My MyClub experiment has come and gone. I have got over whatever mania persuaded me that I might be able to play and enjoy myself online. I’m back playing offline now, mostly.
I love the MyClub mode itself – a very nice take on Ultimate Team and Master League. I’ve actually built up a lot of affection for my poor, battered team over the last week or two.
Somehow, in the blizzard of sprint-clamping, pressure-abusing monsters who lurk online (sorry, people, but monsters are what you are), I hung on and got a few wins and draws, and got promoted from the bottom Division 12 to the next-bottom Division 11.
And there I’ll stay, for there’ll be no more now.
I’ve discovered yet again what I already knew: that football gaming online is shit.
It’s pure shit.
It really is shit. Not to put too fine a point on it, online football gaming is fucking garbage. I hate it. I absolutely despise it. My loathing for online football gaming has reached a new level of disgust. I merely disliked it before. I absolutely despise it now.
Oh, to be fair, it’s not a complete waste of time. There are flashes of interest. There are sparkles of light down in the stinking muck.
On the whole, though, no. Just no. Never gonna happen.
The game online simply isn’t the game I’ve been playing and loving for more than twenty years now.
Here’s me scoring my winner against an online opponent – I’m the team in the Atletico Madrid strip. I had to be really quick to save this replay. There’s a tradition online of not letting anyone watch more than half a second of any replay, as you can see with the rapid fade-to-black at the end:
He was a decent opponent, as they come. Most online opponents sprint-pressurise 99% of the time. He only sprint-pressurised 98% of the time. I’ve never played any opponent who didn’t sprint-pressurise less than 98% of the time.
Every single player you meet online plays in exactly the same way.
Maximum pressure, all the time.
Direct passing, all the time.
If they’ve got Ronaldo or Ibrahimovic or some other superman (and nearly everyone has), their sole tactic is getting the ball to them and running directly at your goal straight down the middle of the pitch.
(Sometimes they do pass it around at the back, but it tends to happen when they’re already 5-0 up and you can sort of tell that they’re passing the ball around satirically, rubbing my face in the sheer ineffectiveness of trying to play football online.)
Why do they do this? Because it works. Simple, really. It works – it creates chances, it gets goals. Pressure-abusing combined with direct run-and-gun attacking is the optimal way to play online football. So that’s what has to happen. Nobody’s really being evil. They’re just doing what works.
It’s absolutely terrible. It’s a travesty of the magisterial-by-comparison, sedate, thoughtful game that is played offline.
It’s interesting for a while. I’ve certainly found it interesting these past couple of weeks. But the interest has now waned.
Playing essentially the same damn match against essentially the same damn opponent over and over again is just what happens when you play online. I’d be very interested to hear any arguments to the contrary when it’s so easily demonstrable as the case. It needs to be shouted: EVERY ONLINE PLAYER PLAYS EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE ONE YOU PLAYED BEFORE. The exceptions are so rare (and the differences so minor) that they’re not worth considering.
I’m glad I’ve had this time. From now on, when I see a football gaming formumite holding forth about how supposedly one-dimensional the offline game against the AI is, compared to the joys of online, I’m going to laugh out loud – I might even ROFLMAO – instead of secretly wondering if he’s right.
He’s definitely not right. Online football is the one-dimensional game. In fact, calling it one-dimensional is probably overstating its complexity. Zero-dimensionality is the order of the day online. Online football gaming is more like Pong than PES.
One simple tweak would make everything better and solve the problems at a stroke. Two tweaks. First, a proper draining stamina model that would make it impossible to sprint-pressure the whole damn match. Second, a rigorous fouling system, akin to that last seen in PES5 (*genuflects and makes sign of the cross*), would provide a further death-blow to the reckless, video-gamey pressuring and tackling that goes on.
Neither of those things will ever happen. Market forces. Kids. What people have got used to. Et cetera.
And that, my friends, is why online football gaming is bullshit. Pure, unadulterated, horse manure. I know many reading this will be aficionados of the online game, and have great affection for it and for the times they’ve had, and in all honesty I have seen its potential greatness in scattered flashes.
But, oh dear. That pressure? That directness. That bulldozing star player? You call that football? Really?
Of course you don’t. Footy gaming online is really just an online computer game loosely based on football. It’s got more in common with Rocket League or Speedball 2100 than the Pro Evolution Soccer I’ve been playing and enjoying, against the AI, for all these years.
Offline, even the worst match against the most plodding and predictable AI is an order of magnitude better as a football game than even the best online game.
And I think I’ve bludgeoned my point home enough now. Online football gaming, it was nice getting to know you again. But you’ve worn out your welcome. Goodbye.
This time next week we’ll have played PES2016, or the demo version of it at least. I’m looking forward to it with my appetite well and truly whetted by the MyClub experiment. I tell you, playing online has reignited my fire in a big way.
Which only leaves the question of what to blog about on Tuesday. You know, I think it’s time to blow the dust off PES5…