Steel City Interactive released new gameplay footage on Thursday, October 13th of the studio’s launch title, Undisputed. New gameplay means we are moving one step closer to a final product and, hopefully, a final launch. Nonetheless, there is about three minutes’ worth of gameplay to see – here are our thoughts.
Undisputed Gameplay Thoughts & Reactions
Undisputed Gameplay Thoughts
The gameplay clip is three minutes long and features boxer Sunny Edwards against Hopey Price. The fighters exchange dozens of combinations, showing off the core fight engine(s) for the second time in two months.
What I like about the footage is that it showcases a number of components that go into the game’s fight engine. So many things have to go right for an engine to flow. First, the exchanges in the pocket show off minor collision detection improvements. Next, the in-ring game flow is excellent. The sense of spacing in the ring looks appropriately scaled. As a result, the fighters make use of a good amount of the ring, working their feet for the right angles. It may sound subtle, but this is the heart of boxing itself.
A fighter like Lomanchenko uses every foot plant, weave, and every inch of the mat in a calculative manner. If SCI can deliver us a game that allows pivots with lead-foot precision, then we are in for a treat. The gameplay video communicates beautiful in-ring choreography – how the fight performance plays out – and I am very encouraged.
“The gameplay video communicates beautiful in-ring choreography – how the fight performance plays out – and I am very encouraged.”
Undisputed Gameplay Thoughts: Physics and Camera Logic
Playing off that theme, the momentum and physics look similar to the previous builds that I’ve applauded. The Spring 2022 videos stand out gameplaywise, and we look to be back on that track. The fighters’ lower halves are moving light. Comparatively, Fight Night Champion had a mechanic to lead-foot pivot, and it was occasionally useful but difficult to pull off. I’m curious how difficult it will be to execute in Undisputed. I did not see Lomanchenko-style pivoting in the latest video, but SCI has mentioned it so there is an intention to incorporate it. Nonetheless, there is some quality boxing going on in the pocket, with added realism found in punches that miss.
Continuing, the different fighting styles and speed of the fighters undoubtedly stands out over the last few videos. We are getting a look at boxers being mixed and matched across weight classes. The lighter boxers are moving with a feathery light pace. Consequently, the camera logic is hard at work, tracking the angles as it deems appropriate. It looks like a quality-coded camera system, as opposed to what we just saw launched in PGA Tour 2K23. Camera logic is vital in a game where each opening can tip the scales of a fight.
The damage system is not active in the build showcased. I would like to see how that works in real-time, as it can influence fight strategy heavily. Conversely, the heart rate and stamina biometers are on full display. They give us a sense of how the game will track and tune ratings in real-time based on the two biomarkers. I especially like the heart rate monitor. Whereas Fight Night Champion delivered a heart rate by the pulsating rumble in the controller, Undisputed is giving us an ECG-like visual. If the ECG is combined with a rumble, then we will be cooking with a neat tool to track our fighter’s high-intensity exchanges.
Undisputed Gameplay Thoughts: Visuals and Control Scheme
The graphics and framerate look slick, especially with the lighting reflections going on in the ring. The colors are rich and saturated. Moreover, the exposure levels to the arena lighting have been adapted to give us a Friday Night Lights kind of feel. You’ll notice an ultra-bright white light center ring, yet it is soft enough to not wash out colors. There is a hint of motion blur applied to the blazing quick jabs; I think it is also applied to the head rocks, where the head snaps left or right. The shadows are excellent. Altogether, the subtle details are stacking nicely.
Lastly, I believe the game will play fundamentally sound. So far, I think the game will follow in Fight Night’s shadow control-wise, as I have spoken about. There is no need to reinvent the wheel for the core control scheme(s). Considering we are playing on similar controllers from the last two generations, Undisputed looks a feels like a refresh of Fight Night gameplay, in 2022. And I’m perfectly happy to see that.
The one recommendation is that SCI can make use of the rumble features and adaptive feedback triggers between Sony and Microsoft’s advanced controllers. Titles that make use of this feedback elevate game experiences. Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon use the localized rumble response (right or left trigger) beautifully. This type of feedback creates a tactile feel for the game and can immerse players through touch, as opposed to relying heavily on audio-visual immersion. Forza changed the way I think about controller feedback and I cannot go back to games without advanced rumble responses.
In all, I’m excited to see the game back on track. Perhaps our expectations on the release date will need to be adjusted now that the game has taken on a AAA path. As long as SCI continues to demonstrate its capabilities in videos like this, it will be worth it in the end.
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