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Thursday, 04 August 2016 19:34

PES 2017 Impressions

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On Tuesday 2nd August I was lucky enough to be invited to ‘PES Day 2’, an afternoon at Konami HQ in Windsor to give members of the PES community a chance to test out PES2017 before it is released in September. This was the first opportunity to capture gameplay of the new game as well, so expect to see lots of great footage popping up on YouTube over the next few days. This event followed up a similar event they ran in June, PES Day (1), which focused more on feedback and how they can improve on an early code of the game. Having another event in such quick succession shows their intent in bringing the brilliant PES community more involved with the game. 
 
The day started, after a short meet and greet, with a presentation from PES Global Product & Brand Manager, Adam Bhatti. He highlighted some important things to note about PES 2017 and PES going forward. Firstly, he spoke about licencing and partnerships with football clubs. Emphasising the importance of working closely with clubs beyond just being allowed to use their kits, but also working together in both a game development and marketing capacity. Bringing me onto his announcement involving their key partner – Barcelona. There will be up to 20 Barca legends in MyClub this year, including Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Luis Enrique, Puyol, Xavi and Rivaldo; all will have real faces and Player ID! For those who are more interested in offline game modes, there will be the option to own these players in your Master League if you own them on MyClub. They also announced that PES 2017 will have exclusive rights to the Camp Nou, where they have put a real focus on the city outside the stadium to make it a more immersive experience during loading screens. We finished off watching the sublime trailer and were instructed to go get playing!

This was the second time I have been fortunate enough to play PES2017. So naturally I couldn’t wait to get stuck back in.  Here are my thoughts:
 
1. Defensive AI
 
For me, this is the biggest and most notable improvement in this game compared to any of its predecessors. This should provide an immediate improvement to MyClub and Online Divisions where you are playing people outside ‘fair play’ communities, like ProEvoNetwork, as the playstyles are dominated by players playing constant long through balls to ‘exploit’ weaknesses in the game. It is hard to rule it out as an issue completely because those at this event do not play in that way so we could only test it every now and then, not every pass in the game. 
 
But more importantly it has improved the game in all sorts of other ways. Defenders track the runners much better, leaving less emphasis on manual off the ball defending, whilst not being ‘easy mode’ either.  The change will be quite a dramatic shift from PES 2016 which greatly favoured the attacking team, with their being regular score fests. Responsiveness of defenders also felt great as they would react better to ‘loose’ balls in the area. This shift makes the opposition a much harder unit to break down both if you are trying to pass through them and also if you are looking to play lots of crosses, because defensive positioning seems so strong. These opinions are consistent with playing both with Barcelona and weaker South American teams.
 
 
2. Tactics
 
In terms of tactics I can't go too far into it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, on the version we played, all the teams in it were locked in formation and sliders. However, we did have a good choice of teams who all have their own iconic styles. Presumably the intention of this was so we try out a variety of tactics in the way they intend them to be used. As well as this, 3 hours is a relatively small amount of time, so if we were set free with tactics, I doubt we'd have got half as many games in.
 
All the sliders were greyed out; although they were (as I recall) the same as PES 2016. The addition is advanced tactics, which you can turn on and off in game. You can use those in conjunction with your sliders. These will help you adapt your style in game, without hopping into the pause menu. They can also be used from the get-go for instance, you can use 'tiki-taka' alongside 'wingers hug the touchline' to try and mimic that iconic Barcelona formation with David Villa and Henry. This will offer a real tactical depth to the game and should give it a bit more longevity. The advanced tactics come in both attacking and defensive options. You can apply two of each. Exciting stuff!
 
3. Stamina
 
Now in the excitement I wasn't as attentive on this topic as I planned to be, sorry guys! But I did remember for one match before the end. Playing on green sideways arrows, I was Athletico Madrid with Koke and Carrasco on the wings (L/RMF) and Oliver Torres and Saul Niguez in the middle (CMFs). Of the 4 Oliver Torres was the only one completely exhausted at 88mins. Oliver Torres had 68 stamina and Koke in the mid 80s (the only two I checked unfortunately). Koke had a fair amount of juice left. So perhaps this game is more to do with the players stamina rating rather than the position he's in, where L/RMF and AMF would need stamina 85ish to last the full on game on PES 2016. 
 
4. Highlights
 
Highlights were a real highlight for me! They may not be massively polished with impressive cinematics like in FIFA but they don't need to. They do exactly what they should which has been hard to say ever with PES. The highlights starts exactly the point it should and shows the exact replay you want to see first, no more weird ball cam or waiting 20 seconds before the angle comes up that you want. This is in reference to in-game highlights and not post match where I didn't watch, so can't comment on those, sorry fellers.
 
5. Rebounds
 
One you may not like, there were a lot of rebounds in the games I played. So a potential problem there. However the keepers also saved a hell of a lot more than they do on PES 2016, so naturally there will be more parries and in turn more rebounds. It was too small a time playing to make any conclusions. I also don't have a problem with rebounds and view them as a big part of the game IRL, but I know lots of people take objection to them so thought y'all should be aware.
 
6. Passing
 
In some ways more of the same from PES 2016 in terms of assistance levels. It is still a PA1-3 or manual, with PA1 being the default. It still locks on to players like it did before without the freedom PA1 on PES 2015 had. But it certainly isn't all doom and gloom by any means; they have put a lot of work into the passing and it shows. There seems to be more emphasis on both the players stats in that area, as well as body position. The latter should deter the ping pong passing that grinds us all so much. The most impressive thing is how the passing aesthetically looks, the ball/player physics when they pass in an awkward position, looks and feels so realistic. There are so many different ways the players were kicking the ball depending on the buttons you pushed and I imagine the cards the players had. Overall it looks like PES is coming away from the more manual style passing and trying to have a one size fits all mode. Which personally was one of my main gripes with PES 2016, however I enjoyed it on this new version, everyone in the room around me was raving about it as one of their highlights so I am hoping it continues to impress! 
 
7. Shooting 
 
Shooting was brilliant. Maybe it was just the not being used to the game but I was finding it much more challenging, with lots of shots flying just wide of the tactic. This combined with the improved keeping and better defences should keep scores down. The shots weren't only harder to aim but just as passing did, the aesthetics of it really impressed. R2 shots are always a hot topic, but no longer! You can get some real whip on them but it also takes a lot of the weight off, so I don't think we'll see those MyClub Robben corner of the box jobbies on this PES. I scored a beauty with Sané for Germany, coming in off the left, opening up the body as it just guided floatily into the far top corner. But if you want a real sense, check out some gameplay videos and see for yourself.
 
 
8. Referees
 
BREAKING NEWS!! FOULS ARE BACK! One of the only real deficiencies of PES 2016 was the standard of refereeing. It seemed like obstruction wasn't programmed into the game. For the new game, I found the refs good and they have fixed what was broken, but 3 hours really isn't enough time to have any in depth opinions. In terms of playing advantage it plays out a lot differently in this game because of the physicality element; players are always looking to play on. Good players with a low centre of gravity can ride lots of challenges and keep going in a decent flow after a stumble. At these kind of instances in attacking areas the refs play on without fail. However I found in defensive positions, playing it along your back line, they had no interest in playing advantage even if it went straight to another of your players in open space. Not particularly an issue just pointing out the difference in ref behaviour in different situations.
 
 
9. Physicality
 
In my last point I touched slightly on this. This game allows for a lot more physicality than last game, I feel it builds on what it brought into PES 2014 in terms of shoulder barging and tussles.  Having a team full of giants will definitely be an effective strategy as it has a big effect on ball winning and shielding the ball. I think it is come a long way towards reflecting a real football match. I did find that because of this when both teams were doing double tapping square pressure (only for testing purposes of course :shifty:) there were some monster bundles in the middle of the pitch. However with how the advanced tactics work in this game, combating an insane pressure tactic like this should be very possible as you can make your whole team spread out wider with a push of a button (or 2.. L2+UPorDOWN).
 
 
10. Slide Tackles
 
Not as OP in this one folks, tried this lots on the day (testing, I swear!) and it was fouls galore. So many fouls, it is much harder to execute and you can't just continually do it to every oncoming runner (*cough*@Wheresmark). Saying this I saw some incredible tackles on the day, check out one that blueboy captured below.
 
 
11. Crossing and Heading
 
Crossing is a dream, and there has been some real development on different types of headers. You can put some real whip on a ball into the box and players can glance headers from tricky angles and attack them with intent, but finding the striker is no piece of cake - because of the improve AI defenders are in the right positions and can clear out what they should do. Low cross was quite effective, you can do it without quite as much power as you have had to on previous games. This might be due, and maybe it's all in my head but, the power bar going up slightly slower, so the 3 (or 2, I think it is 2 but I still do 3 out of habit) taps take less of the bar to complete - maybe I'm wrong. Pitching it up to the back post worked great with R2+O worked and looked great two with lots of goals being score with the striker throwing himself into the net to get a touch.
 
My only potential gripe, maybe just because I'm not good, is defending corners. There were a hell of a lot of corner goals, I'd say over half the goals I conceded were from corners, granted as God's gift to PES I rarely concede any goals at all. It could be an issue, it could not, I am not sure if anyone else picked up on this or if it was just me. Something exciting about corners though is you have in play options of how you'd like to defend them - man to man or zonal (though I swear there were 3, not sure what the other would have been). I never got the chance to mess around with them, but more on the go tactics are very good to see. And correct me if I'm wrong but we haven't had the option to defend corners in a different way before? Really cool stuff.
 
12. Random Form
 
The golden question we all want to know, will they have random for in friendly match lobbies. I am waiting on an answer from Asim, I will update this article and let you all know when he gets back to me, fingers crossed lads!
 
13. Conclusion
 
Wish you could have all played it and I am sure we won't have too long to wait till the demo (not a hint, they told us nothing). It looks and feels fantastic. There have been vast improvements all over the shop and they have addressed all key areas we have screamed out for. I wish I could have carried on and I would have more to say and could go into more detail about the depth of tactics, but to be honest I just wanted to play the game as much as possible and that meant sacrificing some time in the menus screens.
 
With all my opinions and impressions you have to remember it is not the finished article and things can change for the better or worse. Although you can sense a real pride and swagger about PES from Konami at the moment. They are chuffed with what they've made and from what I have seen, they should be! Will it be perfection? I am sure it won't, but it'll be damn good. 
 
2,500 words is probably enough but no doubt I have missed lots of important stuff, so feel free to ask any questions and I'll try and answer.
 
 
Read 1854 times Last modified on Thursday, 04 August 2016 20:41