Last Thursday I was invited to Celtic Park to play Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2019. As a massive Rangers fan, lover of Scottish football and lover of PES, this was an incredible experience for me. Not only did I get to go hands on with the game, I got to interview European Brand manager Lennart Bobzien. I witnessed a special press presentation detailing the new features. I got to learn about some of the newest licenses and partner clubs and what this means in terms of gameplay. I even got to take on Konami’s Social Media manager Graham Day! Did I win? Did I enjoy playing the game? How does it look? How does the COM play? Any new features? Read on to find out these answers and more!
Let’s start with one of the biggest changes. The graphics have seen a monumental upgrade this year. One of the reasons for this is the lack of last generation versions. That’s right, PES 2019 will only appear on PS4, PC, and Xbox One. No PS3/X360 versions this time around. This means the team has been able to fully focus on making the game look as special as possible – and it shows. One thing you’ll quickly notice is colors and lighting. No longer is everything weirdly muted, light shines brighter and colors are incredibly vibrant. I only got to play friendlies during the day so couldn’t test games at night or during varying weather conditions to see their effects on graphics but I will in the next week. Based on what I’ve seen so far it should be pretty incredible. The sunlight realistically lights up the pitch, the shadows caused by the stadium look perfect, deep blacks are used to contrast it with the surrounding colors. Even the player’s strips look brighter, the colors are more defined.
The players themselves are an achievement. They look more real than ever before. At a glance you can recognize any, even players like Ricardo Rodriguez who aren’t exactly big name stars are photo realistic. The expressions are equally impressive. Players will get visibly frustrated with missed chances, they’ll get angry with bad challenges and they’ll celebrate a win wildly. Check out Ricardo Rodriguez’s reaction to beating city rivals Inter Milan in the video included near the bottom of the page! The next step from looks is animation. Konami has nailed it again. The ball went out for a throw in at around the 65th minute in one match and you can see players put their hands to their knees and bend over, showing visible tiredness. In the video above when Messi scores my winning goal, you can see him adjust his body to get the bend on the shot. It comes off incredibly well. Even the crowd looks more varied. No longer do fans react statically or like puppets but each person seems individual. It doesn’t look like cardboard cutouts or a copy and paste job, unlike other football titles.
The biggest changes come to MyClub and Master League. The PES team made it clear that they have been listening to fan feedback. The hardcore MyClub players have really helped to shape what has become of the mode in PES 2019. Two of the requested changes were for the ability to get more players as early as possible, from day one you can have up to 1000 players now instead of 30. Your in game currency has improved in value as well, instead of 250 coins per player, it’ll now only be 100 coins. Another new addition is Featured Players. Players who perform well in real life will be showcased in the game with limited edition cards with higher stats. There’s a lot more here, managers will be easier to acquire as the ones on offer will update more often, position trainers bring flexibility, players can learn certain skills and a lot more that’ll become apparent when you load up the mode for the first time.
Master League sees new changes as well. The numerous new licenses, from the aforementioned SPFL to the Russian Leagues to the Eredivisie and to the International Champions Cup, there’s something here that appeals to everyone. The transfer negotiations system has been revamped to make it more realistic, this was one of my biggest Master League complaints so I’m happy to see it addressed. The News Feed will bring the footballing world to life around you.
Those 90 minutes are the most important in any football game. A game can have all the licenses, plenty of modes and look great but if it isn’t fun to play or realistic then what’s the point? There’s no reason to be concerned with PES 2019. Everything is just stunning. The pitch is no longer a green carpet, just look at it in the gameplay. It looks more real, those extra pixels on offer with the newer consoles have been taken advantage of. The ball’s physics have been updated which allows it to move much more independently. It doesn’t stick to players feet during dribbles, it doesn’t just ping from player to player during passes and tackles. It moves on its own.
Visible fatigue has the potential to be a game changer. Even in the one off games that I played it had an impact. In the dying minutes of the game, your players will get slack, they’ll look tired and start making mistakes. They’ll even signal to come off if you push them too far. I can’t wait to test this out over the course of a season. In one match I went through one on one with Luis Suarez in the 87th minute and he just didn’t have the legs to get on the end of a beautiful pass from the subbed on Ivan Rakitic. The quick sub feature is superb. When the ball goes out of play you’re no more than two buttons away from making a change.
That’s right, the writer takes a 1-0 lead and holds it until the bitter end! Note Ricardo Rodriguez’s celebration at the 90th minute, it shows the true passion that I love to see. PES 2019 is shaping up to be the football game for football aficionados. Enthusiasts. Fanatics. Lennart Bobzien used all these words to describe certain markets and when I was playing PES I knew someone like me is the target audience. This really is an achievement in a football game and, most importantly, it feels like an upgrade. This isn’t just PES 2018 with the graphics slider moved up a little. This is a bonafide sequel that is a must own for football lovers. Luckily for you all, we’ll have plenty more PES 2019 coverage coming on the way, check out my interview with Lennart for information on MyClub legends, the possibility of a Nintendo Switch release and the impact of the community on microtransaction plans!
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