When it comes to boxing, my knowledge extends to watching fights, appreciating when good punches are thrown, and waiting with curiosity to see who’ll be dubbed the winner at the end. I’m less familiar with the intricacy of how scoring works, and how truly complex fights can be.
While playing Undisputed at PAX East 2023, however, the game presented itself as a fun way for me to potentially bridge that knowledge gap. The attention to detail in Undisputed and focus on giving players an accurate experience as opposed to something more arcade-y shines, especially with players being involved in much of the process from beginning to end. Before jumping into a match, it was explained to me that I could select either men’s or women’s boxing.
Selecting men’s boxing, the options expanded to different playable boxers categorized by weight classes. After weighing my options, I ultimately chose Oleksandr Usyk as my fighter from the game’s heavyweight class. The developer showing me the game selected Tyson Fury, and this made for an interesting match given the size difference between both boxers. Fury felt like he had a bit more reach with his longer arms, while Uysk felt lighter and more nimble on his feet.
Also, the pairing was interesting because of how it ties to matches in real life, with the developer talking about recent match difficulties between Usyk and Fury. That includes how talks have been tricky to say the least in terms of a proposed undisputed heavyweight championship fight between the two. For those who’d love to see the two fight it out and don’t want to wait until the two come to terms, or don’t (as seems the most likely outcome given recent developments), the opportunity to see both in the same ring is always available in Undisputed.
At the start of the match, the mechanics of the game were explained to me in detail, including footwork and the ability to move all around the ring rather than just side to side. Blocking isn’t just guarding your face against a punch either as you can incorporate dodging and weaving, slip punches, moving between blocking head and body shots, and a whole lot more. It adds an enjoyable element of strategy as you work to analyze your opponent’s moves, set traps, and figure out the best way to land punches.
As noted on the game’s Steam page, there are over 60 individual punches that can be thrown in Undisputed. You get breaks between rounds to further assess what went wrong or right in the previous round, and adjust your approach accordingly. As you or your opponent take damage, that damage is reflected on the boxers, along with things like sweat accumulation.
At one point during these breaks between rounds, the developer pointed out how there’s a way to knock opponents out with a single, well-landed punch. As much as I wanted to impress the developer by doing just that, the best I was able to do was make it through all of the rounds, and end the match with a tie. Not bad, all things considered. I enjoyed seeing the score breakdown at the end on how this tie was possible, with the developer noting the game’s judges look for and reward different things.
CompuBox is incorporated in Undisputed to give you things like punch stats, so if you’re already someone who analyzes boxing matches using systems like CompuBox you’ll feel right at home with how scoring details are presented. Outside of this, you aren’t limited to modern boxing stars like the aforementioned Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk in Undisputed as the game also includes classic champions like Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson.
No matter who you’d like to see in the ring, Undisputed boasts over 50 licensed fighters at the start of Early Access, with more to come in the future. Overall, I really enjoyed my time with Undisputed. It was actually one of my favorite games that I played at PAX East this year, and I’m sincerely planning to dive even deeper into the game during Early Access, and in the future once it’s fully released.
To learn more about Undisputed, be sure to check out the game’s Steam page and official website, and read through Shacknews’ previous preview of the game courtesy of Donovan in which he outlines how Undisputed looks to make boxing games a main event. Undisputed is currently available now in Early Access on Steam, and once it’s fully released, will also be available on platforms including PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Series X|S.