I think PES2020 might be the first one ever where I stay on Top Player all the way to its conclusion. On the PS2 I always went up to 5* difficulty eventually, and then to 6* when that was introduced. And in more recent time I’ve always gone up to Superstar once I have learned the ropes. This year, I doubt that will happen.
I’ve had a session of experiment on Superstar and the results were not good. I didn’t lose any crucial games… but the quality of gameplay did not please me. What’s different about PES2020’s version of Superstar is that the AI is allowed to barge and clatter your players without consequence. This makes for objectively poor gameplay. Physicality in football must have constraints and consequences, or the game suffers massively. But the online players of today have to be spoon-fed the shitty Rocketball gameplay that they demand. So we have to suffer.
Which isn’t a new development. This has been the direction of travel for years. But we’ve lived in a semi-protective bubble in single-player. Offline, the Rocketball dimension of nuPES has always been in a reasonable proportion on Superstar. Until this year.
And so it seems I might ‘complete’ PES2020 on the PS4 on Top Player. Which is not ideal. It’s not what I really want. Top Player is a little easy. It would not take too much of an effort to win the League on Top Player, and perhaps a pretty straightforward Treble too.
Goal-scoring isn’t a great feature of PES2020. Once again today I haven’t got a single goal replay that’s worth showing off.
Goals do mean something in context – yes, fine, no worries there. A rifled shot from the edge of the box might be just a bog-standard goal in visual terms – but if the scorer is Regen van Persie adding another layer to his developing ML story, then yes, that goal is pretty great. It’s a good and memorable goal. Ditto if the likes of Jarvis is the scorer. And Castledine has this knack of coming up with the occasional 20-yard screamer.
But overall, as things-in-themselves, I think it’s safe to say that the goals of PES2020 are the least remarkable and the least satisfying PES goals since PES2014.
Here is the league table after 16 matches. This was after a session on Superstar in which I scored 0 goals and racked up 1 point. Before that session I was 2nd and only 5 points behind Liverpool.I made it through to the knockout stages of the Europa League in fine style, and would have finished top of the group if I hadn’t tried out Superstar for the last match away to Dortmund that I lost 2-0. I knew I was already through and was willing to make the experiment.I remain strangely ambivalent toward PES2020. There are matches where I think it’s easily the best football game ever created. So many breathtaking moments and evidence of sheer craft from the developer. But there is this uneasy feeling overall of it being a multiplayer game that we’re being allowed to play (for now).
I know that I thought more highly of PES2019 at this stage last December, than I do of PES2020 this December. The different isn’t vast, but it’s real. This time last year I would have unhesitatingly said of PES2019: ‘9 out of 10!’ This year, at this beginning of December (roll on January 2nd), I would say quietly of PES2020: ‘8 out of 10’…. Which still isn’t terrible. As Meat Loaf nearly said, 8 out of 10 ain’t bad. And there’s 8 months of the footy game year remaining.