Pro Evolution Soccer.
Emphasis on “Soccer” (as everyone shudders because it’s not “Football” on the title). You may have played this sport of soccer/football when you were younger, or you may play it still today. The emphasis here is that you played it, one way or another. You did not strategize it first. You did not build a tactical enterprise of your teammates as the first priority.
You didn’t limit them to a set of robotic instructions. No, you realized it was an environment of sport. It’s a dynamic sport. A sport that has multiple personalities, all hoping to blend together for a common goal, a simple goal – to win the game.
It’s a sport that has minimum requirements: feet, ball, ground.
PES has been the hallmark of the sport of soccer/football. It has always been hailed as a “master” in gameplay. The problem now is that the master is losing its identity, and a community that was once blended with a common goal, are now reaching areas of division. My focus is on gameplay, that’s my lane. I am a problem solver by nature, and by trade. I have analyzed PES in the glory days when I was in my teens, and continue to do so as I reach my mid 30’s. I believe we are in a new era for this series, and that it’s geared for the future, while seemingly leaving the glory days behind. I base this on my experiences with PES 2016 thru 2018, and the many hours that I have spent in trying to fix the games each year.
My findings is that this gameplay of PES 2016 thru 2018 uses a hierarchy of priority that is severely flawed, and is the reason there is an increase in illogical decision making by teammate AI and CPU alike throughout the pitch. I’ve listed them by priority, and their relevance to the overall behavior of what we see on the virtual pitch.
Priority #1: Preset Tactics
Preset tactics are by far the main value that determines where a player is on the pitch and what the team does as a collective unit. This is the absolute base and focus of PES in its current form. If you play against a team that has its attack set for “Long Ball”, then you are 100% going to see the CPU send a long ball the second they get possession. If a team has their defense set for “All out Defense”, then you will absolutely see the second that team loses possession, everyone instantly retreats by turning their backs and running to a set position.
Priority #2: Advanced Instructions
Advanced instructions are a bonus on top of Preset Tactics. For those familiar, you can set these to various settings such as “Hug the Touchline” or “Gegenpress”. No matter what is chosen, you can bet that this will be the linear approach that PES will use for your team or a team you play against. This means that 100% every player on the team will adhere to the given instruction. You can see where I’m going here, ever seen Ibrahimovic “gegenpress”? I haven’t.
The player identity starts to take a backseat, and the player identity for defending capabilities is borderline non-existent, but not without another priority to compliment.
Priority #3: Player Role
Player roles are tactically a fantastic compliment to work from, in a hypothetical sense.
The problem is PES creates these roles to be extremely rigid. Take a Defensive Midfielder (DMF) for example. If you set that role as a DMF, this will anchor that player as far back as possible in the attack. This means that he will not include himself in the attack, and not even respond a loose ball that is closer to the opposing player. It is a rigid positioning issue, and creates such acres of space throughout the pitch because they are anchored into their set role.
Again, losing a player’s identity here because they are a footballer first, a DMF second. This is how we start go further down the lack of logic in relevance to the base fundamentals of the sport.
Priority #4: Player Skills, Styles &; COM Playing Styles
Again, this is one of those values that sounds great in theory. It allows players to instantly have the option to be identified as having a special style or skill. The problem with this is that it doesn’t compliment the player’s rating. If I have a player rated as a “40” at “Ball Winning”, and slap “The Destroyer” playing style on him, he’s now a beast of a defending player. How is that? How does he qualify for this playing style when he’s a 40 rated Ball Winner?
Take it from a dribbling perspective, I have midfielder who is a “40” at “Dribbling”, fair enough, and now I put the “Marseille Turn” Player Skill on him, and now he can spin around with the ball easily.
Again, what are the qualifying factors for that player to even have that? There are none.
The list goes on with COM Playing styles. Again, I use a rating value that should be a qualifying factor such as Long Pass of “40” and place the COM Playing Style value to “Long Ball Expert”. Now, this terribly, supposed to be, inaccurate long ball maestro can sling his long passes over the top with ease, breaking down my defense like a regen of Pirlo or David Beckham.