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PES 2018 Beta Impressions

PES 2018

PES 2018 Beta Impressions

When Konami announced an online beta was to be released for PES 2018  the reaction from the community was one of overwhelming excitement. After all, who doesn’t want to get their hands on a new game nearly three months ahead of release?

As I downloaded the beta and counted down the minutes until it was finished I booted up PES 2017 as sort of an annual tradition. There’s no better way to compare than to play the older edition before cracking open the latest and greatest. Forgoing the main intent of the beta (more to come on that later) I was eager to see and more importantly, “feel” the changes, whether they be aesthetic or cosmetic.

Without further ado, let’s dig into this delicious beta.

Modes

The 2018 beta features two separate modes:

Online Quick Match – Randomly selected opponents with the ability to filter by “Connection Type” and “Assistance Level

and

Co-Op Mode – Connect with two other random players to take on three other humans or play verse the AI

The modes might be limited but there’s still plenty of fun to be had. Without lag (more on that to come), quick matches online are reminiscent of times when you and your buddies would sit in front of a TV and play until your eyes bleed (not literally of course).

Co-Op brings a whole new level of enjoyment as you team up with two other randoms and either take on the AI or a set of human players. This mode is where I’ve spent the majority of my time and the little taste now is only going to wet my appetite further come release. When paired with teammates who understand positioning, tactics, and are willing passers it can be very rewarding. Paired with players who want to showcase their arsenal of tricks can cause the mood to turn sour quickly. 

Online Connectivity

Konami expressed their intentions very clearly when announcing the beta. Poor online performance, whether that be server-related or mode variety, is one of the main areas where PES historically lags behind FIFA (Licenses obviously being #1).

Years and years of laggy matches have left a sour taste in the ever-expanding online crowd. Couple this with layer upon layer of tedious menus and it can seem like hours pass by before you can make a connection.

Thankfully, proved by the overall overwhelmingly positive feedback (According to Adam Bhatti 90% of the matches are of good quality when it comes to connection. While it is still premature to speculate on the menus, the ease at which finding a match is a welcome relief as is the generally lag-free gameplay.

I wonder if Konami’s new servers can handle a tenfold increase in users.”

The 3 vs 3 Co-Op play was a little troublesome at first when it comes to connecting to a match but Konami have since remedied the issue and given fans a new way to enjoy the game. Online is never going to be as smooth as offline but the fun gameplay we enjoy offline is a close replication online. Still, the final test will come once the game is released and Konami’s global audience attempt to connect with each other.

As good as the beta is when it comes to connectivity I wonder if Konami’s new servers can handle a tenfold increase in users.

Gameplay

Because it’s all about gameplay for PES and as a sim-based community it would be foolish to not talk about the gameplay. Its tough to judge all aspects of gameplay from an online beta centered around human vs human matches. Issues from PES 2017 like spacing, positioning, and game pace usually rear their ugly heads when humans are matched up against each other.

It’s not uncommon to see your human teammates in co-op mode gravitate towards the opposing player on the ball like seven year-olds but with a slower and more realistic pace coupled with new defensive mechanics the gameplay is markedly improved over last year’s edition.

Quick players like Neymar, Dembele, and Coutinho feel dangerous on the ball, ready to skin a defender at a moment’s notice. Not to be outdone, the physical players such as Giroud and Pogba are equally as effective using their size and strength to make the most out of the game’s new auto-shielding feature.

“…with a slower and more realistic pace coupled with new defensive mechanics the gameplay is markedly improved over last year’s edition.”

I’ll admit, I was very skeptical of having the game determine when it should be used but so far my experience with auto-shielding has been exceedingly positive. Not only does it play it out well contextually, players who should use their body like the aforementioned Pogba and Giroud do so, only helping to create solid hold-up play with their backs-to-goal.

The affects of this new feature extend beyond this though as you’re less reliant on quick, unrealistic first-touch passes when put in this situation, thus slowing the pace of the match down to a more believable level. Yes, it takes time to trust this new feature and adapt, both offensively and defensively as it’s all-so tempting to try and go through a player’s back to dislodge the ball risking fouls, but the developers at Konami have hit a home-run with this one.

I’ve become very good friends with the jockey button”

If I had to sum up in the gameplay in two words it would be “hello freedom”. Everything from dribbling to passing reeks of this newfound freedom. Letting the ball run into space, running onto through balls, and having the game respond to your button input harkens back to the PS2 days when PES was ultra-responsive.

Conversely, dealing with these new attacking options is a welcome challenge. No more “heat-seeking” perfectly timed tackles. In it’s place is a more realistic risk-reward system that punishes players for diving in.

Look, it’s going to take time to adjust, but in my experience thus far I’ve become very good friends with the jockey button. Maybe it’s the internal defender in me that welcomes this challenge but the idea that you must square an attacker up, push him towards help/the touchline is what defending is and should be about.

Thankfully keepers are much improved and your AI teammates will throw their bodies in-front of shots causing deflections.”

While the gameplay is very strong, it’s not without it’s faults. Passing Assistance Level 1 (PA1) is still a little bit too precise with the game sometimes playing passes off the ground in tight space where a simple grounded ball would suffice.

Shooting still stuffers from too many clean connections resulting in on-target and at-times, very powerful shots. Thankfully keepers are much improved and your AI teammates will throw their bodies in-front of shots causing deflections. One area where keepers could use some improvement is in dealing with finesse shots. They’re still a little too accurate and “floaty” for my tastes.

Overall keepers are solid though and boast a plethora of new animations whether it be saves, throws, or just better general awareness. Player switching is also a little wonky right now although Konami says that it, as well as other things, have been addresses since this pre-E3 build.

I was also able to find in the menu the option to turn off the “next player indicator” as I found it a little distracting.

Everything Else

Visually the game looks improved with Konami somehow pulling off the rare feat of pulling the default camera back and still managing to show off their amazing player models. With only two teams available and being two of the premier international sides you’d expect the player details and individuality to shine and it does. Pogba, sporting blonde-hair, is easily distinguishable from his midfield teammate Kante.

Audio is still hit or miss with the opinion coming down to your fondest for the announcers, Peter Drury and Jim Beglin. I’m personally not a fan of someone screaming at me for 90 virtuall minutes but one can’t deny Drury’s passion for the dramatic. Beglin, as always in this series leaves a lot to be desired. He often goes missing and at times will even talk over Drury as he attempts to inject his two cents. I’m usually guilty of turning the commentary volume down once I get my hands on the final game and I expect this year to be no different.

“…this Beta is a breath of fresh air.”

Menus are still a little funky and inconsistent. The initial match screen menus are fine but once you get past the top layer they are still as outdated as ever with the exception of the “Gameplan” screen which now boasts all faces in your starting 11. Tactically there are some new options with wingbacks, the new vogue in real-life, represented for the first time in a while. Still, with a limited time to explore (~120 seconds), it’s hard to really dig into tactics to see their true impact. 

At a time when most have been done with last year’s footy offerings for quite a while, this Beta is a breath of fresh air. Even with the limited number of teams available, the day when this beta goes away (July 31st) will a somber occasion.

From there the countdown to Gamescom, where more information on licenses and modes are announced, will officially begin. While there’s no news of when the demo will drop, Konami’s Brand Manager Adam Bhatti has hinted that they’re building the biggest demo ever!

Until then let’s just enjoy the beat because if Konami gets their online right, we’ll likely never have access to the newest iteration of PES this early.

How has your PES 2018 beta experience been thus far?

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Discussion
  1. KG, the focus on space and positioning on defence is huge for me and happy Konami went in the direction of a slow more controlled game. 3v3 is great especially when you have teammates who are on the same page as you.
    Only one quick match for me, but I was pleasantly surprised at the pace of the match -- even with my opponent attempting to spam through balls to Giroud all match. Default pass assist isn't as automatic as 2017, but I agree shooting needs to be more contextual. Haven't had the time to try Co-op yet; I'm sure it can be a blast.
    Qb
    Only one quick match for me, but I was pleasantly surprised at the pace of the match -- even with my opponent attempting to spam through balls to Giroud all match. Default pass assist isn't as automatic as 2017, but I agree shooting needs to be more contextual. Haven't had the time to try Co-op yet; I'm sure it can be a blast.

    We'll have to link up QB!
    Also, what a strategy, sending balls for Giroud to run onto lol.
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    KG
    We'll have to link up QB!
    Also, what a strategy, sending balls for Giroud to run onto lol.
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    Yeah, didn't have much trouble sweeping those up.
    The funny part is, from the kickoff after I scored, he did the old frustration dribble straight ahead into my team with Pogba and sliced right through (I think the deep defensive line tactic was on). Slipped a little through ball to Giroud of course when I had to pull a CB forward to cover for the CMs Pogba left in his wake. Keeper couldn't close it down in time and it was 1-1.
    Then he went right back to banging long through balls to the slow guy...
    My biggest issue so far is the responsiveness in general. Maybe it's my connection, or maybe I'm used to FIFA. But just one-touch passes or simple moves seem to take too much time. I'm constantly stuck in an animation, and I'll lose the ball.
    Another complaint is..the passes sometimes dont go to the teammate I want it to go to. It's hard to explain, but I feel like FIFA has like a 6th sense at knowing who I want the ball to go to.
    But the game is def much more fun. Much better overall than last year. I think I'll buy the game this year. Hopefully retail version cleans some stuff up a bit.
    sva91
    My biggest issue so far is the responsiveness in general. Maybe it's my connection, or maybe I'm used to FIFA. But just one-touch passes or simple moves seem to take too much time. I'm constantly stuck in an animation, and I'll lose the ball.
    Another complaint is..the passes sometimes dont go to the teammate I want it to go to. It's hard to explain, but I feel like FIFA has like a 6th sense at knowing who I want the ball to go to.
    But the game is def much more fun. Much better overall than last year. I think I'll buy the game this year. Hopefully retail version cleans some stuff up a bit.

    Yeah my only complaint too, loose balls in the box are hard to pick up because if you dont have fast reflexes the opponent will strip u for an easy goal.
    Both very very valid issues sva and bballshawn. Passing and player switching are my two biggest issues with the beta but I've seen numerous tweets from Bhatti owning up to these two and saying that they're fixed in the Gamescom build he's playing. I too have had issues where my pass goes to the wrong player on PA1. I'll give manual some more time in the next few days to see if this helps.
    I've also been told by people who played it at E3 that the keepers were better in that build. I think they're pretty solid overall but occasionally they'll make some odd positional decisions when the ball goes wide in the box.
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Finally played some Co-op last night, fun stuff, even with the occasional ballhogging teammate. Definitely noticed a slight delay in responsiveness that wasn't there in 1v1 (only talking a few matches, so take it FWIW). It wasn't anything that makes me not want to play, it just takes some adjustment when you combine it with the extra pressure often present with multiple human opponents.
    However, it did cause my least favorite PES animation to appear far too often... the floaty pop-up chest trap. It looks very unnatural, especially since the ball generally behaves quite realistically as it deflects/caroms/rebounds.
    I used to be a big Pro Evo fan on 360 for a little bit. It's the reason that I play with alternate in controls in Fifa to this day. However, I just can't get into the gameplay anymore. It has some good things going for it, but I hate the way that the game feels. If I enjoyed playing it more I could justify picking it up, but there's really no reason to at this point. I played a guy in the beta and knew it wasn't for me.
    It would also be nice to see them get their menus up to par at some point. The game just feels like it's trying to be low tier. Little fixes like that could help a little bit.
    Qb
    Finally played some Co-op last night, fun stuff, even with the occasional ballhogging teammate. Definitely noticed a slight delay in responsiveness that wasn't there in 1v1 (only talking a few matches, so take it FWIW). It wasn't anything that makes me not want to play, it just takes some adjustment when you combine it with the extra pressure often present with multiple human opponents.

    I agree with this... the co-op is playable though which is a good thing. I think this could great with a friend or 2

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