Category: PES Chronicles

FIFA rises again?

FIFA is… back?

And this time for real?

No more single-season, shilly-shallying, toe-in-the-water, yes-it’s-nice-but-I’m-ready-to-go-back-to-PES-now?

A true and proper, in-depth, Master League-style Career Mode career?

One that could potentially continue for several weeks, months – or even for the rest of the football game year?

IS IT POSSIBLE?It bloody is possible.

In fact, it is happening.

At the time of writing I have played three full-fat, hugely impressive sessions on a modded version of FIFA20.

I’m playing on the PC platform, using several mods that alter certain fundamentals of the game. Which needs to be understood right off the bat.

This is NOT the FIFA20 that comes out of the box. From next week on the blog there’ll be a new sidebar info box containing a list of all the mods and tweaks in use at any one time, that will be updated as time passes.

And that is the key to this exciting new FIFA era: mods.

Vanilla FIFA20, which I played several matches of a few months ago, was still firmly in the ‘good but not great’ category, for me.

Modded FIFA PC is currently in the ‘great’ category. Possible even the ‘bloody fantastic’ category.

I’ll expand on all of this over the next few weeks (and maybe months).

At the moment it’s safe to say that it’ll be a good FIFA test this year. I’ve used up a lot of footy gaming energy on PES2020, to the point where I can barely stand to think about the very idea of PES2020 anymore. I imagine there’ll be some PES along at some point before season 2019-2020 is over and done with…

But for now – modded FIFA PC! Hereafter known simply as FIFA20(PC).

Here’s a taster of the game running with scoreboard, pitch and texture mods, and most significantly, a gameplay mod (much credit to FIFER for this – I was a sceptic). There’s also a comprehensive Realism mod for Career Mode running that might or might not have taken root in my save – it’s one of the issues I will have to hammer out before getting up and running properly.

For now, here’s a glimpse of match action within a Leeds Utd CM save that I started at random to do some testing. I have already taken so much of a shine to it that I might  even continue this save. I could change my manager name – A A Manager – using a handy PC utility, predictably.

Or I might just leave it at A A Manager…

(Best viewed in 1440p.)

It’s hard to convey just how different and good the above action feels in the bones of your gamepad-holding hands.

It’s slow and steady and majestic. The world ‘rugged’ would not be out of place. One of the dislikable things about vanilla FIFA of recent years has always been how it can quickly spiral into a frantic, hand-cramping melee that reminds you you’re only playing a videogame. So far, that isn’t happening.

I’ll be doing my best to show and tell what I mean by all this, over the coming weeks.

I haven’t mentioned fouls yet, because I don’t want to jinx them. One of the supposed features of the FIFER gameplay patch is to make fouls more likely. Such ambitions in football game patches and mods tend to be so much moonshine, in my experience, but so far I am seeing a few fouls in every match. Not at excessive number, usually in the 2-4 range, but any amount is a higher number than the usual 0 foul-count of recent FIFAs. I have free kicks in shooting range that I comically have no idea how to take. More practice, of course.

Career Mode’s time in general has come. Master League… poor old Master League. I don’t even want to think about what they’ve done to Master League. Year on year, it has only got worse when they claim to be making it better. Ugh.

Some context: I am also playing Football Manager 2019 right now, and loving the whole thing more than is healthy. So my thoughts and general attitude are in sync with the greater complexity of Career Mode. The stars are truly aligning here.

I traditionally do a 1st Impressions post for every new PES and award it a playful score out of 10 rightaway. At the time of writing I can safely say my first impressions of FIFA20(PC) merits a 9.5/10.

FIFA on this blog has a deep and lively history all of its own – more than you might think, if you are a reader of recent vintage. The curious can go back and look at how I played some FIFAs for months. Particularly the likes of FIFA08, FIFA09, FIFA12, and FIFA15.

FIFA20? Let’s see. Let’s just see….

The busman’s holiday continues

You might think there is no circumstance where you could ever have real fear of an away trip to a club called BK Frem.

I thought the same a few weeks ago. Then a casual encounter with a random internet post about the joys of ‘Starting Unemployed’ in Football Manager piqued my interest.

Starting Unemployed is a thing in FM lore, it turns out, a thing akin to the ML Default Challenge in PES. You’re young, you’re inexperienced, nobody knows you. How fast can you navigate up the football world to a Big Job? Or can you take the no-hoper club that you inevitably start out with to Big Club status?

I spent a few weeks jobless at the start of season 2018-19, applying for jobs and being knocked back. Then I had two proper interviews and a choice: Aberystwyth in Wales, or Avarta in Denmark. I plumped for the latter because it was more money and the club were only two leagues below the top flight.

And now here I am, gritty-eyed from yet another 3am session last night. Two full seasons played.

Normal service  – i.e., reports about me playing a gamepad-football game – will resume in this Friday’s post.

That will be with FIFA20’s Career Mode, although I might do a warmup with Ultimate Team (offline of course) to get me used to the game engine. I have received a package of mods from regular commenter Paul, and there are other mods to change the entire nature of Career Mode, and possibly gameplay too.

For today’s post I still have this monkey on my back called Football Manager 2019. I’ve finished Season 2 in Denmark’s 2 Division. It’s the 3rd tier of that country’s domestic league setup, and it takes place in two phases. I took the screenshot at the top of the page after going top for the first time in the 1st phase.

I’ve since navigated my way through them both and won promotion in the 2nd phase, in 2nd place, to the NordicBet Liga, Denmark’s equivalent of the Championship. Where I am expected to ‘do a Norwich’ and spend most of the season at the bottom and come straight back down. Last night I spent two hours looking for players.

The famed addictive qualities of Football Manager are something that I’ve mostly been resistant to for most of my gaming life. I’ve had spells of enthusiasm (who hasn’t), most notably with CM4 back in whenever-that-was, then with FM2005, and a few short spells here and there since.

I have never won anything in Football Manager. Not a single trophy. I have got a few promotions in all my time, but that is where it traditionally all falls apart for me. I end up buying the wrong players, or too many players, or too few players, and then stubbornly trying to stick with the same system that worked in the division below.

My 3am sessions on FM2019 have been every bit as immersive and enjoyable as any Civilization V or XCOM2 session, and that’s saying something. FM has undergone a design change in recent years. This is my first time sampling it, and it is a total success in my view. You can do as little or as much as you want. I hand off all training to my coaches. And let them take care of press conferences too. I get the players and pick the team and the system played. I have a simmering conflict with the board about the lack of investment and am on the verge of starting to threaten to leave if they don’t develop facilities and allow me to take on more staff.

As ever the casual observer may chortle about FM being basically an interactive spreadsheet – but you can analyse anything enjoyable in that spirit, so what’s the point?

As I say, normal service will resume this Friday with FIFA20, but I will mention my FM2019 progress from time to time. I can already feel it starting to settle down and become an occasional 3am-session thing, rather than a nightly one.

There’s only one Saban Ozdogan

I’m not playing PES2020 right now, or any other ‘gamepad’ football game.

My gaming time is roughly 60/40 between Football Manager and Death Stranding. I won’t talk much about Death Stranding. Everyone who plays that game deserves to discover it for themselves.

I’m playing Football Manager 2019 a LOT. It’s been a long old time since I was properly into the FM/CM series. I drifted away from the series, as many have, when it seemed to be overburdened with fiddling instead of picking the team and playing the matches. These days you can configure the game to do as much or little as you want. I find players, pick the team and tactics, and watch matches. And I manage coaching staff who manage everything else for me.

Probably FM2005 was the last time I played for a long time and got anywhere near obsessed. That time is back now. I’ve had several 3am sessions this past week alone. I read somewhere how starting unemployed and seeing where fate takes you is the FM equivalent of PES’s Default Master League (in the good old days).

So I started as a 38-year-old nobody and landed the gig as manager of BK Avarta in Denmark’s 2 Division (the country’s 3rd tier). I’m closing in on promotion toward the end of the second season.

It’s a strange season in Denmark, as they have a proper winter break from November to February, after which your players return unfit and in need of pre-season training all over again, so it’s like two mini-seasons every season.

Promotion is looking odds-on at the end of season 2 and I will have to decide. Do I try to survive/thrive with Avarta in the next division up, with the same sort of minuscule budget, or do I see if I can get into a decent lower league club elsewhere on the strength of my Avarta achievements? This is the only real show in town for me right now.

I have had a look at PES2020 on the PC, but in the few weeks since I played most of my mods have gone out of date and need to be updated. That will take an hour or so that I couldn’t spare this week.

I did play a few matches of PES5 on PC, with a new 2019-2020 Option File that a commenter was kind enough to link me to. I played an Ex. match to test it, as Wolves vs Man City. There’s a goal about 30 seconds after the start of this clip:

I’ll be back on Tuesday with… something.

More than likely, I think it’ll be the start of my PC PES2020 ML with the OG Defaults. For those who are not hip to youth-speak in the effortless way that I am, ‘OG’ in this context relates to the Classic Defaults team made up of Castolo, Ordaz, Dodo & co. ‘OG’ stands for ‘Original Gangster’, or Gangsta, and is an idiomatic way of declaring authoritative antecedence.

Or I might just blow all that off and continue Football Managering and Death Strandinging.

Will no one think of the Title

In Season 8 of my PES2020 Master League career I won the league title on the last day, with a 2-2 draw from my final match.

And I needed that point. Man Cty would have won the league if I’d lost or they’d won their match, but they could only draw their match as well.I was away to Wolves for that final match. Mental muscle memory still thinks of ‘Wolves away’ as an easy game, but it’s not so at the moment, in real or virtual life.

I was 0-1 down for a long time, got it back to 1-1 midway through the second half, then, pushing for the winner I thought I’d need, I sloppily allowed Wolves to get a second goal in the 80th minute, making it 2-1 to them. Time ebbed away and I thought the title had gone. Then as the 90th minute approached I had a chance to break, and got the equaliser.

It’s the second goal of the two on show here. The first goal from van Persie, in another match of the same session, was probably the best goal of my run-in session as a whole:

The final table shows how tight it was at the end. My one extra draw – the Wolves draw – was the difference.

I only had 3 players in the Team of the Season, which is a strong indicator of me squeaking to this title:From the above screen I allowed the game to progress to the next day, waited for it to complete its Autosave, and turned it off on the PS4 for the final time for the foreseeable future.

I’ve learned never to say ‘never’ when it comes to any PES on any platform. History shows there is a good chance I will return to the PS4 platform and possibly this exact save, at some point in the rest of the footy game year – which, let us remind ourselves, has a whole EIGHT MONTHS remaining in it.

Thoughts about PES2020? I will be doing my proper End of Year Review in August as usual, but I think I can say right now that my thoughts on PES2020 are mixed, to say the least.

On one level, a fantastic football game. If the history of the series wasn’t hanging over it (as it ever does), I wouldn’t know that it was fundamentally flawed in a couple of ways. I’m talking about fouls, and I’m talking about long-range shooting.

Pretty much everything else in the game is fine, brilliant in fact, but these two things (fouls, and long-range shooting) being ‘problematic’, undermines everything else.

Fouls can be OK in PES2020, sometimes, which by modern standards means having 2 or 3 in a 10-minute match, but these are the rarest of rare matches for me. Fouls are not OK often enough for them to actually be OK, if you catch my drift.

Long-range shooting is never OK. The joy of letting one rip from more 25+ virtual yards is significantly tempered, to put it pissing mildly, by the fact that maybe 1 in 200 such shots has a chance of actually going in.

These two areas of the game, of course – as discussed at great length not just this year but for all recent years – bear all the hallmarks of deliberate ‘balancing’ for online play.

As long as the online Pachinko machine is grinding away, no-fouls and no-long-rangers is what we single-players have to put up with. And it royally sucks.

So I finally feel forced to head elsewhere and look for other solutions. I set off now to a new platform with modding capabilities. I am talking about the PC platform.

I am looking for gameplay, above all else. Modding for cosmetic reasons is nice, and will be indulged in (because, why not), but it isn’t the prime inspiration.

PC-phobes needn’t worry. The post content will be roughly 5% PC talk and 95% what I actually do in the actual football games.

PES and FIFA are both likely to appear – and they don’t have to be of the 2020 vintage, you know… There may also be some Football Manager shenanigans.

It’ll be something different for the blog, which has been essentially the same for 13 years now, so let’s see where it goes.

Farewell – for now, perhaps – to the PS4 incarnation of PES2020. I’m tempted to give it a provisional score…

Actually, what the hell, I will. 8/10, for now, and that’s a little bit generous considering how much of a grump no-fouls and no-long-rangers puts me in. The game’s real score will come when all the dust has settled in August.