Category: PES Chronicles

Master League 2019

And so it begins. A frustrating weekend of work and life is now firmly behind me. Finally I have started Master League in PES2019. For the coming week, real life is the fantasy realm that will exist at the margins of Pro Evo.

Thanks again to commenter Paul, of PESFX, for the custom Coventry City kits.

The Sky Blue on my TV is a lot more sky-bluey than you see here. Vids and screenshots will be slightly compromised on the blog for the foreseeable future.

I am playing on a 4K TV, which is marvellous, but it turns out that the PS4 Pro can’t capture the images in true fidelity. Pics and vids will sometimes make PES2019 look more like PES2015’s distinctive chalky pallor. Sony need to provide a software update.

Anyway, the game’s the thing, and I was all set up and running in the usual 20 minutes.

Paging through all the menus, getting everything set up – bliss. Arguably the best part of a nuPES Master League is the first session, and the first few sessions after that. Certainly that’s been how it’s been for several years now, as the series has declined in single-player terms.

PES2019 seems to be slightly different from its immediate predecessors, at this stage. We will see how things pan out long-term, but for now, in these balmy days of early September, there is genuine ground for optimism.

That’s me, taking over at the helm. I never sport facial hair in real life. The current vogue for wild post-apocalyptic beards can go and do one as far as I’m concerned. But when designing my avatar, the beard just seemed the way to go. (I’d love to get a real version of that ball.)

I went for the Stade de Sagittaire as my home ground. Renamed of course to New Highfield Road, in memory of the place that the real-life Coventry City should never have left.

Time for my very first Squad Screen tinker. I was happy to find my preferred nuPES formation of 4-2-2-2 already waiting for me.

I have only moved a few personnel around, and left their positions unchanged. I will see how things go with this formation. 4-2-2-2 always strikes me as the ideal nuPES formation.

I note the addition of a few new names, and will see how they do. Will the likes of Mihailov and Karlsen emerge as heroes in the classic ML sense, or be quietly moved on after half a season? It’s always one of the most interesting aspects of ML, finding that out.

Early signs are that A REDMOND – who has been an anonymous ML player for a few years – has been beefed up. He got me two good goals in the ICC Tournament that kicks off every Master League now.

I was, of course, mostly battered in that tournament.

I was lucky to get nil against PSG (lost 0-3), then lost more narrowly to Boca Juniors (0-1), and then managed a draw against Celtic (2-2, both goals from REDMOND). I am still only on Professional difficulty.

At the time of writing I am still only a few matches into the Championship season proper – a win and a defeat.

I’ve not brought in any outside players in yet. The transfer window is still open.

I have promoted one Youth, who looks very, very interesting so far.

W HARRINGTON. He is a 20-year-old AMF who reminds me of a young F FRIDAY, my big-boned star striker of PES2017.

I don’t know if everyone has the same Youths again this year, but it is likely. If so, and if you don’t mind sampling players others have mentioned, he’s there for the taking. He’s big and powerful, and showing signs of being a force.

Again this is another Master League storyline that joins all the others. How will this ‘Promising Youth’ subplot play out? Will you be hearing about Harrington again, or will he also be quietly moved on after a time? Master League in a nutshell.

Finally, two goals from my opening-day fixture vs Swansea, and a rising shot from Rice that hit the bar. The first goal is an AI moment that caused me some concern. Bony gets clean through on goal, but he decides to check back and lay the ball off to a teammate coming from behind him. I hadn’t yet seen this well-documented tendency of the AI, but to see it once is too often. Completely immersion-destroying, and if it’s not top of the patch priority list at Konami, we single-players really have been sold down the river.

I got the winner with a headed goal after toying with the Swansea defence for a bit. Remember this is all ‘only’ on Professional.

And that’s me up and running. Master League 2019.

I wish I could do it all again – the week 1 anticipation, then the arrival, then the getting-to-know-you sessions, then the start of ML proper. Now the real business starts.

Second Impressions count double

So my 1st Impressions on Wednesday were somewhat lukewarm. At that stage I’d only had the game a few hours, and only played a handful of matches. I spent much of that time trying to get things looking nice on my new telly.

My 2nd Impressions today are rather more enthusiastic. I’ve gone from a general 7/10 kind of Satisfaction Score to around a 9/10 today.

The lesson of Release Day for me is: don’t spend ages fiddling with your settings on a new 4K TV and expect to come away with a proper appreciation of whatever you’re supposed to be playing on it.

By very late Wednesday night I’d settled on my settings. It turns out that the psychology involved in calibrating a 4K TV is a little like the mind-games you play with yourself over FIFA’s sliders. No matter how ‘nice’ you end up getting it, after a while you think: hmmmm, maybe another slight tweak will make it absolutely perfect.

In the end, I left HDR ON, and everything else I left as it was more or less out of the box. My replays will look a little washed-out all year, but screenshots – as above – should look OK.

I don’t know if PES2019’s apparently wonky typography is a side-effect of a 4K TV, or if everyone has it. Look at the kerning and multiple baselines on show here. Shudder.

I played a one-off Exhibition match to test out the Option File I’ve installed – and got hammered 0-5, as seen above. That was on Top Player.

I keep hearing about PES2019’s allegedly poor AI, but I keep failing to see any real evidence of it myself. Sometimes, yes, the AI does dumb things. Unquestionably. But the spaces separating those things are large enough to preserve suspension of disbelief. For now. I am watching the AI closely.

After this I was thirsty for some Master League experience.

I’d had the notion that it might be time for a change. After… 18 years or so of playing ML with my own custom Coventry City team, why not make up a completely new team? A Melchester Rovers-type of team? Yes – why not? Covchester United or something.

I whizzed through set-up, Editing PES United and moving them to the Skybet league in place of Brentford. (Poor old Brentford. I think they’ve been replaced in my MLs before.)

I couldn’t think of a good new name, so I left PES United as-is for now. At this stage I still believed this was my real and final ML that I was starting.

It was right about here, seeing this green-themed introductory cut-scene, that I started to think: nah. Bring back Coventry City!

Still, I persevered, curious by now just to explore Master League and have a few matches with the Defaults. Just to see what the feel of PES2019 is when playing with really, really poor players against better opposition.

In ML this year, you start with an ICC tournament where you are matched against much better opposition. It’s a great introduction to your new team, as you battle against the odds to get a result.

I started on Professional difficulty.

This scene right here was the point when I knew for sure that I wanted to restart as my usual Coventry City. That moment of seeing your team stride out for the first time in Master League. They have to be in Sky Blue!

My PES United kits were two generic kits that I’d grabbed from PESFX, whose proprietor, Paul, is a regular commenter on this blog. When I realised I needed to restart, I asked Paul for some Coventry City kits, as he has provided them in previous years.

Paul does take requests over on PESFX. I understand it is currently a busy time for him. Many thanks, Paul!

I’ll be playing with these kits, as Coventry City, from Monday onwards. A busy weekend of life and work is annoyingly positioned in the way first.

So I played two of the ICC matches with the Defaults – that match against Atletico Madrid, and then the next against Boca Juniors. I lost both quite heavily, scoring just one goal in the process. But overall, these matches might well have been two of the best matches I’ve played in any nuPES game, ever.

The feel of the ball. The passing. The tactics. The wonderful aggression of the AI. The fouls and free kicks providing the variance and depth that nuPES has sorely lacked. The sprinkling of new names in the Defaults didn’t impress me much, but there’s a lot of getting-to-know-you to come with them.

I came away with my Satisfaction levels very high indeed. Master League proper will start for me from Monday. My post on Tuesday will be my proper setting-up-ML post, of the kind that I do every year. Today’s post is a warm-up.

So far so good. Can it last?

PES2019: 1st Impressions

It is here. Another year has flown by, and PES2019 landed on the doormat earlier than expected today, before 11am, which must be something of a Royal Mail record in the modern era. Younger readers won’t remember, but there was a time when your post would always arrive before everyone had even got up. 7.30am was considered late to get your post. Nowadays, 10.40am is early. How times have-

Oh, right, PES2019.

Hmmmm. Well, the TL;DR version: I’m pleased, I’m content, I’m as impressed as I always am on Day 1 of a new PES. But –

I’m not completely blown away by PES2019. Not yet. And this is probably a good thing.

I have never felt comfortable with how excited and borderline-hysterical I always get on Day 1 of a new PES, considering how things subsequently end up, particularly in recent years.

nuPES has done its best to destroy the legacy of Pro Evolution Soccer. I cannot forget, or forgive.

Session 1, if I was giving it an overall Satisfaction Score, would rate only something like a cool 7/10. (Note for skim-readers: this is not any kind of score for the game. It is only a score for my overall Satisfaction level after 1 session on Day 1.)

Playing 7 or 8 Exhibition matches in a row isn’t what I want to do with PES2019, anyway. The real test will come over the next few days and weeks as Master League gets going.

If I had to pick one reason why I am relatively cool after 1 session, it’s that it didn’t take many matches for things to feel more or less like PES2018 again. The same urgent, end-to-end rhythms.

Visual Fatigue, as expected, is nowhere in evidence.

It plays a great game of footy. I got hammered by the AI on Top player – see above. I did have John Stones sent off early in this one, and I did spend most of my time messing around, taking long shots, playing speculative passes, and the like. But I still got my backside handed to me.

The AI overall has been a pleasant surprise. It scored a wonderful volley from outside the box, which is in the brief video at the bottom. #AIthatweneed

AI-committed fouls so far feel as if they have been nerfed, relative to the demo. My sequence of AI-committed fouls over the first 5 matches went something like 0, 2, 1, 2, 1.

So there was only one match with none, an improvement on PES2018. But the demo had given me a reasonable expectation that the levels of fouls seen in the demo would scale up proportionally to longer matches. That expectation has so far not been met.

A warning for all potential 4K TV purchasers: you will likely spend as much or more time fretting over and tinkering with its settings as playing or watching things on it. At least to begin with. I went through this first session of PES2019 with the display menus open on the TV and the PS4 at least three times in every match. And still wasn’t quite settled by the end of it

My final match I switched the Passing Assistance from my customary PA1 to PA0, Unassisted – or ‘manual’ as it has come to be known to PES players.

Every year I think ‘this is the year I ascend to Manual Nirvana and become as one with the gods’. Every year I play with PA0 for a match or two, then go back to PA1 and forget all about it.

I really enjoyed the PA0 match I played, more than any other in previous years. We will see.

PES Day is a major highlight of the year for me and always feels special – and so does this one. I think after so many years of frustration over nuPES, I’m wary of offering PES2019 my hand at this stage.

This is a game that I will cautiously feel my way into. It will have to win me over. I will not roll over to have my tummy tickled.

The plan for tomorrow is to install an Option File and start a Master League. I will probably use an all-new bespoke club, instead of my usual Coventry City. I feel like ringing this changes this year.

Friday’s post will be up at midday as usual. Happy PES Day, one and all.

Clip 1: a good move is almost finished off spectacularly by Rashford. This was me testing the mechanics of the game. I do love a volleyed goal from a dropping aerial through-ball.

Clip 2: the AI scores a stunning volley from a cleared corner. One of its 7 goals against me in that thrashing.

Clip 3: my very first goal scored in PES2019. A standard header from Kane, in my first match.

PES2019 arrives

Earlier than usual. I wasn’t expecting it until my usual local delivery time, lunchtime or just after. I now have to pop out for an hour before playing it (I really wasn’t anticipating delivery this early), but will have all afternoon on it later.

My first impressions post should be up at about 8pm this evening. I’ll record and post my first goal for posterity, no matter what it’s like.

Happy PES Day.

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