Default lives matter

A lovely Coutinho hat-trick – with a new post-match scene of him taking the match ball – was the sign that I’d got to grips with Professional.

I went back to Top PLayer after this match, and won the first such match, but promptly lost the next two.

I have already switched from Challenge back to Classic Mode. I have also abandoned any thought of House Rules, until further notice. The difficulty levels having been rezoned, and the AI beefed up n the way that it has, I’m hoping to get a classic-feeling ML environment, i.e. one where the pot of involvement and fascination and challenging matches never fills up no matter how many new and better players you add to it. I’m hopeful that this could be the first PES since PES2014 in that regard.

The main PES forums are in meltdown about the AI, and there’s been plenty of debate about it here, but at the moment, I like it. The single-player game needs an AI like this in order to sustain itself. That involves cheating. With my sci-fi nerd hat on, I follow real-world AI developments quite closely, and it’s debatable if we will ever get anything more ‘intelligent’ than a garden snail. Giving itself lop-sided, unfair advantages might be the best that a computer game AI can ever get.

Sessions are deep and interesting, and everything looks promising. I have to keep reminding myself that this is only Season 1. But things haven’t felt this good at this stage since… maybe PES2013?

I’ve tweaked my camera setting again, after deciding that I need a more zoomed-out view to see player runs more effectively. I haven’t gone back to Wide – I’ve simply zoomed out a few more notches. As seen in this clip of a nice Castledine half-volley at the end of a short build-up:

It still strikes me as odd that Castledine is white now. The change came last year, of course, in PES2017, and has continued to this year.

The oddness here isn’t just that he is white, given that the eternal champion we knew as Castello-Castolo-Cinalton-Castolis was famously a cool black dude. PES2012’s Cinalton and PES2016’s Castledine were physically modelled in a somewhat different style, granted, being more reminiscent of the late David Rocastle.

It’s arguably more odd that this change has just been accepted by the fandom. One of Master League’s most beloved characters is white now, and that’s simply that. Where are the campaigns? Where is the outrage?

I continue to be vastly irritated by the online flourishes that contaminate the offline, single-player world. I hate seeing this crap:

(I know I can fiddle with Settings in the game to stop these notifications. I will do so when I remember to.)

GP is the currency of online PES. ‘Online PES’ is a phrase with roughly the same meaning as ‘Shit-filled doughnut’. Seeing the pitchside adverts for online is bad enough. Having these messages pop up quite regularly is pushing me to the limits of my zen-like tolerance.

The game devs clearly imagine that I’m going to see enough of these fatuous messages – Pressed X in a menu! GP acquired 300 points! – that eventually I’m going to think ‘Wow, it’d be a shame to let all these imaginary GP points go to waste, might as well head online and check it all out’.

I’m not saying I’ll never at least have a couple of online matches. I usually do, every year – PES2017 was probably the first PES game where I never played a single online match.

But online football gaming is not football gaming. It’s a football-themed online game. Which is something very different from a football game. And it necessarily brings a set of gameplay values that are killing Pro Evolution Soccer, year on year.

Updated: 26th September 2017 — 10:45


  1. ZzzzzZzzzzzZzzzZzzzzzzzZzzz
    LBW LYNNNN !!!!! LBW !!!!

  2. Hi NG – Long time lurker here.

    Just finished my first ML season as Millwall on Professional with the challenge setting. After finishing above 9th, my orders for next season are to get promoted. So, if I don’t get promoted, stands to reason I’ll be sacked. It seems like Konami wants you the game wants you to win EPL by season 4, and then likely the champions league by season 5. Seems geared for a quick to consume career mode. Its a bit disappointing. Will likely turn off challenge to just enjoy the slog of fighting my way to the Premiership on Top Player. Loving how tough the AI is by the way.

    Another thing I’m really liking… no overpowered regens. For me at least, all of the new youth recruits have been really underpowered (mid 50s – low 60s). My house rules are just using the defaults and youth players, so I am loving it.

    Has anyone gotten any nicknames yet? I scored several goals with Arcas and I was told the fans have started calling him “El Matador.” It’s a nice fun touch.

    I’ve got a crazy idea for how to address the no-fouls issue. I might give it a try before I start my next season. Will keep you posted.

    Paul – that old Southampton kit looks great! What else do you have coming down the pipeline?

  3. A few quick observations made over the past few days:

    * Player development is much slower than 2017, and there appear to be far fewer “purple patches”. When you do get them, they’re good for two or three OPR points – similar to last year, but perhaps a little lower. I’ve had one in a season and a half, whereas 2017 usually gave me three or four in a similar timeframe.

    * You can still get superstar regens. First Xmas in the Prem, I got Rooney and Cerci – the two picks of the prior season’s Old Boys match.

    * I’m pretty sure that Team Spirit counts for AI teams. Most difficult matches? Those against settled first elevens, irrespective of league position.

    * Player development may be slower, but the acquisition of Team Roles seems to be accelerated. That’s a good thing, I think. The same, sadly, is true of nicknames – one of the strangest and least interesting features introduced to ML in recent years.

    * The effectiveness of lofted through-balls when an attacking player is level with the back line is a an issue for AI and player alike – the universal AI governing defender movement is always slow to pick up on the danger.

    * I don’t think that managers determine everything about a team’s tactical approach in 2018. Klopp left Liverpool after the first season in my game (probably in response to the bizarre gutting of the first eleven that seems to happen in every ML), but they still employ his signature pressing style.

  4. Has anyone noticed that the double tap (Knuckle shot) of the shoot button has changed this year and produces a more driven low shot. Very useful in certain situations. Pity it took them 4 games to rectify this, since they removed the pressing of the triangle button after shooting.

  5. Hi Erik. Welcome.
    I haven’t had one player be given a nicknme yet, not even in 12 seasons on PES 17 and Embolo and Arcas were world beaters who bagged 40+ goals a season between them.

    Have a look on my site mate. I have a selection of bespoke kits on there, will be adding the Southampton and Luton’s town kits later, you can also request a custom kit.

    James – player development, purple patches and regens being toned down can only be a good thing. All those ruined PES 17 after a few seasons.
    I hear Konami are looking to include toning down lobbed through balls in their next patch, according to adam.

    I think the team play style is attached to the team/club itself rather than the manager, so even if klopp leaves, Liverpool still play the Gegenpress. Add it to the list of things konami haven’t implemented properly.

    I had a new bunch of youth players come through in jan. highest rated was 59, no famous names. A certain Coynborough did pop up, have set him on a training schedule with a view to promote him in a season or two. Legend.


    So I just played the last games of season two of my PNE Master League, still nowhere near promotion and loving it, and made my way towards the traditional (and IMO useless) testimonial match. I skipped it, as I frequently do, without as much as a second glance. And then I went to move the calendar on, when my PS4 decided something was terribly wrong and it had to suddenly shut my down. I’ve had it since release and never before have I encountered such an occurrence. So I tried to turn it on again, but it wouldn’t start. I went downstairs to my utility room and checked the fusebox. Everything was in working order.

    Turns out my PS4 just gave up the ghost. Yellow Blinking Light of Death, we used to call it on the PS3, though no such light accompanied this complete collapse. The machine is well outside its warranty and if not for the saves contained on its HDD, I’d happily use it as an unwieldy doorstop. But it has every save of every game I’ve played for the last four years. I make a habit of backing up my crucial saves to USB every two weeks, but two weeks ago was when I just started Master League. I’d have to order a new PS4, transfer my save, and start all again from scratch. I couldn’t be bothered with that, so I just spent fifty quid instead on the Steam PC copy, stuck in an option file, and banged together a few edits on the fly.

    But I’m not going back to Preston North End. Too painful. Instead, I’m taking the awesome kits Paul generously made for a mate and I’m going with the Iron. Scunthorpe United European champions? It has a nice ring to it, I must admit. I’ve never played with the Iron before, but it makes for a very interesting Master League story. Lowly Scunthorpe, who aren’t even in the EFL, secure back-to-back promotions to make it to the promised land of the Premier League.

    But I’ll never forget the disappointment of PNE. And just when the team was coming together and looking like pushing for good things in Season 3.

    Screw you, PS4. Shouldn’t went with PC. Is this karma for the two days early thing?

    Absolutely gutted.

  7. Erik – hello and thanks for your comment. The weeks leading up to and after release is the worst possible time to de-lurk and engage me in comments-based chat, as I would go insane trying to keep up with them all, so I don’t try to keep up with them. Short and sweet is the best I can do. What is the idea for addressing the fouls issue? Something to do with Editing?

  8. Reece Oxford – Centre Back
    Game changing – salary around the 250-300k mark – The corner has been turned

  9. Does anyone have a Bundesliga option file for PC that doesn’t involve going through metric tonnes of captcha checks and adfly rubbish?

    I swear, PES Patch gets on my last nerve. It doesn’t help that I’m trying to download from my work station.

  10. Dan – supremely unfortunate, there. No PS Plus? If you have it, your saves will be backed up online. If not, I’d bet there’s somebody on a market stall or something who could get all your saves off the hard drive.

    And you got the game 4 days early, like we all did, not just 2. Watching for Final Destination-style misfortunes to visit…

  11. Dan – Commiserations. My PES 2011 ML was cut short after a couple of seasons for the same reason.

    Decided to stick with current Forest ML indefinitely, I like the squad too much and can’t be bothered to go back. Option file isn’t that bad really, in fact it’s very good bar a couple of dodgy players.

  12. No, never bothered with PS Plus. Regretting that now.

    Not worth the hassle, nG. I may get a new PS4 someday, but the only thing I was really playing on it at the moment was PES 2018.

    We got PES 2018 on Tuesday of release week. The game released on Thursday. Not sure how that equates to four days. Two-and-a-half, if we count the Tuesday (we got it in the afternoon), and three, if we posit that people didn’t get playing the game until Thursday afternoon.

    Still not four by my maths. Perhaps you’re thinking the game wasn’t officially released until the Friday? UK release was the 14th of September; U.S. was 12th, which we ended up getting it on.

    Anyway, that’s immaterial.

  13. Dan – yes I forgot Thursday was release day this year. You can still get the saves off the hard drive. Do what I did and send the console to ConsoleDoctor – highly recommended. They’ll either repair it or tell you they can’t and send it back to you for free, usually in a state where it at least powers up. I sent a YLOD PS3 to them and got it back repaired and it lasted me another year – think it cost me £80 at the time. Paul’s PS3 couldn’t be repaired, but they sent it back working well enough for him to get his saves off it, and it never cost him a penny. Worth a look?

  14. Dan – bad luck mate, must be a hassle.
    I regularly back up ML saves both to PS Plus and Usb stick in case of any such collapse of the console.

    As NG said, console doctor are very good.
    Alternatively if you are playing on PC, just open up the PS4, take the Hard drive out, its just a standard 2.5″ SATA HDD, and connect it to your pc using a SCSI to Usb cable, available from amazon for a few quid, you can then read all your data off the PS4 HD, saves, goal clips etc.

    My ML has taken an interesting turn, still playing on Professional, my TS was up to 70 and things were flowing, have now won more games and lost and slowly clawing back at the minus goal deficit.
    However, my wage budget is so piss poor its a struggle to sign anyone good enough to improve the team, then the January window rolled round and I had an offer for Arcas, a pivotal player, at 75 OVR, but the offer was 6.5m and would free up 450k in wages, so i did it, Arcas is gone, he was a key figure in last years ML anyway so its nice to not repeat things so soon.
    Castledine also went in another lucrative deal, I bought in 16yr old Lobato (not a youth, signed on a free), decent 70 rated Brazilian GK Rubinho, and a skilful LMF called Saito… all players good enough to improve the team.

    BUT…. my TS has taken a whack, its now down to 49, my first match fielding these new players saw me lose 3-1 to PNE (they are doing great since you left Dan), then grab a draw away to Reading, things felt tougher, runs weren’t being made, Lobato limped through his debut, so I have slipped back down to 15th place.
    I actually really like this, the curbed player growth and TS refinements make it hard to make wholesale changes without an ‘investment period’, this is exactly what we wanted.

  15. Finished season one last night with two defeats. 18th with my big German CF Hoffman top scorer with 12. I’ll also be looking to sell Arcas before season two although I’ve been handed a sizeable kitty for new players so I could keep him. He’s just a done story to me so he’s listed.

    I played through to the start of season two and was expecting some kind of pre-season tournament. Did I completely imagine this as a new addition to ML this year? I must have done because there isn’t one.

  16. Wow, first time I’ve ever heard of a PS4 dying, my commiserations Dan. I have one of the batch that kept spitting the disc out due to a faulty screw pressing on the eject. Bloody ridiculous you spend all that money then have to use a tool out of a christmas cracker to get it working.

    I doubt you’re the first, or last, to be disappointed with Preston…

    Email in from Nintendo last night, SNES due tomorrow. I might spend the first few hours just looking at it sighing.

  17. nG/Paul – Thanks.

    I’m going to try ConsoleDoctor. How long does it usually take them?

    I think I’ll crack on with Scunthorpe in the meantime.

    PS: Every time I want to post, I have to re-enter my details. That wasn’t happening up until this morning. Gremlins?

  18. Won the Championship in season 1 relatively easily, I swear the game wanted me to get promoted due to my GK performances and undeserved 1-0 wins. A busy pre-season with 12 new signings (4 loans) thanks to a hugely generous transfer/wage budget but no sign of the advertised tournament. I’ve played 6 games and lost 4 of them, the only wins against the two sides who come up from the Championship with me suggests this season will be a little tougher.

    I’ve read lots of complaints on the forums about the transfers by CPU teams but I’m just pleased they’re there at all. Spurs beat me 4-0 with Sturridge up front and Tadic supporting. Everton had Barkley up front but still beat me easily and I suffered a a humiliating 5-0 home defeat on opening day against a very good West Brom side. No doubt all the new transfers had an affect but it’s back to defending with 10 behind the ball until I can work out whether any of the players I’ve signed are good. I’m still on Challenge mode, the target this season is to stay in the league.

  19. Dan – happened to me last week, Chrome? Erase all browsing history and restart browser, should be ok

  20. Talking of Playstation Plus, my subscription just ran out. I’ve not quite found the motivation to throw £40 at another one.

  21. Dan – their website currently says 3-5 working days. And a change in your browser is to blame for having to refill your details all the time.

    Shed – what a time for your PS+ to expire. MGSV is one of the free games in October. Easily the best they’ve ever offered. I almost feel sorry I’ve played it. My subscription will expire in November, and I might not renew, I will see.

    Re. PES2018 and my ML, well, today was the worst single session on the game since day 1. I played 4 matches and there was not a single AI-committed foul in any of them. Now that I’m familiarising myself with the game’s individual quirks, this might be how PES2018 will be for me most of the time: literally no AI fouls at all. I want to be wrong.

    It’s not the fouls per se that causes me dissatisfaction. It’s the visible symptom of a deeper problem. It’s the shitty-feeling gameplay that tends to rise to the surface when there are no consequences. I haven’t got time to expound on it now, except to say that when there are no fouls in a football game, all the players end up having much the same lighter-than-air style of handling, and there’s a feeling that you can just sit there and squeeze the buttons and it doesn’t matter.

    I’m very, very doubtful that this will change, because for fouls to suddenly disappear almost completely from PES in PES2018 seems to be almost the culmination of a long-term plan.

    It is now going to be very interesting indeed to see what, if anything, will come of this ‘fouls patch’ that was promised for Nov-Dec time.

    I can foresee the statement now. ‘Our fans are playing and enjoying PES2018 as it is, and we have taken the decision to concentrate on supporting the game as it stands with forthcoming boots and balls, while focusing our resources on making PES2019 the PES we have always wanted to make.’

    I would put an actual £20 on that, more or less, being what comes to light in Nov-Dec. I’d put a sneaky £10 side-bet on a token patch that re-introduces PES2017-style levels of fouls, i.e. 2 or 3 per match. Either one of these outcomes means the effective end of PES as a serious football game and no PES2019 for me. Again, I want to be wrong.

  22. “We’ve heard the outcry from the PES community, and decided to focus on the key issues. We’ve updated all the player faces that were already in the game.”

  23. “Revealed: Fulham Legend Jimmy Hill will be available if you spin a purple ball in MyClub on the first Wednesday of Lent for only 200000 GPs.” zzzzz

  24. Quick highlights from my season one Brighton ML…

    1. First ML 2018 goal.
    2. Comedy AI OG
    3. Friker!
    4. Satisfying scrappy goal in the end-of-season legends friendly.

  25. NG – So my grand experiment to get fouls back into the game… Yes, it involves editing. A LOT of editing. I spent 3 hours last night painstakingly transforming the Millwall squad into the default lineup. (Millwall because they have the lowest rating for the championship.) I gave each of player the ‘malacia’ card and did my best to recreate each player exactly, down to appearance and celebrations — now i’ve got a strange bizzaro squad. I also added the malacia card to every player on the youth squad.

    Editing took so long that I didn’t have a chance to play any sessions last night. But should get home from work early enough to have a go tonight. Will give you posted…

    Paul – One of my big things to do this ML season is try not to repeat last year’s squad. I sold Arcas and Coutinho in PES 17 right away and got Jarvis the legend card. So now I’m trying to train Arcas as my main CF. I tried Coutinho, but for me he misses more empty nets than Welbeck. So he was given his marching orders. What training role did you give for Coynborough, Anchor man or Destroyer?

    Shed – I didn’t get a preseason tourney either. But I didn’t get promoted. I’ve heard that the pre-season tournaments only come in between seasons once you are in the top division.

  26. Shed – I’ve got a belter of an AI own goal saved up, will add it to a few season one goals and post later.

  27. Shed – if I had scored that Rice goal, I would’ve made a sex noise. That’s what PES is about!

    NG – your post titles are excellent. Almost without exception!

  28. Thanks Dan. I read your post about the PS4 failure earlier today and then less than an hour later the secondary disk in my PC at work gave up the ghost. Now instead of working from home tomorrow I’ve got to drive to the office.

  29. Shed – that Rice screamer is a thing of beauty!

  30. Sorry to put a dampener on things Erik but giving the malicia card to all the players won’t make much difference. I edited a youth player into a me, and have him the malicia card. He doesn’t get any more free kicks than anyone else.

    The problem is just as much with the fact that the AI isn’t aggressive enough/it doesn’t tackle enough as it is that actual fouls aren’t given.

    I have matches where I get a few, other matches where it’s 1 or 2 fouls per game and some matches where there are none. It’s not consistent.

  31. So switching from Challenge to classic mode… Does that literally just stop you from being able to be sacked?

    So if you’re 1 game away from the end of the season in 11th unable to make 9th you can just flip it to classic and avoid the sack?

    I had an interesting experience in my January transfer window when i had a pop up telling me my keeper’s release clause had been met and ‘the lad’ had accepted the offer to leave! Pretty amusing stuff, and a nice new feature with release clauses being insisted upon by some players. Pity i only got a couple of million for him and his salary was only 250K or so, so tricky to replace!

  32. Season one over. 23rd and sacked.

    Or not sacked, as I’ve rolled back the save onto Classic, and then back to Challenge.


  33. Tommy – you looked far too good to finish 23rd. Looks like you play really nice football. Amersfoort looks like your stand out, and Mariano Diaz is a great signing. Loan or permanent?

  34. NG – Just had a similar session to the one you described. It took me five games before I saw a foul. You just get through these periods in a zombie like trance and it seems impossible to stop yourself squeezing the sprint button.

  35. Jay – Thanks. Mariano was part of my team last year, great little player. No loans, frees or youths squad players are my house rules. Still hasn’t stopped me buying a quality squad for season 2 though. Was given a ridiculous “war chest”, so the games is still very much broken in that regard.

  36. Turf – Argos status on my SNES Mini “sit tight in process” WTF DOES THAT MEAN!?

    Bet they have run out of stock and it’ll probs arrive after xmas.

    ML wise I have a restarted with Novara in serie B. Slightly better side, more niggly fouls, signed Matt Lowton and i’m top at the mo.
    Low crosses with the double tap of the Circle are 99% effective.

  37. I remember the zombie games from 2017. They went away / got used to it eventually.

    Been playing more and more in anticipation of the PTE patch. I really like the heaviness this year and the fact that you can actually over / under hit crosses again.

  38. werd – Were you not tempted to go retro with an original SNES or does the mini have pre-loaded games? I was more of a Megadrive guy back then.

    Two games last night to kick off season two of this ML – still on Top Player. A 1-0 win away to Leeds and a 2-1 win at QPR. Not one single foul in either match.

    The QPR game had me eager to make a sub or two from the 65th minute but there was never a stoppage to do so. The game zipped by.

    Could fouls possibly have been diminished further by increased Team Spirit and/or better players?

  39. Shed – it’s our growing familiarity with the game making us play better and evade the few instances where the AI has a chance of committing a foul. The forums, of course, decree that it’s our fault for not playing in the right way. I.e. we should play completely differently from how we normally do, just to make a football game do what a football game should do anyway. In my summertime PES5 sessions I once had 17 (SEVENTEEN) AI fouls against me in a 10-minute match. The average was about 7. While playing my normal game. As I’ve said above and elsewhere, it’s not about fouls per se, but the knock-on effect on gameplay. It becomes consequence-free.

  40. I’ve had a right shitty last few days so the delivery this morning was more than welcome. The snes classic is tiny, perfect in every way, just tiny – you could take it anywhere in a jacket pocket. Really impressed with the graphics too, I’ve only ever flirted with emulators but there’s a big difference between what I was getting on the pc and this. Unfortunately, the years have not been kind – I lost my first fight on street fighter, died after the first screen on contra and crashed on my own banana in Mario kart.

    2015 is going much better with the 14 team league and loanees. The lack of licensing and cool stuff between the pas league and the eredivisie is very noticeable.

  41. Turf – a pox on your socks sir 🙂
    Have fun…Super Metroid, perfect autumnal game with the lights off.

    Shed – I have on old SNES in the loft, it still works but its just a pain getting it down and wire everywhere. 21 or so games pre loaded.

  42. Shed – yes, it’s pretty much the size of a laptop battery so no carts would fit – maybe a 3ds type thing would have worked actually – but they are all pre loaded i.e. That’s it, if you don’t like the list forget it. Fortunately the list is great for me, I’d only want Mario all stars to make it perfect. They don’t include a footy game so no shattered memories when I see how awful it looks.

    Werd – apologies, that’s a bad call from argos, sounds like they had less stock than they sold or can’t get them out of the door in time. There are places selling them now so you shouldn’t have any problems, eventually.

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