Poison penalty

I’ve powered through the remainder of January, all of February, and a chunk of March. In my progress I enjoyed a brilliant run of 5 straight wins that seemed to offer a realistic chance of sneaking up into the playoff spots, in classic ML league table scripted fashion.

I soon bumped into a run of games that felt as if I was not ‘allowed’ to win. After 38 matches we remain a lower-mid table side.

In my session on Tuesday evening, the impossible happened.

I was deep-defending a 1-0 lead against a stubborn newly-relegated Huddersfield side, and went on a breakaway attack of my own. Having no players up meant I was holding the ball, and holding the ball, and holding the ball, when I spotted Correa (still mostly an anonymous nobody) making a run on the other side of the pitch. I lofted a huge pass over that was intercepted by the AI player – who took a heavy touch, letting Correa nip in, almost on the touchline. I dribbled laterally towards goal, the keeper came to meet me, I tried to jink past him – and was clattered. It had to be, and was, a penalty!

As we all know, penalties and free kicks in general were effectively removed some time ago from Pro Evolution Soccer (‘The Pitch Is Ours’), so this was a rare instance indeed.

PES2018 never can quite stop reminding me that it was made with online multiplayer uppermost in mind. And the whole deal with the penalty in total just left a nasty taste in my mouth.

Instead of getting 1 penalty per 500 matches, or whatever the disgraceful average stat is, wouldn’t it be great to get a proper 5-10 penalties per season? And a proportional amount of free kicks in shooting range? Hmmm?

Back at the real PES, single-player, I’m currently all about trying to see the individuality in as many players as possible. I’ve decided to do my full points-based individuality rundown at the end of this season now.

Veldwijk and Baker remain my two most potent individuals. The February stats bear it out:

And both players made it into the Team of the Month.

Along with my ‘bargain basement Irjescu’, Hettich, who is quietly well on his way to becoming the last Default player standing.

Castledine is still on my books, but he won’t be come the end of the season. Individuality and usefulness is low with the C-man this year (low for me, it goes without saying – low for me.)

Overall I’ve had a great few days with PES2018.

I think I’d feel a lot differently right now if I didn’t know there was a patch coming that might fix some of the dreadful passages of play that just go on forever without a break. Some second halves feel as if they start with the kick-off and don’t stop until the final whistle goes. I’m sure this isn’t literally the case, ever, but it damn well feels that way, and the patch must address this.

Once again, let us take a moment to reflect on a peculiar fact. For the umpteenth year running, the summertime testers picked up on none of this. They just turned up, had their 1p vs 2p fun, played a token one or two matches of single-player, and confidently reported it was all awesome, no worries.

The patch should at least restore free kick potentiality to PES2017 levels, i.e an average of 2-3 per match. Instead of 0.3 per match, which it is at present. It’s a measure of my impoverished expectations in this area of football gaming that I’ll take this deal. If it’s offered.

Updated: 26th October 2017 — 15:51


  1. I’ve reached a point where my team is good enough to win regularly and without too much difficulty on Superstar but I’m likely to get the sack at the end of the season for not winning any trophies. I’m in two minds whether to take it off Challenge Mode and go up to Legendary difficulty or to take a new job in South America. I’ll probably go for the second option with a save game to roll back to if I change my mind.

    The FA Cup semi final was crazy, 1-0 down, 2-1 up, 3-2 down, 4-3 up, 4-4 at full time and then concede a goal in the final minute of extra time. Manchester City have hoovered up all the best talent and are pretty much unbeatable, it’s become a one-sided affair in the Premier League, I’m wondering how the opposition team AI works. I’m convinced there’s no multi-season ML play testing on this game (based on experience from previous iterations) so whatever happens it’s not planned by the great minds at Konami.

  2. Certainly no testing from Konami in offline ML Cook.
    If there was then we wouldn’t have all the crap that happens in the game such as all the big teams selling all their best players in the first transfer window, ridiculous release fees, stupid owner goals (9th), teams always dropping their best players and keeper for rival matches etc.

    I played Everton recently in the FA Cup, I hadn’t heard of one of their players, it was mostly south american named players, checking transfer history they had sold 7 players in January, 7 first teamers.
    quite ridiculous.

  3. Jay – mentioning a player only means I will never search for him, but if he pops up naturally in a general search of my own, I will often get him if he seems ‘my sort’. Kim Cyun Hi back in PES2008(PS3/PSP) was such a player, recommended at the time by one Adriano, a now long-absent Brazilian commenter.

    Paul – for me that business of the AI teams’ transfer activity is very serious and threatens the long-term future of this ML. I’m still enjoying the core gameplay and the AI in a way you seem to be struggling with. Why not drop down to Professional just to get promoted? I’m quite looking forward to my 46-match Season 3 in D2, but only because I’m pretty sure I’ll go up this time.

    Darryl – don’t forget to pick up the original Xbox version of PES5 next time you can, if only to experience a football game in which 17 AI-committed fouls per match is a realistic and gameplay-enhancing possibility.

    Cook – multi-season play-testing on ML? What an idea! I would bet the dev team’s ML guy is just that, one guy, and that he sims most of his testing.

  4. NG – I did try dropping to professional, last season fore a few matches, and found it too easy.
    I have no problem being beaten by TP, but I just cant stand the way it does it, not with clever, intricate play that outwits me, but by making my players play like zombies, and theirs play like 1970’s Brazil. I really struggle to understand how anyone can enjoy that kind of fuckery.

  5. Paul – I genuinely don’t see ‘that kind of fuckery’ – sometimes yes I do, and maddeningly so, but it’s in proportion. Most of the time I feel my players playing as they should, and I enjoy defending against the AI, which rarely goes into superman Brazil 1970 mode. What’s the difference between us? Play-styles, formations, settings, random seed at the start of an ML as a whole/ML season? Top Player seems to hit a sweet spot for me, for now.

  6. Same game, same game engine, same coded Ai, nothing is different, i really don’t understand how you can not see the way the AI plays.
    Watch any top flight football match, watch how the team keeps their shape when defending, they largely remain in formation, tracking passing lanes, runs, and maintaining shape.
    Watch ANY game on TP in PES 18, Com players all rush to your ball carrier like agitated wasps, 2,3 even 4 players all at once, constantly, all game long.

  7. Paul – I will be back on the game this evening and I promise to record the entire first half of my first match, and upload it in full for inspection and discussion. I’ll post it here in comments, should be around 8pm-ish. (Just the first half for file size reasons, and because it’s enough of a sample size.) Then you do the same when you can and we’ll compare notes. It is strange as we do have the same settings – but do we have the same play-styles? As abbeyhill accurately pointed out about 6 months ago, my play-style is heavily pass-and-move. Dribbles are a rarity, and only happen when I have clear green space to dribble into – I will only try to beat players a handful of times per match. This is a factor in my always low AI fouls-count, and probably in not experiencing ‘the fuckery’ too much either. But we will see.

  8. Great idea NG, I must emphasise, I wasn’t in any way calling you a liar or ignorant to the games flaws, I am purely just interested in how the same game can seemingly offer such different experiences.

    My play style sounds very similar to yours, I use a lot of pass and move, 1-2’s, possession football, I attempt dribbles now and then but most of my goal attempts come from short passing, trying to get a player in behind the defense.
    We use the same game, same option file which never even touches stats or formations or tactics, and seem to play quite similar styles, the PES AI isnt coded intelligently enough to recognise different players styles, it plays in a set number of ways, regardless, so it wouldn’t react differently for you, than it does me, over a long enough sample set to suggest anything otherwise.

    I recently went into every single team in the championship and changed their pressure tactics from aggressive to conservative, and only left 3 or 4 teams with aggressive, just to var it a bit.
    It either doesn’t carry across the changes to an existing ML or it makes absolutely no difference because nothing has changed, as soon as I get near the ball I encounter insane pressuring from one, if not 2 or more COM players.

    I don’t get to play until later at night so shall post my half as soon as I can.

  9. Paul – I never thought you were querying my experience, but posting longer footage of how the game treats us is long overdue. Re. tactical settings, an old, old suspicion of mine is that the various tactical settings for us and the AI teams do very little, if anything. When tactical sliders were first introduced – was it PES2010? – I quickly noticed that setting Wide or Narrow, compact or otherwise, made zero difference to my own team. I strongly suspect such settings are placebo ‘makework’. At best they have such marginal effect that they’re effectively the same as having no effect. There’s a great poster on EvoWeb who delves deeply into this and has diagrams and all sorts, and swears by the efficacy of his tweaks, but if I don’t see it reflected in my own hands-on experience of playing, I can’t agree.

  10. Paul – if you edit tactics in the middle of your ML campaign it doesn’t carry across. So you would have to do this at the beginning.

  11. Thats what I thought Darryl – quite odd how that works from a programming point of view.
    If a team has a set template for tactics, then the AI would refer back to this tactic set when playing, for it to be ‘locked down’ within Ml, means that they would have had to program in a clone or snapshot of the teams base tactics which it then uses within ML, and any global changes to the master tactics template is then ignored, a very odd way to do things, and why?!

    NG – some tactics do have an absolute effect, hug the touchline for example makes your wingers do just that, but others, Im with you, I think have marginal effect and are there purely for make show, to look like Konami have bothered with that side of the game.

  12. I’m in season 4 & had a look at release fees for players rated 85 and above. Only 2 were below 30m. Same & Icardi. Maybe this is what All the fenezco transfers in first two seasons are, as it seems to have calmed down since. Messi and Ronaldo’s are over 200m

  13. Regardless jay, its a mess, season 3 in my game and several of the top teams are indistinguishable as they don’t have any of their regular players anymore.

    if a release fee is triggered, its still down to the player whether he wants to go, in my game if Arsenal had all 9 players that they sold in the first transfer window release-fee-triggered then would all 9 choose to go? half of themj to random teams like Rapid Vienna, or FC Braga.

  14. Reached the last 16 of a Champion’s League in PES 2017 and got a penalty in the first leg last night. Missed it, mainly cos I hadn’t learned how to take them and the ball ended up going straight down the middle, where the keeper was waiting. Played the second leg this morning…and got another one!! The two fouls were very similar. Willian running along the left edge of the box in parallel with the touchline being shepherded by a defender and taken down when trying to cut inside with R2. Surprised I was.

  15. rhymes – you’ve had more penalties in 2 matches than I’ve had in 15 seasons of ML, across PES 17 and PES 18 !!


  16. NG – indeed I will be on the lookout for the 360 version of PES 5.

  17. Cook – what have you won on SS?

  18. Jay, I’ve won D2, Europa League, FA Cup and Community Shield. The CL and PL are tricky though.

  19. Half of the first half and nearly all the second half until seconds before the final whistle. A fairly representative match in terms of how I play and the general flow of gameplay. (With one exception: I don’t try any long-rangers in this match. Just that mid-range finessed effort from Shelvey near the start. Never made any other openings after that.)

    This video was mainly made for Paul and any other PES2018 player wondering why I’m not tearing my non-existent hair out over the AI and other matters. I do see high-pressure obnoxious AI, but it tends to come and go in waves, and can be completely absent for entire matches, as is pretty much the case here.

    I tear my non-existent hair out over the lack of AI fouls. There is one goal in this video that comes from an AI foul in the opposition half. Take a look at around 7:20 onward for full context. It’s a special kind of free kick routine (completely made-up on the spot). A special moment that only happened because there was a foul that created that different kind of event within the game. This is why fouls are an enhancement of gameplay. Not an impediment. If anyone connected to Konami ever actually said ‘fouls impede gameplay’ and meant it, they need to go and work on FIFA and leave the PES series alone, because they don’t really understand it.

    And notice that my GK is set to take long-range FKs, which was how it was set from the start, and is completely inappropriate. Each time I get a distance FK I have to swap the GK taker for an outfield player. FKs come along so seldom in PES2018 that I genuinely regard it as not worth the effort for me to go into the menus and change this setting permanently. I still change the FK taker on a case-by-case basis – i.e., one case every four or five matches. Appalling.

  20. Ng – interesting. Your gme seems quite pedestrian.
    Slow paced and not as pressure insane as what I experience. Are you playing on default 0 speed ?

    About to fire up the game so I’ll record the first match.

  21. Paul – been on -1 speed since day 1 of ML.

  22. NG – recorded a match but the record setting was set to 1 minute. Just recorded another match, a 1-0 lucky win over Cardiff where my GK pulled off several one on one saved and I benefited from a late GK error. It’s uploading as speak – all 15mins and 649mb of it.
    In this match I still consider the pressure a little over the top and it shows off the coms over reliance on through balls plus the god damn awful foul situation whereby fouls just aren’t given. 3 or 4 times I should have had a FK.
    But ….. the mystery is resolved. It’s game speed. I was playing on 0. The pressure is so fast and frantic and OTT you don’t get a second to think, on -1 the pressure is there but more considered. I didn’t find it half as bad.

  23. NG – beautiful goal! I think I play in a very similar style to you. It is very hard to remain so patient when things aren’t going so well. I’ve just come out of a 15ish game winless streak. I genuinely think there’s a momentum mechanism behind the scenes – aside from TS. When I won one, although I then drew the next, it mentioned in one of the stories on the home screen that hopefully this could start some momentum. I’ve won a few of my last 5 or so. Hit four for the first time this season (possibly at all in the Prem) too. Hardest PES to date for me.

  24. For my first three ML seasons, I played a 3-5-2 that looked something like this:

    ST — ST
    LM – CAM – RM
    CDM – CM
    CB – CB – CB

    I think this is why I’ve done so well at the default speed setting on Superstar: the formation isn’t the most defensively solid (specifically on the wings, though it’s far more stable than it looks), but there are *always* passing options. I love the matches against high pressure sides – they play to my strengths. But the park the bus teams… well, those fixtures were harder. I’d sometimes need to change the CAM to an SS, effectively changing the system to a 3-4-3, but the expense of passing options during build-up.

    Recently, I’ve started to experiment with this beauty:

    ST — ST
    CB – CB – CB

    It looks as if it shouldn’t work, but the lone CDM appears to be far more defensively astute (especially in terms of positioning) when there isn’t another midfielder positioned within close proximity to his zone. The CAMs are just as keen to drop back as the LM and RM when needed in defence. But the step up in the quality of passing options I enjoy has been remarkable. Against deep-lying sides that just hope to grab a goal on the counter, I’m frequently getting matches where I register 75%+ possession.

  25. Paul – that Alvarez run at 0:40… the game was virtually begging you to shoot! You tried to Arsenal it instead.

    The blind forward pass out of defence will go to an AI player as often as not – rarely used to be the case in PES for years, which means we’re all accustomed to doing it, and the ball just comes right back. I’ve found circle-button clearances, huge long high balls, will nearly always find the head of your upfield striker, and then it’s about winning the second ball.

    God, that foul at 1:39 that wasn’t…

    We do play similarly, with you perhaps hanging onto the ball that teensy bit longer that makes the AI able to get the foot in. I noticed you like to dribble with Saito, but he kept losing the ball, Shimizu-style.

    The AI is a vicious counter-attacker in PES2018, for sure. You got done loads of times with little through-balls, not even aerial ones.

    I liked how the AI played when it went behind – committing men forward, and your keeper won you the match.

    All in all, the tag of ‘best PES since PES2012’ still holds true for me, but it’s a hollow shell waiting to be cracked. Too many matches end foulless, interruptionless, and just churn on and on. The patch urgently needs to address this.

    Jay – it was a most unexpected sort of goal, cheers. The fact it came from a free kick situation demonstrates just why fouls and free kicks are an essential feature of any football game, not that there is any argument to be had there.

    If you record your own match and upload it from the PS4, you’d best leave it on Standby…

  26. Will it continue to upload on standby?

  27. Paul – just watched yours, too. That’s, obviously, exactly how the AI harries & bustles too. I’ll upload one tomorrow, or soon. Don’t pay too much attention to the names if you’re following the PES United story on twitter, as it’ll be four seasons in and I’m at the end of the first season on Twitter.

  28. Jay – yes, the PS4 continues all functions whilst in Rest Mode (its official name). When uploading something or downloading multi-Gigabyte games from the PS Store etc., Rest Mode is what you need. Charges controllers too. And, of course, keeps any game you have running stored in the exact state it was in. Some leave it in Rest Mode all the time and never switch it off. Me, I’m a same-day Rest Mode user only.

  29. NG – That recorded match ironically was one of my worst performances, I was very lucky to not lose that match, even luckier to actually win it.
    Saito is a gem of a player, one of the rare ones that has individuality in spades, he had an off game here.

    The game recorded above was played on -1 game speed. I switched down after you said your game was on -1, I should have recorded a game at default 0 speed too to show the difference.

    on default 0 speed the game rockets along at quite a pace, the pressuring is so quick and harsh that it doesn’t give you hardly any time to react, on -1 there was still a fair bit of pressuring but I felt it was more fair, and certainly enjoyed the games more, I think therein lies the differential between how we found our games NG.

    The game above showed 3 or 4 times when I was blatantly fouled but nothing was given, and my CF, Bou, has the Malicia card which is meant to induce more fouls, rubbish.
    The patch needs not to increase the number of tackles, but actually make the tackles trigger a foul decision when they are fouls, it would need a rewrite of the collision detection logic which I feel is too big and complex fora patch, hence my lack of confidence in it doing anything worthwhile.

    Rest Mode is a god send. use it all the time, leave stuff downloading, or uploading, charge the controller, eve for days and its absolute fine and just starts straight back up from where I left it.

  30. I’ll upload a game speed 0 on SS later.

    I’ve never consciously experienced the table scripting/momentum gods and less so now:

    6th to last game: I’m 1-0 up with ten left. My defender clears the ball but falls over in process and kicks it at their striker. Striker is left 1-on-1. I charge with all my might with other defender and commit a “professional” foul. Straight red but means I got the points. 3 game ban. Fair enough.

    Window after game: my third choice CB, whose OVR is the highest of my CBs, got injured (my first in 4 seasons) and is out for……..you guessed it…….3 games. I have five left.

    Go to pick team for next game: not only is my 1st and 3rd choice defender missing, but my 2nd choice CB is on a red downwards! In comes my 4th choice CB and 5th or a capable out of position player.

    OH HANG ON. They’re both on red downward arrows too. FFS.

  31. Paul – as you know I believe no-fouls is a conscious choice by the devs rather than a thorny coding issue, and for that reason nothing will move. It’s a policy thing, not a technical thing. We should soon see though.

    Jay – league table scripting in Master League has always been a thing, and is as real as match-scripting itself. To be fair, nuPES has lessened the effect somewhat, but definitely in the old days (PS3 era), if you were languishing in mid-table or even below, the teams above you would draw or lose just enough so that you were always in with a chance of surging up the table if you got your act together. It was designed so that you were never out of contention unless you were literally losing every match (like in a typical classic Season 1). If you put yourself in the shoes of the game designer, you would incorporate the same thing, and so would I. The player must always have a stake.

  32. Jay – Red card for a professional foul?
    I’ve started using professional fouls as a defending tactic, because in the dozen or so I’ve committed, I’ve never ever been red carded, when every one should be a straight red, no question.

    I’ve obviously conceded penalties and been booked but never a Red.
    There’s even a well known video clip of Bhatti doing an Interview at GamesCom, playing as Dortmund whilst he speaks about the game, Aubameyang is in clean on goal and is Professionally fouled, nothing given, live on cam, at the worlds biggest games conference. We should have known from that point on that fouls would be amiss from the game.

  33. Asim Tanver now being asked if England u17s can have real faces in next patch…….he’s actually asked them to get the community behind it and he’ll put it to Tokyo. Jesus wept.

  34. Jay – their actions and publicly expressed thoughts are consistent with employees in a FIFA-influenced market. They’re never going to tell nuPES nuFans clamouring for faces and tattoos to not clamour for them. You’ve got to wonder what their actual thoughts are though.

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