So, with the PES 2018 beta in the books, I thought I’d take some time out to explore my own thoughts and feelings around the newest offering from the team at Konami. A bit of a disclaimer in the sense that Adam Bhatti has publicly stated that due to time constraints, the build that we got to play was from around May time, meaning that on release of the demo (release date TBC), we could see some small changes that improve the game even further! With that being said, I’ll try and delve into some positives and negatives within this small review, but you can expect a review of the demo and of the full game upon release. So, let’s get down to it……
- Start Menu
On the face of things, the menu has had a gloss of paint on it. Looking similar to the design we’ve become accustomed to, Konami has brought it into line with the new ‘neon’ colour scheme that they have implemented. On the limited range that we had on the beta, it seemed to function well, everything was easy to find and changes could be made easily. For me, it looks good and I’m looking forward to seeing the full game menu and exploring new options etc.
- Matchmaking/Online Experience
Now to a big topic regarding the beta, which is the Matchmaking options and Online Experience. This has been a very important subject in the PES community for such a long period of time. It’s refreshing to see Konami take this step and introduce an Online Beta. Realistically, they never had to do anything like this, but it’s great to see them make this huge step and personally, I feel it’s started to build bridges with disillusioned fans and vocal corners of the community. Now onto the meaty stuff, the lag. Was there lag? In parts yes, 1v1 was pretty steady throughout and 3v3 was dicey to begin with. But with patches and updates to the Beta, the overall online experience became near flawless. 3v3 has the potential to be one of the biggest additions in the history of PES. Imagine, teaming up some of the best PES players in the world and facing them off against each other (PESLeague, if you’re listening, make it happen!). 1v1 is where I’d consider my home and that was perfect all the way through the Beta.
In terms of actual matchmaking, it was good to see that a feature to filter different ‘Team Classes’ was available. How I have lamented the fact that I couldn’t play as Aston Villa online last year due to no option being there to filter out your Real Madrids and Barcelonas, so I look forward to having a much more varied experience of 1v1 this year. Finding games was pretty easy aswell, in the early going, it took some time to find games, but as the Beta went on, it became quicker to find games. As with everything in this Beta, if given the time, the game just got better.
Again, a crucial subject of the Beta was the gameplay. Now hand on heart, I can’t sit here and say the game is perfect, but at the same time, the Beta was never here to be judged for this. It was an early build from May and it was the first time I had hands on the game. What I can sit here and say is is that game looks and feels vastly improved. The ball feels heavier, your passes have to be timed and powered appropriately otherwise you’ll be seeing a lot of the ballboys. Defending feels like an actual challenge this year. Holding buttons doesn’t cut it anymore and you have to be actively defend an attack. Goalkeepers have had some improvements, however there were a few episodes of a GK parrying it high into the air only for it to fall into the net anyway. On another negative note, some players felt a bit sloppy when receiving the ball, in the sense that the player lacked a response to the all and was almost ‘stuck’ for a lack of a better term, to collect the ball. Granted, it’s a early build and to be honest, I’m not going to bury the game. For the most part, it is incredibly fun to play. I’d say that if this was an early build, Konami’s development team are certainly heading in the right direction. Shooting at times felt a bit overpowered, but I’m sure that tweaks here and there are still yet to be made. Manual shots seem to fly in at close range, so look out for people using them a lot (including myself!). The use of Advanced Instructions now feels (at least to me) that it makes a difference Online. I felt that last year, it was more of a placebo effect in the sense that they didn’t feel like they impacted my team’s way of playing last year, so that’s a bonus! The new shielding mechanic works very well and you can certainly feel the difference when Giroud is trying to hold off Thiago Silva, so we may see stronger forwards being used to dribble as opposed to the aerial battle we came to know in PES2017. Dribbling at times has felt easier to perform this year, but I think that may be down to people getting used to the new defending style, so Neymar and Coutinho especially, felt as though they were gliding on water going around defenders.
Originally I was going to talk about Player Ratings, however statements online seem to suggest that they are subject to change at this stage. And with a lot of things in this article, they may be changed as of the release of the demo.
- Final Thoughts
As much as I would have loved to do a comprehensive review, the truth of the matter is that the Beta was never designed for such a review. It was meant to be for the fans and community to assist and improve Konami’s understanding of connectivity issues. What it also gave us is a brief snapshot into the beast that PES2018 hopes to become. Balance and timing appear to be paramount to success and with an improved presentation of the game, PES looks set to gain even more ground on FIFA this year, at least from a gameplay standpoint. Licences will always be an issue when EA monopolise them, but hopes are high for a stunning game, matched with the online stability that we always wanted. For me, I’m still at a 7/10 for anticipation, but expect this to ramp up nearer to release. The more we hear and see from Konami, the more anticipation will grow. I hope that for gamers’ sake, that our faith isn’t misplaced and we get a game to be proud of playing.
That sums up my final thoughts, I’ll see you back here for an in depth breakdown of the PES2018 demo!