We are running towards the end of the football season, with the Champions League getting decided in two months and most of national leagues ending in one and a half month. Meanwhile, at this time the two most preeminent football video-game franchises – FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer – are already planning their new editions for the 2019/2020 edition and the never-ending debate will go on again: should I choose FIFA, PES or none?
Fanbase and online experience
EA Sports is a much more lucrative company than the Japanese KONAMI and the Canadian gaming brand seems to invest each year more and more in marketing the videogame. FIFA has more players in all the platforms, by far, and some people even ask if anyone is still playing PES. Luckily, there are, and even though the fan base is much slimmer it is mostly made with either people who gave up on FIFA or long-time players of the franchise, who still mourn the years when they were blasting knuckle shots with 99 power Adriano in PES6.
So, should this be a reason enough for you to choose FIFA instead of PES? Well, maybe yes, maybe not. While PES has a less poisonous fanbase and a much more mature and responsible audience, it is still filled with cheaters and ‘laggers’ who destroy the experience of the game online. The ones who keep playing it demand KONAMI over and over for dedicated servers and severe punishment for those who try to purposely ruin the fun for others.
Plus, whether it is to the lack of players online or just the not so responsive online system, it sometimes takes unusual amounts of time to find opponents in matchmaking. For PES 2020, and this is the reason why this is the first point addressed, KONAMI must review its online system. The only way they can present a challenge to FIFA is if they provide an enjoyable online experience, making the game as smooth as in the offline mode, instead of the exhausting delay that turns any match into a nightmare.
However, FIFA doesn’t get completely safe on this point too. There are still plenty of ways to cheat in FIFA, especially on PC. Still, the company seems to be taking stronger actions against these individuals, blocking bots who access their servers and demanding a more personal authentication. FIFA also has a game system who detects early who caused the game to crash, thus not allowing the rage quit cheating that happens in PES, where some players quit the game when they are losing. This has normally two outcomes: either makes the game null or even some audacious ones are able to make you lose the game by KO. This has to stop.
Well, in this case it is no doubt FIFA is leading the race by a high margin. Sure, the hype was real when PES announced last summer, they were going to add 7 licensed leagues: Russian, Turkish, Portuguese, Belgian, Danish, Scottish and Swiss national competitions were added to the game, with the full badges, kits and squads. However, it soon faded away, after the blissful news got some counterattacks by their rival brand.
The Champions League was announced earlier last year as a new exclusive addition by EA, taking away the reason than most football enthusiasts still looked upon to PES. Also, not only did FIFA added the Champions League but they improved it, compared to what had been than in their competitor’s previous installments. They added cut scenes, the full trophy delivery and they created special online packs for the UCL players of the week.
KONAMI also received another backlash week before launching PES 2019 in august. One of their partners in the last years, German giants Borussia Dortmund decided to backstab in style and change sides to FIFA. This meant not only FIFA got the exclusive rights of Marco Reus team, but it also got the rights to have the Yellow Wall and the beautiful Signal Iduna Park.
Furthermore, the company also received critics for having left out of the game the second divisions of Serie A and La Liga. These teams might not be full of superstars and probably aren’t very appealing to choose when playing online, but for Master League and Become a Legend enthusiasts they were still meaningful, since they added realism to these modes.
Finally, while FIFA has the rights to leagues like La Liga and Premier League and fully explores them, with official scoreboards, adboards, coaches and stadiums, KONAMI somehow lacks the ability to do the same in the leagues they own. Even after acquiring the exclusive rights of Russian Premier League, the ProEvo staff was unable to create licensed content for the league and not even one stadium of the competition was added into the game.
They were also criticized for taking until late February, almost half a year after the launch, to release the stadiums of Glasgow rivals – Celtic and Rangers – something that was announced already in the early stages of the development. Fake marketing is not the way that PES needs to defeat FIFA. Either they deliver what they promise, and they fully explore the material they have available or they come straight forward and tell the fans what they should actually expect from their game.
If we have so far poked PES and underlined their flaws, now it is time to give them credit for the field where they are mostly superior: gameplay. It is possibly one of the most notable deciding factors for gamers on this genre and, although some FIFA players still seem reluctant to admit, PES has reorganized its gameplay and now their style is much more adequate to real life football, compared to the ‘arcade’ feeling that FIFA transmits.
Surely it is subjective, because just like music or cinema, everyone has their own opinions on this matter. Long time FIFA fans will have trouble adapting to PES gameplay and they might find it too slow or even boring. However, in fact, PES is indeed a bit slower but that is not exactly a bad thing. You have more time to plan your next move, set the most accurate tactic that fits your style or that can break your opponent’s game plan. It also offers a series of advanced offensive and defensive tactics, like gegenpressing or good ol’ parking the bus, something the users can play with until they find the perfect system.
While PES seems to every year step up their gameplay and add new features, new feints, making the game lighter and smoother to play, FIFA barely adds any updates to its gameplay. In fact, if you try playing FIFA 16, 17, 18 and now 19 you will not find much difference. This might be because FIFA knows they have a wide eSports community, which could suffer if they changed certain features of the game. Nonetheless, it feels that you are buying the same game every year, with just slight addictions like the Champions League or The Journey.
Realism and Game Modes
Enhancing FIFA Ultimate Team seems to be the primary goal of EA Sports. Microtransactions are their primary source of income and buying and selling FIFA coins became a real business. Anyway, FIFA still adds yearly some new game modes, like No Rules, while PES insists has very few online mode options for the ones who are tired to play myClub.
Nonetheless, even if in game modes FIFA still has some advantage and creativity, it can’t be said the same about face realism in game. ProEvo might not have most leagues licenses but it surely can create amazing detailed faces, even from players, like Sergio Aguero, who play in an official EA sponsored team. They also have incredible detailed stadiums, even if they are not that many as in FIFA, with chants and tunnel scenes in Camp Nou, Anfield or Gelsenkirchen (Schalked 04 home ground).
To sum up, FIFA needs to pay attention to the gameplay, fix the arcade unrealistic bicycle kicks and knuckle shots from everywhere and stop with the greedy focus solely on UT. Meanwhile, PES merely just needs to improve their online system, retain the licenses they got and explore better the content for all the leagues they have. Surely gameplay is important, but players ultimately need some eye candy, which turns the game more realistic and enticing. Also, fixing the outdated lazy menus and giving a revamp to the layout of the game might help to attract some attention.