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PES 2018 World Tour Playtest

Written by ParrishJ

The 23rd of June marked the Anfield leg of the Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 World Tour. The tour is intended to showcase the game to press and the community around the globe, and allow everyone to see captured footage and hop aboard the hype train. For me, the tour really lays down a statement, they are really backing themselves now and upping the marketing and PR spend, happy that the series is now back to its best, it now wants its fans back from the dark side. Another interesting PR stunt is the announcement of Usain Bolt to be in the game, it certainly raised a few eyebrows, but it made just as many headlines. People are talking about PES again, and partnering with one of the biggest sports stars on the planet is sure to make a few new friends too! 



The event was hosted in a hospitability suite at Anfield and was filled with consoles and a room of like-minded community members, and press gagging to get stuck in. So, from the moment I arrived, to the moment I left, I barely put down the controls to try and get the best impression I could. In short, the game is f***ing great. We were let loose on two game modes, exhibition and co-op, with 5 teams to choose from; Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Dortmund, Liverpool, and Brazil. Now bear with me as I ramble on about every aspect of the game.. haha.

One of the first things you notice when you pick up this game is the changed passing mechanics, specifically using the low pass button (X on PS and Q or whatever it is on Xbox). First off, the longer you hold the button not only affects the power, but also its trajectory; passes no longer just glide perfectly atop the grass, a harder X pass will now have some height and bend to it, nothing really extreme, but immediately noticeable. Conversely, when it comes to short passes, you can easily sell your player short by not powering up the pass enough, this caught me out multiple times. 

However, we can’t have everything, for me, passing is still too assisted in general and locks onto targets too easily, I would like more freedom, which to be fair we have been given in terms of weight of pass, but not of direction. I don’t feel like this will change though as PES at its core is a pick-up-and-play title, Konami can add complexities into it but the core gameplay needs to be user friendly to attract the casual fan.

In terms of passing style, it’s hard to know when you are playing with the best players on the game, but there were some really cool looking improvised like passes going on, from little toe pokes, to outside of the foot 30 yard balls.

I did try manual, however as I scarcely play it, I can’t really give you any feedback on how it differs on this game – sorry! I also did not try any higher PA’s as it doesn’t really interest me.

First Touch
This is one of my favourite improvements. The ball is less glued to your foot/chest when you receive it; it feels like you have a lot of freedom of where you can take your first touch, allowing you to drive straight into space or shield the ball, or pop it up for a volley, seemingly true 360 control. I found it especially exciting in the box, as there is a lot less time to manoeuvre, so a precise first touch is essential. This can be tested often due to the new and improved passing physics; now that the power bar of a pass affects the play more, controlling the ball after a pass is fizzed at you is less of a formality as it was previously. 

Similar to PES 2017, in that it ain’t eazy! But it has changed and it has improved, and I’m a big fan. The close control is phenomenal, the analogue stick feels so free, you can do nutmegs and squeeze past players just using the left stick. It really shines with the technical players, where it’s almost like back on PES15 where you can dribble so freely, except the ball is lest stuck to the foot, this makes it harder, but also less robotic, leaving more room for improvisation – some of the animations it comes out with from just manipulating the left stick are beautiful.

What I did find, which is one of my favourite moves in pes, is changing direction with a double tap R1 burst, is now less methodical. The big touch is less consistent and is perhaps more linked with the stride the player is in; often it is a very big touch. This makes this even more of a gamble, but also more rewarding as it’s harder for the defender to predict. I’ve found this to be a theme through the entire gameplay, there is continually more freedom of controls, this should encourage more creativity and more unique styles of play.

With response to player ID and the difference between Lionel Messi and Jamie Mackie, there is in fact a huge difference between the technically gifted and the ones who show a lot of heart. But as long as you have the correct expectations, they can still shift the ball around effectively. The first touch and where you immediately shift the ball is key for keeping possession.

More testing is needed to draw any real conclusions really, though I was scoring much less of my one-on-ones than I do in PES 2017, whether it be that they’re harder or just different, I am not sure. We did see lots of nice edge of the box goals, but you really needed to do well to beat the keepers. They seem to have improved the ball physics once again with some interesting shots that had a lot of dip and swerve.

Huge change, you can now miss the ball. Pressing square/X is simply not enough, you must move your player to the ball and you can over and under cook it very easily. This makes all aerial battles much more interesting and less AI dependant which I think we can all agree is great news! I can see this being interesting for big guys who can hold up the ball, as if you position the player correctly, they should be able to chest down long balls even with the defender on their back, whereas now it feels like if you don’t challenge for the header you will lose the ball.

As heading is now more of a challenge, it takes the pressure off crosses being nerfed. I do not cross that frequently, so despite trying to whip a few Trippier trademarks in, I didn’t notice enough about them to garner any specific conclusions.

Changing Player
This my favourite change in the game and one of the few genuine new additions. You now have an extra cursor over a second player of your team. Displayed in a faded version of your blue/red cursor, it highlights the player that you will change to if you press L1. Meaning you can now change player with confidence, if it isn’t the player you want to control you can use the manual change player without wasting valuable time switching to the wrong player. It is such a small change and seems so obvious now it’s there – this should be a game changer IMO and make defending and covering much easier. Hopefully keeping down those silly score lines..

AI Pressing
You will all be please to know that the square button does not now tackle for you, instead it just presses the man and stands off. This makes for a much less manic game as players aren’t bum rushed from all angles by AI controlled opponents. You now need to utilise the balance between using AI pressure and your own, coupled with the extra cursor this makes for a very interesting mix.

Slide tackling
No significant changes noticed.

From my short experience, they let play go on a lot, allowing lots of collisions without blowing for fouls and is a bit more yellow card happy, which I think is very good news. And most importantly no white boots (in the demo anyway).

Very impressive again, it is hard to draw conclusions in such a relatively short space of time, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say they are even better than the PES2017 keepers. They performed great, keeping out numerous one-on-ones and pop shot, however these are high rated keepers we were playing with. I also saw a lot of new animations that looked very cool, one where he dived down to his side after a close ranged header attempt to parry it off for a corner and another that was tipped over the bar with one hand. There were also not too many reebz, parries tended to be natural and not gravitate to the striker quite as much – once again though this is with good keepers and a very short amount of game time.

Catch-up “bug”
I am not a believer in this for the current game, but others commented that they think it’s gone. 

I was really impressed with this, often there were battles that would result in a player on the floor for a fair challenge/shoulder barge. The little players sometimes go flying and the bulkier ones can ride challenges really well. I saw less of players being stuck in animations also. I think this is just always going to continually improve, no need for drastic changes.

Looks unchanged, once again I don’t think it will have a significant impact on an individual game.

Sorry folks, I am useless with them, so couldn’t really test them out. But here’s one by Coutinho, looks pretty slick!



As the most squeaky-clean and honourable player alive, it was hard to test the game for exploits. As mentioned earlier, headed goals were considered by the many to be the easiest way to score in PES 2017, and will dominate the gameplay of the average myclub/online divisions match. With the new freer approach to heading, I believe that this will cease to be the issue that people currently consider it to be. It could be even more of a weapon as defending of headers is in the same boat, however it will require skill and is counter-able with good defensive positioning.

Extreme pressing will not be as much of an issue, as square no longer rushes in to tackle the man and instead jockey’s him. 

Sliding tackles were more of a PES16 thing, and as far as I can tell they are not back to that brand of glory.

Long through balls will always be a popular tactic and most likely be the most used tactic again this time around (if I am right in thinking crosses won’t be as utilised). However, with the change player cursor making it easier to control your defensive line, you should be able to cover these balls quite well. This coupled with the extra physicality of the defenders who can do enough to put a striker off even if they can’t get the ball, should lead to a balanced game all-round! But until the whole online community get their hands onto it, we will not know what the most effective/exploitive way of playing is.

Co-op Mode
I am really really excited about this mode, on paper it was not something I was blown away with, we can play co-op anyway?? But no, it’s excellent! You can play with 2 or 3 of you, I played as a 2, against 3 computer players. It is like team play, playing as “Any Player” not as an individual. Except each human/computer player has a bar at the bottom which gives an indication of how well you are playing. When you contribute to the game it will pop up at the bottom with either a positive or negative award, like “interception”, “shot on goal”, “failed dribble”, etc. This then contributes to your score. At HT and FT you can see an extremely in-depth view of how you played, and a comparison with all other players. These stats are stored on your profile, and you can compare your playstyle and effectiveness amongst friends, and presumably in a global leaderboard too. Check out the screenshots to understand what I mean. Unfortunately, this scoring system will only be in this game mode for this PES, however the intention is to roll it out in other modes for future series. I will post up a video of it soon to give you a better idea!


New FK system is in place, you have a choice of two views, r3 to switch between. One is a bit like eye level, presumably to be used when your shooting, and a higher angle, again presumably for crossing. For a longer free kick you can also select between 4 routines, for instance one is target man, so I suspect it’s intended that you pitch it up to him and everyone else will run off him. There’s no suggestion they are OP, however my partner did score with his second attempt in the co-op mode, with a lovely Neymar freekick bending round the wall.



Corner Kicks
Similar to FK’s you can now do attacking routines as well as defensive formations that was introduced in the last game. Very exciting if you ask me! Lot of things to master!

Penalty Kicks
No change to taking them, I believe the keeping is the same too. Slightly disappointed as I felt this could have been improved upon. They aren’t disastrous but they aren’t particularly engaging.

Tactics are all the same as PES 2017. Advanced tactics are the same options as before, the same sliders as we are used to are there. The whole game plan interface is unchanged, which to be fair isn’t too bad in the first place. It could be laid out simpler for the first-time user, but once you know it, it’s all accessible. However, I was told the advanced tactics themselves have been reconfigured somewhat, for instance the false 9 now has more running patterns, and you can notice instantly that the gegen press has been toned down. In-game tactics have been built on in free kicks and corners, as there are now options to do an attacking routine.



Player stats
Again, no visible changes except a couple of name changes, “weak foot usage/accuracy” are now called non-dom leg usage etc. Sorry if you are annoyed I didn’t mention this sooner in the article, it’s exhilarating news. Also for those interested the stats on the code we played are far from being final with lots of tweaks still to be made.

Player Performance Ratings
Unchanged, still ranges from 4.5 to 8.5. Once again disappointing that it hasn’t been looked at, but in the grand scheme of things it is unimportant. Hopefully in the new series, stats like the co-op mode will be used, fingers crossed!

PES 18 Beta
As you no-doubt are aware, there will be an open beta from 20th July, I get the impression it will be a similar code to the one we played at the event, so you shouldn’t have to wait long to call me out on everything I’ve just written. I believe the main purpose of the beta for Konami is not to develop the gameplay, but to improve the online service. So, the fact we get a good go with the game months before release is just a delicious bonus. A very positive move from what is often considered a deficiency of the PES series, when compared to other popular multiplayer titles.



Player Graphics
It feels mean having graphics all the way down here when they have done such a stellar job with them. Not only do they have the tunnel shot close-ups nailed, but they also look just like who they are meant to when you are playing. They really are stunning. A few glitches here and then with players hugging a yard apart, and the fans moving a bit jerky, but I think this can be expected from an early edition of the code. I cannot wait to see more players.



Menu Graphics
Garishly beautiful? For the first time, I really do like the graphics, with the pop up of possession stats on a turquoise background, to the crazy bright transition screen, I think it really works.

In the version I played you could be in any of 4 stadiums; Camp Nou, Anfield, Wanda Metropilano (Atletico Madrid’s new stadium), and Signal Iduna Park (Dortmund). They are all meticulously made and look incredible, with the cityscapes in the background it’s really immersive.

Summary (TLDR)
So, in summary, there are both very few and masses of changes to this game from the last. Nothing has really been completely revamped gameplay wise, but there’s improvements across the board where they think it’s needed. All together it is feels like a nice progression from PES 2017 and I cannot wait to get my hands on the Beta. My highlights are the extra cursor, the passing physics, and the dribbling. Look forward to hearing yours!

And, of course, a special thanks to Konami for having me along! 

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