Talkin’ bout a Revolution…
Before you go ahead and read through this, I want to state that I agree with and stand by our PES 2019 Review 100%, this is just to elaborate on a couple of personal feelings I had after getting my hands on the game in addition to our official review. So please, no hate, internet, I know what you’re like 😉
With the recent release of PES 2019 and the general positivity around the game from both journalists and for the most part, fans, I wanted to talk a little with regards to the future of the series and what I feel that needs to happen moving forward from a personal standpoint.
The series from a gameplay standpoint has been improved year on year with tweaks to the various aspects of the game. Improved physical aspects, ball physics, shooting and visual fidelity (PES 2019 looks stunning btw) to name but a few. Every year the gameplay has been changed in some way and although its more of a refinement rather than a complete overhaul, changes have occurred and for me personally, I feel they’ve changed for the better on the pitch. Konami has had a great base to start building on for a few years now and with the tweaks that have happened on a yearly basis (and will continue to happen), from a gameplay perspective, the future is very bright for the series as long as the improvements continue to happen.
Konami’s strategy over the last year or so (more so since the development of PES 2019) is very different from how they used to operate with regards to licensing. Back on the PS2, it was extremely difficult to grab an official license of a league due to a number of factors that I won’t go into in this article but the biggest issue was down to EA having a monopoly on official licenses across the world and in turn, them tying up the biggest league and cup competitions like the Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga for example. This has always put Konami in a tricky situation and unfortunately, they just can’t go head to head against a behemoth of a publisher like EA when trying to acquire licenses.
Like I mentioned, Konami has changed their approach with regards to licensing for PES 2019 with even more partner clubs that was seen from last years game that now includes FC Schalke from Germany and Celtic and Rangers from Scotland for example. Not only that, but Konami has been snapping up other leagues that those guys in Vancouver don’t have any sort of exclusivity on which includes the Russian (exclusive to PES 2019), Argentinian, Turkish, Danish, Portuguese, Swiss, Scottish, Belgique and Chilean. This is a great strategy to have as not only does it mean that the game has more officially licensed leagues for example, but the money that was spent on acquiring the Champions League and Europa League licenses is clearly being used in the right way. Whilst Konami can’t, unfortunately, get the Premier League, for example, having other leagues is always a nice welcome.
So, while I’ve been very positive with regards to gameplay and new licenses, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. That is the modes, or, frustratingly, lack thereof. it’s clear that as a package, the game isn’t up to what it should be in 2018. What I mean by that is when compared to other sports titles, PES really doesn’t stack up against the competition. It’s really at its bare bones when you look at what’s on offer within the game and its been like it for a while now and moving forward, this needs to change as PES is, unfortunately, getting left behind when compared to the likes of FIFA and the NBA 2K series. While I understand that EA has endless money to throw about to teams that focus on new modes or making existing ones better, in this day and age, its no excuse to leave game modes barely unchanged or only having slight improvements yearly as unfortunately the majority of gamers won’t stand by any excuses in this regard and in all honesty, I can’t really blame them when I look into just how bare minimum the back end of PES is looking.
We’ve seen improvements to certain areas within PES’ game modes and it comes mainly within myClub. It’s a mode that Konami clearly focuses on massively and I get why they would improve a mode that is extremely popular amongst its fans and is clearly a very financially viable mode but this shouldn’t mean that other modes like Master League and Become a Legend suffer because of it. Yes, ML has had a few slight improvements here and there (notice I said “slight”) but when you compare it head to head with what EA has done with Career Mode in FIFA over the years, it’s like comparing a Bugatti Veyron to a Little Tikes. Of course, Konami only has a certain amount of resources to spread around, but if you want to stay relevant and compete with the competition off the pitch (no pun intended), then this is something that needs to improve moving forward from PES 2020 onwards.
As well as the lack of change in the modes themselves, the look of the menus within PES 2019 need a fresh lick of paint as it just looks and feels dated. Ben (who reviewed the game for us) mentioned it in our latest podcast and know others that have mentioned it in passing. It just lacks a visual flair and modern feel that so many other games (not just sports titles) have and because of this, it doesn’t entice me in and make me feel engrossed in whatever mode I’ve invested my time in. Let’s be honest, we spend a huge amount of time within the menus in PES (more than you’d think!), so seeing something that is bland and quite frankly looks unfinished. It doesn’t match up to the beautiful gameplay that PES 2019 offers and leaves a somewhat jarring taste in the mouth.
Like I mentioned above, the gameplay side of the game has been improved so much and we now need to see the same sort of improvements within the game modes and the overall look of the backend of PES. One side of the game is beautifully realised and plays like a dream whilst the other side of it looks like it’s been stuck in a time warp for far too long.
Look, this may seem like a very negative editorial with regards to PES and it’s not intended to come across like that at all as its just that I feel the backend should match the on-pitch action. I love PES 2019 and think its absolutely fantastic, but as a fan of the series for a very long time, I want to see the series evolve as a package and see the focus being used on other parts of the game as well. The future is very bright for Konami and for PES, but with a commitment to improving popular modes and adding new content that keeps it fresh and adds depth and modernising the look, that bright light could become even brighter.