Pro Evo’s Cave

Something has shifted with me and PES2014. I’ve arrived at a stage where it feels as if I’ve crested the difficulty curve. After many seasons of relative struggle, I seem to have emerged into a zone of greater comfort and even greater enjoyment.

Not ease. PES2014 is still not the kind of football game where you ever want to go 0-1 down. And it’s also not the kind of football game AI that will happily put up with being behind. Defending is more difficult in this game on account of its (in)famously cumbersome handling, and the scripting shenanigans are as strong in PES2014 as in every PES.

But here’s the table after 9 matches of Season 10:

PES2014 Season 10 after 9

The game feels as if it’s turning for me now. About time too.

PES2014 has been my only football game snce mid-January. I did hop back to play PES2016 for two matches on the day the Euro 2016 DLC was released. But that feels like a long time ago now. I’m not tempted by the latest patch for PES2016. I don’t feel any need to try it out and deliver ‘My Verdict’. I’ve got a great football game going on right here in PES2014. Why do I need to go and check out PES2016? I’m just a hobbyist blogger. I have no obligation to provide any kind of pseudo-journalistic ‘coverage’ of PES2016 patches. So I won’t be doing that.

I’m not interested in any football game but PES2014 for the moment. I’ve got to know my players, at the level where, in years to come, I’ll be able to recall some — Keano, Joaquin, Pizarro, and others — with great fondness. I know the game’s mechanics. I’m actually scoring medium-long rangers quite routinely now — the sort of goals, from 18-25 yards or so, that would have had me reaching for the phone camera a few weeks ago and presenting them as a novelty. These are now fairly common, as they should be.

That certain winning feeling helps too. I’m starting to score lots of goals and win more matches than I don’t win. My squad upgrades of the last two transfer windows have tipped me over the edge here.

My average player rating for my First XI is 87 OVR. That’s more than decent.

I fancy my chances of the title this very season. I’m still in the Europa League too. I’ve won all 3 of my opening group matches. Barring a Devon Loch-style collapse, I’ll sail through to the knockout stages. I would love a Double of the League and Europa Cup.

But those are the only trophies remaining up for grabs this season. I’m out of the FA Cup, Bloody West Brom did me on penalties after a 3-3 thriller.

That’s been a feature of this new season, by the way: matches are averaging 3-4 goals per game. A few seasons ago the majority of matches would end with 1 goal scored, or goalless.

This explosion of goals is an example of the game levelling up along with the player. Now that I’ve got a squad capable of scoring 2-4 goals per match, suddenly the AI can too. Which always makes me pull a face… You’ve got to wonder just how much actual control we have over the destiny of the matches in our football games.

I think we definitely have enough input to make it a satisfying experience and genuinely affect the outcomes. But at times it could also be argued that we’re nothing more than participants in a very cunningly designed QTE-type interactive script.

There are lots of things in life that we shouldn’t look too closely at, in case they disappear under scrutiny, revealing themselves to be nothing more than shadows on the cave wall. Pro Evo is one of them.


  1. NG – great post with a very philosophical theme running right through it.

    Not had much game time the last few days as I am back to work I am finding myself more tired in the evenings. I thought about sticking on Fifa 16 but couldn’t be bothered. I watched The Rack Pack after the misses went to bed. Can’t say I cared much for it. I think we have seen it all before on stage and screen. Films like this always go down the route of idolising people like Alex Higgins, who was a much more darker/tragic figure than what the film potrayed. In reality he ended up dying from starvation in a sheltered housing complex. But film makers gloss over that.

  2. Well, I for one would never have guessed PES 2014 would take you this far n-G. Looks like a title charge might be on this season.

    Other than a brief round of Star Wars Battlefront at the weekend, I’ve not played any games for well over a week now. Catching up with the excellent People VS OJ Simpson has filled my evenings and like Darryl, I’ve been too tired to pick up the half finished PES ML season I’ve left in stasis.

  3. Yes, very nice weaving of the cave allegory into the final thought there, I’d not come across that till recently when it enlivened a very dull book on qualitative research. Your numbers show me how far away my team is – 82 overall – and why my expectations should be realistic. Mid table would be fine.

  4. I never thought PES2014 would take me this far either, to be honest. I thought I was dropping in on a strange cult edition of the series for a season or two, and then I’d move on. Its quirks are part of its appeal. It was the perfect antidote to the arcade no-fouls action we’ve seen in recent years. I’m fascinated to see where it takes me and how many more seasons it’ll be,

    In my other activities news, XCOM2 is still going strong. And after a two-episodes-per-day binge over the past month or so, I’m almost caught up with The Walking Dead. I abandoned it back in Season 2 when the main character started having a heartfelt dialogue with a statue of Jesus in a church. I now think it’s the best post-apocalyptic TV show I’ve ever seen, and my memory goes all the way back to the TV version of Logan’s Run.

    The post-apocalyptic genre is a perennial favourite of mine in book and film/TV (strangely not so much in gaming, though). Recently the post-apocalyptic has been almost ruined for me by the realisation that, after the fall of civilisation, there’d be no more running water and everybody would absolutely stink, all the time – but it’s never mentioned in any book or film or TV show.

  5. Iniesta. Boom!!

  6. Lloyd — that’s got to be your best compilation yet. Loads of truly stunning goals. Ibrahimovic’s power-header. Baggio’s couple of stunners. And re. Iniesta’s strike, putting on my ‘bicycle kick or scissors kick?’ adjudicator’s hat, I’m calling ‘scissors’ — but only just. It could be argued either way… I will admit I miss PES2016’s exuberance from long range. PES2016 has great shooting (it’s the general frantic gameplay that I look dimly upon)

  7. I’ve been considering getting 2014 again and forcing myself to play it for a length of time (you may recall on day 1 purchase back then it lasted half a match and I returned it the next day)

    My current ML on 2013 has brought a significant rollercoaster of difficulty. Playing as Newcastle with defaults on superstar I managed 3rd and promotion in season 1 and then in season 2 (in premiership) I somehow came 5th! I was worried that I’d give up soon after as it was too easy but then came season 3…..

    Final position – 16th
    Goals scored – 18!!!!!!
    FA Cup – Out on pens in 1st round
    Europa League – Out at group stage with only 1 win

    My form throughout the campaign was disgraceful. Indeed on the last day of the season I still had a chance of being relegated.

    Onto season 4, my transfer activity was ok, my first 3 games played last night went

    Leicester (H) won 3-1
    Norwich (H) lost 0-2
    Bournemouth (A) won 1-0

    Seems to be averaging itself out.

  8. You need those season three experiences to remind you it’s not easy, there are times in some years it’s all going rather too well and you think you’ll be done by November. 2016 was killed for me by the remy goalfests of season two.

    The only concern I’d have about revisiting 2014 though is if it was vanilla, as was when released. I still feel that was a dog, I still have grumbles about the keepers seemingly unable to extend their bodies at times now, after patches.

    I’ve been yo yoing, beat Cardiff, lose to hull kind of thing. 13th as we approach December. I want a good transfer window, a mid placed finish would be acceptable if I add a few good youngsters to the squad. None more so than up front.

    And yes, Lloyd that was a great compilation but iniesta doing that? As if. He’d have chested it down then played it sideways.

  9. Mike — just a reminder that you won’t be able to patch PES2014, so you’ll be stuck with the vanilla game that you played for half a match. And see my Disclaimer on my first PES2014 post from January (scroll to bottom):

  10. Realising that if I didn’t get going again soon I might never get going again, I returned to PES 2016 and season 6(?) of my Brighton ML last night.

    First of all, the new patch. Clearly I’m not in the best position to judge given I’ve not played the game for some time but it feels the same as before. No difference to free kicks, AI low shot to the corner addiction etc. But then we weren’t expecting there to be.

    Played four games and am now about to enter the January transfer window with Brighton unbeaten and two points behind leaders Chelsea who finally conceded in a match other than the defeat I handed them early in the season.

    Messed up the Champions League group stage a bit by getting all casual and squad rotation-y in the final game and finishing second. I now have Real Madrid over two legs rather than Sampdoria.

  11. Tonight was the opening game of the midweek cricket season up here. Snow on pitch…

    Yet more one step forward, one backward for me. There are some poor teams in my season four PL – Huddersfield, Cardiff, hull – but they play almost as solidly as the better teams. I was better against man city than any of them and have beaten Chelsea already. With one win/loss I can go from 18th to 13th and back again. Stringing that run together though is proving impossible.

    When I get frustrated I stick skyrim back on. Level 38 and still not dead. Having a heavily armoured sidekick makes that more likely to continue. I’ve not touched the companion, thieves, dawnguard, dragonborn, main quests or become thane anywhere yet and haven’t set foot in a dwarf fortress. I hate their mazey, mechanical irritations. I did buy a horse though as I don’t believe in fast travel shortcuts. And I look cool in the saddle.

  12. Shed — there was a tweet from the official PES account stating, and I quote, ‘nothing major, just a few backend changes’, which is programmer-speak for smoothing down wrinkles in a blanket, rather than changing the bed. Hasn’t stopped the usual forum frenzy. I remember this ‘post-patch frenzy phenomenon’ starting with PES2010. It occupies a weird social history niche all of its own, like UFOs and poltergeists.

  13. Solid draw with seventh placed West Ham, lost 0-4 to bottom placed villa (total shots on target…4). If seasons have stories this is mine, thou shalt not advance out of the bottom half and might get relegated if we’re feeling twisted.

  14. The fuckery is high with this one Turf, I’m tearing my hair out too. Not sure a season 4 promotion is on the cards

  15. There was a moment a few minutes ago where the game didn’t even bother scripting some awkward animation, it just physically shifted my player several yards away

  16. Yes, I’ve had some odd travelator moments where the man seems to take off away from the ball after a tackle. I’m 18th at the transfer window, and what a twat that was. Nobody above 69 in the youth team, just a couple of additions – we are talking 95% made up players and Gary monk! The free agents meanwhile were stunning, and all of them 0%. Fortunately I recalled abbeyhill’s ‘have a punt it will stop them going’ advice and although I didn’t get anyone it did shift their likelihood to 70%. However that meant two weeks down with no one in. Totti and Anelka came good though, on affordable wages. Couldn’t land anyone else in the time but hopefully the two of them give me guile and pace to add to Kane’s enthusiasm, welbeck’s aerial threat and klose who’s as much use as a chocolate watch. I will be doing everything to stay up as if I go down I think it’s game over.

  17. By coincidence I’ve got a few paragraphs in tomorrow’s post about scripting. I’m finding the game is holding me in place, as if it thinks I’m not ready to get the rewards that I blatantly am ready for!

  18. Strange days. I have a!ways had a history of insomnia, which is good for gaming when you have a family though. This last week has seen me sleeping like a log, so there has been no gaming at all. When I do play I find myself no longer getting irate about scripting or life in general. What is going to happen to me? Will I become one of those casual gamers folk? Or will I slip away into oblivion?

    There was one incident that did get me annoyed though yesterday, so we are not quite there. It was another instance of me just not understanding the world we live in nowadays.

    I went to my wallet whilst at work and discovered my cash card was missing. I had not used it for a while, so I got the misses to check if anything dubious had come out and I was going to check in my jeans when I returned home. The reason I didn’t cancel it straight away was because I needed her to be there to help me with the security questions. The thing is I have no interest in money at all and haven’t a clue how much money I have. The misses handles all those affairs. I do find it odd how money can be an obbsession for people and pretty much dominates their lives and thinking. The only problem is that they ask so many security questions now and for the sake of me I can’t think of three direct debits, never mind knowing what my account and sort code is without the card with me.

    So I ring them when I get home and my wife has the on line app to hand with the direct debits listed. Again I wouldn’t even know how to get into that. So we go through all the automated selections and keying in all my account numbers before then being put through to another robot but this time with a human voice. Having done all that I have to tell him all these details as well. He also asks me my mothers maiden name and other questions, before asking me to give details of three direct debits that go out of the account. He says a new card will be posted out in the next 2/3 days.

    Finally I am done and go for a soothing bath. My wife shouts up to say that I have got a text from the bank to say that I have to go into the branch and take in some ID before they can send it

    The world has gone mad.

  19. On a side-note, I have a recurrent nightmare where I’m trying to explain to people that the ‘mother’s maiden name’ question doesn’t have to be your mother’s maiden name. It’s not a quiz and nobody’s going to check. Your mother’s maiden name is one of the simplest things to find out about you. In security questions, don’t ever use your mother’s maiden name. Instead, use anything else. Your mother’s maiden name can be ‘bottle of orangeade’ or ‘ug97fb2o3ubf’ or ‘plimsoll1998’ or whatever. In my workplace the mother’s maiden name question is used as secondary security for our online wage statement service, and when people are setting it up I always tell them ‘oh, that doesn’t have to actually be your mother’s maiden name’. But people won’t listen and look at me as if I’m going on about my wild and cray-zee ideas once more. I’ve decided I must be some kind of saint.

  20. Like losing an hour when the clocks change….

    Any of you on here know anything about judo? The little fella had a taster session at school and loved it, there’s a local class I’m going to take him to and wouldn’t mind finding out more.

  21. Uncle Turf — quite a few of the parents I know take their kids to karate, judo, things like that, and they say it’s brilliant for the kids and good for them. Teaches good habits and discipline and all that, but doesn’t seem to, i.e. the kid doesn’t know he’s being schooled. Judo is the one built around the concept of using the opponent’s strength against him. It’s a lot more about grappling and rolling than hitting.

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