Hands-On: Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 gets much-needed facelift

Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 had a much quieter unveiling compared to that of its rival, Electronic Arts’ FIFA 18, at E3. That’s certainly a shame, considering the myriad of changes coming to the title this year that will further close the gap between the two.

Konami once again took the quiet approach and invited dozens of journalists to private screenings of the trailer plus hands-on time with the early demo. What we got our collective hands on during E3 proved to be more than just a step forward: it was a leap ahead for Konami’s prized sports franchise, which has been completely revamped from top to bottom in nearly every aspect.

A big step up in presentation 

The first and most immediate change fans will notice is the facelift the game has received throughout. The opening menus no longer look like a nerdy teenager’s first attempt at web design with Yahoo Geocities. The revamp of the menus also extends into the match menus for all game modes.

Graphically, there’s a strong leap forward with more realistic visuals throughout. The licensed stadiums have been scanned all the way down to the locker rooms and the fans are livelier than ever. The match-day presentation has also been completely redone in a style more in line with modern television match-day presentations.

The action on the field is also livelier than ever and PES 2018 makes its predecessor, PES 2017, seem light-years behind by comparison. It’s all thanks to the new features included in this year’s edition, which begins with Base Layer Revolution (Total Movement). In layman’s terms, the feature reworks the player AI beginning at the base structure of each player thus making their movements more realistic and fluid during transitions. It makes dribbling a lovely sight to behold…so long as it’s in your hands, of course. When it’s done by your opponent…well, you may want to retire from gaming for a few days.

Full body touch

Full Body Touch is another new component in the game. Players will now use more parts of their body to control the ball during a run, in defense, and more, depending on their intelligence and skill level. In one of my matches playing as Atletico Madrid, my defender Diego Godin blocked a powerfully-taken, long distance shot from an attacker with his butt! Godin leapt into the air and spun his body to shield his front torso from a cannon-like blast to the face. It was a small but impressive detail.

Ball physics have also been reworked, and it’s as real as it can get. It’s a joy seeing these three new elements working together in-game. It’s all the best of PES2017 with none of its flaws.

Gamers worldwide will get to test the PES2018 waters soon when Konami announces the dates for the pre-release multiplayer beta in a few days, followed by the game demo for all systems. Keep an eye out for that!