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UFC 5 to release in October 2023, first series entry to get mature rating

UFC 5 will be bloodier and more authentic than any previous title
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If the sentence “We have about 64,000 combinations of blood, bruises, and swelling to show damage” is in any way speaking to you, then you’ll be stoked about what EA Sports has to offer for UFC 5. The fighting game will be released for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S on October 27, 2023, and made the jump to EA’s Frostbite engine, which in turn unlocked a whole new array of possibilities – and the dev team made good use of the technical upgrade.

The athlete models in UFC 5 look decidedly more realistic than in previous iterations, both in their pristine and undamaged state as well as when being beaten up and bloody. That more authentic depiction of violence has earned the game a mature rating for the first time in the series’ history. The developers stress that they aren’t glorifying the violence, but merely showing what fans see on TV when they watch a fight. Some of the most egregious wounds, like compound fractures, won’t be featured in the game – that’d be a step too far even under the new guideline of making everything as real as possible. Still, pools of blood will be visible on the floor of the ring and punches will lead to blood being sprayed into the air, settling on clothes and skin of both athletes.

UFC 5 Deluxe Edition cover.

Israel Adesanya on the UFC 5 Deluxe Edition cover.

Speaking of real, the developers were very proud to show off the strand-based hair technology they got to use, making athletes’ scalps all the more beautiful. Expect this tech to come to other EA Sports games in the future as well, because it does look pretty slick. Combined with better facial animations and eye shading, the protagonists have never been more life-like.

Back to the main thing, though: Punching other people. When you do, the damage you deal to them has a lot of impact on the fight. A cut above an athlete’s left eye that swells up makes them more vulnerable on that side, damage to their leg will hinder their movement, and so on. Doctors may even come into the ring and end a fight if there is too much damage. Commentators will give the players hints as to how severe the damage on the fighters in the cage currently is and what effects this may have on them – so if they’re indicating that a doctor may have to show up soon, you better get your opponent to tap out, lest you may lose your victory.

All of those visual and technical changes are especially visible in the slow-mo replays, which go a long way to show the power of your attacks – including the spraying of blood and sweat and a realistic body deformation upon impact.

Massive changes have been made to how submissions work in the game. Gone are the days of submission mini-games. You now have to beat your opponent by spotting their counters to what you’re doing and reacting accordingly, leading to a smoothly animated back and forth battle like the one you see in real life. Technique flows into technique one flick of the stick at a time until one side is unable to counter.

UFC 5 will feature a Career Mode with the usual from zero to hero storyline, in which you work your way up to become the champion. Valentina Shevchenko, one the game’s cover stars alongside Alexander Volkanovski and Israel Adesanya, was cast for a role in Career Mode, showing players around in the UFC training center – a nice addition.

There is also the Online Career Mode featuring four different divisions and skill-based matchmaking for those who want to prove themselves in multiplayer. You can create separate characters for each of the divisions, showcasing all of your vanity items and role-playing different personalities. Multiplayer is restricted to created characters vs. created characters. You’ll gain more evolution points over time as you compete, enabling you to upgrade your athletes. Once you reach the maximum level on a fighter, you can enter prestige mode and reset their points, which unlocks additional paths to take.

Like other EA Sports properties have done in recent times, UFC 5 will be closely connected with the real sport it represents. Its main menu will change based on the upcoming UFC event, there will be challenges themed around them, which includes rewards like alter ego versions of fighters and vanity items, and EA Sports plans on doing pick’em games for cards as well.

Daily Contracts, which allow players to earn in-game currency, get harder throughout the week and will also be themed around upcoming real-life events when possible. Best of all, players will be able to enter these fights with one click from the main menu, making the process super easy.

UFC 5 Muhammad Ali screenshot.

Muhammad Ali is one of UFC 5's pre-order bonuses.

Pre-ordering the game nets you some exclusive fighters in the form of Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, alter egos of Bruce Lee, and Fedor Emelianenko – an inclusion that’s certainly a no-brainer looking at it from a sports perspective alone, but that must be questioned for other reasons.

Emelianenko has openly supported Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea as well as its barbaric invasion of Ukraine, accusing the Ukrainian government of being fascists. It’s a bit surprising that EA Sports wants to associate itself with all that baggage. Shortly after the invasion, the studio threw out all Russian teams from FIFA in solidarity with Ukraine – is that as far as its solidarity goes? If so, that’s very disappointing indeed. No matter how important of a status he had as an athlete, Emelianenko today supports trampling international law and committing war crimes – he’s not someone worthy of being celebrated or glorified.

UFC 5 will be out on October 27, 2023, coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. There are no plans for PS4 or Xbox One support, the developers stated, due to the visual and technical upgrades made to the game compared to its predecessors. The Deluxe Edition comes with a three-day early access period, starting on October 24, 2023.