Don’t Get Me Shane Long

A superb hat-trick from Regen van Persie – away to AC Milan! – helped to see me safely through the first knock-out round of the Europa League.

I’d lost the first leg 0-2 at home. Naturally I thought I was out. Superstar is a beast this year. I would need to score two goals without reply, away, just to take it to extra time.

I went ahead relatively early (the best goal of RVP’s three), but didn’t get the second until the last second of the 93rd minute. And then van Persie scored twice in extra time. A great match.

I don’t recall ever scoring four goals on Superstar before this. And I certainly haven’t done so since.

Here are RVP’s three:

Next up in the Europa League, I face Esbjerg – a Danish port town that I weirdly once visited as part of a works ‘mini-cruise’ jolly back in 1988. I had a good time there. With Esbjerg being one of my memorable places, it feels a bit like playing Skegness, or West Midlands Safari Park.

I’d got through the January window only doing one main piece of business. I shipped out my first-choice GK, Beto, who had been decent enough. But I could do better.

I decided a 20-year-old Casillas was the man, and was pleased to get him for £38m. I turned down another £147m offer for Lobato. I cashed in on the long-faded Lincoln and sold him for £30m.

And I picked up Felipe Melo from my Youths as cover for the DMF position in the final hour of deadline day.

I’ve been playing a bit of Football Manager recently, and one of the great features they have there is being able to let your Director of Football handle all transfers and find players. So part of the fun is making do with the players that he sends your way, some of them good, some of them bad, and some hilariously terrible. I don’t think this would really work in PES, as there’s no way it’d be programmed correctly. Imagine the players the game would give you.

My squad for the second half of the 7th season:

This year’s Vardy handles like the best Vardy, for me, in a few years of PES. I’ve had him every year recently, and this is the only year where I think I’ll keep him.I’m not going to do anything with that goal-scoring, am I? 26 goals in 30 matches might be my worst-ever return at this stage of a season and this stage of an ML.

The eternal question – whither PES2020? What kind of PES am I finding it to be? Is it living up to the promise of its first few days and weeks? How does it compare to the other editions of the PS4 era – to nuPES, as I pejoratively call it – and in particular to the best PES of this era so far, PES2019?

At this stage of Season 7, I have to say that I don’t like PES2020 nearly as much as I liked PES2019 at this stage. Looking back a year, I see myself saying things like this of PES2019:

At least once per session there’ll be a match that I can honestly say has the true taste of classic PES. This is not something I’ve seen in PES for a few years.

It’s a magic spell that I don’t want to break.

That magic spell held strong for pretty much all of PES2019. I could not say the same of PES2020. The magic spell is a much-flickering flame. Maybe once per real-time week, yes, there’s a great match, but even then they’re only great relative to the low standard that PES2020 has set for itself.

A huge part of why PES2020 feels like a step too far towards the multiplayer-balancing side of the scale, is its sheer lack of great goals. Balancing, dear boy, balancing!

In PES2019, this time last year, I was scoring goals like this more or less for fun:

Those three came along in just one session on PES2019. And those are the goals that thrill me and please me. I am always trying to score them.

If three goals like that came along in one session on PES2020, I believe I would genuinely faint from shock.

There are good goals in PES2020, but a good goal on PES2020 tends to be one that’s contextually important. They’re the goals that continue a player’s story, or the goal that wins a tight match. Goals that make you yell out loud because of the sheer visual outrageousness of them – are absent from PES2020. I’ve scored a few, of course I have, but they’re so painfully few…

I like PES2020 – ‘don’t get me wrong’, as Americans online are fond of saying.

But it’s high time to say I don’t love it.

Updated: 10th December 2019 — 11:30


  1. NG, Firstly, carrying over from the last post, I don’t believe a modded PC ver of PES will be any different, its all about the presentation and aesthetics, but do any of the game play mods actually change anything of worth, other than making the players and ball feel heavier? I doubt it.

    They don’t fix the totally one sided physicality, give you more fouls, correct commentary, or any thing that matters.

    Secondly, why the Manual simple crossfield pass at the start of your video? Was it a mistake? or just fancied trying a manual cross?

    I’d rather not get a single FK ever, in any match, and the AI be treated the same way, than have it so royally f*cked up and biased as it is currently, and DP3 patch definitely made it all worst.

  2. Paul – I like to keep my miniscule PA0 mojo ticking over, and often hold L2 and play a few manual passes just to keep my eye in. I’m half-minded to call Superstar a wash now and go back down to Top Player on PA0. I had a test game on that level this morning and it was great.

    Re. The PC mods, the answer is YES, most definitely there are gameplay mods that alter the game fundamentally. There’s one that reduces passing speed, another that introduces a first touch modifier based on player stats, another that makes free kicks incredibly hard, another that makes headers loopy/less loopy, etc. etc. TThere’s some that don’t seem to do anything. Others that do too much. There’s a mod that’s called Our Demo which does more or less what it says, delivers the feel of the demo – minus the fouls. And that is the problem for me as it’s what I’m really, really waiting for and wanting more than anything. The PC mod year is still underway and usually runs until roughly Fenruary from what I can tell so there’s time, but it does currently seem as if the two companies are really, really, really committed to their vision of a fouls-and-consequences-free version of physicality in their online multiplayer-led franchises.

  3. NG – Nice idea, kept thinking about trying PA0 just to vary things and relieve some of the monotony but TP is still behaving in such a poor way that PA0 would just increase the frustration.

    Those PC game plays mods sound nice enough, and I am still very much looking forward to tinkering about with all that stuff, but none of what you mentioned really matters to me.

    Passing speed is just fine as it is, i score plenty of headers so thats fine, I see plenty of first touch variation for both myself and the AI, so that’s not a problem, Im not a massive fan of the weighty feel….

    The demo, well actually not even the demo, but v1.0 as it was out of the box at launch, before the day one patch was a refined version of the demo, and still had all the physicality and fouls in, just refined, it was superb.
    So if the ‘OurDemo’ mod had all that, fouls and physicality, with the freedom of v1.0, not the demo, then I’d be interested, but it doesn’t.

  4. n-G – Nice hattrick.

    Still following all your PES 2020 MLs with interest. My copy was traded in a while back now and I can’t say I miss it at all.

    PES5 remains my footy game of choice. I’m closing in on back-to-back Div 1 titles and a possible treble. The individuality, goals and of course free kicks is what I need in a footy game more than stunning graphics and up to date teams.

    I’m still getting firsts too – including an opposition keeper getting sent off for hauling down my striker. Straight red and penalty.

    My plan from here is to maybe up things even further next season by implementing a wage cap. It’ll mean the end of Romario , Maradona and a good few other top players in my Brighton side. Even Yamada could be out depending on how ruthless I am.

    I’ve used house rules in every PES I have ever played and this return to PES5, as glorious as it is, will be getting some too.

  5. Lloyd – in PES2020 that’s a long ‘un. Similar to my RVP’s first one above. Can’t wait to see your mature goals in a few seasons’ time. If anyone can tease the cannonball shots out of PES2020 it’s you.

    Shed – trying to win back-to-back Trebles was what kept me playing PES5 for all those seasons. Only managed it twice and never used a house rule, but that was just me. Over the course of all these seasons there won’t be much you won’t see, and as you’ll already (re)discover, knowing the perfection of PES5 slightly spoils you for all other football games, as it’s an impossible yardstick for them to be measured by. 15 years and all the old-fashionedness of the game in so many respects doesn’t stop it still being a Lawrence of Arabia of football games.

    Paul – there are 3 different ways to mod PES gameplay, and numerous mods exist for each method and can be used in combination. So if there are about 30 mods with 10 each for the three methods, the maths means there are plenty of flavours to try… But if all the modding cannot restore fouls to PES (or FIFA), then it’s not been a success IMO. You’ll relishteh cosmetic aspect of PC PES of course, and the lesser gameplay modding on offer will catch your interest I’m sure.

  6. NG – Yeah absolutely, still looking forward to the modding, aesthetics and varied game play even if it doesnt fix the key issues, its more of a play thing than an attempt at a serious and fixed PES.

    On that note, was sider updated after the last patch after all ?

  7. Paul – yes, Sider was updated the next day as usual, no difference really. And even if it hadn’t been, all the mods and altered .exe files and the like all still worked just the same. I haven’t actually touched PC PES since I updated Sider. I’ll wait for the next burst of activity there until after PS4 PES is done and dusted, which will be next month. And then for the first time in a very long time, perhaps ever, there will be something new on this blog! I might even get hold of the PES modding tools and have a bash myself.

  8. I tried something completely different last night: instead of my usual patient build-up with flurries of reasonably fast-moving football when openings present themselves, I decided to try going all-out with high-octane pressing, more dribbling than passing, and near-constant use of R1.

    I had to use a *lot* of Super Cancel – and by doing so, started to find that it enables you to ride a lot of tackles/collisions that would usually lead to a loss of possession, because SC seems to restore a player to free movement a little more quickly after they’re clipped/slammed. It got to a point where I was using SC as a first touch mechanic with every pass, and even using it to add texture to driving runs – pumping the right trigger while sprinting with little adjustments of LS to add adjustments to direction. And that, in turn, seemed to stop AI players from consistently performing their magic trick of running through the back of my players.

    I’ve got into a habit of mostly using Super Cancel in defence of late, with occasional contextual use in attacking scenarios (usually to meet a slightly wayward pass or cross). But after a few matches of practice last night, I was playing something approximate to Klopp’s “heavy metal football” by using SC to take my players off the rails whenever possible and appropriate.

    I really enjoyed it. It took a few matches to perfect movement, but taking a more direct approach made me start to wonder if some of us are paying the Superstar AI too much respect. After a 1-2 reversal against Leicester, I went 2-1 (Brighton), 3-0 (Wolves), 0-2 (Spurs with Kane on fire) , 1-0 (West Brom), and 4-2 (Arsenal) before, tired and hampered by a snow game, I drew 0-0 after a frustrating 90 minutes of kicking the ball at Burnley’s bus.

    The thing that stands out about this run? No draws bar the last game, the bane of my Superstar experience so far.

    Oh, and: I’ve experimented with rain and snow games on a separate save today, and advise everyone who isn’t Superstar Slayer Turf to switch conditions to “Fine” whenever you can. The debuffs applied to the human team are not, it seems, applied to the AI side, which makes them desperately unfair in a mode where the COM side really doesn’t need any more pocket fucking aces.

    I’m still experimenting, but I’ll come back with some tips once I’ve had more time to play around.

  9. I can’t explain any of this and I know it doesn’t mean much unless I have some sort of way of proving the level is indeed superstar (surely a gentleman’s word should suffice…) but this was my routine 2-0 win v Man City.

    Goal 1 – comical defending

  10. Ok, so it’s done that thing again – there are three clips of goals and awful city play, basically I could romp unchecked through them just be patient and it should play them all.

  11. Turf – pretty sure from everything that I’ve read from you assures me that you are a gentleman so, joking aside, your word is your bond.

    I’ve scored in very similar situations on Superstar this year. Sometimes, apropos of nothing, AI teams will just have a temporary meltdown. You can sometimes cause these wobbles yourself with aggressive pressing and marking, but you’re more likely to have the COM smack a perfect 50-yard through-ball to a runner that you couldn’t possibly have seen, and your defenders saw fit to ignore.

    I’ve had times where I’ve sworn that the Superstar adaptive AI must be bugged, and that I’m playing against a sloped pitch and superhuman opposing players in scenarios that would confound any PES player in the world. If that *is* the case – and I wholeheartedly think I experienced that – then it stands to reason that there might be times when the sliders might move in the opposite direction.

    Make hay while the sun shines: the AI is probably polishing up its jackboots and sharpening knitting needles as we speak…

  12. Uncle Turf – it’s too weird seeing my Chairman/finance guy/whatever-he-is as your manager avatar. Whatever is going on with your game/your Superstar, it won’t help me and my team of journeymen and Youths and Regens and last few Defaults. I’m bound for PA0 and a lower difficulty level I think.

    James – I’ve bene playing quite a bit of Football Manager and impressed at how well the team reacts to instructions and tactical intentions. Do you fiddle a great deal with PES’s tactical sliders and toggles, and if so, do you really think they do anything? Anything that can’t be cancelled and overriden when the game needs to?

  13. NG – I’d urge you to experiment with the use of Super Cancel in pretty much every scenario possible in PES 2020. I’ve gone from cursing Superstar with every epithet I can imagine, to nodding in appreciation when I make a mistake that lets a player through for an AI goal.

    The difference is: I’m in control of my players now.

    I’m also suddenly beating lower-table fodder, and having to really work to pick up points against the bigger teams. And this is absolutely how it should be! I made an SC-fuelled run past three Brighton defenders in their box earlier, before smashing it into the lower corner, and had a clear sense that everyone’s respective stats mattered in a way that they haven’t appeared to until now. The match before, I lost to Liverpool because I just couldn’t get past that back line – but it was fair, because I didn’t create the right kind of opportunities, and they snuffed out the half-chances that I did make.

    Taking the tempo up and using Super Cancel as the cornerstone of my play has absolutely changed PES 2020 for me. Right now: 9/10, and I’m even enjoying the defeats. I’ve probably played just over twenty matches this way so far, and the difference that taking your players off the tramlines makes is absolutely clear to me.

  14. NG – Sorry! Forgot to answer your question.

    There are quite a few of the PES 2020 settings that don’t seem to work at all. There are some that work, but in the opposite way to which you’d expect. And there are some that are just plain odd: I’ve not noticed much of a difference between maximum defensive line height, and minimum defensive line height in general play. The same obviously applies to every increment betwixt.

    There’s a clear reason for this: PES Productions have focused very heavily on creating authentic choreography this year, and a lot of the tactical sliders and toggles – which *did* used to work, when first introduced in past PES releases – have been left in as decoration.

    I haven’t spoken to anyone from Konami in years, but I’ve often thought about approaching them and saying: as a player, *you need to pay for a decent editor for these games*. I know how devs work with translations, and the number of text pop-ups or boxes in PES that have clearly been cut-n-pasted into the wrong Excel cell at an earlier point in the process is pretty pisspoor. The worst example, off the top of my head, occurs when you’re in transfer negotiations to sell someone, and the text offered after quibbling over the offered fee is that *they’re* open to selling, but want a sweeter deal. That’s pretty shite, and something that anyone who knows the game should have spotted in August at the latest.

    I actually edited a PES manual in the glory era – 2005, or 2006. I cannot remember off the top of my head, but I’m pretty sure it was 05. They didn’t pay much at all, and the work was hard. I had to deal with translations where, as someone who had written 200,000-odd words for the 04 PES guide the year before, I knew the game inside out but would have to read the text over and over until it clicked: “Oh, that’s a shot cancel, not Super Cancel. Okay then.”

    And that’s probably why I haven’t got back in touch.

  15. James – you are up and down with your thoughts and feelings on the game more than a YoYo, you’ll hate it again next week.

    Super Cancel is designed to make slight adjustments to the players freedom of movement, having to rely on using SC in 90% of your general play is just ridiculous, and not sure how you mean you are using SC for driven dribbles ?
    Can you explain as when running with R1, you’d need to then hold R2 together at same time,m to engage SC, which moves your player off his ‘on rails’ dribbling path, I’ve tried it and more often than anything my player just runs away from the ball.

    There’s so much crap that’s broken or just doesn’t work or is missing or just wrong in the game, as always, same year after year, that having to continually try workarounds to get the game to behave in a realistic manner is just absurd.

  16. My feeling on Pes 2020 it should be a good game but it’s not that simple. Too much broken/ removed/shithousery too be considered as anything more than an average pes.

  17. Why don’t you summarise it for us Gary? haha

  18. In the new year I shall be starting a FIFA 20 career mode, with these Turf and Cam Mods on PC.

  19. Uncle Turf/James/all interested Superstar people – oh dear, can it be this simple? In this morning’s session I switched to Uncle Turf’s camera. Superstar. Result? Goals and gameplay galore. I won 4-0, 2-0, then drew 1-1 and 0-0. Open spaces and time on the ball. I’d been playing on some version of Stadium 99% of the time.

    Paul – both look very good. I played about 10 matches all told of FIFA20 the week before last and it struck me that if they could just give us an AI aggression slider (or the modders can find it in the values), FIFA would be the game.

  20. What camera are you using Turf ? Looks like a zoomed out pitch side?

    Too zoomed out and straight on for my liking.

  21. Paul – I think it’s Dynamic Wide with maximum height and maximum zoom out. That’s what I played a session with yesterday on Superstar, and the difference it seemed to make was extraordinary. Got to play another 2 sessions at least to check for session variance of course.

    I captured a few of the goals I scored for tomorrow’s post, not because they’re great goals – this is PES2020, remember – but just to see the space and time I seem to have in the altered view. There’s one clip where I ran my RB Dani Alves through the AI team and had a shot (that missed) that was so unlike the Superstar I’ve come to know and mostly loathe, that I’ve included it in the clip for tomorrow.

    The best camera there’s ever been on PES, and ever will be, was the PS2-era’s ‘Wide with Angle 10’. *genuflects*

  22. Ah, yes, I forgot to mention that when James asked about upping the transfer frequency – I also altered the camera. I too had been on the old ISO perspective as it looks great but I got fed up of the ball wandering off the screen and shots on goal feeling highly nerfed. I draw the line at blimp but it is indeed the extreme edge of dynamic wide, the final frontier before all goes microscopic. Whether it has been relevant I don’t know but it’s easier for me to see attacks develop.

    I’m currently laid up with the last dregs of a cold that have rendered my voice like Barry white after a particularly rough night on the tiles. As a high pitched east Durham-ite (not unlike Matt baker from countryfile/one show et al) I’d be more than happy for it to remain once the rest of the snot and hacking has gone.

    Abbeyhill – I was up your way yesterday – merchiston school if you know of it? Tradesmans entrance of course.

  23. The camera angle is literally just a perspective view point within a 360 degree 3D model, so it must be the increased angle on space between players that’s enabling you to adjust your play to be more successful.

    Isn’t that ‘greatest cam angle of all time’ available in the cam mods in PC PES NG ?

    Last night was my allocated gaming night, and rather than look forward to playing PES20 as has been the case, for the first time I didn’t really want to play it, so I didn’t, instead installed Red Dead 2 from scratch on the PS4 in the Cinema room and started that all over again, damn it looks amazing on 100″ !!

    Will get back to PES over the weekend I’m sure, but the interest is slowly waining. Fouls, long shots and physicality, all missing from the game and making the game repetitive.

    Looking forward to Frostying up FIFA 20 though, that realism mod for career mode looks incredible.

  24. Paul – literally any viewpoint from any height or distance is possible, from extreme top-down Sensi-style, to an ISS98-style Vertical Long (my 2nd-favourite camera ever), and the PS2-style Wide one too. The full story of PC PES will be told in 2020 on this blog. I’ll be very surprised if there isn’t a gameplay mod at some point that fully restores the integrity of fouls etc. Right at the end of my tinkering with PES2019 on PC I found one that delivered them again. I remember the PES2020 demo came out on PS4 the same day I found it in the summer, and I never made a fuss of that PC mod on the blog.

    Uncle Turf – It’s like one of those diagrams (The Matrix? What am I thinking of here?) that initially shows a clustered space with few apparent gaps between the objects, but then stop the action and move the vantage point and restart it, and suddenly the congested appearance was a literal illusion generated by the restricted perspective. Side-on was made for Superstar it seems. Still a lot of unfairness in the mode, particularly how it slams the gates on goal-scoring if you get a few in one match, but much better.

  25. NG – at least you’ve found a camera view that allows you to play SS without as much frustration, you had totally outgrown TP, so at least this may add a bit of longevity to your ML.

    Will look forward to your modded PES20 and follow it with keen interest, around the same sort of time I will probably be playing a modded FIFA 20 career if all goes well.

  26. Just checked and what I settled on was Stadium, zoomed out to 1 with a height of 6 and zero angle.

  27. Uncle Turf – ‘well that just sounds like Dynamic Wide with extra steps’.

    Paul – there’s very little for me in Top Player anymore. I would have to deliberately play terribly in order to lose or even draw most of the time

  28. Turf – hope you enjoyed your trip, it’s on the other side of town from me but well aware of Merchiston, extremely keen not to send my son there!

    following all the PES2020 chat here with great interest but it is quite relaxing to play a good solid footy title like FIFA19 without never-ending existential worries about whether it is a brilliant or terrible game, or whether it is just one camera adjustment, change of formation, change of tactics, new PC mod, use of super cancel etc etc away from being a brilliant game

  29. Abbeyhill – I had to stifle a laugh as I walked past a cohort of small boys dressed in tweed jacket and kilts, decent canteen – but very much the other half from my world.

    No longer top of the league thanks to 0-0 draw with Chelsea. I d chances though and I think this will be as hard as it gets.

  30. NG – what gameplay mod was that for pes2019? As you know I tried most of them, if not all…only ever found mods which “seemed” to up fouls a little, like from 1 to 2 on average. Never any which increased them in a cut-and-dry manner.

  31. #1 – it was a random dt18 file that I found on an adware-infested foreign language website in the depths of summer. I did post this screenshot – I’m Bournemouth, on the left:

    ” alt=”” />

    7 fouls against my 2 committed on the AI, the opposite of the usual case. Other matches were more an average of 4-5. And the game was extremely slow and heavy. I had to up the speed to +2 for it to feel like 0.

    I won’t be back on the PC now until Monday I think, but you can have the dt18 if you want it.

  32. Had a match on PES20 last night vs Everton, the game finished with 9 FK’s to me and 3 to them, 3 of my FK’s were shooting range FK’s, resulting in one 38 yard screamer from Quaresma.

    Total flip from the usual 6 FK’s to the AI and none for me, must have been a total random one off match.

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