The day started with me thinking I was going to be late, needing to take a different route to Liverpool and a bit of a stress. On arrival I got a quick chat in with Bibby about work and saw Sep and David before we all headed inside. The layout was great and it was packed with people from all sites and media Playstation has Rob Pearson and David Jackson there, Game sent Lucy and a colleague, NGB has Ben and Matt in attendance, the PESU lads, James Parrish, our chum Paul Machin from The redmen TV was his jolly self only to be outdone by Dan Henry, I stood around with Rob and Jordan talking to Adam Bhatti about how things were going and Masuda-san came over, for me it was a great moment, shaking hands with the main man is great.Over the course of the day we went and interacted with as many people as we could but the game is hard to get away from. A highlight was viewing a game bewteen Graham Day and Machin and then having a blast myself but unfortunately me and Maych were in Rafa mode during our game and had a tactical scoreless draw.
Back to Masuda-San, I had three lengthy talks with him about my delight surrounding the game, my issues, how they would be addressed and also the future of the series. He was so willing to understand my views and thank me for it. I left today genuinely feeling like I’ve helped the series more than ever before, My honesty was rewarded with time, my disagreements were taken on board and I was given good reasoning as to why they were like that.
Apart from wanting some slices and dragging on lofted passing there is pretty much nowhere else PES 2018 can improve, of course you can argue ‘we want more animations’ etc but the gameplay jump is already so big you can’t ask for more. There was some screen lag in that build, it was rare and given the game was is fluid compared to previous titles that’s when you notice. - it could've been due to the fact the PS4’s were kept boxed back to back and burning up inside, it might not be an in game issue.
If it appears odd to thank Konami then talk about a negative I had you must understand, They were the only ones, quite literally and it’s best to just get them out the way.
“If they sold this game tomorrow it would still be the best football game ever made”
We had five teams with full tactics at our disposal (unlike last year) and was pretty much just left to go and sit down and have a blast, there was no big ‘what’s new’ presentation for us and that was a great thing. Being able to just discover what was new felt special rather than being pre warned about touches, passing and the overall feel. The game itself based on gameplay, co-op and things I discussed with Masuda-san and Adam today is brilliant. In fact if they sold this game tomorrow it would still be the best football game ever made.
So what’s so special then… I will avoid any talk of presentation as that can be seen easily on videos and promotional content from Konami. In person, it’s beautiful.
Here is the hardest thing to explain. Everything has changed but it still feels like PES But it isn’t, this is truly an evolution of the game. - in short until you play it, you just won’t understand.
Physicality, If you want to mix up your game from pacy counters or possession to a more physical game then this is your year. I am already dreading playing against the likes of Manchester United. Zlatan, Fellaini and Pogba should be much more impactful. Unlike last year where they just seem like tall unflinching towers, this year physicality seems to be a major player. The best can be beaten with positioning, the weak can be smashed to oblivion and at times nothing will be given, small mini scraps between seven players will emerge where no one can keep the ball or pass out of it, you instantly think of a cup game, it’s great. Players jump over the ball to the other side to block off a defender when trying to play them in, frequently players will battle each other and they'll lose the ball completely either in the air or dribbling.
“This PES makes you look at your players more and rewards you for understanding their DNA”
Dribbling, This is better for being worse. Players first touches have been changed so in tight spaces you cannot get away with much unless you’re skilled. But this also makes the better players flourish, the new animations and the way they flawlessly string together, coupled with being very responsive for these players means they shine life into a team the same way that you’ll look up the pitch when a key passer is on the ball. Busquets and Henderson are perfect as an example for both. Each can get caught out if they get swarmed but given space they produce great passes while being physical enough to protect the back line. This PES makes you look at your players more and rewards you for understanding their DNA.
Passing, Shooting and set pieces all require longer button presses to get the results of the previous games. This slight delay in bar fill has a huge impact on the way you play the game. You cannot spray long balls unless you have space, cannot string six quick short sharp passes unless your players are one touch players nor can you pull off a powerful strike whilst being closed down.
“The AI is probably the greatest thing I’ve witnessed in a football game across all modes”
The AI… well, this is remarkable. The AI is probably the greatest thing I’ve witnessed in a football game across all modes. Players even in a PVP game will pick up better positions, move into space or blocking channels and even press and sometimes tackle someone. Now before you say something stupid, it isn't. It works both for and against you. In fact it felt at times like the 3v3 formula was always there in the background. It makes the players closest to the ball react in a very realistic fashion. It does however spread to the whole team, a whole midfield will now rush back if you can break their press, they will get forward to support as best they can on a break and look to suit the team style.
Playing vs the CPU they seemed their usual high pressure, higher success ratio selves but with an added fallibility, I had one moment where I felt Torres should have dribbled at my keeper more before shooting to improve his chances, but he missed, that said, last year he would of just screamed it into the back stick, top bins, then ran off mocking me for having all the possession and not scoring. This was good to see. It was challenging box to box but there seems to be less of the superman keepers and one shot kill finishing. There was also less saves dropping directly to opposition players which will be welcomed with open arms from all.
Which leaves the 3v3… I need more of this in my life. I want a community day anywhere so that we can get some three man teams in a twelve team KO tournament - we don’t need a prize. It’s a gaming example of the term you don't know what you want until you see it.
Once you sit down on a sofa and play the CPU with a friend or two and get your detailed breakdown of how the game went you’ll be hooked. We were analysing our performances (Me, rob, Jordan and James) when just over our shoulder Masuda-san appeared really intrigued at what had caught our eye. I explained that me and James had been working as a duo up and down the center of the pitch, leading to similar results whereas Jord and Rob had almost been a defensive/offensive ying and yang and got completely different results. We then got into a discussion about clans for the 3v3 mode and how the ranking system will work, he even offered a solution to us as to how best rank up and still be able to switch it up. He then began to explain that over time we will build a profile that will showcase our style and that other clans/users can look at these to help recruit players based on the clans weaknesses.
This was very exciting but they are still looking into a lot of things surrounding the mode, I gave some feedback about what they could do but it depends on the ruling they use.
I was also fortunate enough to prise more details from the team but as some might not transition into the full game so I won’t be discussing them.
If you read this and then go back and look over some of the footage again, you'll start to notice the things i've mentioned. It’s all there sometimes hidden and sometimes missed as you're too focused on something else.
Thank you for reading, thank you to the staff for the invite and most importantly thank you Konami.