Game Review | PES 2019

Another year, another annual release for the football franchise game that is Pro Evolution Soccer. If limited to as little words as possible I’d say PES 2019 is an welcomed incremental improvement on last year’s game. It doesn’t add enough to stand out as a major leap in the franchise. Instead it has minor changes, and some new additions. Additions that will be mostly noticeable by the most hardcore of fans, and may also depend in the modes you invest the most time into.

PES 2019 myClub

This year konami have made myClub their primary focus. The fantasy football mode has received the most noticeable changes this year. Gone are the rotating balls, and now we get a set of animation not dissimilar to the likes of FUT’s. The animation starts with a swirling of colours for the players league nation then settles on a map of said nation. We then get a set of new animations for the player in their original clubs kit followed by another with the player wearing your team’s kit. The changes aren’t only visual either. Instead of only getting one player per agents (this game’s loot box system) you get three.

This is a well calculated way to keep players playing much longer than in previous years. To achieve this they have increased the price of agents to match the addition of players. Instead of being 10,000 GP it’s now 25,000. The rate at which this in game currency drops has not changed to match the price of entry increase, so basically it means you’ll have to play twice as long in a effort to receive new players via agents. If not you’ll need to use coins. Coins are this game’s paid currency. Some will be received via completing certain tasks, and as part of the daily reward system, but for the most part it’s a currency you purchase using real money.

Along with the price changes we also get featured players. These are players who have performed well IRL and will have better stats than their standard version. They are only acquired via the use of coins, and you’re guaranteed at least one of these players each time you use one of these limited special agents per week. The first featured player agent was limited to three uses priced at 100 coin each. Please be mindful that the prices and quantities I’m quoting are from my personal experience. The price or quantity may change throughout the season for promotions as is common with agents in this mode.

myClub also benefits from new a new system for ranked matches and position changing cards which allow for changing the position of players you desire. The mode has also gone the way duplicates similar to its completion. These are offset by the ability to trade them in for other players once you have 3 duplicates, but I’ve yet to experience this myself. In my 40 plus hours with the game on both PC and PS4 I have yet to receive a duplicate. I’ll be sure to revisit this topic on my personal channel at a later date if it ever happens.

PES 2019 Master League

As for Master League it improves a lot though not being the focus of this year’s entry. The addition of sell-on-options, release clauses and individual negotiation between players and clubs may seem minor at first but they make a BIG differences. The mode even has a mission improvement which adds new missions throughout the season which will dictate the board’s trust in your manager. The missions vary from winning a local derby to winning the league. Different teams have different expectations, so this will mean different missions. Master League also now features the ICC (International Champions Cup) for pre-season, adding more authenticity to the game. It also allows you to import special players from myClub into the mode. Players like David Beckham. You are still required to negotiate with them, but just the fact that the option exists amazing.

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With all the new leagues this year it makes Master League a joy to play. More leagues means more players, and more players mean more gems to unearth. The UEFA League competitions may have been re-branded, but a simple option file install will fix that, and seeing as we’re discussing licences already let’s talk about option files. I did a video on this last year, and the procedure remains the same. These allow you to patch in the official names, teams, kits, and leagues that may be missing. The best place to get these are on PES Universe, but their high quality option files do come at a cost starting from £5. Now I do understand that they put a lot of work into these option files and so they charge for them, but ultimately I think they hurt the game’s possible sales.

Players coming from FIFA already see this extra step as a hassle. To add a price to it makes it even less appealing, and lowers the potential for new players to pick the game up. Had they gone the Patreon route while leaving the option files as free downloads I think it would bring in new members while affording them a way to earn from their work. That way it lowers the bar for entry while allowing those who wish to support these talented dedicated fans a way to do so. All they’re doing right now is pandering to the dedicated fan base and no one else. There are other free ways to get option files online, but they pale in comparison to what PES Universe have to offer.

Other Modes

The other modes seem mostly unchanged, though I’m not the best judge of that given that I mainly play Master League, myClub, Exhibition, Cups, and Competitions. Become a Legend bores me as its basically Master league with less options, and online divisions is like a less engaging myClub to me.

The gameplay has also seen some changes, some more impactful than others. Quick subs is a good example of one that changes the way we play for the better, while visual fatigue is the complete opposite. If I’d not heard of this during the promotion of the game I’d probably not know it was there. In an entire Master League campaign in the Swiss League, only once did I notice a player lean over. This needs to be addressed via an update as soon as possible, because as it stands it has very little effect on how the game is played.

This may be an isolated issue, so please feel free to let me know in the comments if you have a similar experience with the visual fatigue system as I did.

Off field presentation has never been Pro Evolution Soccer’s strength, and it’s the same this year. The game shines on the pitch, but pales in comparison off it. Serviceable is the word I’d use. Presentation off the pitch is mostly bland with plain menus, and lots of text, however this year most menus load faster, some even managing to be instantaneous. The colours scheme chosen this time is much easier on the eyes. Pleasant lighter colours encapsulate most menus to create better look this year.

We get more change from new traits and player uniqueness. Players like Neymar will hit the turf from the slightest infringement while players like KDB seem to be able to shoot from anywhere with the raising shot trait. More than that we also get new Ai. Now this will vary depending on difficulty, but for the most part the Ai seems to favor a more ticky tacka style of play. Players on the wing will more likely dribble for a chance of a driven low pass rather than crossing. In fact crossing and heading are less potent this year. I only managed pull off a few in all my time with the game.

Visually the game looks noticeably better this year with better pitch and lighting. The player models are just as detailed as always, with almost life-like duplicates of some players, though not all players are as detailed. Players like Mariano Diaz still sports the same hairstyle he did two years ago, and the some look like completely different people. Thankfully the players on the teams I support are well represented, but you may not be so fortunate depending on your team.

For those wonder, PES 2019 continues to have the same English commentary we’ve seen from the football game year after year. There are a few new lines, and I’ve been informed that the commentary has been updated for different languages. That being said, I tend to listen to podcast and audio books when I play, though I did hope for a few reason to listen to more of the English commentary this season. The soundtrack this year is stellar as always. There were moments when I just left the game playing in the background as ambient music while I worked. I’ve already got 2 of the songs on iTunes and you can rest assured they won’t be the last.

Final Verdict

So who should purchase PES 2019? It depends. It depends on what modes you play, how often you play them, and your region of origin. If you’re just a casual player who maybe just plays online divisions, the odd exhibition match and happens to own last years game, you may not find enough to warrant a purchase. This year’s game is for the players who play myClub & Master League more so than any. Though myClub may be a bit more grindy this year, it will likely keep players more engaged for much longer, especially if, no WHEN Konami releases PES 2019 lite. Master League is always better with more leagues and teams and this year we get a lot. Even without the new transfer options, playstyles, and missions it would still be worth great consideration. With them it’s a definite buy. For those who want more details please feel free to follow my dedicated football gaming channel for more details on PES as it continues to be updated throughout the year.

The copies of Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 used for this review was provided by its publisher, Konami.

Qudduws Campbell

That messy hair bloke: Romantic, Food lover, Gamer, Sports Fan, Manga Reader, Tech Head, Podcaster... Pretty much do a bit of everything.