Hold onto your hats PES Fanners – the first PES 2017 impressions embargo has lifted!
Following the glut of new and improved PES 2017 features revealed last week, we decided to do things a little differently and got Bees?! to explore each one, and find out how it effected the overall game, as well as note down some other observations from the build. Read on to find out what he thought!
They said “See how different players control the ball in unique and different ways based on where and how you control them, dictating the flow of the game based on how they react to the unpredictable movement of the ball.”
First Impressions: This feature was given particular focus during in last week’s press release and within the first few seconds of playing PES 2017 it was easy to see why, as it underpins how a large percentage of the game plays.
There is a real difference between how a player of quality will receive the ball compared to a lesser player, and in a game that is slower than it’s immediate predecessors (more on this later) this could be the difference between a swim counter attack and having to double back and rethink your approach.
As you get more used to this, and the advantages and limitations different players have in receiving the ball, you tend to see you see it shaping the way you play your game. A riskier pass to Pogba is still likely to pay off as a neat flick or tidy footwork effortlessly brings the ball into his stride. The same pass to Mertesacker is liable to be mis-controlled, allowing opponents to gain possession.
The beauty of Real Touch is in it’s subtlety. Animations are for the most part smooth and natural with some of the deftness only realised on further viewing.
They said “Combining Real Touch and real ball physics, passing is an art form in PES 2017. Many factors determine the speed and accuracy of the ball. The pass that is made on the best situation and timing will generate a perfect trajectory, creating a great satisfaction when a killer pass is made.”
Another biggie in the press release and arguably the biggest transition that players will have to get used to between PES 2016 and PES 2017. Passing is now a much more involved affair and gone are the days where a tap of X and a move of the stick in the general desired direction was enough to ping-pong attacks from front to back.
The success of a pass depends vastly on both the power and direction, as well as the position of the passing player and movement of the ball. and that’s not even considering how Real Touch will be effected for the eventual recipient.
This has a knock on for defending with pressing defenders often having an influence in breaking up attacks rather than merely being inanimate statues to pass the ball around.
It is however still possible to build passing attacks, so long as it’s done intelligently, and finding the perfect storm of passing in PES 2017. Often the key is to being the ball back and rebuild, recycling possession and seeking out runners in different areas of the field. Although frustrating at first, it soon starts to click and passes feel all the more rewarding when it pays off.
They said “Strategies that are quite individually defined such as Tiki-taka and Tight Marking which is strongly based on team ideology can be set in Advanced Instructions, which adds a huge variety in how you plan to win.”
Within the gameplay menu is the option to select two attacking (you can choose from ‘hug the touchline’, ‘attacking full backs’, ‘wing rotation’, tiki-tala’, ‘false no 9’, ‘centring targets’ and ‘false full backs’) and two defensive (‘tight marking’, ‘drop defensive line’, ‘swarm the box’, ‘counter target’ and ‘gegenpress’.
These are assigned to buttons on the d-pad (up and down for attacking, left and right for defending) and can be selected at any time during the match by pressing that d-pad button along with L2.
Whilst this definitely made a difference to how my team played depending on which option was selected, the full effect this had was limited by the fact the preview code doesn’t allow for the changing of formation or the positioning of individual players. This meant that the team couldn’t be fully optimised to suit the selected instruction.
That being said, the instructions were definitely noticeable and the positions players took up were conistent with the orders being given. For those that like to tinker with tactics, this is definitely one to watch.
They said “Keepers see a great jump in quality through added motions and animations, creating the most agile keepers in PES history. Attacking moments will be more dramatic than ever, bringing the best feeling of achievement when that goal is scored.”
A much debated topic, goalkeeping has seen undoubted improvements on PES 2017. This is for the most part down to a number of new animations which give keepers the ability to react in ways that they weren’t previously.
One on ones and low shots seem to have been given particular attention in terms of both keeper reach and reaction times with most saves looking natural and fitting with the context of the shot. As was often the case in previous iterations, keepers don’t just look to get their hands to the ball and a desperate foot, chest or forearm can often stop a goal-bound strike.
In addition to this, focus seems to have been paid to where the keepers parry the ball too. Providing they have the necessary time to react they will look to palm the ball away from danger and the number of rebounds both scored and conceded has ben greatly reduced from last year’s offering.
Total Team Control
They said “Users can instantly change the attacking and defending mentality of the team, which can be tweaked and carefully controlled with simple controls, being able to immediately react to the unpredictability of the sport.”
This takes the form of a four tiered system giving players the option how much they want to defend or attack (L2 + R1 will go a level more attacking and L2 + R2 a level more defensive). It also works for set pieces which is a nice touch.
As with Advance Instructions, this is hard to fully due to the inability to change from the default formation of the team you are controlling on the preview. On initial use however it seems useful in trying to find a crucial goal, or to shut up shop and protect a lead. Another one to watch in future builds.
Corner Kick Strategies
They Said “Control the defensive strategies on a set piece, such as marking zonal or Man to Man. Offensive options also included such as specific player movement.”
A press on the right hand side of the d-pad now brings up a series of options of how to attack (dash, train, far post, 6 yard box) or defend (zonal marking or man to man marking). which can be selected by then pressing the corresponding d-pad button.
This brings a complexity to corners that hasn’t been seen for several iterations, especially when combined with the total team control. Balancing the need to attack the corner whilst ensuring your team isn’t prone at the back, and all within the context of the match brings a real depth to the set piece.
They said “For the first time in a football game, the AI will learn how you play! Player and team behaviour has always been a staple of the PES series, and for PES 2017 Adaptive AI will change sports games forever.”
Of all the new features introduced in the press release this is by far the most subtle. At no point did I notice any one particular player being ganged up on as was mooted in the press release and whatever was pulling the defensive AI strings was definitely doing it in a way that wasn’t intrusive to the game as a whole.
That being said there were several occasions, especially on Superstar AI difficulty, where I found myself adjusting my game in order to find space, the right pass or to just generally carve out a potential opening.
If this is the result of the Adaptive AI then they’ve nailed the implementation however it’s hard to tell as the defensive AI as a whole enjoys noticeable improvements.
They said “For PES 2017 the visuals have seen a major upgrade, offering Authentic Visuals thanks to the further incorporation of Fox Engine. Nothing has been left untouched, from player models, lighting, crowds, pitch and stadiums totally revamped. Never has a game looked so real.”
PES 2017 is the third Pro Evolution Soccer game to feature on next-gem consoles yet KONAMI have still managed to squeeze more out of the Fox Engine and the visuals have once again stepped up a notch from what went before.
As one has become to expect from PES now, player models look incredible and contain even more detail. Work has obviously gone into how hair is presented and it pays off. Likewise there’s a step up in the detailing on the pitch with the grass looking mightily impressive whilst the overall lighting of the stadium has been ever so slightly rejigged and looks even more realistic.
Natural Player Movement
They said “Hundreds of new animations have been added to bring the players and goalkeepers to life – but it doesn’t stop there. New features such as Real Touch and Precise Pass see huge benefit, giving a vast array of movements when trapping and passing the ball.”
When they said “Hundreds of new animations” KONAMI certainly weren’t joking. A plethora of flicks, kicks and touches have been implemented all of which help players look smoother and more natural on the pitch.
These work best hand in hand with the Real Touch and Precise Pass systems and some of the ways players pass and receive the ball are a thing of beauty.
They also help the game become more responsive and the game has enough at is disposal to react to player inputs quickly, without looking clunky or disjointed.
Some other things I observed whilst playing the game:
It’s all change on the condition arrow colour front. The upward arrow denoting highest form is blue, then comes green (second highest). Yellow is now the mid-point with orange (second lowest) and red (lowest) denoting poor conditions.
For anyone (me included) who likes a good feint then good news! Not only have more been added but they are now snappier and players react a lot quicker to the input of the user.
Free Kicks and Penalties
Despite a lick of paint (the free-kick / corner and penalty guides have both had redesigns) the system is largely the same as PES 2016.
I was surprised to find that PES 2017 is a lot slower than previous iterations and this takes some getting used to when you pick up the controller for the first time. This benefits the game and gives it a less frantic and more methodological feel.
Work does appear to have gone into the physics of the goal nets and they certainly seem less rigid compared to last time out. Whether this is to the extent wanted by various corners of the community remains to be unseen but I’m happy with the way they look.
The stanchion (or pole holding up the net, for those not in the know!) also wobbles when hit… a very nice touch.
Only the team set up and in game pause menus are present in the game however these have been reworked with updated branding and a more user-friendly tile system.
Referees / AI Fouling
A major criticism from many in PES 2016, being fouled by the AI… and then that foul being given by the referee is a lot better in PES 2017. By no means do you face 11 Roy Keanes when playing the AI however they have no qualms about diving in if they think the ball can be won, without always winning it.
An improved collision system also helps with this and the game is now more adept at separating a simple shoulder barge from blatant obstruction, and punishing the offender accordingly.
In total, I tended to average around 4-7 fouls against me per game.
Is in the game! You don’t see the ref apply it, but as you line up the free kick the spray appears around the ball and in front of the wall. It lasts on the pitch for around 5 minutes and also appear in the replays.
These are now a lot more effective in capturing the action and now allow you to capture full speed replays in a number of broadcast quality angles.
The number of in-game replays also seems to have increased, with the game much more accomplished at showing you key moments within the games played including saves, near misses and fouls.
Tackling was one of my favourite parts of PES 2016 so it’s of little surprise that these have pretty much been left alone. A heavy tackle (or indeed a foul) now causes the controller to vibrate which adds a haptic element to the game and cranks the satisfaction of nailing an inch perfect tackle up a notch.
Teams / Stadiums / Balls
Four fully licensed teams are included in the preview (France, Germany, Atletico Madrid and Arsenal). The latter is particularly exciting as the Londoners haven’t appeared licensed in the game since PES 6 – they also have the wear their recently released 2016/17 Puma home shirt.
Only one stadium makes it into the game – the fictional Neu Sonne Arena, whilst the ball used in the screenshots released last week also features.
Transfers and Roster Updates
No transfers from this summer have been added into the game, but brand manager Adam Bhatti has been quoted in the impression reviews of many other publications as confirming that roster updates will be present for the release of the game.
Although this is an early build of PES 2017, and there are still some niggles to be addressed, this is a really promising display. It is clear that feedback from the community about the shortcomings have been listened to by the team whilst the new features have helped gameplay make real strides forward.
If the game continues to build on this early promise then it could be something really special!
The next new information about PES 2017 has been promised for E3 which takes place between June 14-16.
In the meantime, PES Fan will be at tomorrow’s PES day along with other members of the PES community where we’ll be trying to answer any questions you have about PES 2017… therefore, if there’s anything gameplay related you want to know about the game, make sure you head here and ask!
PES 2016 is released in Autumn / Fall 2016 on Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360 and Microsoft Xbox One.