Pro Evolution football stands at a crossroads. PES 2016 was a big improvement on everything the series had delivered since PlayStation 2 heyday, with critics generally stating that it performed better FIFA 16– at least in raw action, if not shiny extras. Konami’s challenge with PES 2017 is to continue the upward trend, and give FIFA diehards a truly compelling reason to switch.
Slim, the advancements and tweaks seen in PES 2017 not revolve around what the competition is doing. PES 2016 took the series away from the gaudy theatrics and power fantasies of fifa 16, bringing it ever closer to realism. PES 2017 continue that approach. This is a game that knows exactly how digital football should look and feel. Just like in real life, you might spot a 100-foot bullet here and there, but the long-term rewards revolve around how diligent you are in understanding and applying the core strategies that underpin the world’s most successful and respected teams.
Mechanics as simple as how players pass and stroke the ball have noticeably changed. Even the shortest passes feel important thanks to the authority with which players execute them. Almost completely gone, the pinball sensation that plagued soccer games of the past has been replaced by clever physics that make the ball its own individual entity. It no longer feels like the ball has some form of magnetic attraction to a player’s body – if you get a wrong pass, through poor timing or power, you pay for it.
Players subtly but visibly move their feet to receive a pass in such a way as to protect it from nearby opponents. This can be difficult to discern if the inbound pass is correct, but if it is not correct the repositioning can be clearly seen. This may sound like a small area for improvement until you see how much these small delays in rhythm affect the smoothness of the built-up game. If you’ve set up your players to maintain possession and patiently work openings through the opposition’s defence, this lack of appeal can be fatal if you don’t choose the passes correctly.
If it sounds less forgiving, that’s because it is. I didn’t score a single goal in my first three games, even using the new mighty France and their fearsome attacking capabilities in the form of Antoine Griezmann, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba. Goals should be cultivated and valued, not expected and forgotten. This is even more evident considering that goalkeepers are now much better than their PES 2016 counterparts, not least when it comes to taking out attackers and getting them back on their feet after a nosedive.
As in previous PES seasons, you can instruct your team to adopt a defensive or attacking mindset across five levels, but you can now apply specific strategies to those as well. For example, you can tell your players to adopt an all-encompassing attacking approach, while also defending from the front by having your attackers close down on your opponent’s defenders. This makes it harder for enemies to get out from behind, but you run the risk of getting defensive if they succeed.
If you find yourself trailing with just a few minutes to go, it might be a good idea to just let your players pump the ball forward to your tallest player and hope they can knock him down in a dangerous area . It worked many times for Marouane Fellaini and Manchester United last season, so there’s nothing to say it can’t work here.
That last option may not be the most attractive interpretation of the beautiful game, but it is a tactic that can bring success in the right hands. Again, that’s the point: if it can work in real life, PES 2017 wants you to be able to make it work on the virtual field.
Those tactical approaches are just two examples of a much larger number that can be mixed and matched. You may want to press high on the field when your opponent has the ball, but also seek out a player via a long pass when you are deep in your own half.
Similar instructions can also be assigned to set pieces. For example, during corner kicks, you can have your entire team (including the goalkeeper) flood the penalty area, or take the opposite approach and have multiple players hover around the edge of the penalty area to find a rebounded or fumbled ball. Devising unpredictable strategies and combinations of strategies will be integral to victory against human opponents online or offline.
But even for the single-player audience, a greater appreciation of these football principles is required to overcome an AI that is built to learn how to handle it. I haven’t played enough games to feel comfortable with the quality of PES 2017‘s so-called “adaptive” AI, but presumably the teams you play against can recognize how you play and adjust their strategies accordingly. For example, if your attackers are pressuring a defence, then that defense may well decide that the best course of action is to hit the ball far to an attacker of your own, removing much of your threat and potentially leaving you out of cover at the attacker. back.
Every football season is also influenced by what happens in real life. PES 2016The player’s failure to intelligently update player stats, as they did last season, resulted in players like Leicester City and West Ham possessing far less quality than they showed in the Premier League, creating a dissonance that undermined the Premier League’s attempts at realism. game undermined. In addition to a day-one patch that will update squads to account for recent transfer trades, Konami is promising an update PES 2017‘s player statistics on a weekly basis.
While most of the changes in PES 2017 to match the pace of the on-pitch action, there are also some nice visual updates. The weather has kicked up a notch, with water being kicked off the pitch on rainy days as players run and slide across it, and the ball spattering from wet nets on contact. On cold days, players’ breath condenses into the air, while the number of player animations has been increased and facial modeling has been greatly improved to reduce the feeling of playing with a set of plastic mannequins.
Currently, there’s little news about what’s happening in terms of game mode additions and the like. PES has never matched the seemingly endless modes of FIFA, and it is unlikely to happen this year. But it’s a smart move to be so focused on this point. Have seen the past seasons FIFA adopting a more offensive sensibility that allows players to score spectacular goals. The result is a game that’s fun to play, but moves further away from the basics of the sport.
If PES can deliver a simulation that remains captivating after 100 matches or more, that continues to offer new things to see and experiment with on the field, then it will have achieved something that no football game has really achieved. No number of modes, official licenses, or overpaid cover stars will ever compete with that – at least for that WHERE football fans.
Read our review of Pro Evolution Soccer 2017, out now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.