‘EA Sports UFC 2’: Preview of what’s new and interesting

After nearly two years away from the virtual cage, MMA’s top gaming franchise is ready to defend its crown. “EA Sports UFC 2” will release on March 15 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

amNewYork spent some hands-on time in the company of creative director Brian Hayes with a late build of the game. There’s plenty new in this installment of the franchise, but here are a few of our favorite upgrades.

Overhauled grappling

The ground game has been the most frustrating aspect of MMA games for a long time, both for people who appreciate grappling and those who generally could care less. “UFC 2” may finally have found the least annoying system yet.

The new “dynamic grappling” offers a HUD during ground exchanges that displays transition options. Both players can attempt to advance position by simply holding a direction on the right analog stick. Fighter ratings and the timing of player input help determine who wins the battle.

The system is far simpler and easier to understand than any that came before, and Hayes touted that it helped teach test users grappling jargon.

Knockout mode

EA Sports may have hit the nail on the head with this mode that should be a blast, both with a group of friends and while casually playing online.

As the name implies, this all-new mode is all about scoring brutal KOs. This mode essentially turns bouts into kickboxing matches with 4-ounce gloves. Each player has health points that deplete with each landed strike. When all hit points are gone, you hit the mat hard.

Matches go quickly, and it’s remarkable how much a match against a good player — such as the game’s creative director — can resemble the way a strategic striking battle looks in real MMA bouts. Standing and trading may not be the most efficient way to win.

The mode is unlikely to quell demand for the return of EA Sports’ “Fight Night” boxing franchise, but it’s a fun alternative to full-on MMA matches.


Custom events make their return to UFC games after EA Sports’ first entry omitted them from the 2014 release, but a new type of event mode is even more intriguing.

Hayes cited research that gamers were more active on weekends featuring big UFC events, so “UFC 2” will offer live events that mirror those set to take place on a particular weekend. Thanks to a massive 250-plus fighter roster, it will be easier than ever to set up these events to accurately match the real-life action.

But the mode goes beyond simply playing a preprogrammed fight card. Gamers now can submit predictions for how the real-life fights will go in order to earn points used in the new UFC Ultimate Team mode.

It’s an interesting twist to a mode that usually might be only geared toward die-hard UFC fans, but now can be a useful tool in improving a player’s Ultimate Team — which involves assembling a fight camp of sorts and applying upgrades to custom fighters.