PES 2018 – An opinion Piece

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There’s no denying that Pro Evolution Soccer is a unique series amongst fans and nearly two months into PES 2018’s contrasting life cycle, this has never been truer.

Nostalgia…

Loyalty…

Disappointment…

Joy…

PES has been frozen in stasis for many fans for years while many more are relishing the core game and the direction Konami are taking for the future of the series. Most years, the majority come to some sort of balanced platform but the split between both sets of gamers is more evident this year.

Those who continue to crave a return to the golden years of the series don’t accept that there are others embracing the new direction and enjoying the game while newer fans probably can’t fully grasp why older fans are speaking out so prominently which is where the problems start.

Ask any self respectable football gamer to recall their favourite virtual football moments and the vast majority will mention PES and what it meant to them at one point in time and yes, that even includes the fans who no longer spend time on Konami’s digital pitch.

New age youthful football fans want fast paced gameplay, wonder goals, tricks and an online mode that’s pick up and play while gamers who remember R. Larcos and Ryan Greggs want slower paced gameplay, realistic AI and pure football driving the action as well as fully featured offline modes such as Master League and BAL co-existing with myClub.

Two sweeping generalisations and a tad dramatic to make a contrasting point? Maybe.

Not all PES gamers under the age of 18 care about myClub in the same way that not all veterans of the series want a fully fleshed out Master League but most PES fans fall somewhere in between. Those who have stayed supporting the series over the last few years want to be heard and those who have left or grown disinterested want a reason to come back.

I mean, the PES series was kept alive during the infamous PS3 days by passionate fans who have grown up with the game and make it a part of their lives every September. Look at recent juggernaut Minecraft to see how passionate a fan base can be in little to no time; now add in Pro Evo’s 20 year history filled with nostalgia and some excellent iterations and you might understand the passion of some fans. It’s almost ingrained in the very nature of these battle hardened PES gamers who continually stick with the franchise through the good times and the bad.

And boy have there been some pretty bad times throughout the years.

But there has also been some pretty great times too.

Why is it so hard to actually admit that for some people?

Divisive Opinions

There are definitely some aspects that need to change. On both sides. I don’t think anyone would argue with that. Konami need to tighten gameplay (even if it pushes back the release date a few weeks) embrace offline modes and add depth to content not restricted by licensing and most importantly continue to develop unique modes like myClub, 3v3 co-op & Random Selection Match. These are features that could sustain the series for the years to come if polished and nurtured properly. I’ve always championed for the Call of Duty model to be incorporated into PES in where every minute you play, across all modes you get rewarded – no matter how small the prize.

On the other hand, people who buy the game and support it year on year and invariably become frustrated because the game ‘isn’t the game they want‘ need to understand that the games industry has changed radically in the last ten years. I’m as passionate as anyone about Master League but it’s simply not the future of the series for the majority of PES fans. Yes, it needs to be overhauled but the majority play online now and this is a challenge for PES moving forward. Classic PES titles like Pro Evo 5 & 6 didn’t have an online mode to take up development time and even PES 2014 and back were barebones Master League Online.

Let’s get real here.

People having divisive opinions on PES 2018 is nothing new for a series we are all so passionate about. Going back through the history of PES, this has always been the case. It’s true that many fans unanimously agree that PES 4, 5 & 6 were the very best in the franchise but even at that, everyone has a favourite among those 3 when picking the core PES experience that defines the origins of classic PES so if I prefer 6 to 5, does that make me less of a purist?

What about those who loved PES 10 or even PES 15? Are they snobbishly ridiculed from the older generation of PES fans? Similarly do new age, online centric PES fans discount the anarchic style of those classic PES titles? People seem to discount whichever point they don’t agree with depending on whatever side of the fence they choose to sit on. In fact, it’s rare to see an actual balanced debate between either set of fans that gains any ground at all. More often than not, it descends into a silly ‘them vs us’ slagging match on both sides.

Two sides. Two different arguments.

Yes, yes. I get it. It’s the internet and all. Everybody has an opinion and fair play to anyone who takes the time to use the platform to speak their mind but I really do think we all need to reevaluate why we feel the need to pick a side that makes us either defend our enjoyment of PES 2018 or rip the franchise to shreds because it’s not the game you want.

I’ve been in this community a long time. I’ve played every single ISS & PES title and spent thousands of hours with PES related content whether its editing, writing or creating this very website over the years. I love debate and love hearing different viewpoints from my own but I genuinely questioned whether I should post this or not because for the first time in the PES scene, I don’t think people want to argue towards a solution.

They want to argue. Full stop.

PES has always been split into two key areas – those who enjoy their yearly playtime and those who play the game for the year without enjoying it but when people enjoying PES 2018 are personally attacked and bullied by those who aren’t enjoying it…

Man, that’s depressing.

Imagine this in a real life scenario for a second.

Imagine going to a movie and even though the main actor is poor and the plot is all over the place, you’ve had a long, shitty week and really enjoy the movie – flaws and all. A stranger is sitting beside you and hates every second of it so after the movie, he tells you that you are a moron for enjoying the movie and points out how it is an unwatchable movie which prompts you to defend what you do and don’t enjoy to spend your time doing. But he’s been watching movies for a lot longer than you so your enjoyment is obsolete right?

The chances of a situation like that happening in the real world are as slim as Lionel Messi joining Real Madrid so why is it that some people find it acceptable to force that domineering attitude behind a keyboard? Why be abusive to people instead of accepting that their are different strokes for different folks? Why continue to play a game with the sole intention of complaining non-stop about issues that are either being worked on in a patch or are design choices which you don’t like and haven’t liked in the last two years i.e myClub.

I really struggle to understand that.

Basically choosing to spend your free time playing a game that you don’t want to enjoy and don’t want to accept. People complain that the game being broken yet put in 15 hours a week. They complain about farming driving the prices of the scouts up yet farm themselves. They complain about the new ‘PES2018 Lite’ F2P edition coming Thursday even though it’s a stripped back myClub only. They complain about the gameplay and that there are no updates but when the patch is announced, it’s too late now and the patch will not improve the game enough anyway.

Now, I understand some people switch from loving the game to hating the game from session to session and that’s fine as games depend on mood most of the time but to actively play a game simply to rip it apart,  and force frustration on yourself… it boggles my mind.

I for one would not sit down and watch Grey’s Anatomy with my girlfriend only to ruin it for her by laughing at it when I could watch something on Netflix with the flick of a button myself. All I’m looking for in my down time is something that can help me escape or relax after a day of work or a weekend of chilling in front of the screen and for me, PES 2018 has got more play time than any other game this year.

No matter how plainly I write this argument, I know some people will hang on to a few words on this article and cherry pick their own narrative but please don’t twist it. I’m not saying people can’t be annoyed or disappointed with the gameplay or a mode or feature they feel is lacking in the game and me (or others) telling those who disagree with my outlook on PES 2018 to ‘f*!k off and play something else‘ isn’t a solution either.

PES 2018 is not a perfect game.

Hell, it’s not even a complete football package right now.

The cursor issues and player responsiveness are big areas of concern while online quitters still go largely unpunished and legends are only on the horizon now in November which is annoying a lot of people who bought the game to play with Maradona, Beckham and co. I personally love that the legends aren’t out yet as the game needs to balance myClub more than ever this year and this helps stem the tide. even if I am happy about it. The core modes are not strong enough to carry the series forward into the future especially the lack of any real depth to myClub or Master League.

So why am I playing it more than any other game in my library including my brand new Switch?

Co-op Craziness

I’ve played 50 hours of co-op myclub with my brother and loved 90% of the time spent within the mode. I can’t remember the last game mode I looked forward to playing as much as PES 2018’s co-op mode. I genuinely look forward to the weekends when we can really sink some time in.

I’ve also played a season of Master League with two different teams, countless clan matches and some epic random selection tournaments with the lads. Are these modes flawed? Yes!

* Master League needs a complete overhaul with proper system integration and true depth
* Random Selection not being online is a huge oversight from Konami
* Clan matches offer zero progression or statistics and the fact that most times you play either real teams like Barca or one opponent with two god like CPU teammates is a joke

But I’m still enjoying my time spent with these modes and the game overall. Here I am, editing this post after a two hour session of co-op playing in the Champions Cup with Bibby where I enjoyed some great gameplay and had a proper laugh even though we got smashed by our opponents!

But of course I’m going to say I’m loving my time with PES 2018.

I’m just an ass licker.

Right?

That’s the opinion of some people.

Anyone who is enjoying PES this year is either a suck up, an ass licker or fake. Or else they are classed as brainless plebs who will swallow whatever is served to them and clearly don’t understand how a football game should play.

All because they are enjoying a game – flaws and all.

There are a huge number of people happy with PES 2018 that are simply playing the game and not interacting online or giving feedback in the same way as people unhappy are doing.

People who are enjoying the game can see the flaws and the shortcomings of PES 2018 the same as everybody else but enjoyment and game mechanics are totally different things. If PES 2018 froze at kick off and crashed your console every time you tried to play a match – yes that would be unplayable or broken. Messi winning a header over Thiago Silva is fundamentally unrealistic but it doesn’t break the game. The AI drifting through your challenges like ghosts when they need to score also falls into this category. Those arguments are valid and if that makes you quit the game then fair enough but each game isn’t determined by unrealistic set plays like that because when PES 2018 plays well, it’s a smashing football game.

PES 2018 has been out for 9 weeks, not 29. We’re less than a fifth of the way through its annual cycle and people need to remember that every game nowadays develops over months. Not so long ago, patches and game updates were similar to bringing your car for a service and now it’s like getting petrol or diesel. But still, the majority are happy.

The PESUniverse Twitter (which has nearly 19,000 followers) ran 3 polls that asked people to rate their overall enjoyment level with PES 2018 and after a combined 8,000 votes in those 3 polls, 65% of people voted that they were enjoying the game with a further 25% saying that they mostly happy but wanted a few updates through a patch. That’s a pretty high percentage of followers enjoying the game.

Still not believing me? Then check the latest poll..

I’ll say this again. PES 2018 is not a perfect game. Tomorrows patch to fix AI fouls and input lag is needed and it definitely will benefit from the new content but the claims of PES 2018 being unplayable because your goalkeeper spills a ball he shouldn’t or you concede a goal online because you can’t switch to the proper defender in time is crazy. Shit happens in every modern game nowadays. COD, GTA and FIFA all suffer from it. FIFA 18 has had 5 patches so far and it’s still not enjoyable for half of their fanbase. NBA2K18 rush patches out to fix previous patches released a week before.

This is the way modern gaming works whether you like it or not and while Konami have been slow to fully detail an exact date, what is the point in releasing a patch that will mess up something else without proper testing? Personally, I will wait once I know it’s being addressed.

The full fleet of legends hasn’t been made available yet because there are 10 months left in the game’s life cycle and Christmas is just around the corner which means new fans jumping on to myClub. Also, Master League is no longer the main mode amongst most PES gamers which is why the emphasis is on myClub this year and surveys and the numbers prove that year on year.

Am I truly naive to think that I can genuinely enjoy PES 2018 and not have my motives questioned?

I’m afraid so and while some people will openly debate this opinion piece with me which I wholeheartedly encourage, others will slink away and continue to tell themselves I’m nothing but an ass-licking moron and continue to blast the game while continuing to play it.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Great write-up! Entirely on point especially with the Reddit fanbase this year. And I wholeheartedly agree with almost everything you said. I’m also enjoying PES 2018 a lot, though I see its flaws clearly enough, yet I am a “Konami shill” or “Adam Bhatti’s boyfriend” for defending the game against “this piece of shit game” posts again and again and again.

  2. Wtf is going on with bronze member hub. When I try to enter it tells me it is restricted to subscribers. Despite telling me I’m a bronze hub member. I logged in to see if we had a new option file yet?

  3. Brilliant piece. I played PES every year from the days of ISS Pro up until the transition to PS3. It was then with a heavy heart I switched to FIFA. It felt like cheating on my wife. I have enjoyed FIFA over the years, some editions more than others, but the game play will never be what PES was and to be fair is getting back to. I switched back to PES for 2017 and I absolutely loved it. The best football game I had played in years. The problem came with longevity. I am definitely one those who prefer the offline modes to online. It’s all about building a team of unknown youngsters into superstars for me. And this is where PES falls down.
    It started off great. I got myself an option file and started my career with Aberdeen. I found some absolute gems of players such as Lovera, walker-peters, kubu, Robertha and loved to see their stats rocket through game time and training. By the time you get 5-6 seasons in though there is a complete lack of new players to sign with the exception of regens, which I loathe. Even the youth team players don’t cut it anymore. They are short on quality and are not evenly dispersed throughout the seasons. It needs an overhaul in the vein of fifas career mode in terms of generating new players.
    And yes I admit I am a licensing whore!! Or rather an editing whore. In my previous pes days I knew the licensing was weak but I didn’t care. Part of the pes tradition was knowing I would spend 3-4 days of solid editing before I even played a game. I loved creating kits, logos, sponsors and badges and the sense if satisfaction when I nailed a likeness. All this done using the tools within the game. I am largely PC illiterate with an outdated laptop and the whole option file on a USB is a pain in the arse..So.i end up paying for an option file loaded usb that then adds an extra 10 bucks or so on to the price of an already overpriced game. I was gutted to see PES 2018 hadn’t really improved either of these issues. . So I take the easy option and buy fifa…and I enjoy it. But it always just feels a little hollow and soulless. Players are too generic, passing is over powered, dribbling is overly complicated and there is not such a variety in the types of goals.
    I want so badly to love PES unreservedly again, and whereas I can live with one of these issues, I can’t look past both. I feel FIFA has improved over the years by taking inspiration from PES, but alas Konami seem unable or unwilling to return the compliment. Maybe it’s time I evolved but goddamit, give me back my editing tools and bos, schwartz and kaiser!!

  4. PES this year is a huge improvement on last year,graphics,gameplay and AI wise. The commentary is,once again,very poor. I’m sick of Jim Beglin’s “A high class save to match his high class wages” , also, there is absolutely no mention of a ball hitting a post or bar from either of them. I thought the update might have fixed this, it hasn’t. The Emirates Stadium is superb in the update and the lag in switching players seems fixed. With all it’s faults this year PES pisses all over Fifa 18 which I actually think has taken a step backwards. I hope PES can keep this momentum going because they ARE heading in the right direction. I long for the version that lets you import chants,create stadiums and edit nets ( PS4 ). Pes11 was my favorite version as it had all that and more on the PS3.