I like a Challenge

I got underway, feeling as grand as a ship captain setting sail for lands unknown. That’s a decent avatar of me. I can’t quite achieve that whole Lex Luthor-style, billiard-ball-bald look, though. There’s always a shadow of hair, Lombardo-style. So this totally smooth-headed avatar represents an impossible ideal that I will never attain.

Challenge mode. I have to finish in the top 9. Okay. Will do.

Another cunning Konami stunt, moving the menus from the horizontal to the vertical and hoping we’ll passively accept it as being a revamp. Is there another example anywhere in gaming of a developer so comprehensively shafting a beloved game-mode, year on year, than PES Productions does with Master League? I mean, if there were no Glory Years to remember, this would seem fine, probably, but there are so it’s not. It’s almost as if they don’t want us to play it! I know, crazy talk…

The new Team Status screen. This, plus a slider to negotiate contracts with, are the new additions to Master League.

I decided to go full-throttle old-school with the formation. I need to win games. Goals win games. A 4-3-3, then, similar to my Glory Years’ 4-3-3 (the same formation I was still playing with in PES5, this summer just gone).

Game on!

This is the stuff, right here. Nothing feels better in gaming, in life, than the feeling of the nights drawing in, a sudden chill in the air, the central heating pipes clanking under the floorboards, and the warm hearth of PES flickering on the screen…

I lost that match. And quite a few others too.

Top Player, PA1, before anyone asks. I’m not a great player, and probably should have stuck to Professional for at least half a season as I normally do, but I fancy making Challenge Mode challenging. I will stick with Top Player. If/when I restart, though, following the sacking, it’ll probably be on Professional.

I’ve won one match so far.

Here is the table from a few matches ago – I’ve played more since this was taken, but am still bottom of the table:

9th is a long way away from here.

I’ve toyed with the formation, switching to a version of the 4-3-3 with two DMFs and a sole AMF. Trying to beef up the defence.

It hasn’t really worked out. I still concede, on average, about 2 or 3 goals to the AI per game. I have to go on record as saying I love this aspect of PES2018.

Whatever else happens from here – and the fouls/free kicks situation, year on year, has dragged the series into quicksand – I’ve been waiting since PES2012 for an AI to feel consistently deadly again. Here it is. Brilliant.

I don’t even care that most teams mostly play the same way. There’s never been great individuality at the team level in any football game.

Random thing: I always press L1+dpad-UP to make my kickoffs feature the traditional two players. The game remembers this setting for the rest of the match. Wish it could be permanent.

All hail a momentarily confusing usage of ‘marching orders’ in the American English sense:

These menacing board messages do keep popping up. I saw this one after an atrocious run of results:

Which made me fear for my future after losing the next one. But all I got was a sarky message about potentially clearing out my desk soon. I hear that there is no wiggle-room in Challenge Mode. I will be sacked, probably in mid-season.

I’m tempted to jump before I’m pushed, and restart with a renewed sense of purpose and focus. Every match matters. But this is the first time such a feature has been included in Master League, in this way, and I want to pay tribute to the old girl (meaning, Master League) by letting it sack me at least once.

On the pitch, PES2018 plays a very good game of football. But there is a dark, dark cloud on the horizon. The end-times are at hand. Never in my worst nightmare did I think that the low-fouls of PES2016 and PES2017 would lead to the situation we have today in PES2018. Almost literally no fouls at all.

Roughly 1/3rd (maybe even half) of my matches feature zero free kicks for either side. The remainder feature a pathetic 1 or 2 at most.

15 or so matches in, there has not been one single match with more than 2 AI fouls on me, and that was itself a rarity. Appalling and unforgivable.

So the time has come. I solemnly pledge now that there will be no PES2019 in my life or on this blog if this keeps up. And PES2018 is on borrowed time.

The no-fouls issue, unless it is resolved properly, and SOON, has effectively destroyed Pro Evolution Soccer.

Updated: 19th September 2017 — 11:50


  1. Tommy, will check tonight for you, havent been on the game since Monday.
    you needed to apply the ‘overwrite player data’ option for the bundesliga teams to get proper players.
    V2 which includes Ligue NOS also includes a revised Bundesliga so just apply that and you should be good.

    this is interesting:

  2. LC – I did try those files. Apparently on their own they do nothing when altered, something else needs to happen (too technical – don’t know exactly). I have tried many a “dt” file which did absolutely nothing.

  3. Got to December season one deadline in 20th but having had little Burton end my nine game unbeaten run.

    I was expecting the worst and really wondering how I was going to carry on with this PES but the Ronnie Barker owner avatar popped up to confirm I had NOT been sacked but that I “need to get this ship back on course” to 9th.

    I’m now trying to bolster the squad for the second half of the season and the 13 point gap I need to make up to get to 9th at least.

    The threat of the sack is certainly spicing up the otherwise bland ML but if I don’t make this next deadline, I don’t know. Dead means dead?

  4. #1 / LC – just altering the text files wont change the game, the game doesn’t read from those text files on the fly, once you’ve changed the values in them you need to recompile the game so that the changes in the text files get written back into the game.

  5. The great pan-Europe 2015 manual challenge is over. I reckon I won around 10 games out of 100 in my three seasons with three clubs. The final straw came on the back of a 6 game losing streak – I took the lead and immediately the AI equalised with the most outrageous George Best floated chip. It was the only possible way of scoring from that position and they did. Then with a minute to go I conceded a penalty, one in which I took the ball and the classic PES ‘momentum’ collision drew the foul. I saved the penalty as well, but it squirmed into the net. Total pre-ordained bollocks and I’m not a good enough player to counter it.

    I don’t know how or why 2015 broke so early for me three years ago but it now feels like 1-1 in terms of history. Today I start a new level 1 pass assistance superstar game, back in a lower league – one of the far flung made up leagues, back with the defaults. The aim is to move clubs after one year and see where the journey takes me.

  6. #1
    Strange as it may seem, there was some guy who produced a gameplay patch that claimed to make more fouls for 2017.


    Haven’t tried it, just found it minutes ago.
    However, when you look into the comments section the author says:
    “I would recommend original pes 17 gameplay for more fouls :))”
    Go figure…

  7. Uncle Turf – before this PES Year is over, I might end up back on ’15 meself, so it’s great to hear about your adventures. None of you will remember this, but in the fevered days just before PES2015 was released on the PS4, I bought a digital download copy of PES2015 for the PS3, and barely played it. So there really is no pressure on PES2018 to bear the entire weight of my footy gaming expectations. There’s tons of other stuff waiting in the wings, just in case.

    Luis/#1 – I am the proud owner of a lavish PC modded version of PES2013 with a fully working referee strictness slider (move it one notch too far and both teams can be down to 7 players by half-time – that’s how well it works). So it is possible. I’m watching with interest. I’d bet somebody, somewhere, will do it. Maybe not for a while, but it’ll happen.

  8. Shed – whether dead means dead is up to you and how you feel. I plan to start again when I’m sacked, but think I’ll be on traditional ML myself from then on.

  9. Paul – that Twitter screenshot you posted IS pretty much the state of play out there among the generality of punters. It’s noticeable on the forums that whenever anyone pipes up to say they think fouls are all right, they get lots of agreement. Konami will know that all they have to do is ride out this squall (it’s not even a storm) and the fouls issue will go quiet once again, and year on year as the old guard desert the franchise, they’ll be replaced entirely with footy gamers who have only ever known low-fouls/no-fouls in football games. This is how generational shifts in consumption are achieved in any media. You change the direction, remain polite to the complaining oldsters whilst doing nothing to ‘rectify’ matters, and just wait for nature to take its course. QED.

  10. Luis – I tried all of Parham’s patches so I know the one you are referring to. Did nothing 😉

    Paul – how does one go about doing that? Is up to the modder or the user?

  11. Monkfish – hello and thanks for your comment – I have to say, there is ZERO chance of me playing Virtua Striker 3! I detest the Wii with a passion, for one thing. I have decent Gamecube virtualisation software on my PC, though, so it’s one for a rainy day. p.s.: have just downloaded the ISO – I know, naughty boy – and tucked it away for that rainy day.

  12. Cheonsang Teayang in the PAS League appoint the unknown Englishman to revive their footballing fortunes.

    All the defaults are a mystery – they aren’t as their stats are identical to the familiar ones – but I have to try and work out who is who from some impenetrable names.

    I feel such a Werd Mk II.

  13. #1 – its always done by the modders when they release a proper working game play patch, it may be possible to decompile the game and make changes and recompile but youd need the right software and some decent knowledge of C++ Code.

    Turf – order in a lorry load of pasta and turn off your internet and you and WERD could be seperated brothers!

    Looking forward to a session on ML later tonight, haven’t played for a few days due to life, but still excited to see what PES18 offers up on a day to day basis.

  14. Paul – I was thinking today why I’ve felt a little flat about PES 2018 over the past couple of days and I think it’s partly down to playing it too much. Recent PESes haven’t stood up to long and regular sessions of play mainly due to the grind of the no-frills ML. This one will be no different.

    Having played just a couple of games last night, and having not been sacked (which would have been unfair I think) mid season, I now find myself looking forward to the next session. I love a transfer window and I could do with selling a few and bringing in some better players ahead of my assault on 9th.

    On the pitch, I have to say, I’ve being seeing more and more I like about PES 2018. I scored a lovely scrambled goal with my left back last night that had me punching the air and my big CF, Hofmann, scored a thumping downwards header from a corner that felt very satisfying in that PES-of-old kind of way.

    The other big plus is just how threatening the AI is this year. I really have to concentrate to keep them out (playing Top Player). The one thing I noticed when going back to many of the old games was just how passive the AI was in attack.

    Oh and turning the commentary off has improved my mood when playing no end.

  15. Got some news too – just played a few matches, 3 in total, and loved them. It plays great, PES2018. We’ll have to see how long that lasts (there were some great passages of play that could and should have been enhanced even more by fouls, for and against, but weren’t), but today was my best day on the game since Day 1. I even won my first match since god knows when! Also, I gave Darryl’s custom Long camera a try and liked it, a great help for my ageing eyes too.

    I think PES2018 will last for an entire ML career (thinking about cancelling the Challenge idea), but what I said yesterday about PES2019 holds good. No philosophy change: no PES2019. End of.

  16. n-G – Glad to hear it.

    I had a quick look at Darryl’s camera settings but quickly dismissed it as too close. I’m so used to the default camera I struggle to settle for anything so different. Maybe I’ll give it another look.

    I’m sticking with Challenge Mode for now but having survived the half season point, I doubt I will start again if I get the boot at the end of this season. I’ll either roll back to a pre-sacking save and change to “classic” mode or go with it and take up a new job at another club.

  17. Paul – so if I read that right that means a proper patch needs an updated exe file as well?

    NG – I think the slider type thing for fouls is coming too, if only for the fact that the pc version is now also next gen. Apparently it’s selling like hot cakes on steam.

  18. Shed – probably true, but a good game, like a ‘proper’ good game should be able to be played every day or very regularly and still hold up, we shouldn’t have to limit play time, make house rules or other compromises in order for the game to be enjoyable.
    Agree, the AI can be deadly, my last session was just annoying as every deadly attack was identical, lofted through ball down the wing, and even though i applied tactics and mark settings and was aware of how to combat it, i was powerless to do so.

    NG – Good to hear, PES 18 is superb on the pitch, its just a few little niggles like mentioned above that hamper it, but some of the passages of play are beautiful.
    I too play on Top player so the diffculty is certainly holding up for me, which is a welcome sign after so many insta-trebles last year.
    If I’m still struggling in Div2 after 3 seasons, I’ll be a very happy bunny.
    I have turned Challenge mode off. It was a nice idea but in usual Konami style, hasnt been thought through ir implemented well, and I was expecting different challenges, like breeding youths, cup runs, player signings, etc, not just one solitary unrealistic, etched-in-stone, league finish task.

    #1 – No. not necessarily, the big fully inclusive patches will have a modified exe, but a lot of the graphical patches and game play tweaks just use re-compiled files such as dtk packages or whatever that are used over the top of the patched exe game. if that makes sense.

  19. What i am finding hard to endure is yet another season with the same default players, so i’m thinking of doing something you, NG, did with 2017, which is starting out with an underdog 2nd league team, from maybe France or Italy, or even England when the game is fully patched.

    I have been enjoying what i played so far, and this year the game seems to allow for a much wider variety of scoring situations. I have scored goals in ways i never even tried in 2017, although not more of them. I also suspect that play style is very influential on what you experience regarding fouls.

    I think i can probably win a free kick or two if i deliberately hang on to the ball just a bit longer than i normally. Of course, not too much, or i loose the ball, but if i manage to pass only when the defender comes for the tackle, i think there is a good chance he will miss the ball and makes a foul the referee recognizes. Must experiment, though.

  20. I don’t recall NG ever having played with anything other than the defaults!?!?

  21. Luis is referring to this. At the end of PES2017 I accepted a job offer and moved to St Etienne, for the first time ever. Played 2-3 seasons.

  22. Ah i stand corrected, I was on Hiatus from PES at that time, well actually on a real-life holiday on the date of that post, also coincided with the chronicles being blocked at work by the proxy under the ‘Gaming’ banner.
    I had to sweet Talk the IT lady to unblock it.

  23. Paul – it was a good little mini-ML too, something different, an established team in season 14 or whatever it was. I observed strict House Rules that kept maximum OPR below 81. I signed F Friday for the 5th time. I brought in Regen Peter Crouch. TS crept up but the low OPR seemed to cancel it all out and I finished bottom half of the table in each season. Scoring a few decent long-rangers on the way.

  24. Sounds like a nice little diversion at the end of a ML campaign NG, and why not.
    I’ve always fancied a ML in one of the South American leagues, Chile, Argentina or Brazil, with south american commentary too, the year that PES had all the licensed Spanish stadia would have been great for that.

  25. Paul, unfortunately the Spanish stadia year was 2013 when player growth was borked. Even so, I did enjoy a fun few seasons at Bilbao in a non-developmental ML that year.

  26. Peter crouch? Someone mention the nomadic pes legend? Now being introduced to the South Korean media having been the one and only signing for Teayang so far. Signalling my intent – route one, hopefully a few guaranteed points, put me in the shop window for a better side. Although playing in the Asian version of the champions league would be a first.

    There is a world of non-premier league play to be discovered in previous titles, while I await the final verdict on the new game and swoop in to take any crumbs.

  27. That’s right Cook, the year of ‘Boot-Gate’ where magical boots powered up your stats, even so i still have fond memories of PES13’s ML, stadium editor, small gritty grounds with custom banners and fencing, 4 seasons to get promoted … it was the last proper good year.

    I have a fully patched PC version of PES 13, with camera mod tool and HD turf patch, and it looks superb, pop on and have a few games every now and then.

  28. I also have to point out another thing as once again the majority of my goals have come from crosses.

  29. Paul, it looks great. I think I have 2013 on PC so something to try later in 2018 should this edition disappoint.

  30. Shed – my commentary is German as I’m in the bundesliga 2, you should try it . Had a mammoth 4 hour Skyrim sesh as I have spent the last 4 days editing playing pes 2018. Just needed a break and am looking forward to another ml sesh. Listening to dead can dance before I pick up mini werd 2 from nursery.

  31. Not sure what to expect as I travel home on the bus tonight. On Monday I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the evenings session and really enjoyed it thanks to the new camera angle. Last night I was looking forward to playing and could only cope with 3 games.

    Shed – I get what you are saying but surely a good PES should be able to withstand the early rigorous playing as the limiting of matches is something we do later on when we start to deflate.

  32. Just won a copy of FIFA 18. WOOT!

  33. Obviously not from Paul…..(cough) fraudster…(ahem)

  34. Shed – I took the Zoom on Darrylcam down to 5 and that seemed to be right for me. Amusingly I immediately scored my first goal for about 8 matches. I’ll have the 1-minute clip in Friday’s post of me fiddling with the camera settings and then immediately scoring. PES lore dictates that this is now the way to get goals.

    In general gameplay terms, I do see the complaints about the AI’s constant through-balls, but I like this and I like the challenge of trying to defend against it. It reminds me a lot of playing against PES2012’s impossible AI. For all that game’s problems, it ended up working as well or better than nearly any other of its era. Central shooting! (Those of you who couldn’t place Dan from recent weeks, the Year of PES2012 was where he made his first appearance. He eventually shucked off PES2012 because of the central shooting, went to FIFA, briefly reappeared toward the end of that year to say he was playing PES2012 again and loving it, and wasn’t seen again until this year.)

    PES2018 is on the up-and-up.

    My PES2019 pledge holds good no matter what happens. No fouls: no PES2019.

  35. Excuse me Turf?

  36. Just entered a competition to design a Home Kit & Club Crest for a fictitious ‘If Menorca had a football team’ scenario….

    comments welcome…..


  37. Paul – Abbeyhill….tshirt…..poor lad probably promised it to the orphans for Christmas….

    Nice kit, colours could double up for Motherwell or one of those students playing silly buggers and creating Harry Potter quidditch teams though. Did they give you burgundy/gold or is that something that reflects menorca?

    2015 pas league is interesting, I didn’t know you could alter the number of teams in it. I’ve stuck with 20 and got right back on that losing horse.

  38. ha Turf, I was only teasing Paul – my entry of a FIFA goal into his PES goal competition back in the day was never winning any prizes….

    enjoying these unexpected tales from PES2015 master league, reminds me of your long and unpredictable FIFA14 career!

  39. Turf – I did offer to send Abbeyhill something. He declined.
    That menorca kit ….. I used the colours on the menorca principality flag. Red/gold being Spanish national colours too.

  40. I love that Menorca kit.

    I have 6 games left in my 3rd season in PES2015, one of them the Copa del Rey final, versus Barcelona. If I win it I have to increase the level to top player, and it will be my first title ever in ML, so let’s see how that goes. I am 3rd in the league, 9 points behind Madrid and 6 behind Barcelona. I won Barcelona 1-0 and then lost 1-2 to Real Sociedad in one of those Gandalf games…

  41. Having a weird beginning. Top player, drew one and won next two. Not sure if it’s familiarity with the defaults or if wide play is overpowered. Scored a stonking volley with Heittich off of a defensive header. Not many free kicks but more worryingly, no actual tackle situations to get one

  42. Paul – that Menorca kit is lovely, very warm and attractive. I was expecting some monstrosity after Uncle Turf’s turn as Simon Cowell!

  43. abbeyhill – I watched your FIFA goal the other day and it was the best of the lot.

  44. Cheers guys.
    My turn. Just had a superb sesh on PES 18.
    Fluid formation …….. has changed the game.
    I’ll describe more tomorrow. Bed time now.

  45. Paul – in recent years I have tinkered on and off with fluid formations and in my opinion it works best with just altering the player roles, rather than making aggressive formation changes. For example having your wingers as AF when in possession etc.

    Strange passage of play yesterday in a game against Middlesbrough. They were a dirty side with lots of niggle fouls when I attacked down the left. How fabulous I thought, then nowt in the second half.

    I still have mixed feelings about the game but Top Player seems the best difficulty in terms of balance. Games are a real tough battle but competitive. Much better than Top Player last year, which was too frantic. But the game is what it is and will keep me going to Christmas at least.

  46. Paul – I was joking too, I wasn’t trying to portray you as some unscrupulous shyster, we have more than enough stereotypes for you…

    Simon cowell? – I said liked it, it’s very very good, I was simply curious to know if Paul had chosen those colours to reflect ‘heat’, ‘sand’, ‘sangria’ etc – like one of those marketing ploys that plants particular feelings through colour, or if the competition had said ‘the city’s colours are x’. It’s just unhappy coincidence that I immediately think of Motherwell and Harry Potter but I’m sure they won’t. Actually if they did they might shift quite a lot of scarves. I’ve been cast in the uncle ebeneezer role to Paul’s tiny Tim, and there’s NG standing back and reigniting ‘shirtgate’!

    I’ve signed a few players for teayang now, the sort who might crop up in Asian football – over the hill Brit, young talent who could go either way, full back who has lost his way….full back?! In my game?? Yes indeed, I’m playing a back four for the first time in memory (which for me is often not that great). I think 2015 is the most exploitative pes I’ve played for the through the middle/why is my back line so high. The keepers have a ridiculous rush out instinct too, I’ve lost loads of goals to lobs when I’m still controlling defenders.

  47. Paul – I’ve used the fluid formation setting from the start of this ML and it works a charm – as do all the tactical settings. They actually make a difference on the pitch which hasn’t always been the case in PES or FIFA.

    I’ve still got mine set up to spring from a rigid 4-5-1 to an expansive 4-2-4 with certain players just moving up a position when in attack. One of my DMFs goes to CMF, my AMF to SS and my LMF and RMF to WFs. I deliberately searched for a big powerful striker who holds the ball up and/or gets on the end of crosses.

    Another win last night with J.Rice getting his first goal of the season early on against third placed Norwich at home. Held out for the win. Now 19th.

  48. Turf – N o directive with colours, the Menorcan flag is shown here:

    So i stile the little island graphic off it to make the crest and went with the yellow and red colours as it was on their flag.
    You’re right, could also be a hybrid Motherwell/Quidditch all stars kit, but without the Spanish beer sponsor!

    Played 5 more matches last night, won 1, drew 1, lost 3 of them, I’ve now lost 13 of my last 15 matches, my owners trust level is 0% and I had a message saying ‘The lads have lost confidence in you, I don’t think you’re the right person to lead the team anymore, I wonder what will come first, a win, or you clearing out your desk?’

    Harsh. its nailed on that I will be getting the sack, about to enter the Jan transfer window so I guess I have a couple more weeks, will just turn off challenge mode.

    Although I have been losing, the games have been very close, 1-0’s, 2-1’s and the odd 3-2 or 4-2. When you are losing in this game, on Top Player and you push forward to get a goal, the AI will punish you, and the space you leave.

    But I never saw one instance of through ball down the wing or over the top spamming last night in all 5 matches, every match was a packed midfield, tight, tense affair, as it should be. I can only attribute this to turning fluid formations on.

    Before, I was playing this formation:

    View post on imgur.com

    Which was fine when attacking, but when defending it was leaving quite a lot of space in midfield and as I had my wing backs bombing forward, the COM was seeing this and pinging long balls down into the space where a traditional LB/RB would have been, but now I have set up an In possession formation and out of possession formation, with advanced tactics.

    when I have the ball and look to attack its the same formation as above with attacking full backs set to one of the attack tactics slots, but when I lose possession, it switches to a very defensive formation as shown below:

    View post on imgur.com

    With advanced tactic of defensive line set deep, attacking wing backs turned off and counter target turned on, just leaving my CF up the pitch for a breakaway chance.
    As this defensive formation is deep and compact, there is no space for the COM to ping through balls over the top, so they play through midfield instead, which is much more realistic.

    The only draw back to having such a deep defensive tactic is that ‘counter attack’ goals with fast breakaways are nigh on impossible as all my players are so far back in my half, behind the ball, you need a really strong CF, with good ball control and physical power to hold the ball up and wait for the formation to switch and players to join an attack.

    But has stopped the spamming of through balls and increased tight midfield play, which is good.

  49. I’m using fluid formation with a 4-4-3 with 2 dm and 1 amf. Using Leigerbletz from the PEU as Rot Weiss Essen.

    Turf – I tinkered with the PAS league in 2017, changed them into an 80’s Australian set up. My PEU League this term is the SPL chocked full of Man U and Chelsea players as those team dont exist in werdverse 🙂

    Paul – great kits. Have you seen The specialbradpitto you tube pages? A sort of Spanish NG, he hails from Mallorca as has been posting PES ML vids since 2010.
    I’m on a works night out tonight so no PES until tomorrow.

  50. I’d never even considered the potential of the leagues Werd. An spl is a great idea, the only problem is on 2015 there’s no badge swapping. It’s particularly annoying when they have fake Italian serie b names and they stick them on the badge as well, even if you change them you will always be reminded.

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