EA Sports UFC 3 Review – On The Road to Being the G.O.A.T.

UFC 3 is set to release this week but we have already stepped into the octagon. Was it ready for the bell, or should it return to training camp?

Read our review to find out.

The UFC video game franchise has grown quite a bit since it’s first installment and really feels like it’s been around longer than it has. Last year’s release was a decent edition and garnered some pretty good review scores, but was lacking in the career mode area. This years release wanted to change that and the G.O.A.T. career mode in UFC 3 is light years ahead of what was offered in UFC 2.

Before we dive into more on GOAT mode, the base game itself has also seem some major improvements. First thing EA Sports did was to get back in the motion capture ring using their new Real Player Motion tech that captured smoother action from each fighter. Not only that, but when it came to capturing combos EA didn’t just capture a bunch of different strikes to copy and paste together later, but instead captured full combos by a fighter so that those animations would look and feel more natural, and they do. As folks that love a good striker, seeing a smooth three punch combo like a Right hook – Left uppercut – Right hook put someone on the canvas in sweet succession is not only eye pleasing, but satisfying as well.

The controls were revamped a bit as well, but not to the point of making the game feel totally different. Blocking is much easier and transitioning from defense to offense felt much quicker. This gives the stand-up modes a more boxing like feel which comes in handy on a couple of other non-standard UFC modes. More on that later. The ground game hasn’t changed much at all but you can turn on simple a defense that uses button presses instead of analog stick controls. All in all, the controls felt better and easier to use when standing and boxing.

As I said earlier, career mode is light years ahead of last years release. The goal isn’t just to fight and win a championship, the goal is to become the Greatest of all Time (G.O.A.T.). Depending on the difficulty level you choose, this can either be fairly easy to achieve or it could be downright impossible. Once you have achieved it, a new difficulty is unlocked called Legendary that is very unforgiving and keeps you from being able to restart a fight if you got the crap beat out of you.

You’ll start your career out in the WFA, which is like a minor league system that is used to train and evaluate up and coming fighters. EA Sports does use their Gameface technology for UFC 3 if you want a more personalized experience, and it works pretty well. We did run into a problem with the Gameface page loading due to having used it with UFC 2 but finally figured out if we went to the gender selection page of their system it allowed us to start over. The likeness to a real person is pretty uncanny and you can use any person’s image as long as you have front and profile shots.

To start your career you’ll have a couple of fights in the WFA in which to impress Dana White, and depending on how you do, you’ll have a couple of different paths possible for you. Win both fights by KO and you’ll be in the UFC. Win one and lose one and you may find yourself on the UFC reality show vying for a shot in the UFC. Get your butt kicked twice and you’ll probably be asked to keep working at your craft in the WFA. It is also possible to make it to the UFC, only to get your butt kicked back down to the WFA. The career mode isn’t set in stone, and each person’s path may be different depending on your skill level and your results, so don’t expect it to always be a linear path.

Once you make it out of the WFA you’ll have your first rival mouthing off at you on social media. You can respond in several different ways, either being aggressive, passive, of dismissive,  but eventually you’ll have to fight them and that is the key to progression. Each fight is broken down into fight selection, training camp, and then the fight itself. Fight selection isn’t too important until you’ve started to make a name for yourself, and then you’ll need to keep an eye on the stats of your opponents. Even on the easier settings, some of these guys will be able to easily defeat you if their stats are way above yours. Each fight will also list how many weeks will be available for your training camp, so pay attention to that as well.

Once you have a fight selected, you’ll then get to choose a training gym and these are as varied as the available fighting styles you chose from early on. We found that just because you are a striker, that doesn’t mean you should always train in a boxing gym, as you’ll need to be a more balanced fighter if you want to achieve that GOAT status. Make sure you can stand and bang, but at the same time make sure you can defend against those submissions too. The ground game might not be your forte but you better at least be able to defend yourself against someone whose forte is.

Each training camp is broken down into a certain number weeks where each week you’ll have 100 training points to spend on either making your fighter better or more popular. Both areas are important in becoming the GOAT so spread those points wisely. Learning new moves is important but in the grand scheme of things, having more buys for your PPV is a necessity as well. You can also spar with a fighter that will mimic your upcoming opponent and will give you a key to victory. Do this early in your training regimen and you just might be able to learn something that will help you knock the guys head off early, limiting any damage you may incur. Your longevity in the fight game might thank you.

If you need to take a break from your road to GOATness, you can jump right into the octagon in several other modes. Snoop Dogg joins the announcers for a best of 3 Knockout Mode where each fighter has a limited number of hits and no ground game required.  It’s a fun mode but some of Snoop’s comments in the past may have soured some UFC fans toward Snoop. In a more traditional, almost Fight Night mode but with both feet and fists, Stand and Bang uses the game’s health system instead of a point system.

EA Sports also includes an Ultimate Team mode where you can build a fight team based off of playing cards which can be purchased or earned by completing challenges and ranking up. The online portion of the game gives you plenty to see and do, and if you played through the career mode, your skills learned just may come in handy there.

EA Sports UFC 3 is a pretty complete game this year and live roster updates should keep the game fresh and fun for some time to to come. The road to G.O.A.T. is definitely worth your time if you are a UFC fight fan.


EA Sports UFC 3 review code provided by publisher and reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read: What our review scores really mean.