Yes we Can

Through the pre-Season 3 transfer window, and I made a few absurd signings that would never happen in ‘real life’. I got Kenedy, Emre Can, and the aged but still Big Named Lukas Podolski…

I enjoy making these moves for big players in Master League – as long as the Master League in question can support it (i.e. not turn into a canter). I recall getting a boatload of Classic Players back in PES2012 at aorund this juncture – Van Basten, George Best, Falco, etc. – which was sniffed at at the time by some commenters, but that move turned out to be the making of PES2012 for me.

Quite a few PES editions, including all recent ones, have fallen apart very quickly as soon as squads mature and talent arrives. But certain other Master Leagues can absorb anything (in a cheaty way, usually, but still). PES5, PES2011, PES2012, PES2014, and now PES2018? Could this game eventually stand in that hallowed company? It seems unlikely now, but it’s not impossible.

One of my lesser (but greater) signings was M KEANE from Liverpool at CB. He might well play his full career here. Already putting in sterling performances, and already Captain. (Would get a 7 or 8 on the Individuality front.)

I also picked up KENEDY from Chelsea. Oh, and a Youth CB with the nothing-to-see-here name of FANNI.

My final unlikely signing was the 36-year-old L PODOLSKI. In real life, a striker of his stature would retire before going to a second-tier English club. Death before dishonour. But this is not real life – this is better than real life. A creaky Master League in a dodgy edition of PES is better than all real-life football. Not just by a little bit, but by a lot.

Here is my Season 3 First XI and squad – there are two players out of screenshot at the bottom of the list, Rice and Castledine:

Podolski played in the first few matches, but didn’t do much. Got a goal, handled well, nothing special (5, so far, for Individuality).

Veldwijk came in for him and scored back-to-back braces, and chipped in with regular goals here and there. Consecutive great performances are a rarity for a nuPES player, so it felt as if Veldwijk was making a point. ‘I was top scorer last season and you’re dropping me for this has-been?’  Veldwijk has been restored to first-choice striker. I have tried playing them alongside one another, but there was a bit of a Lampard-Gerrard style cancelling-out effect that I didn’t like.

Results are good. Here is the table after 17 matches of Season 3:

I’ve managed to lose 5 matches and still sit just 4 points from the top. League table scripting is a thing, a most definite thing.

I believe I will go up this season. Getting several players into the Team of the Month is always a sign of impending promotion.

Can so far hasn’t really stood out. His current Individuality rating would be a 4. He will get at least a full season.

All in all, Top Player is starting to feel like something soon to be left behind. Not this season, but maybe next in the Premier League – if I get there – I’ll go up to Superstar.

Updated: 7th November 2017 — 11:00


  1. Some big names in there. As soon as I saw your post image, I thought ‘That looks like Emre Can’, at least you cant fault PES for player likenesses.

    You are using the formation I used last year, pretty standard 4-4-2 but often referred to as a 4-2-2-2, I’m considering going back to this, as my current formation of a 4-2-3-1 gives me a solid defensive base, but I’ve always preferred playing with two CF’s up top as opposed to a lone striker, who often feels isolated.

    A 1.5 goals per game avg there, pretty good.
    Still on -1 game speed?

  2. NG – another enjoyable blog post.

    Paul – carrying on from comments on last post, could it be that you’re still playing PES17 football in PES18? I feel they’re quite different in terms of how to play & how the AI plays & I found it took at least a season to adapt. Could you somehow mentally “start afresh” in your next season & play as if you’ve not played before – this or any other PES? Just an idea

  3. Jay, I dont think I’m playing like PES 17, I did for the first season. but the go-to’s in PES 17 dont work in PES 18.

    I try to play focused, keep the ball, 1-2′, give and go, draw space, just find the COM AI so stifling and unrealistically skilled, the through ball spamming instant control and laser guided finishes, are unstoppable.

  4. Yes, modern ml is as far away from the tough squad building of even 2008 as ever, I always feel you have to join in with the transfer merry go round as a counter to the AI shafting. That’s why Abbeyhill’s default title win last year seemed a hugely impressive achievement (despite it being in an easy league of course….)

    Speaking of easy games – mgs is right up there with ninja gaiden sigma for me and I’ve only done one mission. One hour 51 mins to earn a C. I was doing well, only two kills, right on top of the place I had to be then I got spotted and all hell broke loose. Sometimes you seem backed into a corner where any movement will trigger an alert and only endless patience might see a way out. You’d have to be insane not to use the HUD. Not me, not ever, no way.

  5. Turf – I picked up MGS Phantom pain off PSN Plus as last months free game, heard great things and am keen to try it but a few questions:
    1) is it fairly easy to pick up and play or do you need to have played the previous MGS games to get the story?
    2) Are the cutscenes 45 mins long in some cases as reported ?


  6. Paul – I think it’s fairly easy to pick up and play in so far as its a stealth heavy shooter – if you played splinter cell it’s more like that than call of duty. It’s not easy in that it’s bastard hard and starts with a ridiculously long drama which I only managed to interpret about 50% of, if that. There’s no doubt a knowledge of the series is a great bonus, NG knows more about this than me but fortunately I played the early ps title so i at least know some of the characters. However, just when you think all is normal and about shooting some soldiers these things did this, then that and I was like wtf? And so on, in a teenage bemused voice….

  7. Thanks Turf, sounds like I’ll save it for when I’ve got a good few days free when i can really concentrate on it. Over Xmas maybe.

  8. Paul – it was my first MGS game and I loved it, don’t think that playing the previous ones is necessary unless you want to understand the story. Cut scenes are pretty short (except the bit at the start) and some are brilliant

    Turf – that first proper mission was a rude awakening for me too, I hate it when the missions go wrong and you have to start blasting everyone, usually restart them. Those creepy things at the end…

  9. Paul – I also see the AI through-balls etc, but don’t suffer from them. They very much are stoppable. I would not say this if it was not true. I’m alert to them and always go with the runner. The AI hardly ever gets a one-on-one against my keeper – can’t remember the last one, in fact. Multiple sessions ago. Try something next time you’re on. ‘In this match I will not concede a single goal.’ That’s the aim. Try to nick a goal yourself, of course, but you’re setting up not to concede first and foremost. It weirdly works.

    The opening, unskippable tutorial level in MGS5 is excruciating and effectively an interactive hour-long cutscene. It doesn’t even teach you much about the game. It’s a notorious example of the whimsical eccentricities that make the series so beloved, but new-to-Metal-Gear players mostly find it tedious and many don’t get past it. After that? Superb in every single way, but I wonder if you’ll have to appreciate the MGS lore to like it as a game in its own right rather than a.n.other open-world missions-and-resource-gathering game.

    Uncle Turf – on my bucket list is a future full-stealth replay of MGS5 without the HUD – here’s an example of it. Note how d-dog can still alert you to nearby enemies but there are no helpful red triangles anywhere to be seen.

  10. Anyone else here exclusively play football games?

  11. Jay – I 99% play just PES and nothing else from week to week. MGS5 was two years ago and I only played that because it was Metal Gear. I play the Civilization series and latterly XCOM2 (possibly the best single strategy game ever made). These account for about an hour or two a week at best. If I’m off work, I’ll play a bit more, but otherwise I’m PES all the way. I have an updated CM0102 on the Widows machine that I play a few matches of most weeks.

  12. Cheers Abbeyhill, I’ve been wanting to try MGS for years, but the reports of it being confusing and massive long non-game playing elements put me off.
    Adding it to my must try list, its good to have a break from footy games now and then.

    NG – It’s never my intention to concede and do try to play to not concede, but when you are pretty much dominating a game and then the COM decides that all Burtons players will play like Marco Van Basten, and that even tired players who have played 85 mins can outrun your fastest player, it gets a bit tedious and annoying.

    I could play a 5-4-1 Counter attack game and just do a Jose Bore-inho and park the bus and try to nick a goal, but for me, that’s not enjoyable footy gaming, may as well not play if I’m not enjoying it.

    This season will be the tell-tale one, if things don’t pick up, my 4th season in, then PES18 and I may not have much of a future together, and the last and only PES that didn’t even make it to xmas, was PES 14.

  13. NG – I too play the updated CM0102s! I’m JayFlo over on the forum. Haven’t played for about 18 months tho due to not replacing the laptop. If you play that civilisation game for an hour or two a week and play PES 99% of the time, you play 50-100 hours of games a week 😉

  14. I’m finding I need to have a break when playing mgs, such is the nervous tension. Straight away NG I can see that video poster is way more advanced than me from the way they sprint around the place. I was creeping when I was more than a kilometre from the enemy. Knowing how far they can see is something I have to gauge. I’ve also started mission one over again now I’m at mother base – you’re right, After the intro cut scene I had no idea the silenced pistol was actually a tranquilliser. I’d pumped round after round into collapsing bodies. Like you Abbeyhill I was really annoyed I’d got so close then one move and it was Doom. I was a bit disappointed how stupid they were when trying to storm my position, I just shot them coming through a door over and over again.

    I guffawed when revolver said they’d added a cardboard box to my r and d – he had no idea why but said I’d understand…he was right.

  15. Paul – of course you don’t set out to concede, but I prefer to think of the ‘clean sheet first’ attitude as the George Graham doctrine. And two strikers minimum are a must.

    Jay – figurative 99%, not literal.

    Uncle Turf – in the video the player was likely already familiar with the layout and so knew he’d get away with sprinting to the overlook. There’s a variety of stages between full HUD and no HUD, i.e. you can have manual tags only (applied through the binoculars), etc. That might be a decent compromise.

  16. Right, the gauntlet is set.
    new signings, new kits, new formation with 2 up top, new focus.
    Wont get to play until tomorrow evening but the challenge is on, DO NOT CONCEDE!!

  17. Recently started on MGS5 myself and am reading these comments with interest, in addition to the regular high quality output of a PES nature on here. In an attempt to link up with arguably the main theme on the blog over the past 18 months or so, namely Konami’s marginalisation of the offline player at the expense of the online masses, what thoughts do those that have played MGS5 to completion have over the FOB side of the game?

    Hopefully this is not a spoiler for Turf or others playing the early stages of the game as I am, but I believe at some point the game forces you to have an online presence and this can actually impact on your single player experience, Clash of Clans style, whether you like it or not. I was reading some of the MGS forums and it was like looking into the alternate 1985 future of PES! The thought upsets me greatly although I’m enjoying the game too much not to press on.

  18. Rodajc –welcome and thanks for your comment, and I can confirm 100% there is NO forced online aspect to MGS5 whatsoever. I recall the forums fretting about the possibility at the time of MGS5’s release, but it never came to pass. It was only ever forum froth related to the Forward Operating Bases, for which the game gives you a full tutorial, but you can then just ignore the feature, and I did.

  19. I similarly declined to download whatever it was that enabled. I’m not worried about spoilers as I recall reading an NG comment when I thought it unlikely I’d be playing but thanks for the consideration Rodajc (another Dutch affiliate or a Werd like name switcharound?). I doubt all the spoilers in the world would help anyone figure out the chronology and complete story.

  20. That’s a relief! Goes to show you can’t believe everything you read on the internet.

    I’m sure that one day there will be no such thing as an offline gaming experience, but hopefully there’s at least a few more years left for us old relics.

  21. I’d never normally play 2 up top, I prefer two wingers and a target man. However PES2018 has found me finding 2 strikers the most effective – 2 CFs too. Not a CF and SS, though I have used that also.

    I struggled for goals at times in my first season. I went to 2 up top (on Top Player) and immediately noticed the smart interplay I could achieve with Prdax and Castolo.

    Here’s September’s haul for Castolo:

  22. Some Neat finishes Jay. Still on SS?
    I ask because there was one goal in particular, mybe the 3rd or 4th goal, where Castolo played a 1-2 and his marker just stopped tracking him leaving him to run in on goal and score.

    That NEVER happens to me on TP, my players are always tracked and tackled or the return pass cut out.

  23. Jay – I insist you now create a player named Prdax in Edit mode and sign him. I imagine some Borg-like Mad Max player with that name.

  24. Please don’t kill me but… I played 1.5 hours of MGS Ground Zeroes and was the most boring thing I have played in the past year.

  25. Paul – I am still on SS yeah, but that compilation is from when I was still on TP. Maybe you’ll find more space opens up with two up top? I hope you get that promotion this season!

    NG – Where would he be from? I think Albania could work.

  26. with a name like Prdax would have to be Ukraine or some eastern European cold place.

  27. JS Hutt – a murder team has been dispatched on a stealth mission.

    Jay – Prdax wouldn’t be from anywhere. Origins: unknown. If he had to have a nation of origin for registration purposes, he would pick one at random. Kyrgyzstan?

  28. This is what PES 18 can look and play like if you get a modded PC version.
    Gorgeous zoomed out Broadcast Cam, lush vibrant Turf textures, varied realistic adboards etc.

  29. NG look at Paul’s video: no myClub stuff on the pitch hahaha

    And still waiting for that murder team. But I don’t know why I didn’t like that game. Maybe if I put more time on it…

  30. I didn’t bother with ground zeroes as I’d read that it was very short, an amuse bouche before the meat and two.

  31. Uncle Turf – the general view is that Ground Zeroes is a single self-contained level of The Phantom Pain, and one of the best levels too. I do agree with that. The base that you infiltrate in GZ is larger than any in TPP, and the things you do there more complex. It’s pretty long as well. Not necessary for a new TPP player and I wouldn’t backtrack if I were you, but it’s worth a look if the itch persists after TPP is done. That might take longer than you expect. Some of the boss battles are proper MGS boss battles. Remember MGS1’s boss battles? Oh yes…

  32. I can read your mind….

    I re-did mission one last night and improved to a B and took a boatload of captives. Only small blot was being seen extracting from the place with the guy. Getting past them at the end was made easier when I discovered the horse can actually run. They only show you something like three of the controls in all that introduction, going to the menu is a must.

  33. Started season 4 last night, with several new signings in the team, new kits, new sponsors and even cut the grass a different style.
    Changed up to a 4-4-2 formation with the 2 CM’s sat back a little deeper, very much similar to NG’s formation.

    Lost the first game to Burton Albion 1-0 after I was done on the counter after dominating the entire match, beat Millwall 3-1 in the next match, drew 4-4 in a very exciting match against Ipswich Town after being 2-0 down, usually I’d have crumbled and lost by more, but pulled it back to 2-2, then quickly went 3-2 up due to a defensive error, 3-3, then 4-3 to me before they equalised in the 92nd Min, lastly beat Leeds 3-0.

    The 2 up top formation seems much more creative, I have more options now, even though my TS is lower due to the new signings, much prefer it.
    Could be an interesting season.

  34. Paul – I had a similar start to my season 3, a few wins, a few frustrating almost-wins, and a puzzling defeat or two, but have since gone on several great runs that have me now solidly on track for promotion. My post tomorrow will have the latest table but I’m 3rd, level on points with 2nd, coming up to January. At times it really is all about out-scoring the AI. At other times, playing dull safety-first football to protect a 1-0 lead (a 1-1 with the AI goal in 90+ minutes is soul-destroying).

    Uncle Turf – some of the MGS5 boss battles are pretty straightforward and winnable on the first or second try. This is one of the concessions made to our poxy ‘current era’, as is the reduction in cut-scenes. Non-fans and reviewers of previous Metal Gears moaned so much about lengthy boss-battles and lengthy cut-scenes. Just as with PES and the no-fouls lovers, it seems unfair that they should be the ones listened to and catered for. Anyway, not all the boss battle goodness has been subtracted. There are a few classics to stand alongside the greats of the series (Psycho Mantis in MGS1, The End in MGS3, etc.). I think the final boss battle, if you get to it, is one of the best in the series. I won’t say anymore now.

  35. I can confirm the preseason tournament does exist – once you’ve won top flight. Looks as if you even get invited to 2!

  36. Jay – is there anything at stake in the pre-season tournament? Anything to do other than run the rule over new signings? Presumably there’s prize money, but do finances by that stage of your club’s fortunes really matter that much?

    In old-school ML, you were awarded currency Points for winning each individual match. Winning a pre-season friendly could be the difference between getting a new player, or struggling to pay existing wages. That kind of dimension to ML is gone and could do with coming back.

  37. NG – Im 10th, only 3 pts off 3rd though, was in 3rd before that last defeat, early season matches are non-indicative of actual rankings of course, but always a good confident booster to be up there or thereabouts as early as possible.

    I was only commenting the other day on gate receipts from wins/draws being a key part of old ML and how they were a staple when trying to secure a new signing or make the books balance, id love that, and the hiring of different staff and levels to come back, give us something to do between matches.

    I assumed pre-season tournaments were only for top division sides as I haven’t seen one in 4 seasons yet, would have been nice to be able to arrange our own pre-season friendlies, 1-3, each carrying some sort of financial reward.

  38. Paul – old-school ML awarded its made-up Points currency for wins and draws. It was a feature of all early seasons that you chose your pre-season friendlies very carefully – both the amount of them and the opponents – in order to hopefully accumulate enough Points to squeak through the imminent Wages Day and maybe get 1 player – ONE player! – to add to your squad. That aspect of ML was taken away from PES2010 onward, but still present in spirit in the form of gate receipts etc. Now, since roughly PES2014 or so, I have not concerned myself with finances in ML since maybe the first half of any season 1. And even then it was easily navigated through.

  39. Agree, Made ML much more tactical and more of a challenge.
    ML is just too easy nowadays.

    I’ve completed 3 seasons, finishing 9th, 22nd, and 10th, gone out of the FA Cup in the 1st round, 1st round, 2nd round.
    Yet starting season 4 I had £68million for transfers and a £8million salary budget – unheard of for a lowly Championship team.

  40. NG – I’ll report back. My preseason tournament is a 4-Team group style with Monaco, Ajax and Juventus. League winners in their countries.

    The news screen stated last year’s ICC North America tournament was a “success with North American fans turning up in their droves to watch.” Then, on the next news item, I was informed two of my best players weren’t going to be participating as the club wished them to be rested for the season ahead. When I go to pick my team they are indeed unavailable.

    I’ll report back on how it pans out.

  41. Does anyone know if minus salary budget is a game over scenario?
    One of my players auto renewed contract and now the salary budget has went into red. I could just release someone but I’d rather not.

  42. PrsGame – in days if old, if on the final day when you had to submit accounts, you was in the red, you would be forced to release a plate to make the books balance. If it was too big a deficit then it would indeed be game over.
    Don’t know about PES 18 though. Not much emphasis is put on finances anymore with money coming in droves, so would imagine it very hard to be in that position.

  43. Well! I’d like to report back something but I lose all three games 1-0. I haven’t failed to score for three consecutive games since when I first moved up to SS 4 seasons ago. It was like a new difficulty without actually changing difficulty in the settings. I missed simple chances & they were clinical. It was like I was playing Paul’s version of PES!

    After finishing bottom of the table, the news item acknowledged it had ended. The owner didn’t say anything about it & no finances were involved. I don’t know if there would be had I not lost all 3! It was definitely harder though……..

    And the two players missing were literally my two best by OVR. I doubt that’s a coincidence.

  44. Ah it has been many years since I last commented long before your hiatus NG! So I will jump straight in there on PES 2018. I for the first time in the series only came back after giving 2017 a miss, I had won the treble on season 4 on SS in 2016 and just felt that was it for me! No fouls, poor ML, poor individuality, totally online based play and piss poor presentation had finally caught up with me winning a treble so easily just finished it for me. Yet now I am going to bitch about difficulty (ahem).
    I am four seasons in and after managing 4 clubs started with the defaults on SS (6 months), got sacked decided to stay with it and move clubs, got sacked again (12 months) moved to TP and then could have won the league at a canter if I had wished so after 10 straight wins moved back to SS got sacked (12 months). Ended up back with original club with a team so poor it was worse than any default team ever. The problem is with this team in TP I would walk into the prem and with very little investment probably win it but in SS I would be sacked again probably in the next window. Challenge is broken and I will turn it off and remain with this team. Superstar is also broken and by this I mean for 5 games in a row when I failed to score the opposition keeper was always man of the match! I can rip a team apart but beating a 60OVR keeper no chance!
    I honestly do not know if I can take this ridiculousness much longer the fact that the game had not a day 1 patch to remove Neymar from the loading screen should have been enough of a warning sign but super keepers, A.I. with laser precision, and not a single penalty in 4 seasons make me question why I waste my time. PES was always a major part of my life (from before it was called PES) 2017 I removed myself from and now 2018 I am holding on by a thread it could be great again but……..
    NG love the blog and have to ask,,,,did you ever do anything more with the book? I loved the part you published on here years back.

  45. Thanks Paul hoping that. Suppose depends when the money for next season is delivered. It was an auto renew in January and he helped himself to half a million pay increase

  46. I’m all for talking about how experiences of the game differs but labelling something broken purely because you’re not winning is banal. SS isn’t broken. It’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard. I’ve done 4 seasons on SS now; it’s not a walk in the park but why would you want it to be? I know PES isn’t perfect but 18 is a step back towards the best. PES16 was Mickey Mouse easy and PES17 was better but offered little resistance over a longer term as your team eventually became all 85+OVR with little challenge in doing so.

    Whilst PES18 still has numerous shortfalls that most will flag – cursor switching/no fouls – it has curbed player growth and it has forced more imagination and innovation in how you attack. On PES17 I could’ve won the league on headers alone on SS. Not straight off the bat, but by getting pinpoint crossers at LB, RB, RW and LW, with a 190cm + CF with 85+ in jump, header, attacking prowess and physical contact. Headers aren’t a free pass this year. That’s good.

    Also gone unmentioned, as an improvement, is the AI’s use of formations & players. As James pointed out last year, the AI would leave a 85 CM on the bench if the formation used DMs instead. So it would play a 65 DM instead of a 85 CM. This year that’s remedied. For example I’ve seen strikers used in AM and LWs in CM – Sane at City, for example. They also change formation during the game.

    Sorry for the rant – well half sorry – but the whinnying is getting tedious.

    Paul – finding 2 up top is making a positive difference?

  47. Jay – not being able to pick 3 of your players is typical PES whimsy and I actually like the sound of it. No real-life club would tell its manager not to pick players surely – ?!

    As for the moaning about moaning, I can only half-agree. I agree that the actual PES2018 gameplay – the cut and thrust of the AI – is something we’ve waited since PES2012 to see return to the series. It’s what’s kept me playing it. PES2014 had ghosts of what was required but PES2018 delivers on the AI front. I don’t care that it’s cheaty. But I disagree that moaning per se is wearing – no-fouls and poor individuality and cursor changing et al must never be accepted. The first two of that trio are as disgraceful an insult to PES as Liverpool moving their home ground to Old Trafford or similar. It’s that egregious an insult. Never, ever, will I stop going on about them, unless and until they’re fixed – or not, in which case, that’s PES over and done with as far as I’m concerned, and I mean that. If the forthcoming patch doesn’t at least fix fouls – at least to PES2017-levels, preferably well above – I will walk away from new PES games. No PES2019.

    I’ve got a lovely moan about Individuality coming up in tomorrow’s post. I enjoyed writing it and it makes me feel almost indecently excited just thinking about it.

  48. Gary – I can just about remember you from way, way back. It’s good to hear you’re still playing – for now – and while I don’t have the same adverse reaction to the AI that you and many others have had (strangely, it’s all good for me and the AI – in fact, the AI is PES2018, right now), the other things are truly shocking. No fouls, no penalties, no free kicks, poor individuality. Who would ever have thought PES – Pro Evolution Soccer – would ever come to this? I’m very interested to see what the outcome is from the patch. For all kinds of reasons I don’t think it can risk delivering what most single-players want, and alienating multiplayers (and misguided single=players), but we’ll see.

    As for the book… no, I never did do anything else with it. The story-of-my-life-in-PES angle was slightly misconceived, I soon discovered. Too much biography and not enough PES. If the project ever resurfaces – and it could do! – it’ll be all PES with biographical stuff running faintly in the background. If PES2018 does turn out to be my last ever new PES game, maybe that’ll be the time to revive the idea. Lament for a lost paradise, acceptance of time moving on, that sort of thing.

  49. What do we say to the gods of penalties and fouls?

    Not today…

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