Amid all the excitement over PES2018’s Patch of Destiny, I concluded my Season 3 in Master League, and won promotion to the Premier League.
Second place, as is traditional for me. I rarely go up by winning the D2 title.
Look at Middlesbrough’s final points tally. And see how many matches I – and the teams below me – lost and drew.
I had a good run-in, with some peculiar dips in form. Veldwijk scored just 2 goals in his last 15 matches, but still finished as Division top scorer thanks to his early-season exploits.
And he made it into the Team of the Season:
Along with his strike partner, Stepinski, and Emre Can in midfield.
With all the distraction of the Patch of Destiny over the last few weeks, I neglected to mention that those two players – Stepinski and Can (particularly Can) – have emerged from the shadows of nuPES-style poor individuality, and staked separate claims to be great and memorable PES players.
Can is a dominant, powerful midfielder who can play defensively or attacking-ly, fills in at CB when we’re desperate, and chips in with a respectable amount of goals. ‘Emre Can, Wonderman’ is my mental mantra when he gets the ball. If I was doing my Individuality-ratings thing again today, he’d get an 8, easy.
Stepinski would get a 7, and has become very important for me. I don’t think Veldwijk is going to cut it in the Premier League, and my finances are such that I can’t afford another striker. I’ve got £30m-odd (THIRTY MILLION-ODD) in the transfer kitty, but my Salary Budget is -£2m (MINUS TWO MILLION). It’s a somewhat pleasing callback to the days when ML finances would routinely handicap the human player for most of the first seasons.
Emre Can (Wonderman) is easily the cuplrit on the wages front. He’s on £3m-plus (THREE MILLION-PLUS) per year. I had a great transfer offer for him, but Master League is all about hanging onto your best players and getting by somehow, and that is what I’m doing.
Up to the Premier League, then, and my first opponents were Everton.
My preferred style of play is pass-and-move. I rarely try long balls into the box. Well, PES2018’s AI does such a good job of catenaccio-ing me out of things, that I have been trying the occasional long ball. Like this:
I uploaded that goal from within the match at a time when I confidently expected it to be, as titled, the winning goal. Just after I resumed play, I conceded the equaliser, and then Everton got the winner, and I lost 3-2.
I’m on Superstar now, by the way. It seems harder than Top Player, as it darn well ought to.
The Patch of Destiny landed yesterday, and really, it’s as if it didn’t. Yesterday I tracked my fouls-count across 13 matches (see the comments thread on the previous post for details). The final average was about 0.5 fouls per match. There has been no change on that front, and I see no changes anywhere else either. I’ll take people’s word for it that they perceive the general gameplay to be tighter here or looser there or more responsive in general or whatever.
I still have no real idea what is meant by any of those buzzwords. Organic. Tightness Responsiveness. These words and many others have been knocking around for so long in the PES lexicon that we have stopped noticing they’re not really attached to any consistent meaning that players can all agree on.
I think that by ‘responsiveness’ we mean ‘as close as possible a correspondence between controller input and on-screen output’ – but isn’t that a bad thing from the point of view of a kinetic video game with moving parts (players) who are all meant to have different attributes that must therefore sometimes mean they have to be un-responsive, for the greater good of the simulation?
Is it not the case that as responsiveness levels rise, player individuality levels must fall?
Doesn’t this alleged responsiveness contribute massively to the relentless Keystone Kops feel of much PES gameplay since PES2014? Might responsiveness (or tightness, or organicness, or whatever) actually be the enemy of true PES values?
That is just one aspect of confusing terminology surrounding PES that puzzles and disturbs me in equal measure. It’s disturbing because I’m never sure that we’re talking about what we think we’re talking about.
So I don’t see, or feel, or intuit that the Patch of Destiny has done anything of note to the gameplay in any way whatsoever. I would never say that I have the most discriminating palate when it comes to footy gaming. I could believe that there have been some changes – the game has felt a touch faster – but such minor alterations that they don’t amount to a hell of a lot.
All along I have said that PES2018 could well be the final new PES game I will ever play. As I have documented quite exhaustively over the past year or two, the series has been taken in a direction that does not satisfy me. I’m no longer in the target market for this product.
As things stand, there will be no PES2019 in my life or on this blog. This time next year, I’d much rather be playing PES2011 than yet another slightly tweaked and prettified instalment of the egregious PES2016, which is what this current ‘family’ of PES games really is.
But I will not be hasty. PES has earned its place in my life.
Yesterday I played 13 matches, and that would seem to be enough to detect something – or nothing – but I will give it the rest of my Master League career to finally decide. That will be at least 2 more seasons’ worth of footy gaming.