The world’s game
Release season for sports titles in gaming is in full swing. Now the first major full game release of 2018 for the world’s biggest sport has arrived. Play with over 355 clubs across 17 leagues with Pro Evolution Soccer 2019.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Developer: PES Productions
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
No free rides
I’ve reviewed a number of football games in recent years, but always from Pro Evolution Soccer 2019′s chief competitor—the FIFA series. This was my first time tackling Konami’s take on the beautiful game
One thing I discovered right of the bat was that Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 did not intend to hold my hand as a beginner the way FIFA might. There are no cute button command prompts hovering over player’s heads by default. Absent are any sort of gentle suggestions to “try this type of pass here” or “did you know you can (insert fancy football move here) using the R2 Button?”.
This prompted me to be a responsible gamer and run through Pro Evolution Soccer 2019′s tutorial mode, and I was leaps and bounds better for it. PES 2019 didn’t just offer me the vanilla basics. It carefully but expediently worked in the tools to craft passing and scoring plays with some degree of style and grace.
The PES advantage
With FIFA, I often find myself scoring plenty of goals, but usually by marching down the field and mashing button prompts when invited to do so. Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 did not offer me any of these easy goals. Left to my own devices, I had no choice but to get some practice in and learn to play the game the way Konami intended.
Ultimately, this led to a lot of joy in playing PES 2019. Once I learned how to put a few “fancier” moves in order, I was stringing together plays that felt much more satisfying than simply blasting crosses or shots at the net. I scored fewer goals, but when I did score the payoff felt like a plan well executed instead of just a simple well-placed shot.
I’m sure there are veterans who have been playing these respective series’ for over a decade who could debate the gameplay mechanics on a much deeper level than I can. But from a casual football fan’s perspective, I think there is relevance to Pro Evolution Soccer 2019′s approach and gameplay style. Playing this game, I felt for the first time like I was capable of creating the kind of plays that make football such an exciting sport to watch.
Pick a league
Unfortunately, for the first time in over a decade, Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 will not feature the UEFA Champions League. This could be considered a bit of a blow as UEFA is one of the most popular and well-known leagues on a global scale. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a bevy of great teams and leagues to choose from.
PES 2019 in fact offers 17 fully playable leagues. This includes 10 new licenced leagues such as the Danish Superliga, the Scottish Premiership, and an exclusive licence for the Russian Premier League. In addition, there are a whopping 355 clubs to choose from—22 more than last year’s offering.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 doesn’t contain any surprises as far as gameplay modes go. Everything you’d expect from a modern sports game is available, with no significant additions over previous years.
Quick “kick-off’ modes include the standard exhibition match, co-op, versus, and training activities. In offline play you can manage teams as you simulate a league or a specific competitive cup tournament. You can also create a player and define your career in the “Become a Legend” mode.
Online you can simply play in quick friendlies, including co-op and team play options, or you can participate in online divisions. Of course, online play also features on of Pro Evolution Soccer’s most popular offerings—the team building “myClub” mode.
Building a champion
Crafting a successful “myClub” team involves the standard fare of signing talented players to your roster and balancing team chemistry for optimal results. The main currency used in these transactions are “myClub points”, which are earned through normal gameplay, but of course can also be purchased with real world currency. I’m happy to say that in my time with PES 2019, it seemed as though I was earning “free” myClub points at a fairly generous rate.
New to PES 2019, players who perform well in real world matches will appear in the game as “featured players”. They will obtain a temporary boost in rating, and possibly some new skills as well.
Additionally, a number of “legendary” players are available in myClub mode. Beckham, Cruyff, and Gullit are just a few of the names you may recognize, with more to come down the line.
Overall, Konami claims to have made a significant overhaul to the myClub system. This update includes an all-new menu system—although I didn’t really feel the benefit.
For the most part I still found navigating through the myClub hub cumbersome and a bit confusing. Other games with a similar mode do a much better job of streamlining their menus and making goals and objectives clear, and frankly I wasn’t too keen on spending a bunch of time learning the nuances of the myClub system.
I was much more motivated to put my previously-mentioned newly honed gameplay skills into action, as opposed to spending more time navigating menus and wordy explanations. I’m sure with the proper dedication myClub can be a very satisfying and addicting way to play PES 2019. After dedicating a reasonable amount of time there for review though, I felt as though there were better ways for me personally to enjoy my time with the game.
I have very much enjoyed my time up to now with Pro Evolution Soccer 2019. For me the core gameplay mechanics are a step above that of other football games I’ve played, and I’m excited to dive back in and see how much further I can improve on the more stylish elements of the game.
There are tons of leagues and teams to choose from, (although sadly no UEFA license), but I found more joy in playing the game itself than in whose number or logo I was wearing. myClub mode is a bit convoluted, but at least the myClub points currency adds up frequently during regular gameplay.
+ Excellent gameplay mechanics
+ Staple modes of play
+ 17 leagues and over 350 clubs
– myClub menus could be streamlined better
– Lost UEFA license
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5
Overall Rating: 3.9/5 (78%)
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