Pro Evolution Soccer is truly what Konami advertises it to be: an evolution. It is a game in constant motion striving, albeit sometimes struggling, to differentiate itself from other leading online soccer/football games out there on the market. It seems as though Konami are still on the same path, to turn PES 17 into the next leap of realism of the sport.
GamingBolt recently had a sit down with Steve Merrett, who works at Voltage PR, the firm handling PR for Konami in the UK, to ask him some interesting and intense questions we’ve been scratching our heads over since the game’s announcement.
"It’s all about having a wider range of ways to receive the ball. And with the passing, you can make higher passes, faster passes, passing to space; but you’re always going to be hurried by a defender."
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 is introducing some rather interesting changes this year, particularly with the Real Touch system. Could you explain it in greater detail?
It’s the whole point of beating a man using the skill of your player. Making sure players who have the ability to turn a game are truly represented. It’s not just you receive a ball, you run with it. It’s you receive a ball with the outside of your boot, you can shield it, you can chest it away from them to gain a couple of yards. It’s all about having a wider range of ways to receive the ball. And with the passing, you can make higher passes, faster passes, passing to space; but you’re always going to be hurried by a defender. So consequently how you react with the ball for the first time is vital. You may be able to lose them by cutting in. So consequently you need to have your players shaved to control the ball perfectly and take it, maybe immediately left, or take it away from the usual pace. So it’s all about presenting you with the right a range of options for when you first receive the ball.
How do changes to the passing system affect the overall movement and flow of a match, both against AI and other players?
One of the most satisfying things about PES is scoring a goal, as it should be. You’ve worked hard for it, and the euphoria of scoring a goal should be like a player scores a goal for your team. To get to that point you have to have players who can pass good, find a player, pick them out, see the run, and you should get the same level of satisfaction about creating the scoring opportunity as you do scoring the actual goal. And the thing about PES is it gives you much more freedom how you pass. So you can bend your pass, you can loft your pass, you can play short, intricate ones, and you can hold it off while other players find space and try to defend it. So again, it’s just opening up the number of options available to you. You don’t just pass to someone’s feet anymore; you can pass immediately to a player, but the true key to it is passing into a space where they can be able to gain an advantage, and it’s just a total freedom of passing.
It also seems like players can now craft more in-depth strategies. What kinds of strategies can they pull off and how much freedom do they have?
It depends totally on the context of the situation. PES has always been renowned for its menus. But we have simplified a certain number of in – game things. Though, consequently when it comes to a set peace, you know, if it’s a free kick you can have it preset on the D pad – so your players are going to go do some runs, come off the ball, spin off the marker, that sort of thing. On a corner you can send a train of players to disrupt the box, which means as defenders are trying to react to that threat whatever spare man in the back who hasn’t been picked on the marking. It just, again, it’s – works with the adaptive AI game as well in so much as: if all players were coming through one pivotal player than the AI will work to counter that.
So it becomes a tactical battle – and that means you’ve got to think on the fly. So having the shortcuts to make your teams work more organized defensively if you’re under a period of pressure or having them ready to counter. So if you get the ball under a period of pressure, your players are automatically programmed at your response to stop running and causing mayhem in the field. So it’s just freeing up your options of attack, but if making sure that if somethings not working you can change it and adapt out properly; which is what all managers should be able to do.
"It’s realism as much as anything is. It’s making it authentic."
How does the adaptive AI work on opposing side?
The adaptive AI works so much as it recognizes when someone is trying to spam a certain thing. So if you’re going down the wing all the time, say you have a player that’s really fast down the wing with very close control – if all your threat is coming from one period, the game will work to counter that. So it may be putting in an extra marker, or shifting up another player to cover for another player. So if he beats him there’s a immediately a second player he’s got to beat. It’s a lot of skill.
If you have players doing something all the time it’ll try and counter it. But it’ll only do it if over reliant on. The manager will soon determine which players having the biggest influence on the game, and will snuff it out. Consequently, if a team is playing really tight defensively, maybe with a high defensive line, then you can use it to employ runners that will — so you can do a long bolt to beat the offside. It’s a very much, if somethings not working it I’ll seek a way to counter it and send your players into positions that – if you’re coming up against a brick wall it starts thinking of ways to get around the wall.
We heard that PES 2017 will also look to update player stats on a weekly basis. What kind of benefits will this bring to the game over PES 2016?
It’s realism as much as anything is. It’s making it authentic. You have a situation like last year’s premier league, where at the start of the season nobody would have thought that Jamie Vardy would have scored 20 – odd goals, and played for a seemingly small side. He went on to exceed expectations. So our stats will reflect that. So if you got a series of players who are in a purple period- rough patch, their stats will go up. So you might get a player who is actually perceived as 68% player out of 100 – whatever, but by the end of the season because he’s performed consistently really well, not struggle with injuries that sort of thing. It basically mimics that real football – players have up-and-down weeks. Some have barren spells, some have scoring streaks – those weekly updates have allowed us to mimic those for authenticity.
How many teams, players, stadiums and so on can be expected in the final game?
We can’t say anything about that at the moment. We’ve got a number of announcements. At E3 we are kind of showing off the game play, all the periphery and modes. Stuff like that will be fully disclosed in the run-up to launch.
Will there be any new modes and such to compete with the likes EA’s FIFA series?
We are focusing on what we’re good at, at the moment. We’ve got My Club which has got a wealth of new additions, and Master League has had its biggest ever revamp. People love Master League. It’s a incredibly engrossing game, it’s one of the things that makes PES popular in the first place because it gives it a huge depth that you wouldn’t expect from a football game. And now that they’ve added various things, like proper transfer deadlines and training and stuff like that, it’s going to make it more engrossing. We’re just going to continue to refine what’s in there. I think that we are always up for coming up with new ideas but they’ve got to be bolstering the PES experience. Because gameplay is key, you buy a game to play it and that’s where we want it to be.
How has the FOX Engine been changed to further enhance the visual fidelity of players?
FOX engine is it constantly evolving beast. It’s one where it’s been adapted perfectly for PES now. So what it allows us to do is, it’s just giving us ever more accuracy in terms of it handles the animation, and the faces, and stuff like that. It does it all in real time. So it means that we can focus on the animation and the gameplay. Making sure everything is smooth and the FOX engine handles everything else. One of the reasons why PES is so fast is because of that engine.
"There will be the constant roster updates. The weekly updates. In terms of modes and things like that we’ll wait and see, really. There are a few things planned."
What improvements and new features will be added to the multiplayer this year to make it more intuitive for fans?
We’ve got 11 versus 11 which is always a big thing. In terms of online, we really haven’t outlined our plans yet. That will all be revealed shortly.
What post-launch content can we look forward to for PES 2017?
There will be the constant roster updates. The weekly updates. In terms of modes and things like that we’ll wait and see, really. There are a few things planned.
Will the PS4 and Xbox One versions both run at 1080p and 60fps?
Don’t know at the moment.
Is there a specific reason why you are launching the game on last gen consoles?
Because there is still demand there. I know a lot of people have migrated across to PS4, but all the time there is sufficient demand for other versions so we are not going to ignore it. I think PES was one of the last games to appear on PS2 simply because there was huge demand for it in certain territories.
There has been a lot of talk regarding Konami not interested in developing AAA games. What do you have to tell your fans about this?
Well, PES 2017 is coming. If that’s not enough indication that Konami is still interested in the market then I don’t know what is.
What is the future of Metal Gear Solid series? Many fans were quite upset when a Pachinko machine was announced for MGS3. Are you guys working on a new AAA Metal Gear game?
Microsoft has confirmed that Xbox One Scorpio will launch next year. What kind of gaming experiences will be possible with that hardware?
Didn’t know anything about it before the Microsoft conference.
Do you think PES will have a future on Xbox Scorpio?
It’s not my decision.