The Sports Desk – A New Football Experience

by Matthew Kato on Sep 05, 2016 at 10:00 AM

The NFL season is right around the corner, and with EA's Madden already out, you're probably looking for even more video game football. Today's Sports Desk features a title that you may not have heard of which could satisfy that need. Plus, if you're a fan of the other brand of football, soccer, I've got an analysis of Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 Advanced Instructions from the game's demo – a feature that should be invaluable out on the pitch.


Pro Strategy Football 2016 is made by one person – the dedicated Kerry Batts. Batts makes the game in his spare time, and it's packed with features that only a die-hard football fan would include.

The unlicensed game puts you in the role of both coach and GM of a pro team, and you call the shots from what plays to run (which you then see play out automatically via sweet old-school graphics) to whom to draft.

The game is very user friendly in both its menu systems and options. For instance, play calling can be automated (there are also suggested and favorite plays), you can sim the draft, or choose to see potential draftees' abilities or not. On the other hand, you can also choose your own defensive line shifts, instruct your players to try and get out of bounds as the clock winds down, and obsess over the player ratings and team tendencies to come up with a master gameplay from play to play.

The routes of individual receivers can be altered via the expert play calling option. Players can switch between beginner and expert every play.

While Pro Strategy Football isn't as expansive as soccer's Football Manager series, for instance (this is the creation of one person, after all), I was impressed with some of the touches Batts includes. You can see replays of simmed games and edit player names. Player are improved via drills and training camp. The draft day trading system features the well-known point system for draft picks. There's even local competitive multiplayer.

The offseason does not include key features like free agency and contracts due to the real-life complexity of that aspect of football, but Batts says he's considering adding a light version of free agency featuring contracts and franchise tags. Similarly, he might add a potential attribute for players in order to create gems and busts. Both features may come out post-launch depending on what the community thinks, or perhaps they'll be shelved for next year. Batts is being flexible with these post-launch possibilities. Online multiplayer and other potential additions to the Steam version of the game are also up in the air.

There's no such thing as too much football, and Pro Strategy Football 2016 presents a slightly different take on this familiar game.

Pro Strategy Football 2016 comes out in September 6 on PC. The Mac version should follow later in September, with those for the iOS and Android coming out later. Pricing among the different platforms varies, and there will be some slight differences between the desktop and mobile versions.

Check out its Steam page or the game's official website for more.

Missed some of the previous Sports Desk entries? Take a look at the past installments via our Hub page by clicking on the banner below.

Have a suggestion or comment? Put it in the comments section below, send me an email, or reach me on twitter at @mattkato.



The demo for Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 is out now in advance of the full release on (September 13), and one of the key features of this year's game is Advanced Instructions. These are offensive and defensive tactics above and beyond the usual set of strategic options that shape how your team plays. I tried out some of them in the demo and wanted to give you a quick overview of the difference they can make.

The optional instructions are activated via the Game Plan menu, and you can choose four total: two offensive and two defensive. During the game you can select between the different instructions by holding down the left trigger and pressing the d-pad in the appropriate direction. An icon at the bottom of the screen near the player name shows you which ones are currently turned on.

Offensive Instructions:

  • Hug the Sidelines (Players spread out across the entire width of the field)
  • Attacking Fullbacks (Fullbacks come forward with wingers moving into the middle)
  • Wing Rotation (Forwards cycle along the wing to give the player with the ball options)
  • Tiki-Taka (Teammates take up positions to maximize possession of the ball)
  • False 9 (The striker drops back into the hole and other forwards fill the space)
  • Centering Targets (Designed for lobbing lots of crosses into the box)
  • False Fullbacks (The fullbacks tuck into the midfield ahead of the center backs)

Defensive Instructions:

  • Tight Marking
  • Deep Defensive Line
  • Swarm the Box (Defenders bunch near the goal)
  • Counter Target (Some forwards stay past the halfway line looking for a fast counter)
  • Gegenpress (Multiple players aggressively try to win back the ball when possession is lost)

Not all of the instructions were available in the demo (such as False Fullbacks and Gegenpress), but I got a good idea of how useful overall the feature will be.

This is a shot of Atlético building an attack with all of the Advanced Instructions off. Contrast this with the screen below:

Here is a similar attack with Barcelona that uses the Hug the Sideline Advanced Instruction. As you can see, this changes your attacking options. Also, notice the other forward way at the top of the screen at the opposite touchline. Using Hug the Sideline, he'll stay there, giving you an option to switch fields and create width. However, this also takes away a possible defensive option in the midfield if the other team starts a counter-attack.

Here's the tiki-taka instruction, and appropriately ball carrier Alba has more teammates to pass to. They may not be bearing down on the defense as much, but they're making themselves available for more passing options.

On defense, the instructions aren't as complex, but they are undoubtably useful.

Above is the normal defensive back line without any special instructions. Below is that line playing with the Deep Defensive Line instructions.

It's not a massive difference, but it can be important. The trade off here is that the deeper the line you play the more space you open up between your defenders and your midfield. And when you give some opposing forwards time and space they can make you pay.

Below you can see the difference between the Swarm the Box instructions (the first screen) and without any defensive instructions (second screen). Playing more compact in the box naturally leaves you more exposed to passes out to the wing.

Since you can assign and select multiple instructions and change them on the fly, they will be very useful for unlocking your opponent and stymying their own plans (the CPU also uses instructions). I'm very interested to match instructions not only against what my opponent is trying to do, but to maximize my own players' skills and how I like to play the game. It should also help differentiate teams from each other and make them play more like they do in real life.



Fellow editor Matt Bertz has put together a whopping preview covering just about everything you want and need to know about the latest installment of Visual Concepts' venerable hoops franchise.

From gameplay to MyCareer, MyGM, and beyond, Bertz thouroughly breaks down the September 20 title. Check it out here.



NASCAR Heat Evolution (PS4, Xbox One, PC) September 13
NHL 17 (PS4, Xbox One) September 13
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, 360, PC) September 13
NBA 2K 17 (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, 360, PC) September 20
FIFA 17 (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, 360, PC) September 27
Forza Horizon 3 (Xbox One, PC) September 27


A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week.

Infinite Air Gets a Release Date, New Riders & Release Date

Gran Turismo Sport Delayed Into 2017
You had to figure the game was due for its customary delay when Sony canceled the beta that they'd been advertising since the game was announced. If they did it becase it needs it, I've no problem with that. If they did it just to accomodate the Neo, I'm not going to be happy.

FIFA 17 Adds 23 Brazilian Clubs & PES 2017 Adds Chilean Teams
In FIFA, 18 of the teams are from the first division and the rest are from the second division. There were no Brazilian clubs in FIFA 16. Meanwhile, competitor PES 2017 is getting 16 Chilean teams. Neither of these deals are exclusive. As we near release, both franchises are still wheeling and dealing, trying to carve out what they can. It can get confusing – for instance, FIFA has added these Brazilian teams, but PES has an exclusive with Brazilian side Corinthians. Check both games' official websites (here for FIFA and here for PES) to see more.

NASCAR Heat Evolution Announces Its DLC Plans