Considering all of the sports games that come out each year, from football to hockey to minigolf and racing, it’s actually pretty surprising that there hasn’t been a real boxing game released in over ten years. Fortunately for fans, Steel City Interactive decided they wanted to do something about that. So, at PAX East 2023 I got a chance to play the Undisputed preview, getting a sneak peak of what could be the next big thing in boxing games.
While Undisputed started out as a pandemic project according to the developers, it has since developed into so much more. Currently released in Early Access on Steam, the character roster of Undisputed contains more than 60 licensed fighters, with a women’s division, randomized judge picks, and plenty of venues to choose from. Though I don’t know much about boxing myself, I was happy to hop into the virtual ring and take a swing at it.
I played as the Irish Katie Taylor, versus Chantelle Cameron, in a ten-round match. And at first, I was absolutely out of my league, but the more I played the game the more it made sense. There’s a variety of moves and styles to use, and you can combine them in different ways, much like real boxers do. I settled into a style that included throwing a lot of punches but not landing as many, taking a line out of Amy Santiago’s book that “The key is volume!” Whereas my opponent favored a more defensive moveset, throwing fewer punches with greater accuracy.
The attention to accuracy in Undisputed is absolutely astonishing. Breaks between the rounds of matches give numerous stat updates and can either increase or decrease your stamina cap, you can see all kinds of damage statistics, and if you have a weak spot in one or more areas. Additionally, damage does gradually show on the characters’ faces or bodies if they are continually hit in one area.
Boxers themselves are also extremely detailed, with most having been scanned specifically for the game, and all of the outfits included are ones that the boxers do actually wear while competing. I’d love to travel back in time and show this game to the creators of Punch-Out!! just to see their absolutely astonished reactions at how far gaming graphics have come, it’s gorgeous.
While I only stepped in for a quick match, it was explained to me that the game does also offer a career mode for those more inclined to a story, as well as a host of difficulty levels and different AI settings to make it more accessible to anyone wishing to play, whether or not you’ve played a boxing game before and whether or not you know all that much about the sport, which I can attest to.
It’s easy to see why the boxing fan community has taken to Undisputed with such enthusiasm. There’s a noticeable desire for the game to be as accurate to real-world boxing as possible, with tons of little details that make the experience as authentic as possible, from judging styles to boxing outfits. At the same time, this hasn’t overshadowed making a genuinely fun game that’s easy for fans and newbies alike to just pick up and play.
Undisputed was previewed on an early build at PAX East 2023.