Category: difficulty level

Lescott said, Son is mended


Season 3 has wound to a finish. I dashed for the line in the end, playing the last 12 or so matches across two sessions close together. Setting aside some growing concerns about where the mature PES2017 gameplay is headed, I enjoyed an exhilarating run-in where I was nip-and-tuck with Aston Villa at the top of the table for the last few matches. I never managed to overhaul them, but kept getting close. Of course on the last day it was still all to play for, as it so often is in Master League.

I have a tradition in PES of going up in 2nd place, and for the longest time it seemed that would be how it’d go again. I met Cardiff in the last match and they were tough. I was behind twice, and fortunate to come away with the draw.

At the final whistle my team celebrated and I knew I’d won the league. A special feeling, particularly as it’s something I rarely do. 90% of my promotions in PES have been in 2nd, so this was special.


I was festooned with garlands:


The roll of honour


Look at the kerning on GALLARJO between the R and the J. Shudder.

Only 3 players in the Team of the Tournament, though – about right, I’d say. Rice was a great performer for me again but he missed about 7 matches through suspensions.


That £18m of made-up money I spent on Friday pre-season was money very well spent.


And finally some highlights from my run-in – can you guess what my favourite goal is from these? It’s not the one you think…

No, it’s not the Son rasper from 30 yards, although I liked that too (his first contribution of note since returning from that December training injury). Lescott’s scissors kick (and it is a scissors kick, not a bicycle kick) is also nice, but not something I felt particularly exultant over. Him kissing the screen was a surprise though.

My favourite goal in this clip is Cahill’s slotted finish from 0:55. It seems so straightforward, but I needed a goal like that. It came at a time when I was getting really pissed-off with Top Player’s fast and furious nature. I just wanted to put my foot on the ball and play a killer pass, and I did so.

I do end Season 3 on a high – with some misgivings, but on a high. This Master League is the best we’ve had since PES2012.

I’m looking forward to the Premier League, and to what will probably be an immediate transition to Superstar.

I’ve decided not to spend any more time on Top Player unless I have to.

I only moved up from Professional to Top Player mid-season, so my switch up now to Superstar is sudden – but necessary.

I’ve found Top Player to be extremely fast and furious, making PES2017 seem a lot more like PES2016 than I ever want it to be.

From that mid-season point onward, fouls all but disappeared completely from my game. Around 60% of my matches now end with no fouls against me at all. The remaining 40% end with a token 1 or 2. I never have any matches with more than that now. Rivals matches are the worst for this, as I believe the game represents the famous ‘referee showing a bit of common sense’ and hardly awards any fouls at all.

Low-fouls and no-fouls matches are typically insane, frantic, end-to-end affairs that have little deep interest for me. I never finish a fouls-free game thinking ‘what fun that was! the action neva stopped!!!’

I want and need PES2017 to go back to being the stellar 9/10 game I was playing a season or so ago.  The means a game that can be fast and slow. That features regular stoppages in play. Where I’m discouraged from sprint-sliding all over the place as my number 1 mode of defence. I’m hoping the Premier League on Superstar will make the second half of Season 3 on Top Player seem like an anomaly.

The Volley of Adventure

pes2017-the-burning-wallApproaching mid-season of Season 1 of PES2017. Leicester eliminated me from the FA Cup in what was probably the single greatest match of PES2017 so far and, apart from many excellent matches on PES2014 and PES5 over the past 6 months, my best PES experience for a calendar year or more.

It’s still too early to call PES2017 a success or failure, in my view. Two seasons of Master League, minimum, will decide that.

One thing’s for sure: when this game plays well, this is the best PES since PES2012. When it throws up a duff match, however, I often find it unpleasantly reminiscent of PES2016. So I’m wary in case that becomes the dominant note over time.

the-speed-nerf-2017The Defaults are the worst since PES2013. Look at that Speed profile for the formerly-not-bad Yankov!

I’m happy that Castledine is white now. No, don’t take that out of context. I’m happy Castledine is white now only because he’s so rubbish and it would have been a betrayal of last year’s black, good Castledine. There.

Encouragingly, goals are at a premium, which means that great goals are too. Scarcity breeds value. I’ve only scored two of any note so far. The Hettich long-ranger from Tuesday’s post, and this one here:

Context: I’m 0-1 down at home to Rotherham, and I really want to get back into the match before half-time. I switch to full-on Attack. And what an effective re-introduction of ATT/DEF switching this has been in PES2017, by the way. You can park the bus or sound the trumpets as you please. If you’re not using it, you’re not really playing the game.

I also initiated one of my preset tactics, Attacking Fullbacks. This doesn’t simply push your LB and RB up the park, but right into the box, PES2011-style. Giorza was a star of PES2016, one of the few bright spots individually, and is shaping up to be the same here.


I’ve got no transfers lined up for the imminent window. I’ll look around when I get there. I’m just enjoying the game, and letting the menus look after themselves for a while. I want to be playing right now.

I have adjusted Training to make sure each player is getting the right focus. And made a retro-ish Coventry 3rd kit using a very handy online tool.

Where is PES2017 with me at the moment? It’s high in my esteem, but I’m watchful. I think that’s how most people feel who felt that PES2016 lacked too much.

I can’t shake off a feeling that Konami have pulled a sleight-of-hand trick regarding the great single-player AI fouls issue. An issue that only exists, remember, because online multiplayers don’t like their button-mashing trance states to be interrupted. The game is accordingly calibrated to observe a very liberal fouling threshold, with the principal side-effect for single-players being that there have been few AI-committed fouls, or none, for a couple of editions now.

Pre-release, I had a theory about what would be done with fouls. I hoped it was a daft theory. My daft theory was that PES2017 would be scripted to give us poor single-players a match with plenty of fouls every once in a while, but that the majority of matches would remain fouls-lite (or even fouls-free) in the style of PES2016.

So far, I really hate to say, everything I’ve seen supports my daft theory.

I think I’ve got a handle on how it works now, and here it is: in a sample of about 6 matches, 1 match will feature a good, high (proper) amount of AI fouls. 4 of the matches will feature a token one or two AI fouls, as per PES2016. And the remaining 1 match will feature no AI fouls at all — literally zero fouls. Even PES2016 would rarely do that.


We’ll see how things change along with the ever-changing contexts in Master League. But my strong feeling is that this is how things are for me and my playing style. Low-fouls will remain the dominant theme for most matches.

Could I live with that? Yes. Yes, and I’ll consider it a good deal, if the gameplay/ difficulty otherwise holds up. That’s the major worry.

Fouls are something of a personal hobbyhorse for me, perhaps largely because they were such an essential motif in the symphony that was PES5 — the game that was, is, and ever shall be, the greatest football game ever made. I derive all my expectations of what makes a great football game from that template.

Which is a hard burden for the likes of PES2017 to bear. But as many a PES since PES5 proves, I’ve got used to setting expectations to one side if the overall package delivers.

Oh, I’m 4th from bottom of the table, with the worst goal-scoring record in the division. I think it’s safe to say there ain’t gonna be no Season 1 promotion in this one.


Last Days of PES2016I’m closing in on the last stages of my last season (for real this time) on PES2016. I’m playing with Unassisted passing on Superstar Difficulty (for real this time).

A busy working weekend meant I only had time for a paltry few matches. I managed to get to matchday 31 without seeing any movement towards the league leaders.

But I already know I’m not going to win the fabled Superstar Treble on PES2016. I’m out of the Champions League in humiliating style. Complacency undid me. I sailed through qualifying and then the first knockout match. I assumed it’d be plain sailing all the way.

Except I had a disastrous opening leg to the Quarter Final knockout round. Lost 0-4 at home against Manchester City.

Maybe on Assisted passing there’d be a chance of coming back from that in the second leg, but what Unassisted does very well is make every chance worked-for. And they take time to create. Chances don’t come along every few seconds.

I struggled to get anything going in the second leg, went a goal down pretty fast, and crashed out in miserable fashion, losing the match 3-1 in the end to make it a 7-1 thumping overall.

Which might be my worst-ever defeat in European competition on any PES.

PES2016’s infamous low difficulty can throw these extreme difficulty spikes at you. What a shame it happens all too seldom. I’d have liked to see every match in the whole game pitched at the difficulty of this tie.

PES2016 World Manager of the YearI won the World Manager of the Year — for last season, of course, the Phantom Treble that I won ‘only’ (as it turned out) on Top Player difficulty. Still, it was nice to see the award coming my way under any circumstances.

I’ll have final words to say on PES2016 in Friday’s post. It’s not been bad! No-fouls is bad. Superslide-tackle is bad. General gameplay is pretty good.

Nothing’s ever changed on the no-fouls front in PES2016. 90% of matches end with zero free kicks for me. Perhaps even worse, at least 75% of those matches end with zero free kicks for either side. My skills at executing PES2016’s completely bullshit overpowered slide-tackle is now so far developed that I only concede free kicks if I get sloppy. I forgave PES2015 for no-fouls football. I will never forgive PES2016 for it. But it’s by no means alone.

The way I play football games — pass and move, with very little dribbling and trying to take on defenders — means that every football game of recent years has been a low- or no-fouling game for me.

Other football gamers report a satisfying amount of free kicks in FIFA.

I’ve played a bit of FIFA16 over the past few days while assessing my next move, footy gaming-wise. Most matches in FIFA16 also end with no free kicks to me.

I can give away plenty of free kicks in FIFA16, fair enough, but I very rarely get them.

This no-fouls/low-fouls issue, right here, is the biggest one affecting the single-player football gaming experience in the current era. We really are being forced to put up with the football gaming that online multiplayers want to play. Maximum flow. Minimum interruptions to their button-mashing, trance-like state.

I don’t have any hope for change. PES2017, and FIFA17, and all football games ever made from now on, will have no-fouls or low-fouls as their baseline reality.

The most we can hope for as single players would be the introduction of a referee strictness slider or similar in PES. It would be so simple to do (PC modders have been doing it for years). It would save the single-player game.

I do fear for the future, though. Some voices on the PES forums are confidently predicting that PES2017 must — surely! — reintroduce fouls and free kicks to single-player gameplay. Well, I confidently predict that PES2017 won’t do anything of the sort.

Friday’s post will be the last of PES2016. Will I be able to sign off with at least a League and Cup double?

A season too far?

Castledine speaks PES2016Season 8 is well underway. I’m still turning down silly money offers for the Player of PES2016, and he still seems to be OK with that.

This is definitely my final season on PES2016. What I wanted from Season 8 was to really milk the game for its last drops of sustenance using Unassisted Passing.

I believe I have done that now. At the time of writing I’ve already played up to Matchday 25. (In Tuesday’s post I’d only played to Matchday 5, but that post was actually written a week ago. I wanted to clear the decks for a weekend of Metal Gear Solid, and I delivered on my own promise to myself, so at least one of my multiple and feuding personalities was satisfied…)

Here’s the table after 25:

PES2016 Season 8 after 25

Now, that table tells the story in a nutshell of life on Superstar for me and also life with Unassisted Passing. Lots of draws. Not quite as many goals.

This is reflected in my results for the month of November:

Season 8 a run of results

The matches are fairly absorbing. One pleasing aspect  of gameplay that Unassisted Passing seems to have unlocked is indicated by that 4-0 thumping of Leeds. You’re able to punish weaker teams by using better passing. That might just be me wishing for PES2016 to prove itself PES-like. But it’s the definite feeling I get.

Unassisted passing isn’t manual passing — it’s still stats-based, just unassisted, meaning the game doesn’t help you with guidance if you get it slightly wrong, as it does on other settings. In that sense it’s arguably the only ‘true’ way to play a football game and tease the individuality out of players.

I had hoped that Casteldine and Reyes and Rosicky and so on would distinguish themselves with Unassisted Passing. Sadly, I have yet to find that to be the case. The players are all still much of a muchness, except I have to concentrate on my aiming a bit more.

I breezed through my Champions League group. 10 goals scored, none conceded. Defending in PES2016 really is easier than it should be:

PES2016 season 8 CL final group table

And why’s that? Why is defending easier than it should be in PES2016? Because of no-fouls football, of course.

In PES2016 you can pretty much keep that finger on R1 all the time, and complement it with as much hacking, sliding, and barging as you like. In fact, this aggression-max approach is exactly the way everybody plays PES2016. You might as well play with maximum speed and violence when you’ll be unlucky to concede a foul, never mind receive a card of any colour.

This aspect of PES2016 is total, unmitigated garbage. No-fouls football is the fundamental issue with this game. There are no excuses that stand up to any kind of rational scrutiny. New engine my arse. No-fouls football is blatantly deliberate, blatantly for myClub’s sake, and blatantly the way things will be from now on. PES2017 will be the same, just wait and see.

I manage to sort of forget about PES2016’s no-fouls football for much of the time. But then I’ll get a match with no free kicks of any kind for either side, and I’m amazed how I could have taken PES2016 seriously enough to play it for 8 Master League seasons. But here I am.

PES2016 season 8 January TotMRosicky is emerging as one of my most important players. He has another great long-ranger in the compilation at the end of the post. Giorza, my other great Default, just keeps going and going at right-back.

I promoted ALONSO and CASILLAS from the Youths, and bought S GERRARD once more. I’m only going to have half a season with them.

My last ever PES2016 squad picture:

PES2016 season 8 January squadToni is my first 90-rated player in the game. One thing PES2016 gets almost right is the scaling of the player ratings.

I say almost right because too often, player ratings and core stats seem to be meaningless in PES2016. Or at most, barely perceptible.

Ribery has now played for me for half a season. He handles just like Gotze, Sterling, Rosicky, and many others before him.

And every single player without exception is able to perform geometrically perfect slide-tackles.

So PES2016 is the least individuality-oriented PES there has ever been. Much like FIFA, you have several distinct player types – big centre-forwards; nimble midfield dribblers; stout centre-halves; etc. – and the individuals are simply representatives of the types.

Some highlights (not all of them goals) from the opening half of Season 8, set to music and fiddled about with in Share Factory: