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E3 2016 – Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 Hands-On Preview – Smart Start (PS4)

The Pro Evolution series has made huge strides in the past years to try and close the gap between itself and the FIFA franchise, which has been rather dominant for awhile now. This was obvious when we were treated with a graphic of Metacritic scores showing just how much they have closed the gap and in some cases, surpassed FIFA. Read on below for our initial impressions, as we checked out Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 on the PlayStation 4.

Before I even got my hands on with the title, Konami set us down to show off a little presentation highlighting some of the new features. Right off the get go, we were informed that Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 would have a day one roster update, something that they are extremely sorry that they didn’t have available on day one for last years iteration.

New to the Game

The PR rep then broke down to some of the added quirks to the game this year. “Real Touch” has been added to allow more ability to take a first touch into space and away from the opposition, giving you more flexibility in how you accepted and proceeded with the ball. “Precise Pass” was also added to improve the ball physics, allowing for player stats to make a huge difference on how hard and crisp each pass was. Visuals will see a huge boost up this year as well, with better goalie animations and an overall increase in animations used across the board. 

Other aspects of the game will see more human control, with things like the ability to change your team tactics through advanced instructions such as targeting a high profile player on the other team. Corner kicks also see improvement with options to defend or attack the corner kick, such as train on offense and zone or man mark on defense. The AI will also see a huge boost with adaptive AI, where the opponent will learn how you player and adjust. For example, if you always pass into your big center forward, the AI will adapt and double team him when he gets the ball.

All of the game modes will also see improvements, with the biggest being MyClub, which will now have better tutorials and smoother menus. Master League will also see its features more streamlined, as will data sharing on the PS4. Heck, even the referees have received a big overhaul, with the crew being far more strict this time around.


Kick Off

But enough features, I am sure you’re here to read about my hands-on time, right? My first game was against a fellow journalist, Dave from PSNation. Right off the bat when booting up, you could really see the attention to detail with the crowd and overall stadium ambiance. This build was lacking in play-by-play commentary, but we made it work. We picked our attack and defend settings, and our overall team strategy and off we went.

You could tell right from the first pass the obvious improvements to both the passing system and more so, the real touch trapping system. As your player was receiving the ball, you could flick the movement stick in whatever direction you wanted, allowing him to take that first step into space on the attack, or pull it back towards his own end to regroup. It really is a nice system that allows you to move out of tight spots or keep the flow of your attack going. You could also tell the difference between certain characters passing, as some just didn’t feel as crisp or on the mark as others.

The biggest thing I noticed during the match was just how great the goalie was for both teams. Shots that in past might have found their way through were stopped by high flying goalies, with each save looking fantastic and grounded in realism, but also cutting you straight through the heart. Your shooter was obviously feeling the same way, as often times he dropped to his knees or put his hands to his face in disbelief.  The score ended 1 to 0 me, but there were so many shots from both sides that I swore would have been goals, only to have an amazing save stop it.

Feeling Human

After my opponent left, I tried my hand against the computer and got a great look at the adaptive AI. It seemed like the computer really did learn from how I attacked, adjusting their strategy ever so slightly to defend how I played. They also weren’t perfect, as the computer often made a bad pass, making it feel more like playing against an actual player.

We were told they don’t have release specifics down just yet, but what they do have is a fun yet challenging soccer game. Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 will be out at a date yet to be determined on PlayStation 4 and other consoles.