Played PES 2018 at Gamescom...
I worked at Gamescom last year and played the PES 2017 demo last year... came away from Cologne, feeling FIFA was the much better game and that PES felt dreadful. Even though I still bought PES for BAL mode.
Working at Gamescom again this year and I can't help but feel like I'm coming away from the game with a very different opinion in mind...
So, I managed to play quite a few 10min games of the PES 2018 demo this year. The PS4 version to be exact (unless it was on PC, using PS4 controllers - but I don't think that was the case unlike what other games do).
- I came away from the online beta feeling disappointed because it felt like there was too much input lag & server lag. But I can assure you anyone who felt the same and mainly plays PES for the single player modes, need not worry. The game speed is slower than last year - in a good, realistic style way - and players certainly feel heavier. In the past when trying to slow PES down, players tended to feel and look slightly sluggish and robotic. Now, this could be because I mainly played with Liverpool, Dortmund, Barcelona, Germany who have a higher quality of player (and licensed), rather than one of the weaker sides. However, each player felt like they had an identity. You could feel you were weaving in and out of players with Messi. You could feel Suarez's strength holding and pushing defenders out of the way whilst dribbling between them. I could tell movement was a lot clunkier and heavier with a center back. It's hard to describe but it just felt right and like players had an identity. Whilst in the past, players had a tendency to just all feel the same. However, obviously this might just end up applying to players from licensed teams.
- Graphically, I didn't notice too much has changed from what we've already seen and in some cut scenes it does feel perhaps a little bit overdone to make it cinematic. For example when they line up at the start of a match, there's a strange blur around them. But I don't think it'll be noticeable on a decent TV because to be honest, the TVs they had were pretty poor and there was a strange fps drop every 30 secs or so. But I'm confident we won't have to worry about this. Despite this though, some of the faces were incredible. Suarez looked so life like it was unreal. Goal scoring cut scenes, I saw plenty of ones I haven't recognised before from PES 2017 which was great.
-The menus are still the same, except the poor looking Premier League wannabe colour scheme. But, they get the job done unless you're colourblind.
-AI defending seemed much improved and dare I say it, impressed me off the ball much more than FIFA 18. I'm quite a counter-attacking, defensively minded footballing type of person and one thing that really frustrates me with football games is how braindead CPU/AI defenders are when it comes to getting in the right position to intercept a pass or read the game, step forward from the defensive line and win the ball back automatically. Hate it when they just float around doing nothing and it's unrealistic. The reason I think this is a necessity is because you can't be expected to manually position, control & try to defend with more than one player at once! I found my non-controlled central midfielders, tracking runs, winning balls back and reading the game without me having to do everything which was nice. Some might question whether this could be overpowered or abused, I don't think so but it's hard to tell this early on. I did find it frustrating and a bit of a let down though that if you seemed to switch to an AI controlled defender who's moving to intercept a pass, the defender would 'forget' what they were doing as they were now under your control and stop running towards the ball. Which would then leave your defender in no mans land and the pacier striker or midfielder gets to it first. Slide tackles are also quite varied and it's really satisfying when you pull one off.
- Now, even though AI defending seemed improved, center backs seemed a bit underwhelming in the air. They'd leap up most of the time and get to the ball, but some of the heading I saw when dealing with crosses and corners in to the box or long balls forward was questionable. Or sometimes they'd go for a weird header for a low cross when they could've just hoofed it away instead. I initially thought it was because I was playing as Liverpool and the less said about their defence nowadays the better, but I was experiencing similar things with players like Hummels & Boateng. I think it feels like it could be a type of thing that will be ironed out in the full game though. If this can become more balanced, I think it'll be interesting to see what the balance would be like up against a Giroud or Benzema style/type of striker who were a bit OP last year heading wise. Collisions in general though made sense. It was just strange as the collision would look realistic and great, you'd feel the thump and then your center back would fail miserably at heading a simple floating ball. Happened more often than I would've liked, but when your back line messes up like that... the opposition is in on goal.
- I was disappointed as tactics were locked meaning I couldn't mess around with testing what impact changing the options made on the pitch, but it was clear when playing with Liverpool there was plenty of movement off the ball when we'd retain it to counter attack whilst with Barca there was no urgency at all and they were much narrower. I like it when the response of these settings is clear as it really adds another tactical dimension to the game imo and in return can help you change games in Master League for example.
- Player switching seemed really messed up in the beta, can confirm there seem no significant issues with it anymore and the announcement that it was fixed was right. You'd get the odd switcherooni that would make no sense but it can easily be sorted if you bother to use the analog stick to switch rather than be lazy and use L1. The good news for lazy L1 players (like me) is that it rarely switched to the illogical player.
- As I said before, dribbling was really nice using a mixture of the L2 button (or maybe R2? I have weird controls). With the right player, you can really deal damage cutting inside and creeping in to the box or make just small movements that are just enough to produce a quality bit of play.
- Set pieces are a bit confusing now without the arrow, not quite sure what to think of them even though I still scored from a corner. Was an old fashioned hoof it to the back post, get the center back to header it across goal and hope for a tap in. Just feels like the arrow maybe allowed for a bit more of a customisation or visualisation of what you are going for?
- Some people complained that crosses were OP in the beta, I certainly didn't feel it was that way at all. Granted I had no Giroud in the box to aim at but with the dodgy heading I was seeing from center backs every few headers, strikers were definitely struggling against the strength of defenders. Even early crosses were a struggle and defenders would put everything on the line to get in the way, full on martial arts style which was nice.
- Last man in on goal still doesn't always seem to be a red card. Was a red card once, yellow card the other. Can't comment whether it's an improvement from the weird stuff seen with this regards from the beta.
I'm happy to answer any questions people have, it's 11:30pm here so I can't remember everything that went through my head at the time I guess! If I can't answer them accurately from what I remember, I won't. But just want to hopefully help people out and give you all something to look forward to.
I hope they release some more Master League info. The one feature I'm really hoping for is an option to not have retired players come back to life... rather have more of a newgen/regen system for youngsters. But we'll have to wait and see.
Either way, what really excites me is how good the PC version of the game (coming from a PES 2017 PS4 player) could end up looking with some mods!