This is the time of year where normally sports news, and in general, excitement remains fairly dormant. Thankfully there’s this thing called the World Cup this summer. Mixed in with the summer transfer window and PES 2019 news, and suddenly the summer months don’t seem that dull.
Last week, the team over at Konami dropped some early PES 2019 news on us, and as usual, the community was quick to chime in. With that being said, let’s break down the early news.
“AUTHENTIC LEAGUES: Huge addition of licensed leagues (ICYMI: Konami and UEFA Champions League Parting Ways, PES Will Not Lose Any Team Licenses)”
When news broke regarding Konami parting ways with the official UEFA Champions and Europa League, many wondered how this would impact the already fragile ethos that is PES licenses. For years, Konami incorporated this license into Master League yet somehow struggled to feature all of the clubs participating in the two popular club tournaments — leaving the editing work up to the PES die hards. It’s for this reason that skepticism and confusion regarding this tidbit are warranted. Without knowing the specifics regarding the cost of the UEFA license, one can only speculate that this newly freed money will be allocated towards other precious licenses. Unfortunately due to exclusive deals, the English Premier League won’t be featured in PES 2019, but perhaps strong leagues such as the German Bundesliga and perhaps Spain’s La Liga will be featured once again. It’s no secret that licenses play a huge role in footy game sales, and Konami rightfully led off their list of features with a mention towards licenses. In the past, licenses were hammered out right up until release so as of right now all we can do is sit and wait.
“NEW MYCLUB: Every element has been redone, from how you sign players, to special versions of players released throughout the year”
PES’ rival to FIFA’s highly successful Ultimate Team, MyClub, looks to be the mode that sees the most changes this year. With esports dominating the sports gaming genre, Konami has fully committed their resources towards making this mode an attractive feature for years to come. The introduction of “high performance players” sounds intriguing if these “boosted stats” and “new skills” aren’t overpowered. Legends are always fun to play with so I’m keen to keep an eye open for whom they roll out during the course of the year. Perhaps some classic Master League players like Castolo and Minanda?
“MAGIC MOMENTS: Player individuality taken to the next level with 11 new skill traits, score great goals with improved shooting motion and animation and see stamina have an impact with Visible Fatigue”
Moments of magic have always been a staple of the PES series. In fact, no footy game was able to better replicate individual moments of brilliance that get you out of your seat and playing into the wee hours of the morning. Unfortunately, as PES progressed these moments became all-too-common. Whether it be shots from distance or countless back heels up the entire pitch, the individual moments of flair have been far too common. Where PES once reigned supreme regarding individual playing styles, the last few years have been disappointing when it comes to the uniqueness of certain players, perhaps as a result of removing traits and player cards. Hopefully these new “player styles” and “11 new player traits” will create more recognizable differences among players.
Player individuality, especially when it comes to the AI looks to be addressed. Hopefully the likes of Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo are as dangerous in PES 2019 as they are in real life. Dribbling looks to have been worked upon, hopefully respecting the laws of physics (momentum and inertia) and player individuality. The past few PES iterations have seen burly central defenders being capable of dribbling that would make Messi jealous. Shooting, another sore point for the franchise, appears to have been improved upon although the feature notes seem to focus more on goalies. Hopefully “more varied animations” includes more mishits and scuffs as pure contact is all too common in PES 2018, leading to overpowered shots that find the target far too often. As always with shooting, any changes need to see the same done to goalkeeping to maintain a fine balance. “Visible fatigue” sounds like a much needed tweak, especially online where opponents will press you for all 90 minutes, a feat not even possible by Guardiola’s best Barcelona sides. Injuries, far too uncommon in PES, need to be taken into account as fatigued players are more prone to certain types of injuries than well rested players.
Quick substitutions, introduced in FIFA 18, go hand-in-hand with fatigue and are a great little feature when playing online as you often don’t have the time to always make the proper subs within the allotted time frame.
Lastly, ball physics, which were pretty solid in PES 2018, seem to have been improved upon. Not only first touch, which was pretty well implemented after the latest PES 2018 patch, but ball trajectory should now be determined by your body position and posture. This was once a strong point of PES that seems to have fallen by the wayside over the years as Konami attempted to make the game more fluid and responsive. The aforementioned changes to shooting should see some additional benefits from any changes to ball physics.
“THE BEAUTIFUL GAME: Photo-realism with stunning animation flow in 4K HDR.”
Visually, PES 2018 was as good as it’s ever been on the PS4. Player faces were stellar and updated throughout the year while crowds were finally given a little attention. This year it looks like 4K will finally be available to those on the Xbox One. With their photo-realistic approach, Konami seems to have focused on details and lighting, which varies according to time-of-day and the stadium you’re playing in. Snow has also been added (back-in I might add) with a supposed impact upon gameplay. As long as it’s not overdone and there is an ability to change the game ball, it should be a welcome re-addition. Lastly, the crowds have been enhanced to offer a more stadium-like experience, something that has been missing in the past. Enhanced crowd noise is a welcome addition, but bringing back the custom chant editor from days past would bring the immersion factor to a new level.
“ML REAL SEASON: Experience life as a real manager with 3 significant changes: ICC pre-season, in-depth transfer system and new league licenses.”
Last, but certainly not least is Master League news. For years Master League has seen incremental additions or far worse, elements that quite frankly no one wanted (think Magic boots and all other RPG elements). The ultra popular International Champions Cup has been added, finally giving managers a chance to learn and fine tune their squads before the real season starts. Transfers in specific negotiations have been tuned but specifically how remains to be seen. Hopefully there is an added level of realism as transfer fees and unlikely targets/destinations ruined the summer and winter transfer windows.
“Authentic Leagues Update“
After letting the UEFA license go, Konami promised new licenses and yesterday they dropped news about the inclusion of seven league licenses. In this license/exclusivity world in which footy games occupy this is a pretty big win for Konami. Sure, none of these leagues are considered major in the grand scheme of things but they are important nonetheless. Konami has always struggled to license lesser leagues which in turn hurt their UEFA license as they were dependent upon editors to create realistic tournaments. While there still might be a few minnows left out, inclusion of these smaller domestic leagues should free up valuable editing space while also expanding the player pool. With the inclusion of these newly acquired leagues, it’s up to Konami to increase the authentic and generic stadiums to create a realistic experience. Famous stadiums like the Rangers’ Ibrox will hopefully be included in the final product. Gameplay changes cannot be overlooked as the team over at Konami will need to replicate how these lesser sides play, a feat they’ve struggled with over the last few years as many of us, myself included find ourselves scratching our heads when we see Division 2 clubs back heel their way down the pitch with the panache of a Guardiola managed side.
With an August 30 release date, PES 2019 looks to be a step ahead of its competitor with this early press release. While the additions sound good on paper, it’s how they actually play out on and off the pitch that really matters. Konami has built an early hype machine before, specifically last year with its highly popular beta only to let consumers down with the final product. Areas such as licenses will most likely go down until the final weeks of the game’s release, but gameplay and offline features are two areas that have my attention. As we dive into the summer months with only the World Cup offering a distraction, Konami has the time and stage and to build momentum and hopefully address the community’s never-ending list of concerns.
What must PES 2019 announce to generate excitement and facilitate a purchase come late August?