While I got to go hands-on with Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 at E3 last month, I didn’t have the opportunity to check out the biggest changes that Konami were promising. I’m talking about the enhanced online play, and new cooperative mode that would have players facing off in teams of three. Thankfully, Konami is currently running an open beta that showcases the online aspect of PES, so I finally got to see these improvements for myself.
There were two modes in the beta: a three-on-three cooperative mode and the standard one-on-one online play that one would expect from a football sim. I decided to get reacquainted with the controls by playing a regular match, and then once I had worked the rust off I’d jump into the co-op play. There’s nothing worse than feeling like the weak link of a team, after all.
Football is a game of finesse. It’s about outmaneuvering and outsmarting your opponents. Ow. Did I just get kicked in the shin? It only took about three minutes of my first online PES match to realize that I had been matched up with a small child. I immediately knew I wasn’t playing another adult because they got a red card within the first 10 minutes, were diving at my angles constantly, and were trying their best to implement the rules of American football.
While I’d normally be frustrated about not getting to face another competent player, it was a good exhibition that allowed me to reacquaint myself with the controls. Once I had gotten back on my game, I quickly scored my first goal via a penalty kick. I found myself amused by just how many yellow cards one team could get, and before I knew it I was heading off the field for half-time.
The second half was as equally one-sided, as I scored on the poor lad a few extra times. If you want to see the equivalent of me dunking on a small child, you can check it out in the video embedded above. Overall, the online experience went pretty well. There were a few small bits of lag, but it was always playable even if my opponent didn’t seem to understand the rules well.
I then went to check out the cooperative three-on-three mode, and that’s where the trouble started. I knew I was in for a rough match once I saw that the matchmaking teamed me (a level one player) up with two other newbies. If that wasn’t bad enough, the team I was facing off against had two players that were above level six in ranking.
I’m not really the type to brag about my skills (except when facing off against a preschooler) as I’m really not that spectacular at PES, but my teammates made me look like Neymar on the field. Not only were we constantly turning the ball over to the other side, we quickly went down by three goals, and one of my teammates quit. The other stuck around until we reached a six goal deficit, and hilariously I managed to score my team’s only goal once it was just me and two computer partners. It goes to show that sometimes you can only depend on yourself.
Granted, I was dealt a pretty crappy hand, but I didn’t really enjoy my time with the online co-op mode. I’m sure it’s a lot better with friends, as you could coordinate strategies, but there’s practically zero appeal to the mode when running solo. I felt constricted with what I could do, and it was disorienting when the game would automatically give me control of a different player since my teammates passed to a computer-controlled footballer. It didn’t feel great, and the fact that I had two teammates that ended up bailing didn’t help things out.
I gave the Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 online beta a shot, and it didn’t leave me sold on the online improvements. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that PES still plays spectacularly. I probably won’t become a regular on the co-op circuit, but I’ll definitely be lacing up my cleats when Konami’s football game releases later this year.