Review – EA Sports UFC 3

It’s been 2 years since UFC 2 and yet again we get a cover with Conor McGregor. However, this time he isn’t sharing it with anyone. Conor has pretty much stolen the spotlight with his skill and personality and it’s not likely to change any time soon. Unfortunately, this also applies to UFC 3. While there are definitely some improvements to this entry, it still retains a lot of its issues and feels much like its previous game.

One of the improvements they made that I appreciate is a more involved career mode. They incorporated a lot of things from UFC like ‘UFC Minute’ and Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight. You start off by creating a character and begin as a complete rookie in the World Fighting Alliance. Once you start gaining some fame, Dana White and crew from his (actual real show) t.v. series Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight come to watch you. They have him commentating your fight and everything, making it feel like an episode of the show.

Fight hype

Facing off for the fight promo.

If you impress Dana with your fight, he’ll offer you a contract and this is where it really starts. At this point you get to actually pick your upcoming contracts, being able to scout your opponents’ skills. You’ll be able to join a gym to improve and learn new skills, use your time to advertise your fight to gain more hype and fans to earn more money. There’s a large focus on being the G.O.A.T and to do that you must be just as good of a promoter as a fighter. As you rise in rank you’ll gain rivals to fight and get ‘UFC Minute’ coverage, you’ll need to attend promos and phone calls as well. The presentation of everything is very well done.

As a MMA fighter you will need to hone your skills in more than one area, so joining a few gyms and learning their special moves and skills is ideal. You aren’t tied to one gym, but you will lose any discount bonuses you have earned when you switch. During your training weeks you can choose to directly train your attributes; toughness, power, take-down defense, stamina, grappling, etc. You’ll also be able to spar, which will give you a hint about your opponent’s weakness. You’ll be able to train with other members of the gym to improve skills, and this is where you will learn and upgrade your actual move sets and gain additional perks to apply to your character. There’s also a fitness level you’ll need to pay attention to while you train. You obtain minor injuries if you over train, and thereby lower your fitness level. Depending on your fitness level you can go into your fight with some stamina issues.

Ground and Pound

Ground and pound finish

Outside of career mode, there are plenty of other things you can do. Modes like ‘Stand and Bang’ where you only box, Submission Showdown, and custom quick modes where you can alter health and stamina settings to create your own fun matches. If you’re looking to raise the stakes there is a bracket-based tournament mode that preserves your character’s health between fights. All of these modes are very fun playing with a couple buddies online or in couch Multiplayer.

Also added is EA Sports infamous Ultimate Team Mode. This plays largely the same as all the others if you’re familiar with them. Essentially you open card packs to gain fighters and perks to apply to the fighters. You then use the fighters to raise the ranks of the Lightweight, Middleweight, Heavyweight and Women’s Bantamweight. Each one of these fighters can rise to the rank of champion in each of their weight classes, but they share the same perks, moves, fame and money. You unlock new moves, perks and such through opening up more card packs which can be bought with in-game or real currency. This is a big issue with the Ultimate Team, especially in this game. Not only can you out right buy better character packs, but you also get specific perks you can add to higher class characters. Unlike Madden or Fifa where you just unlock better players, UFC 3 allows you to do the same, but make them even more powerful with stat perks. The perks also seem more noticeable in a 1v1 fighter than something like Madden or Fifa where there is a whole team to utilize. While it does seem balanced with the in-game currency (buying the highest card pack only takes 3 winning matches worth), the fact that the cards have such drastic effects on the characters creates unfair advantages online.

Ultimate Team Leveling Up

Leveling up a character in Ultimate Team Mode.

The gameplay remains largely the same as the previous game. The animations for each character are more life like and accurate to their real life counter part. However, it still retains some stiff and awkward movements. For example, attempting a roundhouse kick to an opponent’s head when they are up close will result in some body disfigurement. The ground game hasn’t changed and neither has the submission mini-game. Wrestling still remains stiff, and when you get a full mount and you posture up for some ground and pound there are no options to burn through stamina with a flurry of fast punches. You’ll still slowly punch out the opponent like a robot. However, I did notice less physics issues than the first game. Performing a quick leg kick when the opponent goes for a roundhouse will trip them up and they’ll fall realistically. There are still some weird things where a glitch will happen and an arm will spas out, but it’ a lot less often when the previous game.

The graphics are largely improved. Just about every UFC fighter has been modeled perfectly, not just the big cover stars. Even the player created characters are great looking. What really impressed me is the accuracy in the muscle motion and flexing. The character models, when attacking or receiving an attack, will flex and the portion of the body reacts accordingly. For instance throwing a punch will result in seeing muscle flexing definition in the shoulders, back and chest. Kicks will stiffen up the calves and thighs, and it’s very impressive looking as a spectator or watching replays. I do wish they’d bring back more facial animations like in Fight Night where the face would ripple with a heavy punch.


The sound is also delivered well, despite the usual announcer issues. The octagon and arena chatter, footwork, attack impacts, and announcers are all high quality. The issue is certain sayings will be said at the wrong time. For example, if there is a flurry of attacks and the opponent is staggered only for a moment and recover quickly, Joe Rogan will still say “Oh! What a massive hit, he may be out right now.” Other than that, the only other issue is in the career mode where there are the noticeable name omissions during announcing. When it comes to music, the soundtrack is simply lacking.


EA Sports UFC 3 has gotten the full treatment of features with this entry, which is a nice step up from the previous game. It boasts a nice boost in visuals, animations, physics, and modes. However, this entry still hasn’t refined the gameplay perfectly. A lot of the issues are still there, even if they are now less frequent. And the pay-to-win aspect of a 1v1 fighter is very disappointing, especially to the level of upgrading they introduced into this one. Luckily the pay-to-win aspect is in just one mode, but the downside is it happens to be one of the more intriguing modes in the EA Sports games. With the presentation upgrades made in this game, hopefully they can really refine and make meaningful changes to gameplay in the next installment.

Graphics: 9.5

Character models, muscle flexes, the Octagon, arenas and even the crowd are all beautiful.

Gameplay: 7.0

While mildly improved with the physics, a lot of the issues from past installments still remain.

Sound: 8.0

Overall, the sound and voiceover is very well done, besides some poor line implementations and a weak soundtrack.

Fun Factor: 7.5

The improvements in the career mode are very much welcome, as are the extra modes. However, the Ultimate Team Mode is a let down.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Reviewed on Xbox One.
EA Sports UFC 3 is available now on Xbox One and PS4.