Month: October 2019

What’s new – Superstar is a pussycat

I have made a swashbuckling run to the end of Season 4 – and played in nothing else than the FA Cup Final!

Versus one of the top teams of PES2020 so far – Liverpool!

On Superstar!

I moved back up to Superstar after last Thursday’s patch. The Cup Final should have been carnage. A week ago, I played Liverpool in the league, on Superstar, and it was carnage.

The patch last Thursday has changed Superstar in certain ways, not all of them good.

Here is the complete, full FA Cup Final, start to finish, for those who are interested. I know very few will watch this, but here it is for those who will.

I will give the result away below ‘the jump’ (remember a few years ago when it seemed everybody on every website was saying ‘after the jump’ and ‘hit the jump’? Why did they stop saying it? Let me know ‘after the jump’…)

It was an easy 3-0 win for me in the FA Cup Final. Albeit after extra time – but when you look at the chances I had in regular time, and the general pattern of play, you will see that today’s post title really is the case now. Yes, Superstar was monstrously unfair, but I was looking forward to mastering it. Now, I supposed Legend will have to do.

Invisible trophy time.If you only want to watch the three extra time goals, here they are cued up from the first goal onward – scored by that little magician, Jarvis, coming into his own again now that Superstar has been nerfed:

I was never under any pressure at any stage of this match. The last time I played against Liverpool was pre-patch. It was on Superstar and I got hammered 4-0 in a match where I was never comfortable, where I did well to make a couple of scrappy half-chances. What a difference a week or so – and a patch – makes.

At least Donald Pleasence will have a good Halloween for once.I might have adapted to Superstar, or the Patch might after all have ‘done something’, or we might have met in the middle. Who knows.

I am having a great time with the PC version of PES2020. This is my first year spent tinkering on the PC version from the start of the PES year. It is a football gamer’s sandbox of delight. Every day can bring something new if you want it. Corner flags not flappy enough for you? I bet there’s a mod for that. Aching to play a season with Ewood Park as your home stadium? It looks great. You can roll up your sleeves, grab the relevant tools, and brew your own mods if you like. I fancy making an OG Highfield Road at some point…

Yesterday I played the best PC gameplay mod yet, one that genuinely restores the error-and-fatigue-laden demo gameplay (sans fouls, of course; they still seem to be under Fort Knox-style lock and key). At some point today I will be testing a mod that purports to remove the AI’s lightning reflexes that stop you dribbling past it. Will it work as advertised? If so, will it break the game? Who knows! Such is the joy of the PC side of the fence.

But the PS4 is still my main scene of action. It’s not impossible that you might be seeing a whole new PC-based world on this blog before long… I’ve got a nice test ML going with the OG Defaults, with its own little collection of stories. Shimizu is as annoying as ever. Dodo is a majestic DMF. Ordaz is a wonderful Mark Hateley-esque header of the ball (I’ll post an example in comments later).

But the PS4 is where I’ve played 4 seasons. I am as invested in the individuals and in my team as much as I ever have been.

For example, I shouted out loud at this Lobato curler scored against Chelsea, away, to earn a 2-2 draw:

The final league table:Yes, that is a shocking goals-scored record. Maybe my worst season-long goal-scoring performance ever. But to finish 9th in my maiden Premier League season, with 80% of the matches on Superstar…

The Team of the Season only featured my GK:So where is PES2020(PS4) at right now? My feeling is that the October Patch has toned down the Superstar AI a bit too much, and that this was a mistake. If I could flip a switch and put the AI back to how it was this time last week, I would.

Season 5 – and the Europa League – is up next. Legend, here I come? I’ll start out on Superstar and see how it goes.

The Motorola Razr was da best

The big news this week was the arrival yesterday of the long-awaited patch. Plus some boots and faces and other stuff – which I care about so little, this is the only time I’ll ever mention them.

PES2020 is a still a football game without any fouls in it for me. Now – IF gameplay is fundamental, and a certain feature of football – fouls and free kicks – is fundamental to football, AND a football game singularly lacks that dimension – is gameplay really fundamental? Or is the expectation of a particular slice of the demographic – the online Footballing Fortnite crowd – what’s really fundamental?

It’ll take another week of play to be sure, but so far the October Patch did not bring me any fouls in its sack of goodies. How could it? To give substance to single-players would be to take something away from multiplayers, and such a thing cannot happen.

Another few sessions and I will know for sure about the new patch. It does take time to judge, and I have not so far allowed enough time to be sure. 20 matches or thereabouts is what it usually takes, i.e. approximately 4 separate sessions, which gives session variance a chance to even out too.

I’m watching the PC scene with interest.

Meanwhile, my Master League goes on. I’ve played a few since the last time. My form is more or less the same. Superstar has finally got to me. I relented, midway through my first post-patch session, and went down to Top Player.

The current table:I passed through the January transfer window. I picked up two players.

Dembélé from my Youths was irresistible. I’m always in the market for a top midfielder and this one was too tempting, But suspicious that he had retired so early in order to appear as a Youth Regen… Hmmm.

I also took a random punt on a random player I saw in Free Agents. Bryan Gil (LWF), currently a real-life 18-year-old playing for Sevilla in la Liga, is now a 22-year-old winger playing for my lot in Master League Season 4. 79OVR with impressive winger stats (Speed etc.), he will go one of two ways: either he will be a Master League legend for me, or I will sell him in a few windows’ time almost without ever mentioning him again.

One of the genuine attractions of Master League is seeing which way these sorts of players go. You know from the outset that, eventually, a Robben or an Iniesta or even a John Hartson is going to come good and do whatever you want him to do.

But an unknown quantity like a Bryan Gil? Who the hell knows? This is what Master League is all about!

Bryan’s arrival tempted me into trying this swashbuckling formation, for all of two matches:I noped out of this one pretty fast. I wasn’t getting hammered, and I was creating opportunities with it (as intended), but when I needed bodies in midfield they simply weren’t there. I haven’t got the players needed for this sort of formation right now. Back to a variant of the old faithful 4-2-2-2 I went.

PES2020 is not so far, for me, a PES of great goals. Great goals, for me, means goals like this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this and this. (One from every PES since ’08. Motorola Razr footage to 1080p PS4 footage.)

While hunting down those goals I spotted plenty of grumbling from me about previous years’ PESes not having great goals so far… so we’ll see how PES2020 ultimately shakes down on this front.

My fingerbones-level gaming instinct tells me that the demands of online have fundamentally altered the nature of the genre. Online players in general do not shoot from more than 18 yards. Ever.

I met Arsenal in the FA Cup for the second season running, and for the second season running I beat them – and booked a place in the semi-final for the second season running.

I’ve scored goals that have pleased me on PES2020, no question – here’s the winner in the Arsenal game, scored by that great enigma, Lobato:

By any measure that is a fine goal to score in a computer game. Good incisive build-up and a fine finish. I was cheering and fist-pumping when that one went in, make no mistake. So there are goals of great meaning in PES2020. Context and character goals are still there in abundance. But how many shop-window style goals as seen in the Gallery above will I score on PES2020? I do wonder.

Super Star 20 20

Season 4, my first season in the Premier League, and time to move up to Superstar difficulty.

As ever, the game internally calls it ‘Super Star’ – two words with capital letters and a space – but that’s a Japanglish error. Even if it is somebody’s conscious stylistic choice, I reject it. The word is Superstar.

The first order of business for any new season is to organise new kits for the new campaign.

Regular commenter Paul once again came through with two new Home and Away kits – they’re the top two seen on the right here.

I continued with his 2020 version of Coventry’s celebrated ‘excrement kit’ on the bottom left. These are my favourite kits, every year. Great things tend to happen.

And the kit on the bottom right is my own creation, made using PES Master’s excellent and intuitive Kit Creator. I used to make all my own kits season by season (remember all the janky internal kit creators over the years?!). They all looked something like that generic stripey one. Takes me right back to PES2010, so it does.

Onto the football, and without going into exruciating detail, I made a few miscalculations in the transfer market, going after targets who ultimately refused to come. So I left myself no time to get all the players I needed, panicked a little, and ended up spending £39 million on bringing Lobato – yes, LOBATO – to the club on deadline day. A true Alexis Sanchez moment.

He’s destined to be sold in a season or two once I get my shit together, but for now he is quite a welcome addition, actually. His pace is still off the scale – 92 or something like that – but his stamina remains off the scale in the other direction. He’s usually done by half-time, then I get another 15 minutes out of him after half time, then he has to be subbed.

My First XI and squad for the first half of the season – this is a slightly lop-sided 4-2-2 to utilise Lobato’s pace, and to have Castledine in the middle where he can be most influential. This formation is stll a Work In Progress.

PES2020 might be the most transparently unfair and unbalanced Superstar ever. God knows what Legend is like.

I was taken a bit by surprise, as I have played a few Superstar matches in other modes, and they were fine. If anything they seemed a little on the easy side, reinforcing my view that the difficulty levels have been rezoned this year.

My first match on Superstar in Master League was nothing like the other Superstar matches I’ve played.

Look at those appalling Fouls and Free Kicks stats. It’s sometimes painful to think that this is a football game.

Every dirty trick in the book is employed. PES2020 has always been quite brazen about reading the human player’s controller input – watch what happens when you activate a player from a corner or free kick. An AI player will casually trot towards him.

Superstar is where PES2020’s anything-goes, Rollerball-style, no-rules gameplay seems to be at its worst. I can imagine this fast, frenetic, flowing kind of thing is very welcome to a certain kind of online player – but why do we have to suffer it offline because of them? Surely this is the year where something has to be done? Something has to change, or it’s really over for the single-player.

It’s possible to adapt to Superstar’s shenanigans. Late last night I played Manchester United away from home, fearing the usual Superstar shellacking. This was the outcome:This would have been a great match, but I came away with a dissatisfied feel. Literally zero fouls in this one – and about half of all my matches finish this way.

PES2020 on Superstar compunds the no-fouls thing because there are probably 10-20 actual fouls per match. They’re just not called. The opposition is allowed to barge and jostly and trip as much as it likes – and most of the time, you’re allowed to do that too. So things gradually degenerate (or start out) in a hyper-aggressive, supercharged fashion that is not to the series’ credit.

The current table, after 18 matches:I think I have enough in me to meet the board objective of a top-half finish.

Some closing highlights in video – there haven’t been too many. The league table indicates my goal-scoring (low).

PES2020 is still not a PES of great goals. By this stage – season 4 – in pretty much every PES that there’s ever been (PES2014 always excepted) I would have accumulated enough experience to be able to score at least a couple of ‘wow!’ goals every session. Now, it’s more like one decent goal every so often. And none, so far, that I will remember in 10 years’ time.

Included here is Robin van Persie’s second goal for the club, a finish from Jarvis from an impossible angle, and my one and only true laces long-ranger so far.

The only way is Jarvis

Season 3 has ended with the SkyBet Championship title and promotion to the Premier League. See the team posing for the now-traditional trophy-free photo.

I won the league at a canter, in the end. Top Player has proven quite tame for me. A 13-point margin of victory. And check my goals conceded column. I haven’t scored as many goals as I would have liked but the ones I have scored have been when it counted.I said it at the start and stand by it, even though I know other players are experiencing wildly different things: Top Player feels more like Professional+ this year to me.

We shall see how the Premier League treats me. I had a little taster of it when I met Liverpool in the FA Cup semi, and they were brilliant, exactly what I would want a top-rated top team to be. I only lost 1-0 but it could have been a hammering. The pace was extraordinary. I think I only created one chance, which of course I squandered.

I can’t wait to get my teeth into Superstar. I’ve already moved up, having played the last few meaningless matches of the season on it. A draw and a win. Both felt great.

I got quite a few players into the Team of the Season.Jarvis was the story of the latter half of the season. There was one six-game session in which he scored eight (8) goals, including an astounding first-half hat-trick vs Blackburn. It’s first up in the special Jarvis compilation:

Amazing. That scoring spurt shot Jarvis to the top of the top scorers’ list, where he remained until the end of the season, which quite rightly earned him a spot in the D2 Team of the Season.

Yes – a little peculiar to make top scorer with only 16 goals scored, but that’s Master League. It’s never shy to remind the player that he’s the only real person in its made-up world.

Jarvis only scored 1 goal in my last 7 fixtures, which proves – if proof were needed – that Master League is a massively session-based experience in which we are ‘managed’ based on the context. The game ‘knew’ I was romping to the title. I wasn’t allowed to score at all, with any player, for four matches in a row at one point.

PES2020 still isn’t really a PES of great and memorable goals for me – not as spectacles and things-in-themselves. I don’t think I’ve got to the end of Season 3 without scoring even 1 laces long-ranger in any PES before this one. And believe me I try them. PES2020’s goals are all about context-and-character (cf. Jarvis).

This goal was the best of my recent sessions and one of the best of PES2020 so far for me – another Castledine R2 curler from long range. What do I keep saying about that lucky brown kit? Great things happen in it.

And that’s me headed for the Premier. It took 3 seasons this year, on Top Player for almost all of it. How will the Premier treat me on Superstar? I’m soon going to find out.