a mini-game. These are movements that you learn and memorize, not something that’s prompted.
For example, say you want to get someone in an armbar and you have them on the ground, one thing you should have to do is find the perfect movement to get both legs across your opponent’s body. Once done, you’d get a notification of some sort — maybe a quick jolt of vibration in your control — to let you know you’re in the appropriate spot to continue the attempt. From there, you’d again move the sticks to the proper location to lock in the armbar to make your opponent tap out.
UFC 4 escaping shouldn’t be impossible
Making someone tap is all well and good, but that’s just one half of it. What about getting out of an attempt? In UFC 3, it feels like once an AI opponent has you, you’re done. No matter how good you think you are, you’re likely to find yourself being forced to submit.
In UFC 4, the stick positioning system should work both ways. If someone is trying to put you in a Kimura, there should be a position you could find to break out. On top of that, you should be able to try to punch, elbow, knee, or kick your way out. No longer should you be stuck just trying to squirm when someone attempts to submit you.
Finding yourself stuck — or nearly stuck — in the triangle choke? The game should allow you to find your way out with a specific position of the sticks that sees you either attempt to push up and out of it, or, if you are actually locked in, try and stand up and drive a knee into the side of your opponent.
Submissions in UFC 4 should be treated like strikes or anything else in the octagon. Make it rely on your skill and knowledge of the game; not just on something that relies on you to learn how a minigame works.
I know it’s a lot easier said than done, especially as someone with software development experience. However, these developers are the best of the best at what they do, and there’s a reason they’re developing the UFC video games.
What do you want to see from the submission system or gameplay in general from UFC 4? Let us know in the comment section below, and stick with Sports Gamers Online for more on the next EA Sports UFC title.