Konami has made significant changes with Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 to improve its playable formula, not only solving many of the shortcomings of the previous installment, but also adding new features to make the mechanics more realistic. In addition, the title has also made a significant leap in visuals and presents new gameplay options to make the experience more attractive, both single and with friends. Undoubtedly, PES 2018 is a remarkable video game that has managed to find its way.
Refining the mechanics
The first thing that catches the eye when jumping on the field is that the speed has been reduced slightly, thus achieving a greater realism in the ball circulation and in the making of plays. This aspect is favored by an excellent response of the players we control. The combination of these two elements results in a style that is oriented more to the touch, something that is complemented with the improvements in the ball physics.
Now the ball will be somewhat heavier, which will allow greater precision in the passes and will make it much more complicated to launch pitches with the power and efficiency of previous years. With the ball, we will also feel that the aid has been reduced in the passes (mainly in the depths) and we will need more tact to get the expected result. Although it may seem that all these changes make PES 2018 a bit difficult to get used to, the reality is that after a few games we feel more natural and intuitive than ever.Another aspect of gameplay that has been refined is the goalkeepers. It is true that they still carry certain negative behaviors of previous years and that some of the actions they perform are inexplicable, but have undergone a very effective remodeling; now not only find much safer goalkeepers but also have greatly improved actions in the second play. Whether it’s a turn-around, hand-to-hand or short-range shots, goalkeepers now react very effectively, with tremendously realistic animations that suit every move.
Not only have goalkeepers improved their behavior to the highest level in recent years, but the AI has also undergone slight tweaks that make the simulation more believable. In our team, we will have better positions on the field of play, constant support and somewhat more organized defenses that, even with their classic flaws, manage to be solvent. In attack also we noticed slight changes in the clearances and the combination plays, being able to now deploy a soccer game with more options to score the goal.
The rival AI has also undergone significant changes in its behavior. In defense they offer a more realistic performance when closing spaces, offer aids and remove the defense of backward positions, thereby achieving that in the higher levels of difficulty it is quite a challenge to find defensive cracks. In attack we will find different types of behaviors according to the offensive style of each set and, although they still maintain some parameters of performance quite predictable, the fact is that at times their game combination is really striking.
The referees also refined their style and, although we appreciate excessive penalties in some entries, in general terms they know how to control the parties well, they apply the law of advantage correctly and, except for very specific moments, they are not mistaken in pointing out faults and penalties. Konami has decided to change the system completely and has eliminated any visual aid. In this way, whether in the throwing of fouls, corners or penalties, we will not have any indication on the screen and, although we can make combinations to surprise the opponent, the truth is that we are facing a somewhat more complex system that will require a lot of practice to take advantage of this type of plays.
PES 2018 has also substantially modified its animations and physics engine. Now we find much more animations and a more realistic behavior in the contacts, achieving with it more fluidity in the transitions and more variety of situations in attack and defense. Whether in shots, passes, jumps, entrances or stops, we will appreciate that the animations are not so tight and have more randomness, highlighting in this last aspect the work done with the goalkeepers.
Thanks to these changes we also perceive that players make more variety of controls depending on the type of pass or position of the defender, effectively using foot, thigh, chest or head. The game with the body has also improved and not only will we have more control over the ball, but we will also be able to deploy new offensive and defensive options, giving more variety to the parties.
Undoubtedly, Konami has polished the play style and, the game feels very well reduced the pace of matches, new animations and refined system of physics. Thanks to all these small changes, PES 2018 is now a soccer game more complete, varied and realistic than its predecessor.
Master League is one of the most symbolic mode in the history of Pro Evolution Soccer. This time we can choose between Classic or Challenge mode, the latter being a somewhat more complicated option which will be more difficult to manage the workforce, sign agreements and get signings, in addition to being dismissed in case of adding bad results. Regardless of the chosen option, we can take care of a real team or players only.
Once we take control of our favorite team, we will not only have to play the games we want, but also manage the team (signing contracts, transferring players, defining the style of play or assigning numbers), as well as assess the performance of players , look at the market, rotate the template and control the budgets, although our main mission will be to meet the objectives that the president tells us, not everything is worth to reach the highest. Undoubtedly, Master League is still an extensive and exciting, although it lacks a bit more evolution compared to previous years and a more complex management system gives depth to the proposal.
In “Become a Legend” our goal will be to choose a player (either real or created through the editor) and try to take his career to the top. We will only control our footballer and, it is a very immersive approach, the total absence of valuations and dynamic challenges subtract emotion. This causes the mode to be blurred compared to what we have already been able to play in other sports titles like NBA 2K, where we find a gameplay with many more options and constantly values a multitude of parameters related to our play style.
The last one is the single-player mode, where not only can we play friendly matches with all available teams, but also official competitions such as the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League or AFC Champions League, and unofficial like all the leagues and championships present in the title.
Enjoying with friends
The online component in sports titles is an increasingly important factor to enjoy a complete experience. The great addition is Cooperative; this mode presents several players divided into two teams (3 vs 3 or 2 vs 2) having, not only to win the match but also offer the best performance since each user will be analyzed individually and compared to the rest.
We will have to coordinate to beat the rival team and also collaborate to play the best possible thinking about our performance. To define the best of the meeting will be evaluated many offensive aspects (shooting, passes, reception of passes …) and defensive (placement, tickets, passes intercepted …). These and many other elements will result in a total score and an action scheme, which contributes to the performance of each player. This fun game mode can also be played locally, gathering around a single console to a maximum of six players. Undoubtedly, it is a very pleasant and tremendously exciting, thanks to its competitive and cooperative mix, is able to deploy a rather addictive playable formula, being also a breath of fresh air between the well-known and continuous modes present in PES 2018.
The star mode in the online section is myClub; here we will have the possibility of gradually building our ideal team by purchasing different cards. Although we will bid and get great players to play multitudes of games, we will have to be aware of their relationships, duration of contracts and play style, since the coach is now more important than ever. Once on the field, whether against the AI or in online games, we should be winning games to get GPs, which we will use to build and maintain a team that makes history.
We have new historical players of the quality of Beckham, Owen or Socrates, those who will give an edge to any team. Undoubtedly, this addictive mode continues to offer many hours of gameplay and, this year does not show great news and is far from what offers the FUT mode in the FIFA series, is an option that offers a great performance online and has shown good playable depth and excellent design.
Online modes also include Online Divisions (where our performance will bring us up or down categories always finding challenges to our measure), Quick Match (friendly against random players), Team game lobby (to play matches with up to 22 users ), Online Championship (with fun online tournaments ), Friendly Match Hall (the ideal place to play with friends and customize settings) and PES League (a style of play that encourages us to compete for being the best in the world).
As for the performance of the online service, the PC version has started with some problems, PES 2018 has been very solid on PlayStation 4 and, unlike in previous years, offers a fully stable and lag-free experience, allowing very technical and fun. In addition, when looking for matches in the different game modes the connection has been very fast, always staying stable during all the matches. Undoubtedly, the new Konami title is up to speed on online performance and guarantees a great gaming experience.
Since Pro Evolution Soccer debuted on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, we have seen a gradual evolution of graphics with each new delivery and finally, we find a visual aspect to match. Konami has worked on polishing the performance of the graphics engine and not only has managed to maintain a magnificent 60 frames per second, but also incorporates some visual improvements.
PES 2018 have more accurately modeled (including tattoos) the players belonging to the associated teams, finding an outstanding level of realism in all of them. The rest of the players, especially the big stars, are also done nicely, although the game continues to forget other lesser known players who are far from receiving proper treatment. T-shirts have also improved in physics and their visual finish is more successful than ever.
Within the graphics section, we must highlight the work done with the animations of the best-known players, who now represent with greater fidelity the way they run, walk or cheer, although again many other players have been forgotten and their behavior is completely standardized. It is true that many of these visual adjustments are hardly noticeable during the matches, although with the repetitions we can see them in more detail. PES 2018 also presents a system of instantaneous repetitions with a more televising realization.
The stadiums also incorporate interesting visual improvements. Among the more than 30 available fields, we find the official fields of the teams that collaborate with the video game, being able to play in such iconic places. All of them are represented with a very high level of detail, recreating with total precision the pitch, and its surroundings. Unofficial stadiums also have a good finish and provide variety, although they lack the charisma and atmosphere of the former.
In the stadiums, we will also find a polished lighting engine that not only gets great finishes with the modification of the time of day and the weather but also features an improved particle engine with very striking effects. Undoubtedly, Konami has worked to improve the graphics section of the title and that is reflected in a significant qualitative and quantitative leap, however, continues to fail in the outdated interface design.
One of the great historical problems of Pro Evolution Soccer has been the availability of licenses. It is true that Konami continues to strive to try to offer the best contents within its possibilities. Thanks to it, PES 2018 includes more premium equipment that continues the wake of FC Barcelona or Borussia Dortmund and allow us to enjoy better modeling, more realistic behaviors of its players and official stadiums perfectly recreated.
Among the teams that have this special treatment, we find Liverpool, Valencia, Atletico Madrid, CA River Plate or the University of Chile, being in total more than a dozen clubs. This type of agreement also extends to national teams such as Belgium, England, Argentina or Wales. The rest of clubs will have names and equipment invented and will not have official stadiums, although yes with the real names of all its players.
It is also important to note that we will have the leagues from countries like Spain, England, France or Italy, counting in this case with the first and second division. In the case of the leagues of the Netherlands, Portugal, Argentina or, for example, Brazil, we can only play first division matches. To increase the playable offer, PES 2018 continues to have a special agreement with the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and AFC Champions League, all of them represented with total fidelity and a special atmosphere for each tournament.
As for the templates, the video game is not completely updated, so we will see players like Neymar in FC Barcelona or James in Real Madrid. However, as already happened last year, Konami has promised a patch a few days after the release, content that we hope will not be delayed to some other year.
To compensate for these deficiencies in licenses and transfers, PES 2018 incorporates the possibility to make signings and edit the names of clubs and their equipment through a powerful editor , being able to upload or download these contents of the community from inside the game itself to update in a way “unofficial” all content on the day of the release, except for Xbox One users, unlike on PlayStation 4 and PC, will not have the option to download the changes due to Microsoft restrictions.
Finally, PES 2018 has increased its legend template for the myClub mode. For this year incorporates players as Romario, Socrates, Zamorano, Beckham or Maradona. Undoubtedly, PES 2018 continues to work to incorporate more teams, leagues and licensed stadiums and does not forget to offer tools to its players so that they can compensate for the absence of a deficient section.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 has found its way and polishes its outstanding gameplay by reducing the pace in matches, improving the weight of the ball and adding multiple optimizations in the physics and animation system. All this results in a video game that perfectly knows how to recreate a sport as complex as football, and more importantly, it offers a fun gameplay and being faithful to fans.
As for offline content, PES 2018 presents such interesting modes as Master League or Become a legend that, although they manage to offer many hours of fun and new styles of game, they evolve very little and are far from what we have already seen in other sports titles. As far as licenses are concerned, PES improves the number and quality of the associated equipment, but it is still insufficient.
The online experience is stable and fast, which allows you to play many matches without any problems or lag. Among the game, modes highlights myClub which, while still offering great depth and fun, adds few new features. The great addition is Cooperative, an online and offline option for up to 6 players really interesting that brings a different play style.
Undoubtedly, it is clear that we are facing a video game that has improved its gameplay, raised its graphic quality and added interesting additions, the problem is that it continues to offer some outdated modes with little content, not forgetting the shortage of licenses, that’s holding Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 to go to the next level.
We have performed this review on a PS4 PRO with a final copy provided by Konami.