Before EA dumped boxing for ultimate fighting, the Fight Night series was the king of the ring. Now, players who prefer the rope-a-dope to kickboxing can relive some of those glory days on the Xbox One.
Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb recently announced on Twitter that the last (for now) game in the Fight Night series, Fight Night Champion, has been added to the Xbox One backward compatibility program.
— [ 💬 Larry Hryb ] (@majornelson) May 15, 2018
Fight Night Champion probably doesn’t get the credit it deserves for introducing a lot of current trends in EA Sports titles. First of all, it was the first EA title to include a narrative-driven story mode. Champion Mode follows the fictional story of boxer-turned-convict-turned-boxer-again, Andre Bishop, as he punches his way up to a heavyweight championship bout. Sure, the latest FIFA and Madden NFL titles might boast about their story modes, and that they’re better and have higher production value, which is all true, but Fight Night Champion did it first.
Fight Night Champion is perhaps best known for its brutally visceral combat. EA really went above and beyond in creating realistic, dynamic damage models for its virtual boxers in 2011, a mechanic that the EA Sports UFC series continues to benefit from. On top of that, Full Spectrum Punch Control evolved the right-stick controls that would eventually show up in a plethora of EA sports titles.
EA hasn’t released a Fight Night title since Champion came out in 2011. Back in 2013, current EA CEO Andrew Wilson, who at the time was still just the head of EA Sports, said that he could see “a future for Fight Night” but that “UFC is where our fighting focus is.” Five years later, we’re still waiting for a new Fight Night title that will probably never come.