Let’s start proceedings by saying a big thank you to Konami for the invite to Glasgow and being given the opportunity to play the latest build of PES2019. It was a fantastic day and such a pleasure to meet new members of the community and some familiar faces too.
It’s been ideal this year to be on the development journey, as I’ve played the E3 Code and now the code that will be released as the Demo, so I’ve had the insight into its progress.
I had some slight apprehensions before attending the Pre Season Tour as the E3 code was the closest game to a simulation of football that I’ve played to date.
But I’m glad to say that those apprehensions have been totally eased with what I played but there are some concerns which will be highlighted in this article.
Let’s start with an issue that many people seemed to be bothered about including myself:-
Pace of the game
After seeing some footage online in recent weeks it became a concern to the community and myself that the latest build of the game appeared to be ‘faster’. Well, I can safely say the the game speed hasn’t been increased and the pace as it stands is absolutely perfect. It feels like you have time to think and asses the route of your attacks with those careful, considered passes. The game ebbs and flows wonderfully and while the pace may seem ’too slow’ for some people its beautifully balanced and allows for the key, pacey players to flourish.
This element of the game has remained from the E3 code and I think it’s going to be a key feature in the game this year. You get a real sense of a playersphysique and strength in the game. It was most noticeable while playing as France with Pogba and Giroud who both stood out with their physical presence. Pogba becomes a commanding force in the middle of the park with his large frame, making it difficult for the opposition to get the ball from him and his passing ability means that he could be key to unlocking those defences this year. Giroud set as a ‘counter target’ was really impressive in the air, nodding down the ball to the oncoming players such as Griezmann and Mbappe. His pace will always be of concern but there’s more than one way to skin a cat in a game of football and those tall, imposing strikers could be a key weapon this year when hitting people on the counter attack.
This seemed to stand out more in the latest build and it was a little concerning. With the new physicality of the game which is very noticeable, we now also have some clumsy moments with animations and button commands at certain times within the game. Tackling can become a little cumbersome, especially in those tight situations and sometimes coming out of the collision/tackle, animations can seem a little delayed and sluggish. It wasn’t a constant but enough for me to notice it. I’m hoping this has been noted for the final build and been addressed.
Shooting has definitely been refined this year and it feels weighted but not too fast and hard. The ball physics have certainly helped with this. I didn’t really witness any instances of the ‘rising shot’ but I did hit a few sweet knuckle balls that had that dip and swerve that made things very difficult for the GK. I also hit some wild ones too which went far wide of the goal as it’s really dependent on your body shape and positioning. Just pressing shoot won’t end up automatically going towards goal. The ‘chip shot’ is still OP but it requires the perfect timing of execution or the oncoming keeper will get his hands to it but for those highly skilled players, chip shots will still be finding the net with relative ease.
I played on PA1, 2 and 3 on the day and PA1 is definitely borderline manual with passes and shooting going astray with such ease. It will certainly be my preferred choice if I venture into playing the game offline this year. PA2 still had the instances of passes being misplaced and shooting being less guided but it was certainly easier to build up passes with this assistance and I think it will be commonly used online. PA3 actually seemed to speed up the game (which could explain the recent vids that we’ve all seen) as passing and shooting obviously became much easier, it is a slight concern as the majority of online players will potentially use this level of assistance. I know it’s a bug bare for so many people but I think the only way to eradicate these issues and provide a skill gap would be to have just manual and assisted. Without the 3 varying levels. We can all dream eh?
The Goalkeepers were massively improved in 2018 for me and they’ve remained strong into 2019 by the looks of it. There was far less parries from angled shots that would have previously fallen to an oncoming attackers feet, they really seem to get the ball away from the danger zone. There’s some new animations and it seemed like a higher frequency of keepers making saves with their feet which must have been inspired by David De Gea. We still have the reluctance of keepers rushing off their line to oncoming attackers in those 1v1 situations but this is obviously something we have control of to a certain degree if you want to run the risk of being chipped.
Defensive AI positioning
In the E3 code the defensive AI were very tight, formations seemed to have real influence and space was hard to come by. It really felt that you had to work the openings, rather than them just being there. In the demo code this seemed less prevalent and gaps were easier to find. It was a slight concern on the day but overall it’s a definite improvement on last year as in the current version you could find holes that were bigger than craters on the moon!
Frequency of fouls
Please bare in mind that I didn’t play the AI at all on the day but when playing a human opponent the frequency of fouls has definitely increased and you could say at certain times that fouls appear to be given for pretty innocuous challenges which may have you screaming at the screen at times but it just adds to the drama of it all!
Without doubt this is the best looking PES game to date, in 4K it’s a thing of beauty! The lighting effects are stunning and really add a sense of realism to the game. The grass textures are amazing and it’s night and day between 19 and 18. Seriously, flick back to 18 after playing the demo and the difference is astounding. The player models and animations have been enhanced to an unbelievable sense of realism and player id is more noticeable than ever.
Thankfully the game doesn’t appear to have changed too much from the earlier E3 code that I played. (Which is a good thing) I think the game is in very good shape and we could be getting one of the closest simulations of football to date. Everything just feels right in it’s current incarnation, the game has a real weight to it, from the ball physics to the player physicality. The pace of the game is perfect! The only concern I have which I think every other online player has, is the games stability online which could potentially scupper the hard work of the development team. But let’s reserve judgement until the game has been released and let’s not forget we will all appreciate the Power Of Football very soon! Hopefully I’ll come across some of you in the online demo, until then, peace out!