Here we are again on the brink of a new football season. Teams are preparing hard, and backroom deals being made to bring in the fresh meat. Which does include the folks down at Konami and EA as well, with the next iteration of football with FIFA 20 and PES 2020 (named eFootball PES 2020 for some stupid reasons.) The Demo for PES dropped, and I’ve been playing it a fair bit.
Now, before we get to the crunch of the gameplay side of things. I want to first of talk about the licences that PES have picked up which does include that very exclusive deal with Italian footballing giants Juventus. That’s forced FIFA to make its fictional team (Piemonte Calcio). In some aspects going by PES 2019 where all but Juventus was fully licenced. It’s a good move for PES as it would have a fully licenced league. However, there is the crux of the problem for me, and where FIFA plays to its strengths. PES is going for individual teams whereas FIFA is going for leagues. My point really it’s not the way forward for PES if it does hope in closing the gap to FIFA. I mean, it has a lack of playing at the Camp Nou In the last couple of FIFAs been a massive dealbreaker for you to pick up PES? Or even Juventus? Or playing at the Allianz Arena in Munich? While the licences haven’t been a dealbreaker for me when I Play PES year in, year out. But for regular people, I’m not too sure.
Okay, with that over let’s talk about the demo itself. So, the main improvements, including new techniques such as Finesse Dribble so you can dart around players with ease and not like a berk doing 6 billion stepovers and falling flat on your face. New ways in trapping the ball, including No Touch Control so you can run beside an incoming ball. The Trick Tap which is fairly self-explanatory, and all of the players will have their own style of trapping but will adapt to the situation. Also, the game will take into context your posture, positioning, and more into context. So, if you square up the ball for a 25 yard shot from well outside the box, there is a good chance it will find its way into row Z in the top right-hand corner of the stadium.
Defending has also been tweaked with new animations and the ability to draw an intentional foul if there is no other choice. New ball physics and the addition of the inspire mechanic where the players around you will adjust. If you have Sterling on the ball, expect your players trying to draw defenders away. Or if you have someone like Modric they would be in dangerous positions to take advantage with him on the ball, and a whole host of other skills and abilities to add to your repertoire.
When it comes together, it works very well. Passing the ball around, trying to make an opportunity and then fully exploiting it. In this year’s PES is as satisfying and smarter than before. The one thing that really does my head in with FIFA, in particular, is that the AI is that its dumb. Like passes who’ve overshot their intended target and have one player who could have easily run onto it. It’s forcing its intended target player to run onto it and is easily is dispossessed. Or those runs that look like they are running behind the defence which then you try and lay on the through ball before stopping for half a second and then losing the ball. PES is smarter than that and feels more like I’m playing as a team and not 11 Individuals, and that probably the one thing FIFA lacks.
My one cause for concern is with the AI as that it seems easier than before. In some games when the opposition has kicked off and passes to one of his centre backs he holds the ball for way too long and which the ball can be easily taken off him and as his teammates who were trying to give him options in the wide areas. Which leaves massive gaps for me to run on and have a chance on goal. If this was like a one-off occasion this wouldn’t be an issue, but it happened for multiple games. I love PES because it seemed like a tougher cookie than FIFA (on fairly similar difficulties) and this seems unnatural.
Visually it’s a looker mainly because of the level of detail PES goes into with detailed player tunnels and of the surrounding environments of the stadium which looks really good when you build-up to the match, with a little help from an enhanced lighting engine. Players being put through the 3D full-body scans which do look scarcely photorealistic is a good way. Better turf rendering which if you read what PES has said about it – “dramatic improvements to turf rendering are coming to PES 2020, adding depth and personality to each blade of grass” it does sound rather masturbatory, but still, the grass has more personality than fucking Master Chief.
So, in short, there is plenty of optimism for when PES 2020 comes knocking in early September. With the excellent gameplay been tweaked and improved upon and looks as stunning as ever. Though the difficulty does worry me, and its direction in how it’s getting its licences is a cause of concern in the long run, but I’m excited to see how it comes together.