Pro Evolution Soccer 2019
Pro Evolution Soccer’s gameplay has captivated in past years, and after my hands-on with the game at E3 2018 I’m happy to say that realistic but eminently fun gameplay is still the series’ bedrock in PES 2019.
The main thing that strikes me about PES 2019’s gameplay is the ball itself. I’ve always liked the way PES’ ball has felt when shooting and for deliciously weighted through balls, and this year you can definitely see players reacting to it differently from last year. It may take an extra second for a player to bring down that chest-high lofted pass on the touchline or take an extra touch in order to get the ball under control. You can also see it in some passes, as a lofted pass with curve on it forces the recipient to adjust.
PES 2018 made a point to slow the game down, and ironically, the free movement of the ball makes the action tick along briskly even though PES brand manager Andre Bronzoni told me that nothing had been done to the game’s actual speed per se. PES 2019 features snow in appropriate stadiums, and although it does not accumulate, Bronzoni says it and rain will affect the ball.
Elsewhere on the gameplay front during my hands-on time I perceived that players got headers off quicker (requiring less of a windup) and fouls occurred when expected (for both teams) without it being a parade of yellow cards. This was a point of contention last year, and Bronzoni says that some leagues should be more strict about fouls (like in Brazil) than others (such as in Scotland).
Visable fatigue is new element of the game, and I certainly saw players with their hands on their knees while waiting for a throw-in, for example. The onscreen quick sub system (similar to FIFAs) can be used to adddress fatigue, but I don’t think players’ actual fatigue levels (viable in the pause menu) were different from last year. Despite this, pushing fatigued players will lead to injuries, and it will drain players’ overall stamina reserves game-to-game in the Master League mode.
The Master League is an area that PES 2019 needs to succesfully address, and one of the central components is the transfer system. Konami says it’s being overhauled (click for some more basic details on the game), but I did not get a lot of information on this front. I am, however, disappointed to hear that outside clubs don’t influence players' transfer prices during negotiations even though they’re listed as being interested the same player you are. Club prestige is a concept, however, that comes into play when it comes to whether players sign with your club or not. Smaller clubs will be out of luck for the big names until they are more established. This has been the case in past Pro Evos, so I’m unclear how PES 2019 is distinct.
MyClub is also getting a makeover, with the most notable being that Konami is releasing special versions of players through the year. It's also ditching the black ball system where scouts and agents based on certain player characteristics are stacked to increase the chances that you’ll pull the player you like.
MyClub in 2019 lets you see who you’re going to sign, although agents are still used to find specific players. Bronzoni wouldn’t say if the packs you’ll buy consist of players, agents, or a mix, but overall he says that the odds of gamers getting the players they want shouldn’t be vastly different.
The developer is still figuring out how it’s going to handle auctions – which had a useful two-stage bidding system – given the big changes to the mode, but the dual stars/GP currencies are the same. Moreover, users can still train players.
Nothing is written in stone just yet for PES 2019 – there are still a lot of details I'd like to know for the Master League and MyClub modes. We’ll have to wait and see how those shake out, but once again gains have been made on the gameplay front that certainly show that the game is putting its best foot forward.