After scoring the iconic athletes Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor for the cover, EA Sports UFC 2 is out to continue winning players over with five new modes and an even greater sense of realism.
Chief among the new content is a Live Events mode, which ties in with real-world UFC fights. Then there’s Knockout mode, which does away with submissions in favor of straight kickboxing until an opponent falls unconscious — perfect for UFC 2‘s newest special character, Mike Tyson. The famous boxer will be reimagined as an MMA fighter, and appears as two versions: Iron Mike Tyson, at the start of his career, and the more experienced Legendary Mike Tyson.
[a]listdaily talked to Brian Hayes, creative director for UFC 2, about connecting the game to real-world events and what it takes to deliver a knockout game experience.
Tell us about Live Events …
Live Events is a completely new feature, born out of looking at the telemetry from UFC 1, and we saw that more players were playing on weekends when there was a fight. And on those weekends, we saw more usage of the fighters fighting on that card. So, we wanted to make something that would help people engage with real-world events.
We open up a live event when a UFC event comes up, and there are two things you can do. First, you can play it as a fantasy pick ’em game. So, I can make a pick and say, ‘I think Stephen Thompson is going to knock out Johny Hendricks in the first round.’ If Thompson ends up knocking him out in the third round, I get points for predicting the win, but only a certain amount, because I didn’t get the round right. Those points can be used to buy packs for UFC Ultimate Team.
The other thing I can do is make the prediction, then play that round against the (computer). Regardless of what happens in the real-world fight, I get bonus points if I make my prediction happen in the game.
Live mode actually lets you play with the fighters that are in the upcoming event, and when it’s over, you get rewards and can check out leaderboards to see how you stack up against online friends. So, it’s a pretty cool tie-in with what’s happening with the UFC.
Do you have any kind of promotional partnership with the UFC for Live Events?
It’s to be determined, but there’s certainly opportunity. We open up a Live Event a week or two before the actual event happens, so players will have plenty of time to make their picks and predictions. At a very base level, we could give them the data regarding what fans are predicting in a fight that we hope they’d work that into the broadcast. They could talk about the most popular UFC 2 predictions before the fight happens. We could also give them in-game footage of that result as a pre-visual of the fight.
But we are definitely looking at events as they relate to Ultimate Team mode, where the announcer might say, ‘Check out UFC 2 Ultimate Team for the latest move of the night,’ at the end of an event. In a matter of hours, there will be new content and special moves, based on what happened during the event, that will be available for a limited time.
Can you go into more detail about the Ultimate Team mode?
It’s different from Madden, FIFA or NHL Ultimate Team, because this isn’t a team sport. But it lets you create up to five fighters that can become a team in the tradition of MMA teams that train together. Basically, you create a fighter, fight with that fighter, and win or lose, you earn in-game coins for purchasing fight packs.
Inside of these fight packs are new moves to equip your fighter with fighter perks, attribute boosts (consumable items to boost fighter ratings), training and fitness items. There’s a huge catalogue of in-game moves to customize fighters with, along with unique moves based on what happened at a recent UFC event.
As each one of your fighters gets better, your team levels goes up, so you can put more high level moves on your fighter. The other thing is, you don’t have to play online. You can play single-player Ultimate Team, but you’ll be playing CPU-controlled avatars of other users. If you have a full team of five fighters, they’ll earn coins for you if they’re used to fight other people in single player.
Can UFC 2 recreate the 13-second McGregor vs. Aldo fight?
I’ve knocked out people pretty quickly, and finished fights in as few as 22 seconds, but that fight was a one-punch knockout. That’s virtually impossible in the game. The chances of a straight one-punch knockout are about the same as they are in the real UFC, and the only person I’ve seen do it is Conor McGregor.
Maybe one or two other guys have done it, but if you look at how many fights there have been in UFC history, and how many happened in under 15 seconds … you end up with very small odds.
Even with Mike Tyson in the match?
He can finish guys quickly, if he lands punches. Yes, he is devastatingly powerful in this game. He can’t do any takedowns, doesn’t have any submissions and can’t do any kicks, but his punches are the most devastating in the game.
What inspired you to include Mike Tyson in the game?
It’s very similar to the Bruce Lee integration last year. We wanted to include somebody a little bit ‘out there,’ but not too far out there. We try to stay in the realm of famed combat sport athletes. Even though Bruce Lee didn’t fight, there’s nobody else in history who has had a greater impact on martial arts as a discipline and sport.
Mike Tyson is still one of the most recognizable athletes in the world. He was in his heyday right around the time the UFC was starting. So, there was the question of what would have happened if Mike Tyson was at UFC 1 instead of Art Jimmerson — the boxer who came in wearing one glove and got tapped out by Royce Gracie. Would it have gone differently?
Back in the day, everyone was asking the question: ‘Do you think you can take a punch from Mike Tyson?’ So, we decided to bring this to life a little bit. It’s fun to put Mike Tyson in that space, and play a career mode that builds him up not as a boxer, but as a devastating mixed martial artist.
Tyson is also good friends with [UFC president] Dana White and is a huge fan of the UFC. So we thought if we approached him, he’d probably dig it. Sure enough, he did.
Who’s more likely to win the most — Iron Mike Tyson or Legendary Mike Tyson?
Definitely Iron Mike Tyson, because he’s younger, faster and slightly more powerful. Legendary Mike Tyson is more experienced, but in a sport like UFC — where things can be ended in a single punch — Iron Mike Tyson does a little better. But they’re both plenty dangerous.
EA Sports UFC 2 releases on March 15.