1. A number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.
I thought I’d begin with what Google defines as a bucket list because the events of Tuesday the 2nd of July are right up there on my own list.
Allow me to try and set the scene; it’s a pretty standard Thursday morning and I’m at work, it’s miserable outside. My phone lights up and it’s a rather vague message on WhatsApp from Glen asking if I would be able to get to Manchester on July 2nd. I’d heard rumours floating around on Twitter that Manchester United might be licensed in PES 2020, so I thought that maybe he’d seen or heard something, too.
As it turned out he had.
A few days later, Graham Day of JellyMedia slides into my DM’s armed with an NDA and an invite to a top secret licence partnership announcement to be held at Manchester United’s Aon Training Complex in Carrington, Manchester. Within minutes, I’d booked the day off work and organised some pretty awesome accommodation.
Fast forward a week and I’m at Hotel Football, outside Old Trafford, having a drink with Graham, Bibby and a few of the PES Universe lads while we wait for some others to turn up. Once everyone arrives, we board a coach for the short journey to Carrington. Upon arriving, we’re led into the academy building to the second floor for drinks while we wait for members of the press to arrive. In the middle sofas were Manchester United legends Andrew Cole, Dennis Irwin & Ji Sung Park, the Manchester United fans amongst the group were looking at each other, wide eyed, star stuck and trying desperately to contain their excitement.
After a short wait, we were then led back downstairs and along the famous corridors of the academy where murals of past graduates such as Ryan Giggs & David Beckham adorn the walls. We’re shown into a dark room, there’s loud music playing, a light show and more PS4 Pro’s than you could shake a stick at. We’re taken through to the seating area in front of a stage where MUTV presenter Mark Sullivan is joined on stage by Konami’s Senior Director Jonas Lygaard to make the official announcement that Manchester United will be fully licensed in PES 2020.
We’re then shown the new trailer on an extremely impressive holographic display before first team players Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelöf and new PES 2020 Ambassador Scott McTominay arrive on stage alongside their in game holograms and give their thoughts on what they’ve seen.
After the announcement we were split into two groups, members of the press stayed for a Q&A session and a hand’s on with the game while the PES & YouTube groups went upstairs for lunch.
Shortly after lunch, we were taken down to the changing rooms where there were full Manchester United kits laid out for each of us as if it were a match day at Old Trafford. We get changed and make our way out to the pitch for a training session with the aforementioned legends. After a brief warm up we were split into three teams. Two teams would face each other in a match while the other did a dribbling exercise with one of the coaches.
In our first match, we were on Ji Sung Park’s team against Denis Irwin’s and vice versa for the second match. I used to play right wing in a former life so I naturally made my way to that area of the pitch. I can’t remember much from the games apart from blazing my only real chance against Dennis Irwin way over the crossbar. I managed to do slightly better against Ji Sung Park, hitting the woodwork three times and having a series of shots on target saved. I’m telling you now, that man is unbelievable. He’s like a cat. If I didn’t know better I’d say it was De Gea in goal wearing a Ji Sung Park mask. After cracking the post for the third time (and I do mean cracking; I hit that shot with everything I had!) Ji Sung laughed at me for a few minutes before skinning me alive and leaving me for dead. It wasn’t one of my finest moments, but in my defence I’ve only recently started playing football again and I’m a goalkeeper, so my legs aren’t used to this much running. To console myself I slid the ball through Jonas Lygaards legs and left him in my dust. Something he brought up later in conversation. He wasn’t impressed!
When we’d finished and had our photo opportunities with our childhood heroes, we got changed and made our way back into the press room for a brief presentation from Konami brand manager Lennart Bobzien on some of the new features in PES 2020. Afterwards we were given 2 hours to get to grips with the game and capture some footage.
When we’d finished, we made our way outside and boarded the coach back to Old Trafford. I said my goodbyes and made my way to my car to begin the long drive south.
So, onto PES 2020; I played the E3 build at Konami’s UK base in Windsor the week before so I had something to compare it to. This build seems a lot more fluid, there are more animations so it flows better and that includes the different ways in which players control the ball in the air or turn upon receiving a pass. Not only does it look impressive, it can really open up a brief moment of space to play your next pass or advance up the pitch.
Both the passing and shooting have improved since then too. In the E3 build, long shots would invariably end up in the stadium car park, but in this new build, although they still have a tendency to fly more often than not, they do now go on target more and when one does eventually fly into the back of the net, it feels very rewarding. Also, there’s a real feeling of physicality that comes through in every pass, shot and tackle. It’s very impressive and gives a feeling of real weight through your controller.
Something else that deserves a mention is the new TV broadcast camera angle. It’s been in PES for a while but it’s been largely unusable, for me anyway, due to the fact that the direction you’ve pressed to move the player changes depending on the angle of the camera on screen. Not anymore. This new angle is glorious to say the least; it’s perfectly playable and adds a huge dose of realism. Anyone watching over your shoulder would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the game and the real thing.
It will all take some getting used to, however. Although it’s still unmistakably PES, it feels very different to previous versions. To put it bluntly; a lot of the things you knew from PES 2019 will not work the same way in PES 2020.
At this point, I’m sure you’ve seen the countless videos from the members of the community that were in attendance at Carrington (and some that weren’t...) so you’ll have seen the new player scans and the graphical upgrades in general. It’s very impressive. Even more so when you go back to PES 2019 (a game that was lauded for its graphical upgrades over PES 2018) because it makes it look cartoon-esq.
The entire Manchester United first team has been 3D scanned, although not all of them were in this build; Marcos Rojo & Sergio Romero, for example, we’re still using their old models. Players like Victor Lindelöf have had their tattoos included for the first time and in impeccable detail, too. But the award for biggest upgrade to has to go to Marcus Rashford. He no longer looks like Hermione Granger has hit him with a stinging jinx. It’s a massive upgrade for United’s Number 10.
Old Trafford is also back in PES for the first time since PES 2016 and it looks incredible. The tunnel area has been faithfully recreated, much like the way Konami did with Anfield to give it that realistic feeling that you are playing at the Theatre of Dreams. Again, there are a few small errors that were reported back to Konami such as the lack of human life in the disabled section of the east stand and the fact that they’ve spelt ‘Charlton’ wrong on the fascia of the Sir Bobby Charlton stand (As spotted by Ben Ward at NGB). But these are things that should be cleared up before the release date in September.
So, with just over three weeks until the Demo is released there’s plenty to look forward to. For the first time in a long time I am genuinely excited for the future of PES. September the 10th cannot come quick enough.
Again, I’d like to express my thanks to Konami, Jelly Media & Manchester United for inviting me to this very special event. It is truly something that I will never, ever forget.