Category: PES Chronicles

Worry and Rice

January of Season 1. I picked up two tasty-looking Free Agents: Tomas Necid, and Siem de Jong. Not as first-tier as I could have got, if I’d only had the wages, but they’re more than adequate.

Necid is a name that has been mentioned on this blog before, albeit in a different game. Football Manager 2010 being the game. Necid was my big signing in one of my first FM2010 Premiership seasons, and bagged a load of goals that kept me up. The big clubs came calling and he sulked until I let him go, after which everything disintegrated and I was sacked.

Here in PES2019 he is on the freebie list along with a mouthwatering load of other players. My wages bill ended up on minus-200k until I moved a few other players out – Arcas and Goios among them.

I ended up selling Goios (not-Coutinho) before the window closed, so this screenshot is already out of date. I brought in a Youth striker named VINER to cover.

Other than that difference, the above is the formation and squad that I will be using to scrape some points together – hopefully – in the second half of the season.

Results continue to be awful.

I had a session last night that was one of the best nuPES sessions, all told, that I have ever had.

The AI was brilliant, frankly. Hassling and harrying me, launching waves of varied and inventive attacks. Positionally in defence, it’s the tightest AI PES has ever seen, I think. The PES2019 AI has such a poor renown that many a befuddled PES2019 player will be shaking their heads and wondering if I am taking the piss. I am not.

The only sign of the infamous Low Cross in my game is a GP award given to me for pulling off a low cross in a game. (Double-tap the cross button from out wide.)

Necid and de Jong haven’t really set the ML world alight yet. Necid has done adequately, netting three goals since his arrival, including a debut header with his very first touch, which bodes well. De Jong has been totally anonymous and I am starting to worry.

I have more or less settled on the view that there is no point persisting with anonymous, identikit players in nuPES anymore.

A squad of proper individuals, even if they are poor overall and don’t win me anything, will be preferable to the rotating door of samey-feeling players that besmirched the likes of PES2016.

I had a fatigue situation in one match that forced me to play with a lone striker up front and two wide forwards/wingers. I thought this formation was a 4-5-1, but the game says it’s a 4-3-3. I was very interested to see how it played out, but no, it didn’t really do anything special. And it did feel like a 4-3-3 in practice.

A brief little highlights clip now. Necid’s debut header is here. There are some brave attempts at shooting from Rice – finishing with an actual goal from Rice, from distance, that won me the World Class long-range shooting trophy. Still not a proper long-ranger though…

Slow and steady wins the race

So I’ve only just made it to mid-season of Season 1.

Why so slow? Is that a reflection on the quality of PES2019?

No – this slow progress is not much slower than normal, for me. This tortoise-like progression is what makes it possible for me to play multiple seasons spanning many months.

A look at last year shows PES2018 arriving on 12th September. I started Master League on 15th September. I reached mid-season of Season 1 two weeks later, on 29th September.

This year I might have got a lot further a lot faster if I haven’t discovered that a little game called Fallout 4 has crept up on me and become quite the obsession.

There’s a very addictive building component to Fallout 4. It’s ‘Minecraft meets Mad Max’. And as a fan of the post-apocalypse, even the semi-comic one of the Fallout 4 world, I keep being brought up short by stark and haunting vistas.I’ve split my gaming time roughly 50-50 between Fallout 4 and PES2019 over the past two weeks since the latter’s launch. Maybe that’s helped to ease me through some of the early difficulties that so many others are experiencing.

I’ve got through to mid-season of my Master League completely untroubled by Low Crossing.

I don’t mean that I’m seeing it but managing to live with it.

It’s not that I’m seeing it a little bit but managing to enjoy the game anyway.

It’s that I’m not seeing it at all. I have to have the one or two isolated instances of Low Crossing pointed out to me. And of course, when they’re isolated, they’re just a normal part of the game.

I don’t know how, or why, Low Crossing doesn’t appear in my game. I even recorded an entire match, distilled it down to the AI attacks only, to show that it doesn’t occur in my game. It definitely doesn’t. How? Why?

But I’m not getting away scot-free. There’s something else that I don’t really see, that I would very much like to see: AI-committed fouls. I’m also not committing many fouls myself.

This is a bog-standard, typical post-match stats screen for me:

1 (ONE) AI foul on me. 0 (ZERO) fouls committed by me. And precious few tackles, which makes no sense when I play, and the AI plays, the most aggressive, barging, kung-fu-kicking football we can get away with – which is a lot.

PES2019 is just as sprint-clampy and slide-tackley as any other nuPES instalment. The demo seemed to herald another way of doing things, a deeper, more substantial single-player experience – but I should have known better. Normal business has been resumed.

I’m waiting to see how things pan out long-term on the AI fouls front. Maybe, hopefully, an influx of better players will change things, who knows?

Scoring 14 goals in 19 games and beng rock-bottom of Division 2 means that I can’t really expect anything much better than this:

The 428th-best team in the Master League world. Magnificent. I want to get above the total scum that is Deportivo Pasto. Those bastards need to be taught a lesson.

I can’t honestly see this year being too different from PES2018. The improvements that are undoubtedly there – Visual Fatigue seems to be a thing, currently – are just enough to be pleasing, but not enough to make PES2019 the dramatic leap forward that it initially seemed to be.

Now more than ever, there is a truth that must be acknowledged: PES exists entirely at the mercy of online multiplayer.

Online multiplayer is the invisible puppet-master that pulls all of football gaming’s strings, and nothing that could negatively impact the ‘flow’ of the online game will ever be allowed into PES again.

The nuPES story has always been one of extracting goodness from the games ‘in spite of’. In spite of this issue, or that issue, in spite of this and that misgiving – the game goes on, and it does!

By Tuesday’s post I will have sailed through mid-season, picked up some new players, and hopefully started to pick up results.

A low cross to bear

Veldwijk finally netted his first goal for the club since his fairytale reappearance in PES2019.

I originally swooped for him in the Free Agents list, motivated by his impressive showing in PES2018 – another game, another PES cosmos completely – but he has so far been totally unimpressive this time around. When it comes to Master League players transferring from one edition to another, it really doesn’t work out.

I’m still selling Veldwijk in the January transfer window. There’s no way to cancel the deal even if I wanted to, and I don’t want to. His goal was just a straightforward sidefoot into the net after an AI keeper parry to the side (which they do too much, by the by).

Whilst poking around, I discovered this screen, which I don’t recall seeing in any previous PES. A handy all-in-one-place list of my current squad’s comings and goings. Yes, it is a shame about Harrington’s face.

This screen does only show the transfer activity of my current squad. It doesn’t show all the Defaults I released or sold before August ended. I can’t even remember their names.

I haven’t spoken about my keeper, MURIEL, or my left-back, SAAVEDRA, so far.

Both were Scout discoveries, and both have proved useful. Muriel in particular is a solid presence between the sticks.

That CB, CINEMRE, is a signing made after the window closed, and so won’t be joining until January, which I am almost upon in-game right now.

Results have been awful and I am bottom of the league.

The season is a complete washout in terms of getting promotion.

One of the debates surrounding PES2019 since its release – under two weeks ago – has been the behaviour of the AI.

Many PES players are satisfied with how the AI plays, up to a point. I am one of the satisfied (overall). I don’t perceive any of the repetitive play that many others see.

My only issue with the AI is the way it will frequently spurn a good opportunity to shoot or develop play for the sake of passing to a teammate.

The AI generally dicks around in front of goal too much.

I would hope and expect there is an AI patch in the works. The AI needs to be more clinical, and yes, it does need to shoot more from distance.

Another angle of the AI debate is its alleged liking for getting out wide and putting in Low Crosses. Repeatedly. Over and over and over again. All match.

Those who are suffering from this problem are really suffering from it, as the forums and the comments here have shown.

I’ve never seen this Low Cross behaviour from the AI, and to show this I decided to record an entire match.

Now there’s nothing duller than watching an entire PES match of somebody else playing when you’re only looking for particular instances of a certain thing. In this case, all we need to see are the AI attacks.

Here are the team sheets before the match:

And here is the 3m40s video – which only shows the 17 instances when Stoke mounted an attack:

I normally play with more conservative fullbacks, and a deeper defensive line. Here I deliberately played in such a way as to allow the AI to head out wide if it wanted to.

Of the 17 AI attacks on show, there is an overall preference for the wings, yes – but there’s just as much a tendency to work the ball back inside. And only two instances of the Low Cross. The AI’s winning goal came from a High Cross and a rare PES2019 (weak) header.

So why are the Low Cross people seeing Low Crosses so much? Investigations are ongoing.

A fair few things need fine-tuning with PES2019 out of the box, it seems.

I hated the couple of instances where the AI, clearly in on goal, chose not to shoot, and instead sort of tamely dribbled away to the side.

At the other end of the pitch, I have a mounting concern over the fate of long-range shooting this year. I’ve yet to score anything from 25+ yards.

My only goal from outside the box was a 22-ish yarder from Rice that was a low fizzing shot into the bottom corner.

I need to see a postage-stamp 30-yarder. I won’t feel comfortable until I’ve got a couple of them, in fact.

Rising Shot is a sumptuous new skill, certainly, but it needs to produce actual goals, or it’s just window-dressing.

Some matches I will blaze away with Rice and others, only to see the AI keeper either catch cleanly, or do that eye-rollingly predictable ‘parry to the side’ thing that keeps the ball in play and keeps things ‘exciting’. Great for online players, I suppose, who want that constant churning cycle of events.

The crazy thing is that, the above issues with AI and long-range shooting aside, this is still the strongest start to a new PES for many a year. General gameplay feels so deep and satisfying. The AI defences, at least, are proving hard to unpick.

As ever, the first season of a Master League with rubbish Defaults is a washout. And that feels pretty good.

Arice, Sir Rice

Just over a week into PES2019 and things are looking good – better than ever, in fact.

Is PES2019 the best PES of the PS4 generation? Ridiculously early to say so, but it feels so. If Konami can find it in themselves not to mess it up, maybe, just maybe.

Visual Fatigue has turned out to be an actual thing, albeit not quite in the way we were expecting. I assumed it would result in dramatic collapses on the pitch and enforced substitutions (which would still be nice to see, by the way). However, it seems to function more as a general background effect that influences gameplay in the latter stages of matches, or in a cumulative fashion after many matches. I like this and want more of it.

Fouls, too, are a thing – only just a thing, for me, but I’ll take the few that are coming my way.

The AI constantly attacking down the wings and always seeking to put in low crosses… this is most definitely not a thing for me.

I can appreciate how peculiar, and perhaps annoying, that will sound to those whose matches feature more low crosses than a midget Golgotha, but what can I do. I simply don’t see the already-notorious low crosses in my matches.There above is the star of PES2019 so far for me. J RICE, Esq.

He is still very much the scampering workhorse that we’ve seen over the past few years, and he now comes equipped with the most delicious new skill seen in PES for many a year: the Rising Shot. I haven’t liked a PES skill more since Middle Shooting was a thing.

Rice’s Rising Shot is a thing of beauty. The Rising Shot in general is a thing of beauty.

He must be on the candidates’ list for entry to the Master League Default Hall of Fame by now? Along with the likes of Ruskin and Vornander and Irjescu and Castolo and the rest of them. (Not the likes of Espimas and Ximelez, though. Never saw the point of them two.)

I keep blazing away with Rice from distance – and missing. For now. One day I am going to score the eternal goal that I keep trying to score. I know it.

Here’s Rice scoring my best long-range goal so far – a 25-yard ‘rising daisycutter’:

The tail-end of the first transfer window saw some activity taking place. I spotted this geezer in the Free Agents list, and had to try him out:

Veldwijk was one of my heroes of PES2018, maybe the only hero. Proper Master League heroes haven’t come along very often in recent years, so it’s best to treasure them.

I can’t think of a single instance, though, where they transfer from one edition of the game to the next.

And after 10 matches and no goals, it seem that the Curse Of The Previous PES Hero has struck again. I have decided not to persevere with Veldwijk. Time for new heroes. I placed him on the transfer list – and took the first offer that came in.

I picked up a fee of £3.6m for this Free Agent signing, which means I’m £3.6m in profit.

Back to my current favourite subject, J RICE.

I’ve tweaked my 4-2-2-2 formation to accommodate Rice. Here it is mid-game:

This formation is now a 4-1-1-2-2. Really it’s a 4-1-3-2, but I like the novelty of saying there’s a 1-1 buffer between defence and midfield, so that’s how I think of it.

This is the formation that Rice flourishes in. He has to play as a CMF in the upper half of the centre circle as we look at it.

He’s wasted as DMF. Too deep for too much of the time to affect the attack.

Playing as CMF in either of the two wide positions, while possible, isn’t optimal either. Rice needs to be involved. He needs to have easy access to the full length and width of the pitch. That’s his game.

nuPES tradition dictates that after a few more gushing posts like this one, and maybe one more goal, I’ll almost never mention him again. Until Season 4 or so, when I’ll finally sell him, and muse ‘whatever happened to Rice?’ We’ll see.

Three talking points now, with three 20-second clips to illustrate them.

First, I do have a wonky AI issue. I might not be seeing Low Crosses, but I am seeing another worrying thing that has got attention in the general PESverse chatter about PES2019.

It’s when the AI works a good position in front of goal, but elects to pass to another player instead. Could this be part of the same underlying code that produces the Low Cross phenomenon?

The AI player who finally receives the ball is pretty much in on goal – he can either take a shot there and then, or take a decent touch and then have a shot. We’ve seen the AI do either one of those things a thousand times or more. But the AI player chooses to square the ball instead, and they lose the ball. I see this roughly once or twice per average session. Not often enough to be game-breaking by any means, but often enough to be immersion-diluting.

Next, the great side of PES2019 – the modelling of real physics and real player capabilities:

What happens there is that I try to take a quick shot with Rice from silly distance, encouraged by his wonderful Rising Shot mechanic (one day, I am going to get a Bobby Charlton howitzer with Rice, I just know it). But here his body shape is all wrong, the ball is under him, and he fluffs it, the ball trickling embarrassingly wide along the ground. #itwouldhaveworkedinPES2018

Finally, an example of how Visual Fatigue actually works. Here my Redmond is almost out on his feet, with just a nubbin of stamina left, and he misplays a simple through-ball into touch. Keep watching for the header chance that resulted from the same passage of play.

Visual Fatigue in action there, followed a few moments later by a cross to the Default new boy, MIHAILOV. I loved the way he peeled off the last defender for the nod into the net. I’ve found Mihailov a better player than his partner, not-Coutinho, whatever he’s called now. Goios. Him.

In the celebration cutscene I noticed a certain reselblance between Mihailov and an American character actor by the name of Richard Kind, whom I know as Cousin Andy from Curb Your Enthusiasm. Look at this side-by-side comparison here:

Look at the nose. Just look.

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