PES 2018: The Good, The Bad, The Hopes


In the everlasting soccer video game war, I've always stood by FIFA's side. Going back to the turn of the twentieth-first century, I would exclusively go to EA when it came to my association football needs. More importantly, FIFA's competitor never appealed to me. Without ever playing one of their titles, my circle of friends would say the Pro Evolution Soccer games were too arcade-y or worthless because of their lack of licenses. Having said that, I eventually started to understand that the most important aspect in gaming is gameplay. All hell broke lose as soon as PES 2017 was released. Unanimously dubbed as the 'sports game of the year', they finally returned into the conversation. 12 months later, Konami is ready to steal the crown. Based on what I've played of PES 2018, I think they have a solid chance. Of course, the game is coming out in September 12, 2017 so there's still a lot to be announced but these are my first impressions:


The Good


  • Improved Presentation: To get things started, PES 2018 looks great! In a collaboration with FC Barcelona, the developers have scanned their full roster & stadium (Nou Camp) and the results definitely show. Before matches, we get an unprecedented look inside the stadium. While players from other teams also look surprisingly real (thanks to the Fox Engine), it's the Barca athletes that showcase it best. The attention to detail is shocking. From Messi's tattoos to Mascherano's scars, it's jaw-dropping. Alongside that, exchanges between boots and the ball are realistic, the net is beautiful, and the grass looks like its real life counterpart. Also, in-game presentation has also improved, with stats popping up mid-game (distance covered, passes completed, etc.)
  • Strategic Approach: If you ask the hardcore video game soccer fans, they will tell you that PES has had the greater gameplay for the past couple of years. First off, players actually have a specific feel. The stars of the sport move and operate differently; they'll always hold an advantage over weaker opposition. The same philosophy can be applied to the clubs, and that's where the strategy element kicks in. Your formation and strategies are crucial to your success. A late substitution could drastically change the outcome of the match. While teams such as Barca can build plays from the bottom line using the famous 'Tiki-taka', your best chance at coming out on top with Boca Juniors is to get the ball to Benedetto and let him do work. The clash of styles and tactics is fascinating, and it makes up for a thrilling experience.
  • Animations: Lastly, PES 2018 has a ton of new, gorgeous animations. They make everything from passes, shots, and crosses feel colorful and alive. Goalkeepers have also been improved. Nevertheless, my favorite ones are the animations that occur after exchanges between players. After a strong tackle, the victim will immediately begin to signal for a foul and card. On the other side, the culprits will attempt to justify themselves or tell the referee to keep his eyes open, as he missed a previous foul. Once again, gives authenticity to the entire experience and it brings it to life.


The Bad


  • Celebrations: So far, this is the only issue I've encountered. Visually, celebrations look stunning. But performance suffers when they occur. Framerate can take a drop, and the grass textures had some pop-in. This should be fixed by the time the final version comes out, but it's important to point out.


Hopes

  • License As Many Teams As Possible: Indeed, this is where PES suffers every year. Once released, a download can bring you the full squads. Nevertheless, many players don't want to take that extra step. Therefore, they don't give the game a chance. We already know teams like Barca, Inter, Liverpool, Boca Juniors and a couple other will be fully functional, but I hope they get access to many more squads. The more clubs, the bigger the interest will be.
  • Update Rosters: While PES 2016 was excellent, Konami failed to regularly update clubs with transfers, hair styles and such. Last year's game did a much better job updating users with free, new content. Hopefully, the trend will continue in this year's game. 
  • Improve Master League: Last year's game disappointed in its marquee Master League mode. Transfers were non-sensical, and the interface was pretty boring. I'm hoping for an update in this mode since I spend most of my time in it.


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