Month: September 2018

El Necid

36 matches played of Season 1 and this is the state of play. I’ve actually picked up a few good results since my last posted league table.

I’m at the stage now with my ‘Defaults-plus-a-few-Decents’ where I can usually give the AI a good game on Top Player.

But the overall trend is one of defeat. Sometimes, abject defeat. I can receive proper thrashings, as that Goals-Against column indicates.I was pleased and surprised to see a couple of my players make it into the March Team of the Month.

Both places were merited. Jarvis scored a couple of goals, and has started playing well for the first time this ML.

Vasilj netted himself a lovely angled free kick (replay at bottom). Bit of a dodgy keeper moment, but I’ll take it.

I’ve added a new 3rd kit to the club, courtesy once more of PESFX impresario Paul.

This swish black kit is a necessary addition, as my first two kits often clashed with all the opposition’s options. My first two kits are Sky Blue and white. It’s amazing how many Championship teams play in some variety of blue and white – and how many of them seem to have a similar 2nd kit (and no 3rd).

I’ve eased into that first-season mode now where I am comfortable in most matches, until momentum shifts via some incident and suddenly the AI is all over me. ‘Momentum’ being nuPES-speak for ‘scripting’.

This all sounds grouchier than I actually feel.

I’m toddling along quite happily in my own PES-playing bubble, trying my best to party like it’s 2003. Giving PES2019 a score right now, I would give it a solid 8/10. Maybe an 8.5/10. I remain very concerned about long-range shooting.

Also, that thing the AI does where it turns away from goal, is one of the worst AI behaviours imaginable in a sports video game. How the hell did it get through QA? Needs patching, pronto.

But I’m having a great time assembling my team, getting to know who is worth keeping and who will be stepping through the next available Exit door.

I’ve decided to observe an informal House Rule this year: no identikit, clone-style, nuPES players.

New signings must feel like true PES individuals within half a season, or they’re out.

Today’s couple of goals: first that free kick from Vasilj, and second a goal scored by Necid from a low cross put in by me. Hoisting the AI with its own petard.

Necid seems to have come good, after a worryingly anonymous start. He might have a chance of making it through the individuality filter. Currently he has his nose just above the waterline. I’ll drown him without a qualm if he lapses back into anonymity.

Worry and Rice

January of Season 1. I picked up two tasty-looking Free Agents: Tomas Necid, and Siem de Jong. Not as first-tier as I could have got, if I’d only had the wages, but they’re more than adequate.

Necid is a name that has been mentioned on this blog before, albeit in a different game. Football Manager 2010 being the game. Necid was my big signing in one of my first FM2010 Premiership seasons, and bagged a load of goals that kept me up. The big clubs came calling and he sulked until I let him go, after which everything disintegrated and I was sacked.

Here in PES2019 he is on the freebie list along with a mouthwatering load of other players. My wages bill ended up on minus-200k until I moved a few other players out – Arcas and Goios among them.

I ended up selling Goios (not-Coutinho) before the window closed, so this screenshot is already out of date. I brought in a Youth striker named VINER to cover.

Other than that difference, the above is the formation and squad that I will be using to scrape some points together – hopefully – in the second half of the season.

Results continue to be awful.

I had a session last night that was one of the best nuPES sessions, all told, that I have ever had.

The AI was brilliant, frankly. Hassling and harrying me, launching waves of varied and inventive attacks. Positionally in defence, it’s the tightest AI PES has ever seen, I think. The PES2019 AI has such a poor renown that many a befuddled PES2019 player will be shaking their heads and wondering if I am taking the piss. I am not.

The only sign of the infamous Low Cross in my game is a GP award given to me for pulling off a low cross in a game. (Double-tap the cross button from out wide.)

Necid and de Jong haven’t really set the ML world alight yet. Necid has done adequately, netting three goals since his arrival, including a debut header with his very first touch, which bodes well. De Jong has been totally anonymous and I am starting to worry.

I have more or less settled on the view that there is no point persisting with anonymous, identikit players in nuPES anymore.

A squad of proper individuals, even if they are poor overall and don’t win me anything, will be preferable to the rotating door of samey-feeling players that besmirched the likes of PES2016.

I had a fatigue situation in one match that forced me to play with a lone striker up front and two wide forwards/wingers. I thought this formation was a 4-5-1, but the game says it’s a 4-3-3. I was very interested to see how it played out, but no, it didn’t really do anything special. And it did feel like a 4-3-3 in practice.

A brief little highlights clip now. Necid’s debut header is here. There are some brave attempts at shooting from Rice – finishing with an actual goal from Rice, from distance, that won me the World Class long-range shooting trophy. Still not a proper long-ranger though…

Slow and steady wins the race

So I’ve only just made it to mid-season of Season 1.

Why so slow? Is that a reflection on the quality of PES2019?

No – this slow progress is not much slower than normal, for me. This tortoise-like progression is what makes it possible for me to play multiple seasons spanning many months.

A look at last year shows PES2018 arriving on 12th September. I started Master League on 15th September. I reached mid-season of Season 1 two weeks later, on 29th September.

This year I might have got a lot further a lot faster if I haven’t discovered that a little game called Fallout 4 has crept up on me and become quite the obsession.

There’s a very addictive building component to Fallout 4. It’s ‘Minecraft meets Mad Max’. And as a fan of the post-apocalypse, even the semi-comic one of the Fallout 4 world, I keep being brought up short by stark and haunting vistas.I’ve split my gaming time roughly 50-50 between Fallout 4 and PES2019 over the past two weeks since the latter’s launch. Maybe that’s helped to ease me through some of the early difficulties that so many others are experiencing.

I’ve got through to mid-season of my Master League completely untroubled by Low Crossing.

I don’t mean that I’m seeing it but managing to live with it.

It’s not that I’m seeing it a little bit but managing to enjoy the game anyway.

It’s that I’m not seeing it at all. I have to have the one or two isolated instances of Low Crossing pointed out to me. And of course, when they’re isolated, they’re just a normal part of the game.

I don’t know how, or why, Low Crossing doesn’t appear in my game. I even recorded an entire match, distilled it down to the AI attacks only, to show that it doesn’t occur in my game. It definitely doesn’t. How? Why?

But I’m not getting away scot-free. There’s something else that I don’t really see, that I would very much like to see: AI-committed fouls. I’m also not committing many fouls myself.

This is a bog-standard, typical post-match stats screen for me:

1 (ONE) AI foul on me. 0 (ZERO) fouls committed by me. And precious few tackles, which makes no sense when I play, and the AI plays, the most aggressive, barging, kung-fu-kicking football we can get away with – which is a lot.

PES2019 is just as sprint-clampy and slide-tackley as any other nuPES instalment. The demo seemed to herald another way of doing things, a deeper, more substantial single-player experience – but I should have known better. Normal business has been resumed.

I’m waiting to see how things pan out long-term on the AI fouls front. Maybe, hopefully, an influx of better players will change things, who knows?

Scoring 14 goals in 19 games and beng rock-bottom of Division 2 means that I can’t really expect anything much better than this:

The 428th-best team in the Master League world. Magnificent. I want to get above the total scum that is Deportivo Pasto. Those bastards need to be taught a lesson.

I can’t honestly see this year being too different from PES2018. The improvements that are undoubtedly there – Visual Fatigue seems to be a thing, currently – are just enough to be pleasing, but not enough to make PES2019 the dramatic leap forward that it initially seemed to be.

Now more than ever, there is a truth that must be acknowledged: PES exists entirely at the mercy of online multiplayer.

Online multiplayer is the invisible puppet-master that pulls all of football gaming’s strings, and nothing that could negatively impact the ‘flow’ of the online game will ever be allowed into PES again.

The nuPES story has always been one of extracting goodness from the games ‘in spite of’. In spite of this issue, or that issue, in spite of this and that misgiving – the game goes on, and it does!

By Tuesday’s post I will have sailed through mid-season, picked up some new players, and hopefully started to pick up results.

A low cross to bear

Veldwijk finally netted his first goal for the club since his fairytale reappearance in PES2019.

I originally swooped for him in the Free Agents list, motivated by his impressive showing in PES2018 – another game, another PES cosmos completely – but he has so far been totally unimpressive this time around. When it comes to Master League players transferring from one edition to another, it really doesn’t work out.

I’m still selling Veldwijk in the January transfer window. There’s no way to cancel the deal even if I wanted to, and I don’t want to. His goal was just a straightforward sidefoot into the net after an AI keeper parry to the side (which they do too much, by the by).

Whilst poking around, I discovered this screen, which I don’t recall seeing in any previous PES. A handy all-in-one-place list of my current squad’s comings and goings. Yes, it is a shame about Harrington’s face.

This screen does only show the transfer activity of my current squad. It doesn’t show all the Defaults I released or sold before August ended. I can’t even remember their names.

I haven’t spoken about my keeper, MURIEL, or my left-back, SAAVEDRA, so far.

Both were Scout discoveries, and both have proved useful. Muriel in particular is a solid presence between the sticks.

That CB, CINEMRE, is a signing made after the window closed, and so won’t be joining until January, which I am almost upon in-game right now.

Results have been awful and I am bottom of the league.

The season is a complete washout in terms of getting promotion.

One of the debates surrounding PES2019 since its release – under two weeks ago – has been the behaviour of the AI.

Many PES players are satisfied with how the AI plays, up to a point. I am one of the satisfied (overall). I don’t perceive any of the repetitive play that many others see.

My only issue with the AI is the way it will frequently spurn a good opportunity to shoot or develop play for the sake of passing to a teammate.

The AI generally dicks around in front of goal too much.

I would hope and expect there is an AI patch in the works. The AI needs to be more clinical, and yes, it does need to shoot more from distance.

Another angle of the AI debate is its alleged liking for getting out wide and putting in Low Crosses. Repeatedly. Over and over and over again. All match.

Those who are suffering from this problem are really suffering from it, as the forums and the comments here have shown.

I’ve never seen this Low Cross behaviour from the AI, and to show this I decided to record an entire match.

Now there’s nothing duller than watching an entire PES match of somebody else playing when you’re only looking for particular instances of a certain thing. In this case, all we need to see are the AI attacks.

Here are the team sheets before the match:

And here is the 3m40s video – which only shows the 17 instances when Stoke mounted an attack:

I normally play with more conservative fullbacks, and a deeper defensive line. Here I deliberately played in such a way as to allow the AI to head out wide if it wanted to.

Of the 17 AI attacks on show, there is an overall preference for the wings, yes – but there’s just as much a tendency to work the ball back inside. And only two instances of the Low Cross. The AI’s winning goal came from a High Cross and a rare PES2019 (weak) header.

So why are the Low Cross people seeing Low Crosses so much? Investigations are ongoing.

A fair few things need fine-tuning with PES2019 out of the box, it seems.

I hated the couple of instances where the AI, clearly in on goal, chose not to shoot, and instead sort of tamely dribbled away to the side.

At the other end of the pitch, I have a mounting concern over the fate of long-range shooting this year. I’ve yet to score anything from 25+ yards.

My only goal from outside the box was a 22-ish yarder from Rice that was a low fizzing shot into the bottom corner.

I need to see a postage-stamp 30-yarder. I won’t feel comfortable until I’ve got a couple of them, in fact.

Rising Shot is a sumptuous new skill, certainly, but it needs to produce actual goals, or it’s just window-dressing.

Some matches I will blaze away with Rice and others, only to see the AI keeper either catch cleanly, or do that eye-rollingly predictable ‘parry to the side’ thing that keeps the ball in play and keeps things ‘exciting’. Great for online players, I suppose, who want that constant churning cycle of events.

The crazy thing is that, the above issues with AI and long-range shooting aside, this is still the strongest start to a new PES for many a year. General gameplay feels so deep and satisfying. The AI defences, at least, are proving hard to unpick.

As ever, the first season of a Master League with rubbish Defaults is a washout. And that feels pretty good.

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