If you’ve been paying attention to recent news, by now you probably aren’t surprised to learn about new games having microtransactions or pay-to-win schemes, especially if those games are published by Electronic Arts. Thanks to the uproar from Star Wars fans about the egregious progression system and loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront 2, more scrutiny is being applied to other games published by the company and its competitors, and the next titles in everyone’s sights is UFC 3.
The game recently had an invite-only beta, and the intention was to test the multiplayer matchmaking services and gather some early feedback from returning UFC fans. Well, someone from inside EA Sports didn’t get the memo about the loot box controversy, and UFC 3 is peppered with microtransactions and a ruthlessly efficient pay-to-win system.
According to reports from Astute Gaming, UFC 3’s reliance on microtransactions in the current beta permeates through the entire system. What differentiates UFC 3 from previous titles is a massively overhauled animation system that allows for deeper combat strategies and gives the characters unique move sets and abilities. This system is augmented with the game’s microtransaction model. See the excerpt from Asute’s article below:
Every single technique, ability, fighter, and stat roll, is entirely acquired and upgraded through the loot box system. A brand-new player fresh out of the tutorials, can dump $1,000 into the game, acquire the rarest loot drops and immediately jump into online competition with a beastly custom fighter that has an exceedingly large health pool, vastly improved endurance, and substantially stronger strikes than the average player who simply pays the $60 price of admission. The higher the rarity of the item, the more significant the improvement overall.
Pressing the square button to throw a punch at an opponent, quite literally the simplest and most obvious mechanic in an MMA game, perfectly exemplifies the absurdity of the microtransactions in question. A base level jab will do minimal damage to online opponents, however a fighter that purchases a loot box and acquires a five-star rarity level jab, will not only have a more efficient and powerful technique in combat, but will also be treated to a host of stat increases in all regards, making their player undeniably better in every scenario.
If that isn’t enough to make you mad, there’s more. Some fighters in the game’s Ultimate Team mode (copied from FIFA’s system) can only be obtained through the Ultimate Team mode, and have higher base stats and abilities than the regular fighters that can be unlocked as you play. In addition, microtransactions are the only means of acquiring perks and boosts, which means that even someone playing as Ronda Rousey in an online match will lose to someone with Holly Holm, provided they spent money on health points and a few perks. Perks last throughout a match and give players a tangible advantage in combat. Boosts are temporary, but give you more endurance and durability to ensure a win.
The rest of the game’s sins in the beta would probably be enough to sink its scores in proper reviews. There’s a large amount of input delay, giving players enough time to make a sandwich between combos, which makes combos more difficult to pull off because of the timing. The fighting itself has been dumbed down and there are no viable defensive strategies. The AI is also said to be rigid and dumb. Keep in mind that this is still in beta, and the game’s launch is set for 2 February 2018 – which is enough time to fix the niggles and control issues.
But is it enough time to fix the PR nightmare when it comes to loot boxes, and will EA decide to change things before launch to avoid another fallout? Time will tell.
Until then, I wouldn’t suggest pre-ordering this game.