Pro Evolution Soccer 2017
Pro Evolution Soccer turned the corner last year and notched a must-play experience with PES 2016. This year the dev team at PES Productions is addressing some well-known issues as well as making its gameplay even tighter and fun to play.
I got some hands-on time with an early build of the game, and came away very impressed in how the team not only shored up some fan complaints, but keeps moving the franchise forward.
Here's a quick breakdown of just some of what's going on in the game.
- Keepers have been dramatically improved. They're much more reactive and liable to get a hand or foot on the ball, and they aren't letting in the goals like they were last year. The new movements and animations are also quite lovely to watch. While they've gotten better at making the saves they should, it's not like they're iron walls, either, which is good.
- Defenses in general are better, cutting down on the through ball in particular. No longer are there wide channels to put in through balls for a 1 v 1 with the keeper.
- The fidelity of players' touch of the ball is remarkable. You can not only see how their foot receives the ball and passes it, but it feels nice being able to take a touch and do a move after. That being said, last year's work on physical play continues, and it's not like you can just dance around everyone. Ball control feels good, and does what you expect, but it's not overpowering.
- Speaking of physical play, the refs are more likely to call fouls, give a card, let the advantage continue, or call for a free kick. If two years ago the refs were too touchy, and last year they looked the other way, then this year it feels just right. I definitely saw fouls that would have not been called last year.
- Fatigue seems to be a little better. My players weren't on red or less by the 70th minute.
- PES Productions says that the game has an adaptive A.I. that adjusts to your play. So if you keep feeding a certain player, it will make sure to double-team that guy as soon as he gets the ball. Similarly, if you keep trying to hoof the long-ball, it'll adjust. This is above and beyond the normal changes to the A.I. if they're behind, for instance.
- The new layer to the tactics system has a lot of options for offensive and defensive play (you can pick two for offense and defense). At first it makes your head spin a little, but I got used to calling them after a while. Off the top of my head, there were easily 10 or more on offense and six or seven on defense. Hug Touchline, Attacking Fullbacks, Wing Rotation, False 9, Tika-Taka, and Centering Target are just a few of the offensive ones. On defense, there are Gegenpress, Counter Target, Drop Back Defense, and more. Last year's tactical options are still there, and this year's are initiated by pressing left trigger and then the corresponding d-pad button.
- You can also ask your keeper to come up for corners.
- There will be tutorials for some if not all of the tactics.
- For corners you can d-pad strategies like Dash, Train (where your guys get in a line), Far Post, and 6-Yard Box. Defenses can also arrange themselves in a zone or man marking.
DAY ONE UPDATE, MASTER LEAGUE & MORE
- Konami is promising a day-one roster update, and Adam Bhatti global product and brand manager for PES, says that last year's problem has been fixed and the team is committed to weekly updates. The updates will be online and offline.
- Edit files to import real kits are now much easier. Fans can put up their creations as USB files which can be shared and uploaded. This is for PS4 only, Xbox One is not included.
- Master League will have more drama for deadline day.
- You can't tweak offer amounts for transfers.
- Your Master League budget is now split between the money you have for player salaries, and the money you have for transfer fees.
- Developing players via loaning is much bigger part of the experience, developing your players, and managing your roster.
- There are now 22 roles for players.
- The training system has been overhauled, including learning their positions and skills (which are also part of players' growth).
- New stadiums will be announced at a later date.
- MyClub now has a scout auction system. You still have scouts and agents, but by auctioning for specific scouts, you can get a specific player you want.
- A MyClub pre-match analysis screen gives you some info about your opponent.