A Tour Of Pro Evolution Soccer 2014's Master League Online
Here's a quick rundown of GI editor Matthew Kato's futility – but fun – in PES 2014's Master League Online.
Pro Evo 2014: Master League Online is a rough approximation of the Master League, although it doesn't exactly mirror the structure and components of the offline career mode. You start out by picking which league you want to start in: Association (fast and physical), Lega Catenaccio (defensive), Continental (technical), and Galactico (superstars). These made up groupings roughly correspond to certain styles of play. While you're free to play however you like, the free agents in each league are cheaper based on their style of play. Thus, if you are in the Lega Catenaccio league, defensive players are more affordable. You can switch to any of the first three leagues at any time, but you'll only gain entrance to Galactico after earning 20,000 Total Assets Points.
All of the leagues except the Galactico league have a wage cap, which means each player costs a certain number of Player Cost points that cannot exceed a specified amount. This starts out at 1,200 points, but it goes up as you play online. At random I started out with Genoa in the Association league, and my initial roster – comprised mainly of players in the high-60s and low-70s – was at 1,192 out of 1,200 points. After going 0-1-3 in my first four matches, my point ceiling was at 1,234.
The roster you start with isn't much, but improving it is part of the mode's fun. Because fatigue isn't carried through from match to match, you can get away with cutting a few players from your initial roster in order to gain some cap space to buy new ones. Player costs vary and are not just based on overall rating. Big-name players will cost you even if they have a similar overall as a less-well-known player, so do some shopping if you want to find value.
As you play you'll find squads that have similar players as you, since all the players you can sign aren't constrained to a fixed league pool. The number of players you can sign grows as your wage cap does whether you win or lose.
Master League Online is free, and there aren't any microtransactions. It does, however, require a hefty download that is not included on the disc.
In my time playing the Master League Online I had one disconnect. I'm not sure who's connection was responsible, but the game gave me the loss. Regardless, even getting a few asset points for a loss should hopefully encourage players not to rage quit.
The game gives you various ranking designations, including a star skill level (four max.), a Team Strength Level, Total Asset Level, and more. When matchmaking with teams, the game also gives you options that allow you to change how strict or loose you want it to be. This includes tweaking variables such as playing those within your league, going up against those of a similar Team Strength Level, those who use the same Support Settings, and teams within a specified rating radius (ex. +/- 50, +/- 100, etc.).
I played around with the latter setting, and felt good going up against the teams presented. It will be interesting to see how the matchmaking holds up as more people play the game.
For more on the game, take a look at my review.