PES 2018 may be licking its wounds after losing the Champions League licence, but make no mistake – it won’t go down without a fight.
This year’s game will be vastly different to PES 2018, according to the series’ European Community Leader Adam Bhatti.
Since Bhatti was appointed to the role in 2013, Konami’s flagship football game has seen somewhat of a critical revival – with scores often trumping EA Sports’ FIFA.
Sadly, though, PES is still lagging some way behind EA’s in the sales department.
As a result, the Japanese publisher will be ringing in the changes to ensure PES 2019 is a real contender against FIFA 19.
OutFox FIFA on visuals
PES 2019 may not have Frostbite powering it, but it still looks stunning in motion.
This is thanks to Fox Engine, the same powerhouse behind the recent Metal Gear Solid games.
However, Fox is capable of so much more than what gamers experienced in last year’s game – which looked almost identical to PES 2017.
Fox Engine can provide stunningly realistic movement, perhaps more so than Frostbite’s slightly ‘robotic’ animation.
Thankfully, Konami started overhauling player animation in PES 2018, making movements much closer to real life.
We can expect this to be taken even further in this year’s game. They also often release face scan packs to ensure players look as realistic as possible.
Plan the attack
The last couple of games featured attacking and defensive philosophies such as the Gegenpress, Tiki-Taka and False 9.
However, it didn’t take long to master these and for tedium to set in.
PES 2018 offered more tactical freedom – but there’s still room for more.
Protect and server
One of the biggest challenges facing the recent PES games are the servers – with thousands struggling to find a game from the off.
Konami boosted server quality last year as well as refined matchmaking to allow lag-free online gaming.
FIFA is far from perfect, and is often criticised for lag and input delay when played online.
If Konami can keep improving things, it’ll likely win back some fans frustrated with EA’s inconsistent servers.
However, none of this really matters if there are no compelling online modes.
FIFA Ultimate Team is by far the most popular part of EA’s game – offering depth and bags of replayability.
The PES Become a Legend mode has been practically unchanged of late while the Master League and MyClub modes just had minor tweaks.
Thankfully, PES 2018 went some way to put this right.
Full 11-Vs-11 online options were joined by a co-operative 2-Vs-2 and 3-Vs-3 modes with support for local guests.
The ‘Random Selection’ match returned, while the Master League implements pre-season tournaments, a new transfer system and pre-match interviews.
More of the above will help PES 2019 become an even more attractive package.
Nintendo Switch version
Sadly, there was no Nintendo Switch last year – which gave FIFA 18 a big advantage – one EA didn’t quite take.
In fact, although FIFA on Switch is a solid port, it’s some way behind the other console versions – making it more vulnerable from an attack from PES.
Speaking to Eurogamer last year, Bhatti, said: “The fact is, we’ve announced all the platforms that PES 2018 is coming to.
“But as I’ve been saying to a lot of people, we have a great relationship with Nintendo – we’ve obviously brought out Bomberman which has done fantastic for the Switch. So as a company it’s a platform that we’re looking at, for sure.
“So for PES it’s just – we never want to say no, we never want to close the door. Let’s see how it goes. Personally speaking, I love the machine. We think it’s definitely performed amazingly well. And we really hope that it continues to do very well.”
Voice of reason
PES has never been known for its commentary, which could be an easy way to claw back some points.
Peter Drury and Jim Beglin will be returning this year, but we’d like to see the pair deliver lines in a more organic way.
Too often the pair would repeat lines or blurt out stuff that had no relevance to the on-screen action.
Konami will likely add thousands more lines of commentary to PES 2019, so there should be a noticeable improvement.
We hope so, anyway.
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