There’s been rumors as of late about the next Fight Night coming to the PS4 and other current-fen consoles. EA Sports has not commented on the matter but fans are eagerly anticipating an official announcement and keeping their fingers crossed that it happens sooner rather than later. On one hand it’s difficult to be optimistic if you’re a boxing fan considering the sports’ popularity being on a major decline over the past several years, especially with the end of the Mayweather-Pacquiao era. Combine that with the fact that EA Sports landed the license to make UFC games for who knows how many years, and you’d be hard-pressed to find any motives for EA Sports to take a chance on another boxing game rather than focusing their efforts on this day’s premiere combat sport, MMA. On the other hand, EA Sports’ Brizzo Hayes is a devoted boxing fan who resuscitated the Fight Night franchise with Fight Night Round 4 and Fight Night Champion. He’s also a true gamer who unlike most of us, actually has the power and resources to make a boxing game. Boxing fans can only hope that Hayes and the EA Sports brass are brewing up something big for lovers of the Sweet Science. There’s been a significant leap in technology and hardware since Fight Night Champion came out nearly 6 years ago, and there are various aspects of EA Sports UFC that can translate well into a boxing game. There is no reason for EA Sports to not deliver the most realistic boxing game we’ve ever seen. However there are some things that EA must absolutely nail for this to happen. Below is the short list.
Realistic parries. Parries should be nothing more than a defensive maneuver that could potentially disrupt an opponent’s combo. It should in no way, shape or form, render the parried fighter frozen or unable to defend himself. Furthermore, parries should only work against straight punches, not hooks or uppercuts. I’m not saying that no hook or uppercut ever got parried in a boxing match, but it’s a very, very rare exception, not the rule.
Burden on the offense, not the defense. The average connect rates in a professional boxing match fall somewhere 30-35%. That means it’s easier to defend against a punch than it is to land one. The game mechanics should reflect this reality. It should be relatively easier to defend yourself than it is to land a good punch.
Make (solid) punches count more. While it’s imperative that one should work harder to land a good punch, the reward must be greater for landing the punch. Solid punches should weigh more for judging and cause significant damage.
Wider spectrum of connected punches. The concept of glancing blows is not new to the Fight Night series, but it needs to be expanded upon. Either program more connect points or better yet, make hit detection fully physics-based, taking into account the punch type and angle of connection.
Footwork affected by inertia. No more sliding around or changing directions unrealistically. Footwork should have a discernible “pulse” by which a fighter’s movement could be predicted. This still takes into account individual fighter’s foot speed, but at least theoretically, a smarter fighter with slower foot speed can still manage to outmaneuver a quicker foe.
Standing TKO’s. A huge percentage of stoppages occur with the losing fighter still on his feet. EA should add scenarios in which one fighter is taking too much punishment against the ropes barely able or unable to defend himself, prompting the referee to step in and put a halt to the contest.
One-punch KO’s. This is one of the most polarizing features a boxing or MMA game could have. Sore losers on the receiving end of a one-hit KO are always blaming the game and claim to always be the better fighter than the guy who just starched him. “It’s just not fair!” However, one-punch KO’s happen in real life and is the one thing that makes boxing really exciting; anything can happen at any given moment. It rains on the skilled and unskilled alike. Seeing that there are players out there who are oblivious to my sound reasoning and will forever be opposed to one-punch KO’s, the simplest and easy solution is to implement it as a feature that can be toggled off or on.
Stoppages due to injury. Same logic as the one-punch KO’s. Severe cuts and swelling should potentially prompt the ref to stop the fight.
So there you have it for the part one of this series. It doesn’t take much to make the perfect boxing game but for whatever reason, developers always seem to compromise realism thinking it would appeal to the a wider audience. What do you think? What feature(s) do you think are integral to any boxing game? Be sure to leave a comment and keep checking back for part two!