It has been over three years since EA Sports UFC 4 released back in August 2020. EA Sports UFC 5 is the newest title in the series, with an updated roster, new online features, and subtle gameplay changes. It is also the first UFC game that truly harnesses the power of the PS5.
If you played previous UFC games you know what you get, after all the sport stays the same. If never played a UFC game, expect the most in-depth and complex fighting game you will have ever played.
EA Sports UFC 5 Review (PS5)
Octagon Fun On PS5 That Surpasses Its Predecessor With Ease
Let’s start by going over what modes EA Sports UFC 5 offers. The classic solo career mode makes a return where you create your own fighter, go through training camps, and win fights until you become the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of all Time). There are regular quick fights that can be enjoyed against AI opponents on five difficulty settings or a friend with a second controller in couch co-op. For players who don’t want to deal with Jiu-Jitsu and all that other pesky grappling, there are is a “Stand and Bang” mode where it’s all about kickboxing without clinches, takedowns and submissions. Knockout mode features reduced health recovery for more aggressive knockout power. Competitive mode is the classic UFC experience that includes clinches, takedowns and submissions. Simulation mode meanwhile offers more realistic fighter stats that affect stamina and damage.
For quick fights you can pick between three rounds, five rounds, backyard Brawls which are won by dealing the most damage, and Kumite which has only one long 25-minute round and is won by the judges’ decision. As such, between these modes there’s quite a lot of variety and ways to mix up the gameplay.
The roster is absolutely massive too. There are over 300 fighters spread across the 11 weight classes (three for women and eight for men). Attempting to play every fighter once would take days and that doesn’t even begin to get into the details of all their unique move sets. Everyone has their own unique style, perks, special attacks, and specializations. The game captures the fighters’ movement meticulously, making them feel more relatable to their real-world counterpart instead of just being skins over a dummy skeleton. An Israel Adesanya moves very different from a Conor McGregor and EA Sports UFC 5 brings their personalities alive.
Solo Career and AI quick fights can be played completely offline without being connected to the EA Servers. However, if you want to earn profile progress to unlock new cosmetics you will have to be online and connect your PSN to an EA Account (having an EA account is also mandatory to access multiplayer). So if you don’t have internet access you are much more limited in the game modes and can’t earn cosmetic rewards as a result.
On the online front, there is an online career where you create your own fighter. After five placement matches you are assigned a bracket and score based on your performance. Defeating opponents of a higher score increases your overall ranking, and defeating lower-ranked players won’t gain you as many points (but you will lose more points if you lose against a lower-ranked player in turn). This way the game tries to match players of comparable skill levels based on their overall score. Just like in solo career, you can upgrade your own fighter with Evolution Points, but only up to 1000 Evo points total can be used (they can be reset at any time if you want to respec). This allows you to upgrade skills you frequently use, such as more punching strength or more submission offense. The only thing that didn’t work correctly in this mode for us during the review period was the online leaderboard, but this should hopefully get fixed soon.
There is also a ranked championship Mode, where after three wins you get the championship title and must defend it. From our testing, it appears that there can be infinite champions at the same time as you automatically get a title after three consecutive wins without needing to conquer it from another existing champ. So it’s not like Fight Night Round where only 1 player worldwide can hold a title – though again, this might be something that is addressed in a post release update.
Another online mode called “Blitz Battles” is a tournament style mode that changes every 24 hours. It says it requires 64 players but the mode also works when there are only two people searching for a game. The overall goal here is to win up to six rounds in a row to earn the gold trophy. But interestingly, if no other player is available and someone new starts searching in this mode, it automatically bumps that new player to the fifth round or whichever round has another player searching. This keeps the mode more alive and you don’t have to hope for 64 players to enter the tournament. It’s a neat little mode that adds some much needed variety to the online multiplayer experience.
Regular online quick fights meanwhile let you climb a separate leaderboard from ranked championships, though these are basically the same thing but without title fights.
Fight contracts is a semi-online mode where you play against AI to earn coins, which can be spent on cosmetics in the store, with new fights unlocking each day. The online store has cosmetics for sale that you can buy with either the in-game currency or microtransactions (spending real money isn’t mandatory if you get enough in-game coins). As you complete challenges you will increase your punch card level which also handily rewards coins, too.
There is also a new “live service” mode that unlocks in the week leading up to real-world UFC PPVs. We couldn’t test this during the review process as the next pay-per-view event is three weeks away but we’re excited to see how this will work exactly. This mode will allow players to make picks for the real-world UFC PPV fight week and unlock challenges.
In terms of fights and game modes this is the most content-rich UFC game to date.
If you never played a UFC game (or haven’t played one in a while) the controls can be overwhelming at first. With so many moves, plus all the submissions, there is a deep learning curve. Luckily, the solo career does a good job at teaching you the basics through sparring in training camps, while EA Sports UFC 5 also offers a simplified control scheme and assist mode for newcomers. If you don’t want to spend days learning the basics this can be good to get started but if you want to get good you’ll have to use the legacy controls for precise inputs. It takes a long time to master it but that’s part of the charm – just like you don’t become an MMA fighter overnight. Online career mode is still suitable for newcomers as it will try to match you to players of your skill level to keep it fair, but you should practice against legendary difficulty AI beforehand to have a good grasp of all attacks and defenses.
If you are experienced with UFC games, the main selling point is the updated roster of new fighters. On the gameplay front, the biggest change is that there now is doctor stoppage. If you get injured too badly, a doctor will enter the ring to check whether you can continue the fight. This will be indicated by a med-kit icon underneath the health bar that turns from yellow to red the worse the injury gets.
They also added a cinematic replay of fight endings. There are a few weird gameplay “features” though – some fighters behave very sluggish (in general attacks feel slow of all fighters compared to the real world), sometimes the camera does weird movements away from the fighters making it hard to stay focused, and some animations can break or look unnatural. That said, the slow attack speed makes sense to give players enough reaction time to dodge and counter, and camera settings can be changed. The AI seems better than in older games, at least on legendary difficulty. While the old “takedown and submission” strategy still works to win most fights in 30-60 seconds, the AI on legendary does a good job at blocking such attempts. In some previous UFC games it was too easy to trick the AI which has been improved.
Overall, EA Sports UFC 5 is very impressive. The sheer amount of fighters and the amount of detail put into all of them is remarkable. You can tell the developers are MMA fans and did the sport justice with this game. It’s the most complex EA Sports game, challenging but satisfying.
EA Sports UFC 5 releases for PS5 in early access on October 24, 2023, with a full release scheduled for October 27, 2023.
Review code kindly provided by EA