Today, we’re reviewing Konami’s latest release of footballing brilliance in the form of Pro Evolution Soccer 2018. As a huge fan of the series, September is the best time of year, because it’s always time to see what Konami have been working on throughout the year. The development team have reached out to the community and have looked to improve the game based on the feedback they’ve been given. So, we’re going to delve into the offline side of things today to see what’s been added and what I feel is missing from the game.
Before we go anywhere into the game modes, I’d just like to highlight the changes in gameplay. PES 2018 feels worlds apart from its predecessor, the game going from being a frenetic, fast-paced arcade football game, to being one where possession and ball retention are key to any success in the game. Gone are the crosses that plagued PES 2017 being overpowered and the pace of the game slowed down to make the game feel more of a real-life match.
At times, I’ve rushed attacks thinking that the AI will behave as they did last year, only to find that the AI switches direction and recycles the ball. It’s great to see the AI being so adaptive this year, although it is a little bit light on fouling. The passing feels heavier and there’s a real focus on the power bar this year, too low and you’ll be robbed of possession by a pressing AI defender, too hard and you risk the receiving player not being able to gather the ball correctly. Shooting has been a focus of many during the early Beta and demo and concerns have been addressed in a day one patch. Advanced instructions are back, and play a vital part in constructing an effective game plan.
Player ID is very good this year. You can really feel the difference controlling a Neymar, compared to a Sergio Aguero. Balance is important and having a player’s feet set before you attempt an action impacts the resulting action. Shots and passes will go wayward, tackles can be completely missed and most importantly, you will create space for an opponent to exploit. All in all, the gameplay is up there with some of the best football games I’ve ever played.
First off are your standard game modes of Exhibition (your standard 1v1 game), UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, AFC Champions League and your standard League and Cup modes. To be honest, not much has changed with these modes and really when you think about it, what can you change with these? The Champions League is a fully licensed tournament as is the Europa League and the AFC Champions League the same. From an offline perspective, you also have Master League and Become A Legend as the big keynote game modes that are on offer here.
Master League & Become A Legend
We’ll go through Master League first, with there not being that much that has changed for the game mode. I began by enabling Challenge Mode, just to see the change in the game dynamic. For example, to get a deal on Lindelof from Benfica, I tried to play hardball with Benfica, in which the negotiation broke down. When I initiated the negotiation again, Benfica elected to punish me by adding another £8 million onto his price. Very much like you’d see in real football, teams can elect to be nice or nasty during transfers.
The introduction of Legend difficulty is a particularly interesting one. I’ve tested this extensively and this provides a brand-new challenge to PES players this year. The AI retain the ball effectively and are clinical in front of goal, making offline play tough going this year. The new style of gameplay really does lend itself to offline play. When you are away from home against Crystal Palace in the rain, you can feel that the AI does a great job of forcing you into tight spots. I’m not ashamed to say I lost against an inferior team, but that’s the beauty of PES 2018, play it the right way and on any given day, you can come out with a victory.
Immersion is a big thing for me and the way that ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ greets you to a game in Anfield as Liverpool gives me goose bumps every time I hear it. It’s the little touches like that which I really enjoy and that I think PES gets right this year.
Although for me, I feel that Master League cannot be built upon the little things, so here are my points to consider for the negative pile. I played through a Master League as a manager and while some very nice cutscenes that inform you of key changes that are made to your team and the small addition of ‘Challenge Mode’, which makes the game throw different challenges at you, the game mode leaves me feeling a little bit empty.
There’s a lack of a preseason to be able to take your team through and build your squad up before the start of the season, which is a bit jarring when your first game is within your first advance of the game. Playing as Liverpool, my scouts offered me to sign David De Gea as a goalkeeper, who realistically should NEVER sign for Liverpool as it’s a rival club, but it takes away a bit from the experience of the game when this happens. That would be like Lionel Messi being able to sign for Real Madrid, it just wouldn’t happen.
I think it’s very easy to get hold of star players in general. I managed to re-sign Luis Suarez, all because I had the money to do so, maybe a personal interaction with him to convince the player to sign might be an idea for future games. Transfers are something I’d like to hope improves with a patch or even in PES 2019. In terms of the changes that have been made to the mode, they all seem to be aesthetic, bar the cutscenes and Challenge Mode.
Become A Legend is very similar in the sense that the changes to the game are cosmetic in nature. What I like about the mode is that you can now attempt to select your preferred shirt number and position, which both must be earnt through your relationship with the manager. The better the performances for you on the pitch, the more likely you can continue to play in your preferred position. I’m not an offline player by trade, but I would look for more layers of depth to be added next year to be able to compliment the online additions that have been made.
A big addition this year is the Random Selection match mode. This is where you can build a team based off 4 conditions. You can pick various conditions, so if you want to build a team from Liverpool, Barcelona, Inter and Borussia Dortmund or if you want to pick players based on their country of origin, you can do that as well! You can also build teams based off the division they play in, so you can have the best of the Spanish League mixed with the best of the English League.
Once you’ve selected your conditions, you have a trade section. This is where tactics really come into their own. You must choose a target player that you want from your opponent, pick a player you wish to protect from your opponent and then pick a player you don’t want in your team. The theory behind this is that you can block your opponent nicking one of your players and give them a bad player in return for one of their superstars. It’s a varied game mode that will never give you the same team twice.
It’s a good addition to the series and was available back in the PS2 days of PES, so its return is welcomed. But what I would say that disappoints me is that (at the time of this writing), this mode is only for offline use which I feel is a real shame. Imagine the thought of matching up to your buddy and trying to steal players from his team and trying to protect yours, the game mode would be so much more enjoyable and it has the potential to create possibilities for custom leagues to be created within the PES community. Hopefully, with patches in the future, this could be made into an online mode.
Edit mode is always a real treat for people like myself, especially being a supporter of a non-licensed team. Option Files are a real-life blood of the game, it covers the game for where licenses cannot and they add near unlimited choices for fans across the globe.
The key changes here are subtle, but very important and it’s only the second year in which Edit Mode has been revitalised by Konami, it’s extremely promising for the future of the community loved mode.
One of the things that I hated doing last year was importing competition logos one by one, luckily this year Konami have taken the easy step of allowing you to just import a competition in the same way as you would a team’s kit, doing so also imports the competition important information too. For option file users, this will make a world of difference, for more detailed information on Edit Mode changes, head over to PESUniverse.
The only change I would make is something that isn’t in Konami’s hands and that’s the Xbox not allowing Option Files to be accessed through USB. It’s a shame that my Xbox brothers and sisters will not be able to download kits in the same way that PS4 and PC users will have the freedom to do.
Overall, PES 2018 offline is very good.
The gameplay is smooth, the animations are varied and as always, the player faces are on point. Graphically, I think the game looks the best that it ever has. With more 3D scans to come in the form of Inter Milan, partnered teams are getting the 5-star treatment. What I would say to balance this point though, is for all the things that PES 2018 does brilliantly, the game modes offline feel slightly neglected. Master League and Become A Legend are essentially the same game modes from last year.
A couple of basic additions in next year’s game have the potential to breathe new life into them. It’s both encouraging and disappointing at the same time, to see how the game has progressed from a gameplay standpoint, but to also see how the game modes have remained the same. I’m very hopeful though for the series, with the right feedback this year, mixed the overwhelming desire of Konami to create the best football game ever made, we could see even more ground made up on EA’s juggernaut of FIFA. Who knows, this time next year, we may be sat here talking about what FIFA needs to do to catch up?
For now, this has been Wez, for MagGamer on Pro Evolution Soccer 2018, stay tuned for Part 2 where we take PES online!
Author and Guest writer Stewart Westley
‘There’s always two sides to every story, the best thing to do is hear each other out’
For all things PES 2018 stay tuned right here at MagGamer.com