Welcome to our weekly FIFA 17 vs. PES 2017 debate. Over the course of a multi-part series, OS contributors Fraser Gilbert and Kevin Groves will be discussing the differences between each game in a variety of areas.
This week, we’re taking a look at gameplay.
Fraser Gilbert’s Take:
FIFA 17 and PES 2017 are wildly different games from an on-the-pitch perspective. As someone seeking the most authentic football experience possible, I see PES 2017 as the more preferable option of the two. That’s not to say that FIFA 17 is a bad game, but a disjointed one. FIFA’s highlights are plentiful, with the game packing incredible goalkeepers, refined passing mechanics, new shielding mechanics and more. It feels like it has been developed for CPU play, and there’s a lot of fun to be had in that setting, despite the lack of tactical diversity.
Much has been made of PES 2017‘s disappointment in terms of online play, particularly due to an apparent lack of dedicated gameplay servers. It’s a shame because, while the game suffers from occasional button lag and slow matchmaking, matches are very enjoyable when a smooth connection is established. FIFA 17‘s online servers are much easier to work with, but multiplayer gameplay only serves to highlight the game’s unbalanced mechanics, putting too much emphasis on attack and not enough on defense. The AI begins to suffer too, falling out of position on a semi-regular basis. That said, casual and arcade-favoring fans might actually enjoy multiplayer contests in their current format, offering an abundance of end-to-end gameplay, pacey attacks and regular goal opportunities.
“Much has been made of PES 2017‘s disappointment in terms of online play, particularly due to an apparent lack of dedicated gameplay servers. It’s a shame because, while the game suffers from occasional button lag and slow matchmaking, matches are very enjoyable when a smooth connection is established..”
However, I live and breathe soccer, and in my eyes, PES 2017 offers one of the best representations of my beloved sport since the series’ PS2 days, both in a single player and multiplayer setting. It doesn’t do this through a host of new headline features or a wild restructuring, but via expertly crafted refinements. Not only does it get the basics right, but it captures many of the intricacies and complexities that make the sport of soccer such a captivating game to follow.
Adaptive AI is a good example of this. It allows the AI to learn how you play and adapt its strategy over time, requiring you to get involved with some of the more tactical elements of soccer, changing formations and implementing advanced tactics on a game-by-game basis. Elsewhere, goalkeepers are a revelation, making huge advances over one of last year’s weakest areas. Everything from passing to player movement has been enhanced, making the experience feel more fluid and authentic than ever before. It’s not perfect, but minor irritations like strange referee decisions and cursor-switching issues are unable to overshadow the primarily excellent gameplay. As someone who felt EA had the upper hand in this area last year, I’m astounded at the PES series’ progression in such a short period of time.
“However, I live and breathe soccer, and in my eyes, PES 2017 offers one of the best representations of my beloved sport since the series’ PS2 days.”
As a whole, PES 2017 feels like the more realistic, balanced and rewarding experience of the two. It flows more naturally than its competitor, offering a superb gameplay experience across all areas of the pitch. For that reason, Konami takes the victory.
Kevin Groves’ Take:
For the first time in years, the footy gaming community has two good console games to choose from. As Fraser stated, their differences stand out like a blonde-haired Messi and ultimately come down to a “what can you live with” type of approach. When it comes to the pace of a match, FIFA 17 better represents what we see on TV. While it’s still entirely possible to burst through the defense (on default — no sliders applied), the midfield is much more present, which requires users to practice patience and build their attack as opposed to PES 2017 where the action is, for the most part, more frantic and geared towards a back-and-forth game. Despite these midfield shortcomings, PES 2017 is somehow able to replicate team individuality, leading to a more varied experience.
Despite workarounds (FIFA – Sliders, PES – Tactics), both games suffer from bouts of odd positioning that can lead to panic-inducing moments. The difference between the two games is how well your teammates are able to compensate and react, and this is where PES 2017 clearly outperforms FIFA 17. FIFA has always taken a defensive approach heavily dependent on frequent player switching, even with its two different defensive approaches (Tactical vs. Legacy), and FIFA 17 is no exception. Whereas in PES 2017 you can control one player, say a ST/CF, and have confidence in your defense maintaining its shape, FIFA 17 requires extreme discipline on the user’s part to not pull players out of formation. Despite the plethora of clubs and real-life likenesses, I still find myself breaking down the defense in FIFA 17 in the same ways as past seasons. Getting the ball wide and then cutting in still leaves the defense on the back-foot as CPU players struggle with the concept of attackers entering and leaving their zones; they cannot seem to grasp whether or not they will pass the player off or stay with them.
“Despite these midfield shortcomings, PES 2017 is somehow able to replicate team individuality, leading to a more varied experience.”
While the games are in motion, considering the lack of animations when compared to FIFA 17, I still find myself leaning towards PES 2017. Despite loving the new shielding control in FIFA 17, I’ve found that it produces a lot of strange animations, especially from the CPU. It just can’t seem to understand where to use shielding and when to get out of it. PES 2017 takes an automated contextual approach that looks good when triggered but ultimately falls short as it should be mapped to a button. Even with all its freedom, player movement is still a bit too jittery for my tastes in FIFA 17. Player weight has been a strong point in PES since the switch to the Fox engine in 2014, but it could still use some fine-tuning when players collide as FIFA’s referee logic is superior. PES 2017 finally re-introduced fouls but there are still numerous occasions where you’re left screaming at the screen, especially when in the penalty box where it seems the ref swallows his whistle too frequently.
“Even with all its freedom, player movement is still a bit too jittery for my tastes in FIFA 17. Player weight has been a strong point in PES since the switch to the Fox engine in 2014…”
While it’s not perfect by any means when it comes to gameplay, PES 2017 takes this category as it does a better job of mimicking the difference between clubs, and offers distinct styles due to its advanced tactical instructions. FIFA 17‘s core gameplay is good enough on its own, but considering its stranglehold on licenses and improved graphics, the game feels a tad on the generic side, especially in career mode when you start playing different clubs across the continent.
Winner: PES 2017
Note – This gameplay for FIFA was pre-Title Update #1 and w/o tinkering with sliders.