The last lap

At the time of writing I am a single short session away from the end of this 8-seasons-long career on the PS4.

It’s worth remembering that as of today, PES2020 has only been out for exactly 4 (FOUR) calendar months. It landed on September 10th last year. Count the months if you don’t believe me. If you’re counting them on your fingers and confusing yourself by coming up with five, remember you’re counting from September 10. So from there to October is one month. November, December, January. Four short months.

On the forums they’re pretty much ready for PES2021 by the looks of things, but the football game year is some way from being even half done.

Season 8 on PS4 is definitely my last. I am 3 matches from the end of the season and this is the table. I expect at least a final-day decider:I’ve changed formation in an effort to score enough goals to overhaul that 10-goal advantage Man City have in goal difference.

This is the formation. As an old-schooler I deplore the 4-5-1 tendency in recent football, and refuse to recignise this as a 4-5-1 of any kind. It is self-evidently a 4-3-3:Even the game sort-of agrees with me that this definitely, absolutely isn’t a 4-5-1. I don’t know where it’s getting that 4-2-1-3 from. Probably from my choice to go with Rice as a CMF instead of going with two AMFs.

Readers with long memories will recall that 4-3-3 was my preferred PES formation until well into the PS3 era. This is a blast from my PS2 past, right here.

Incidentally, that’s the formation I go with in my Football Manager 2019 save. Even with all my PES/XCOM2/Death Stranding stuff going on, I’m quietly making myself addicted to the famous Football Manager timesink all over again, after about a decade of not really being engaged with it. FM2010 was the last one I played a few seasons of, and even then that was spread out over a long time.

For those, like me, who feel overwhelmed by too much detail in a game, they’ve done a good job of making the new era of Football Manager customisable at every level. I’m a suited manager, not a tracksuited one. I’m doing them a favour by turning up for matchday.

There might be some Football Manager content (alongside all the PES and FIFA content) appearing on the blog over the coming weeks and months. This imminent pivot away from consoles to PC might just be a temporary thing until we get to the other side of summer and the PS5. But I feel in my water that there is change afoot. It’s a big change for the blog and a much-needed one, I think. It’s been 13 years of pretty much the same-old same-old. I have often mentioned other things than console PES here, so there is precedent.

A goal to finish with from my most recent session of PES2020 on PS4. I’m mindful that I have had barely any great goals to post this year so far, in all 8 seasons. Compared to previous years, that is. The good goals of PES2020 tend to be ones that look just like real-life goals in some way – which means they are good goals, in that sense. Here’s a rare header from van Persie.

Again, it’s telling that PES2020 is the only PES in which I would be posting this as a noteworthy goal. In context, this was vital in my title push.

Updated: 10th January 2020 — 12:40


  1. I hear ya on the plain-type goals. That header looked good though.
    Thought this was one was pretty good as well. Surely an “official” long-ranger?

  2. PES20 is a very good game, but with the obvious nerfing of fouls and long range goals, its all become a bit too samey match after match, throw into the mix the fact that the difficulty levels are unbalanced, and it was always going to have a limited lifespan.

    There’s some replay-ability around starting another ML with house rules, or PA0 passing, or even manual shooting but none of it will change the fact that the game forces you to pass and move and score the same types of goals over and over.

  3. I think that’s a very good single sentence summary Paul.

    I was into championship manager in a way I never have been with pes for years. Too many players you feel won’t alter things, the lack of tactical nuance, only ever feeling attached to one or two players in an entire year. And of course being able to sporadically click a button while watching tv, reading, eating, etc helps. I’ve felt little pull to return to my ml but your fm comments have encouraged me to fire up 2014 and hope that I will avoid the crashes and irritations of pc play. However, I’m loving game games at the moment so I won’t be on it soon.

  4. Paul – I don’t know how much you’ve tinkered with the gameplay side of PES modding, but some of them are very agreeable and change the game quite a lot. I was tinkering with one that seemed to have fouls and long-rangers in it (by making the keepers that tiny amount worse to allow another few % of shots to go in). This will all be part of the blog from now on of course.

    #1 – definitely a long-ranger! That’s your goal of the year right there.

    Uncle Turf – I had many of the same grumbles about FM, having played a ton of FM2005, a half-ton of FM2010, and about a fifth of a ton of FM2015. I’ve broken the every-5-years sequence by plumping for FM2019 this time (it’s a finished game, its patch cycle over). Great game, and things can be changed on the pitch. What perhaps made things click more than most is that I’m taking a leaf from your PES book and treating the game as a game about me being a manager in a football world. I.e. the way to play the equivalent of ML Defaults in FM is to start unemployed with zero experience and see where destiny takes you. For me I could only get a job in the Danish 2nd tier with BK Avarta, and it’s been a great experience. Much better than my usual ‘go to Coventry, piss about for an in-game month or two, and drift away from the game’ routine.

  5. I think that attitude came out of earlier cm games for me – going immediately for ‘restoring Newcastle Utd to glory’ I’d be sacked six months into the season due to its ferocious higher tier expectations. Consequently I started out in the lower ranks and aimed to get a big job as and when (I think sometimes there can be real barriers to that leading a minnow to the European stage, if you can’t get a new stadium built for example).

    Did you put all the countries in? I usually just addd the main three, with maybe Germany.

  6. Uncle Turf – it was watching a few YouTube vids and stumbliong at random across a few articles that suggested to me I’ve perhaps been playing FM wrong all these years. I thought I ‘had to’ go the whole Coventry route. It’s great fun starting completely bewildered at a random basement-tier club, usually in a foreign land with weird league rules. Some of the hardcore Start Unemployed players make custom databases that have 11th tiers, pretty much park football, and work their ways up from there.

    I could put most or all of the countries in – I have the CPU and RAM to cope – but I couldn’t stand the processing time. I need a good trade-off between a fully realised world as possible, and moving through the days and weeks. Also I love matchday and can’t be spending lots of time on the crawl between them. I started my Start Unemployed career with about 30 leagues from the major countries loaded but it was too much. Since reduced it to 18 leagues in the core European core nations (including Scandinavia as that’s where the bulk of my Danish 2 League players will be drawn from). This is a good trade-off between processing time and world.

    Also a complete icons, badges, and faces pack – about 8GB worth – is a must for me with FM. Even in the Danish 2 League most of my players have real faces and as you move up, they all do. Every team has to have its proper badge, and every league its proper name. I’m fussier about this in FM than I ever have been in PES.

    Here’s a full match I recorded about a month ago and forgot I uploaded to YouTube until just now – you can see the menu design and lots of the gameplay are rethought. I’m at the eyes stage now where I need Dark Mode in everything.

  7. NG – Interesting stuff and change of direction for the blog. As for the PS5 I am finding I have little appetite for it as by and large the PS4 era has been a disappointment, with half finished games being put out on release, triple A games failing to live up to the hype or games not having anywhere near as much content as their predecessor on the PS3. As for my own gaming I have bought Fifa 20 with the last of my Christmas money, which I intend to play after I have finished the remarkable Death Stranding.

  8. NG – Going back to your comment about FM on the last one I played (Football Manager 2012) I did mod the game down to the 10th tier. Back then it did used to slow the game down a bit though.

  9. Darryl – I’ve mentioned the similarity of overall ‘feel’ between aspects of Death Stranding and Metal Gear Solid 5 before, but perhaps the most striking parallel is with the likes of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Completely different games but thematically similar. That haunting isolation and the way nothing is explained. (Thank God. The way modern video games think we need to know everything about in-universe lore and cheerfully heap it onto us…)

    Re. FM I couldn’t play the older games again now. I could go back to CM01/02 or even my very first Champ Man – the bug-ridden CM4, but it was my first and I knew no better and loved it – but the generation of FM from roughly 2005 to 2016, I couldn’t play now as the new redesigned ‘dark mode’ FM is so much better and user-friendly. And I love watching the matches and ‘managing’ them. Much like PES and FIFA it’s debatable how much actual input I have, but as you know, any reality is one that you have to believe in. I don’t stop in the middle of a film I’m enjoying to remind myself they’re all actors reading lines. Ditto with all media. I am going to be the King of Denmark, Europe and the world…

  10. NG – I haven’t really touched PES Modding that much, purely because other than aesthetics, scoreboards, tv logos etc, there isn’t much of note to use.
    I’ve held back on testing game play patches because I assumed that if there was one that actually was any good, ie introduced fouls back in and added more AI variety and long range goals, then you’d have been shouting about it and you’d be playing it and it would be all over the blog, but I haven’t seen anything so assume the game play tweaks might change a few things, but nothing of any real note, and I just don’t have the appetite for yet another 10 season long Samey all over again type ML.

    Plus FIFA 20 and Frosty has its hooks into me, we all know how fiddly the sliders are in FIFA, as in once you start fiddling you can spend all your time doing so, well the Frosty editor is pretty much a bunch of sliders for the whole entire game.

    I’ve pretty much stopped now though, started a career mode Proper last night, as Sampdoria in the Serie A, something a bit different.
    Just using the FIFER Realism mod, which is pretty superb, apart from the hundreds of realistic tweaks to how career mode works, there are a ton of new balls, manager outfits, club banners and flags, even crowd chants.

    I played Bournemouth in the Audi Cup (preseason Tournament) all complete with proper branding, overlays, trophy etc, and the game was played at Anfield, the Bournemouth crowd were rowdy as hell, still have “WE are Bournemeouth til’ we die” ringing in my ears.

    I’m also using a Sky Sports HD Tv logo overlay, and created my own Re-Shade Mod which greatly increases the turf vibrancy, sharpness, and LOD, no more washed out sage green pitches.

    Also did a test and designed a new AC Milan Kit from scratch in photoshop (was going to start a CM as them), and created a mod in Frosty for the kit, with Coeff layers etc, loaded it in, and it looked superb first attempt, so option is there now to have new kits for my Sampdoria team for different seasons, just need to learn how to create adboards now so I can have any new sponsors around the ground too.

    Will get FIFAFX back up and running soon and post some details.

  11. Paul – there’s quite a large base of PES fans on PC who are crying out for fouls, long-rangers etc, so yes, you’d have heard all about it already if there was a Golden Patch out there. There are some promising ones worth looking at further though and I did find one a few weeks ago, but consciously decided not to pursue it then in favour of finishing my PS4 ML first, which I think was a wise decision – it is paying off now as I am able to move onto PC with a clean slate.

    The same applies to FIFA of course and Frosty, which ironically is the most polished modding tool I’ve ever seen (ironically because nobody talks about it). I have this instinctive sense with both games that somewhere, somehow, there’s a deeply hidden set of values that will unlock the football game of football games, but I’m prepared like all of us to make compromises.

    Would love to see some footage of the AC Milan kit in FIFA and the other stuff. It’s still quite a novel idea to think of modding in FIFA.

  12. NG – I took a screenshot of the Milan Kit I made from scratch in game, will post it later when home, It was a test so just used the Kit0_Colour texture, which is the actual kit itself, I didnt create an associated _normal which is the embossed style 3D bump layer, or the _coeff, which is the embroidery/fabric overlay for the kit.

    Whilst its great that we can make new FIFA kits, its a much more complex process than making kits for PES, in PES you just design the kit in the right template layout, import and done, FIFA uses multiple layers that stitch together to form the kit you see in game, but the process of getting them in game once you have made the 3 files, via Frosty is very simple.

    You can also change the club crest and Team name, so in theory, I could recreate the Dog & Duck FC with proper crest and kits in FIFA, which is pretty epic.

    On a side note, i also found the entries for pitch noise, mow pattern, and pitch wear pattern, so would be pretty easy to create a very muddy patchy worn style lower league pitch and assign to one of the generic smaller stadiums, Ivy Lane or Town Park for example.

    Frosty gives you such a deep level of editing that I even found entries to modify the particle emitter lifespan within stadiums, basically controls how much confetti is projected on to the pitch during trophy presentations, pre-season tournaments and matches in South America etc.

  13. Paul – towards the end of the week I’ll be all locked and loaded on the PC again (lot of updating to do), and will be investigating the gameplay settings again, on both PES and FIFA. I plan to spend most of my time actually playing though. My priorty will be to thoroughly test the Holland Hard .exe that produced a couple of slower, heavier, goalkeeper-nobbling, long-range friendly matches a couple of weeks ago, including this goal:

    It’ll be nice to really settle into the new platform and have that as my footy game instead of occasionally visit it. Thinking of moving off my trusty Xbox for Windows wired controller too (got it in 2010 and it is a proper dependable tank, but the Xbox style controller gives me pins and needles after a while). What controller are you using? Wired, wireless?

  14. NG – I’m using this controller:

    Its alright, but a little cheap feeling and I don’t like the positioning of the thumbsticks, I’m used to them being parallel, not the LS being positioned higher, I find it awkward to use the shoulder button with the higher placed LS.

    Been meaning to buy a new one, so glad you mentioned it actually.

    Trued the PS4 controller using DS4 for windows, but its flaky.

  15. Paul – I forget the one The True Brit uses for his footy gaming, it’s a 3rd-party one as well but more PS-like.

    I believe a long wired connection from PS4 controller to PC will bypass the DS4 flakiness. Or perhaps… get a PS3 controller and use DS3 wirlessly, which the last time I used it was pretty good. In fact, I need to try that with my PS3 DualShock, will report back later tonight on how it works.

    You get used to the slightly higher LS, as I’ve done on the Xbox for Windows side.

  16. I tried the PS4 controller via cable, was too flaky still.

    I’ve seen a few wired XBOX style controllers on amazon with the parallel thumb sticks, will order one later.

  17. I can recommend good old XBOX 360 Wired Controller to use on PC.
    It works a treat.
    Happy to see you guys going for FIFA, I’m pretty sure you will not gonna be disappointed.
    Me, from the other side, I exchanged my FIFA in CEX for Star Wars game – no regrets whatsoever, game is lovely, also NFS Heat grabbed my attention recently. Besides, I am playing PES back again and then thanks to EA Access I’ll comeback to FIFA one more time before next edition :).

    On PC my FM Career for now stopped, I managed to win almost everything with Inter Miami in MLS, moved to Belgium – Charleroi S.C. Unfortunately I don’t have time to play all of it, so FM has to wait for its moment.

  18. Here’s a (very) late Christmas present to Not-Greg and all who might want to dip their toes in a bit of retro-PES:

  19. orlando — thanks for the heads-up, I had a look around for something like that a while back but could only find ones from around 2014 or so — and they were hidden behind so much ad-spam that I gave up trying to get at them after a while. This one is behind a moderate amount of ad-spam, roughly the same amount as a current PC mod for PES2020, but I got hold of it in the end. Problem now is — it doesn’t seem to work! I have dropped it into my Documents save folder, replacing my existing OPT file (after backing it up of course), but the game starts up with a vanilla PES5 install. Manchester Blue and Gerrard at Merseyside Red and the like. What is going wrong here?

    paul — one of my rookie errors with my PC order was to neglect bluetooth, so I’ve been wired all the way on this one. I used DS3 with a PS3 controller on my old laptop a few years ago and it does work, although wired is way more convenient as you don’t have to worry about a whole other application when wanting to play, and you don’t have to fret abotu charging a wireless device. Just plug and play. It’s quite refreshing.

  20. orlando.jabulani – I got it working, silly me forgot to delete all files from the Documents save folder (zipped backup first of course).

    It’s a pretty decent new OF cosmetically too. My one Exhibition match wasn’t enough to determine if the stats changes are on-point.

  21. Here’s my first attempt at a custom kit in FIFA 20.
    As you can see I changed Milans kit design, custom stripes, Nike Logo, and a retro sponsor from their past, Motta, plus a custom Captains armband, this was all designed from scratch, not using any existing kit template.

    As mentioned this was only importing the Kit0_Colour texture (the base kit), I didnt do the kit0_normal (3D bump texture) or the Kit0_Coeff texture (embroidery) that goes with it, which would make it look even better, with the fabric and emboss effect.

    Still happy that for a first attempt it all fitted so well, as most of the placement (shoulder bands, logos etc) was all guesswork.

    I have a Gimp and Photoshop template setup for FIFA 20 kit parts now with guides for aligning elements if anyone wants it.

    View post on

  22. Paul – that looks very nice to me, and like yourself when I did one for CCFC – just to test the whole concept out really – I only did the base kit too. I watched the same YouTube vid you probably did and saw how to do the bump texturing etc but never went that far. I would want to see a gameplay tweak or two in FIFA20 before I would consider ploughing any great time into it – which is a possibility as I realise I may have used up my PES2020 juice for now. Do the Fifer/OtherPaul mod(s) do anything in gameplay? I read something on EvoWeb from people saying they’ve got tons of fouls and cards in it with one of their mods.

    What I will do is have a good deep dive into Frosty myself once I’m back up and running on PC fully. I fired up PES2020 PC yesterday for the first time in about 10 days and pretty much everything needs updating.

  23. NG – I just downloaded the newest FIFER realism Mod, which comes with a gameplay mod too, some of the features are:


    – AI players that have the appropriate stats will use finesse shots and
    skills much more

    – AI teams try long shots more often

    – AI teams more aggressive with tackles and fouls

    – Tons of adjustments to match intensity

    – Games that are close in score will be a lot more intense, especially in the dying minutes

    – When one team is beating another by a lot, the game will be a lot less intense and both teams will get complacent

    – The AI wall will now almost always jump during free kicks

    – The AI wall will now charge a lot less during free kicks

    – Derby and Rival games are now even more aggressive

    Only played a handful of matches so still needs more testing but I’ve had a straight Red card, 4 or more bookings, so the ref leniency is definitely altered against you, but haven’t seen too much change in fouls for me yet, as I say though, only played about 4 matches so far.

  24. Paul – that sounds enticing… I think that’s certain to be tested out by me later on, cheers for the heads-up. One of the veteran FIFA players on EvoWeb is raving about modded FIFA and I am honour-bound to give it a look now. I’m pre-prepared not to notice a change, so I won’t be disappointed either way. All in all I need a break from PES2020.

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