Soccer Gaming Catch-All

Mr Bismarck wrote:

We'd qualified for the Champions League a couple times by finishing top four and found the group stages quite easy, but then kept getting dumped out in the quarter finals. PSG ran us over without noticing we were there one year and then the next year we won 1-0 in Munich, then lost 3-0 at home.

The next year we cruised through a group featuring Juventus and Porto, then immediately ran into an Atleti stonewall in the first knockout round for 0-0 and 0-0 before losing on penalties.

So... about that Champions League. The following year I had what looked like an easier group but I got myself into real trouble.

We drew the home opener with Levekusen and then lost the next game away to Lyon to immediately put ourselves in a hole. Despite bouncing back from that we still needed to beat Porto in our final game to guarantee progress.

We only managed a draw, but it proved to be enough to scrape through in second.

In the first knockout round we smash Schalke 7-2 yadda yadda and then it's on to the Quarter Finals where Atleti are waiting for us yet again.

We lost 1-0 in Madrid to about the dumbest goal I've ever seen, meaning we'd have to get a result at home but in that home leg we immediately fall behind 2-0 in the first half hour.

That's 3-0 on aggregate and Atleti's two away goals mean we have to score four times in an hour. f*ck.

Riiiight at the end of the half Ben Brereton sneaks onto a through ball at the edge of the Madrid area and fires across the keeper into the far corner to make it 1-2(1-3) and it's not much, but it is a tiny sliver of hope.

Which turns into my best comeback ever.


Four unanswered goals, 4-2 on the night, 4-3 on aggregate.

In the semi-finals we get Barca and that game turns out to be much easier than Atleti, thankfully. Once again we lose 1-0 in Spain, but then we're ahead 3-0 at half time of the home leg and that's the final score, putting us into the final where we'll meet... Real Madrid.

Madrid have got Mbappe now and he sprints away from my midfield right before half time and gets yanked down by a defender about an inch inside the area. Mbappe stands up and takes the penalty himself for 1-0.

On 70 minutes he scores again, latching onto the rebound from a fantastic save to tap into an empty net for 2-0.

I don't really have too much to do here now. My regular second striker behind Brereton is injured, so I have to throw on squad player Thomas Olivier Amang who has a lot of pace and not much else.

He immediately scores with his first touch.

The remainder of the game turns into the Amang show, as the tired Spanish defenders can't handle his speed and he could have four goals in 15 minutes.

Ultimately he only gets two, but that's all I need to force the game into extra time where youth product Euan Wilson, who might be the slowest winger the world has ever seen, is left completely unmarked for a long punt upfield, dribbles in from the left and slots home near post for 3-2 AET.


The perfect time for FIFA20 to go on deep sale.

I saw some PES 2021 Youtube content pass by, went on Amazon and saw that the game was already discounted from 30EUR to 20EUR. Delivery is scheduled for Friday

(honestly, I never got the outrage on Konami skipping this year. It seems like a far more honest approach than the usual sports games schtick of promising REVOLUTIONARY improvements and then charging full price for a roster update and Ultimate Team/ MyClub reset)

So the SpoonyPizza review I posted above is 100% correct, except for that fact that the refereeing against AI still stinks.

So yes, the players are more responsive when dribbling or performing skill moves, and shielding the ball has been nerfed a bit. Which are definitely improvements. That nerfing has highlighted the bad refereeing even more though: you lose the ball more easily to the AI, but you get a foul when trying to steal the ball from them.

The roster updates are a joke for the smaller competitions by the way, as in NOTHING has changed since last season for the Belgian league. I mean, it's nice that I can still play with Kompany and Chadli at Anderlecht, but come on Konami!

All that said, I'm hooked again because PES.

Oh and Football Manager 2020 is still available for FREE on the Epic Game Store, until 24 September.

I'm still tootling around with the FIFA 20 realism mod. I've been a total PES partisan for years now, but I got so annoyed with PES late in my experience, I wonder if I'll give this year a miss. Not that FIFA avoids all of the same issue that frustrates me, but having the sliders available to me feels like it allows me some flexibility.

I just fin it amazing that in 2020, I can't get a game that just puts out a difficulty level that can fairly be described as "You vs. the AI, the ratings are the ratings, thazzit." If that means I win every game 14-0, I'm okay with it.

If I never have to play another one of these games where Crawley Town plays as well as Bayern Munich just because of the difficulty level, it'll be too soon.

It's just funny how both of these games do a few things better than the other, but neither does enough better to really claim the crown. Crossing in PES is better, the GK's are just infinitely better, but I think FIFA's on the ball game is slightly better, if hampered by the fact that pace still makes way too much of a difference. FIFA 20's AI defenders can be tweaked to feel less insanely psychic than PES's and because of the sliders, I haven't encoutered any of the rage-inducing moments I found in PES when a tired fullback with 70 speed ran down a fresh substitute with 90+ speed. I don't know if I could answer which game has better defending, as neither title seems particularly great at it (although on any reasonable difficulty level, I've noticed FIFA's AI teammates are genuinely useless in defense).

FIFA has a bad case of feast or famine AI passing, I've noticed, as some very minor slider tweaks seem to end with the AI either robopassing at a 90%+ rate (related to the terrible teammate defensive AI) or literally kicking a 20-yard backpass 5 yards.

And yet, I keep buying these things every year. Honestly, I can't make fun of Madden fans.

(Also, I'd argue that Spoony's example of "Bad Arsenal AI" is actually 100% realistic. )

With the COVID situation I should probably let go of my console-only policy for soccer games. It's been 6 months since we last got together and played some local couch matches now, with no sign of things getting better soon. Next year, if they don't have a vaccine, I'll get it on PC and finally get to spend more time installing mods and add-ons than actually playing the game

Bleh, it's cheap, so I grabbed PES 2021. Two games, the AI scored on two shots on Regular. :\

EDIT: Alright, my early review. I am now very bad at this game and the AI is still way too timely in the tackle in a manner that means the actual quality of defenders appears to be pointless.

But dear GOD, I am bad. That video review said "step a level up" and I might have to step a level down. I am genuinely terrible at this, cannot break the AI down at all. I'm 2-0-1 in three games, and it should probably be 1-1-1.

The AI does that thing again where every chance = a goal for sure. I think PES 2020 is the only soccer game I ever played that didn't have that issue. So I won a game 4-1 with shots on goal 8-1, lost 0-1 with shots being 4-1, etc. I've also had to turn down one level for now.

Give yourself a break though. You're coming not just from PES 2020, but from The Other Franchise. Creating chances is all about feeling how far you can dribble/pass without losing the ball, and that takes a while to grock.

Well, we'll see. Version 3.1 of the FIFA 20 realism mod is coming out soon, and honestly, just the ability to adjust sliders to make the game more of what I want really is a huge sell for FIFA. I'd love it if I had some rudimentary ability to edit how PES plays, so I could address some of these frustrations better.

EDIT: Genuinely shocked at how terrible I am at PES now. I guess I'm a Regular-level player now, because Amateur is absolutely brain-dead AI. The borderline-psychic defenders, no matter their actual ability are consistently infuriating though.

Oh, and the timers in practice are just stupid. There needs to be a non-challenge way to learn some of these mechanics.

I may just be getting old, because PES 2021 feels like SF:V felt for me: A game where if you're not going to invest 60+ hours of practice learning all the little intricacies and what not, you have no chance of even basic competence.

It also feels like SF:V in the sense that the skill moves only have any chance of working if executed in a specific window of time and place, down to the frame. And I have no idea how people have made Manual shooting and Advanced Through balls work.

I will say though, the AI passing in PES is 10,000,000x better, and more realistic than FIFA. Although it does rely on the "lump it up to a big striker" gameplan a LOT.

Prederick wrote:

I will say though, the AI passing in PES is 10,000,000x better, and more realistic than FIFA. Although it does rely on the "lump it up to a big striker" gameplan a LOT.

I played Manchester City today on Regular, and this was their primary attacking gameplan. With Raheem Sterling. This does not bode well.

Alright, I played a lot tonight, and I'll describe the issues like this:

PES has plenty of issues. But so does FIFA.

I was playing Liverpool in the Carabao Cup Final, and they had Dejan Lovren get sent off for a terrible tackle. They didn't make a sub, and moved Mo Salah to center back, with no noticeable impact on gameplay.

This is what I f*cking mean when I say I'm so tired of playing a difficulty level, and not a team. By his ratings doing that should have been suicide. Instead, because Salah is fast, he made several solid defensive plays before we barely managed to win the game 3-2 (I also forgot to mention that another major FIFA problem is that players you're not directly controlling basically do not defend, while all 11 AI players will defend the ball).

My choice isn't "which game is better?" it's "which game's obvious horsesh*t is less infuriating?"

After some more play, I think PES still shades the gameplay, but Jesus Christ, the fouls situation in that game is still brain-meltingly bad. If the challenge is not literally perfect, it's a foul, every time.

It's a frustrating situation for soccer fans. Basically, FIFA is better broad strokes, but when you drill down narrowly, PES is better. Neither offers a totally fulfilling experience without some significant, infuriating warts.

Also, at least in my experience, PES puts such an astonishing focus on midfield play, that on 10-minute halves, you're lucky if a game ends with a combined 6 shots.

It's just sad. The defending in PES, despite the insanity of fouls, feels 150% better than FIFA, but FIFA wins on so much other stuff, including the defense's AI, which you can actually outrun in FIFA (arguably too much) whereas I've lost track of the number of times I've seen a Left/Right back a full 20-points slower in speed than an attacking winger completely beat his man to a through ball.

The choice genuinely is "which annoyance do you like more."

I thnik FIFA might shade it though, again, because sliders and there are more mod tools for FIFA, like the Realism Mod, a solid in-game editor, and again, yes, presentation, which I'd said for years didn't matter and it turns out I was lying.

Agreed on all accounts (and actually I've fallen of the bandwagon again), apart from the midfield play. I'm getting a lot more than 6 shots combined, in Regular/Professional against AI and online. Most chances come from losing the ball in midfield, and the opposition being a little bit out of position. At least for me, as I'm horrible at dribbling.

I'm really praying that PES 2022 will be the real deal. There are so many little annoyances baked in right now, like the editor as you mentioned, the stupid limit on number of imported images on PS4, the horrible GUI, the cheesy Master League animations, the atrocious commentators, and so on.

and again, yes, presentation, which I'd said for years didn't matter and it turns out I was lying.

It just gets tiresome after so many years. I rationalized it as Konami being the scruffy underdog. But it's just a lack of focus and direction. So many small dev teams get it right in their indie games, but Konami can't?

It's so weird, because each one could use just a few things from the other. PES desperately needs to offer a few rudimentary sliders to tweak gameplay, while FIFA, at this point, is a game that is honestly designed for online PvP and not for single player vs. the AI stuff.

Like, if you combined the games, you'd have a fantastic game, just amazing. I swear, I prefer PES's goalies, celebrations (PES's are so much better and natural-feeling), the way midfield play feels, the fact that your teammates are actually half-decent at defending (definitely not GOOD, but half-competent).

I like PES's crossing more, I like it's passing more (although I prefer FIFA's Basic-level through balls, good players will play good through balls, whereas PES's psychic defenders will make way too many stops), but FIFA does a far better job with pace, I like the variety of passes FIFA offers.

Both games have their issues. Neither game really knows how inside forwards work and could definitely use some tactical expansion. And both games desperately need to make you play a team first, and a difficulty level second.

I know it's too much to ask right now, but honestly, these games will finally be there (wherever that is) when they can show that the major difference between a League Two team and a Premier League team isn't really physical ability (although it is to an extent), but mental and technical quality. I guarantee you there's someone as fast as Aubameyang in Leauge One right now, the issue is he's nowhere near as intelligent on the pitch and technically capable as Auba is.

If I'll say anything that might've lost PES a bunch of points though, it's genuinely that game I played against Manchester City with Fulham on Professional. I dunno if they play more to style on Top Player and above, but honest to God, I beat them 2-1 because they continually lumped the ball upfield to Sergio Aguero to win a header. Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

Neither game really knows how inside forwards work

imo in PES they work slightly better than default if you set them up as CF or SS positioned as wide as the formation editor will allow rather than WF (which is where it puts them by default).

juv3nal wrote:
Neither game really knows how inside forwards work

imo in PES they work slightly better than default if you set them up as CF or SS positioned as wide as the formation editor will allow rather than WF (which is where it puts them by default).

I'll have to give that a shot

I played the AI in MyClub, on Superstar level after only playing in regular or pro, and it was peak PES.

Bayern dominated possession without creating any real chances, until they got a light free kick on the edge of the box. It went in. With my first two chances, one from a cross and one from a combination in the centre, I got ahead 1-2. The first one especially was one you would never see in FIFA: a tap-in deflected by the defender that went in under the keeper after he briefly touched it.

Then I tried to head a lobbed pas back to the keeper, but for some reason my defender did a diving header while the attacker tried to volley. Dangerous play said the ref, and he put the ball in the exact same spot. It went in again, same spot same player same everything.

In the second half, Bayern scored a beauty. They crossed the ball from before the box, and Lewandowski headed it into the net. I was furious, because I couldn't do anything to stop it, but that's kind of a good thing sometimes? Beckham scored a screamer from outside the box to make it 3-3, nobody scored in extra time (despite a few nail-biting scrimmages) and then the only un-PES thing happened: I won the penalty shootout!

My first game at higher difficulty did show that the AI is much more versatile in its attack patterns. They took shots from outside the box when I successfully blocked their passing lines, scored a beauty from a cross and mix up high balls with through balls. If only they had fixed the refereeing...

Prederick wrote:
juv3nal wrote:
Neither game really knows how inside forwards work

imo in PES they work slightly better than default if you set them up as CF or SS positioned as wide as the formation editor will allow rather than WF (which is where it puts them by default).

I'll have to give that a shot

What do you want them to do? I see the modern winger/inside forward like Hazard or Messi as someone who cuts into the centre AFTER they get the ball and only sometimes tries to find space in the center off the ball.

Also: this review of FIFA 21 is brutal. I'm not sure how bona fide he is, I follow his channel because his tutorial video's cut right to the chase and are very much on point. But the weird physics and bland lighting issues are very apparent regardless of SpoonyPizza's reviewing chops.

PES nearly lost me tonight, personally. I played a coupel games, but a particular one against Arsenal (on Professional) stood out.

We were down 1-0 after one of those "you can't get the ball off the AI, no matter what you do" phases of passing, but in the second half, we were playing better.

Twice, in the last 20 minutes, I had wingers in acres of space that I found with through balls, but when they took the pass, despite me holding the sprint button, they slowed to effectively a walk, allowing the AI backs to get back into position to snuff out what should've been a great attacking chance.

Also, they committed 0 fouls.

Like, I know there's bullsh*t in both of these games, but PES does such a piss-poor job of hiding it.

I'm just good enough that I can easily rout Regular, but on Professional, the BS just starts to become impossible to ignore and it drives me nuts.

Also, the AI gets 80% of its chances against me by just lumping the ball up to a CF that, no matter what I try, always wins the header unless he's absolutely tiny. What the hell is the defense against this?

Again, I will never argue that FIFA is perfect, but at least I have a way to mitigate the AI bullsh*t. PES just hands it to you and expects you to enjoy it.

EDIT: Oh, and the refereeing is just abominable.

EDIT v2: Alright, I was being hasty, but the thing is, in FIFA, defenders are not automatically as fast as your players and the AI will give away penalties and foul you and you can beat them off the dribble without necessarily memorizing the exact animation window in which to do the move or else they will make the tackle every. single. time.

Again, FIFA has many issues (infuriating robo-passing, your defensive midfielders will never play like defensive midfielders unless you're in control of them), but I have a way to mitigate it.

I saw a review somewhere that said that Pace could be abused in PES and I gotta say, where? Because my entire experience playing this game has been watching fullbacks with 10+ lower speed ratings than my wingers run them down like it's a Sunday jog.

It's literally this:

- PES plays a better game of football, but has more throw-your-controller obvious AI bullsh*t. (Genuinely, the ratings of your opponents barely matter, if at all.)

FIFA is not as good a game of football, but has the advantage by allowing you to customize the gameplay to your needs.

What do you want them to do? I see the modern winger/inside forward like Hazard or Messi as someone who cuts into the centre AFTER they get the ball and only sometimes tries to find space in the center off the ball.

I'll admit my preference to playing them not as WF may not be realistic but mainly I want more people attacking central areas when I'm controlling a guy on the opposite flank ready to serve up a cross or cutback. WF prioritizing width can lead to less favourable angles for one-time shooting. Come to think of it though I also haven't really played around with the false-9 strategy which might be another way to help that.

So KnightMD is biased, but he does a great show of what makes PES so good (on the pitch, at least).

Here is my simple take. I assume Knight is playing on one of the hardest difficulty levels, and as he notes, he's using manual passing/shooting, which are not exactly welcoming to first-timers!

I shouldn't have to use do either of those things to get the game to play a good, realistic-feeling game of soccer.

It's not the biggest thing, but it is a thing:

Someone please teach the people at Konami how to design black hair, because the choices in PES are.... sub-optimal.

Prederick wrote:

So KnightMD is biased, but he does a great show of what makes PES so good (on the pitch, at least).

Here is my simple take. I assume Knight is playing on one of the hardest difficulty levels, and as he notes, he's using manual passing/shooting, which are not exactly welcoming to first-timers!

I shouldn't have to use do either of those things to get the game to play a good, realistic-feeling game of soccer.

He's playing on Superstar, which is pretty meaty indeed. You can always use manual passing, when holding the left trigger you pass/shoot/cross manual as well. That works best for me: in most situations the auto-pass is just fine but I'm training to go manual once in a while, when I want to make sure the pass goes to the right guy.

Honestly, I got that realistic-feeling game of soccer mostly. In MyClub, the vs COM challenges are usually 2 games in regular and then one in professional. I barely beat Juventus 1-0 on regular because of their playing style, but then beat Liverpool on professional 7-0. Okay maybe that's not realistic, granted, but the playing style was definitely true to form. I dominated less against Liverpool, and had real trouble getting out of defence due to their gegenpress. But when I did, it almost lead to a great opportunity. Juventus played much more conservatively, almost parking the bus, but they were never ever going to win.

On another note: I stink online. In PES 2020 I occasionally won a game online, maybe 30% of the time. Now I just get clobbered time and again

I need to stay clear of MyClub, it's toxic. It always makes me feel like I'm not doing enough to grind, improve the team, etc. If the best multiplayer modes weren't packed in there, I would have quit a long time ago, but it's not worth it. Games shouldn't feel like work because the publisher needs a revenue stream, dammit.

I think I know what's up with PES.

I did an experiment today, I took one of the fake teams, and gave them all the lowest ratings possible in every category. Then I played against them on Top Player.

I was hoping for some fumble dimension-level highjinks but the thing is, whereas FIFA heavily skews things in favor of ratings, arguably too far, PES goes way in the other direction. A player with a 40 ball winning on Top Player genuinely is not obviously worse than a player with 80 ball winning.

PES heavily, weights the quality of oppsoition based on the difficulty level you're playing at, with the team's actual ability coming a distant second.

On Top Player, my opposition of absolutely terrible players were bad, no doubt, I won 6-0, but their goalie still made several professional saves, their defense was surprisingly well-marshalled, despite the fact that they arguably should've been as good in defense as four of us thrown out there. And they still frequently won headers and shielded the ball from me. They even completed 70% of their passes, despite the fact that they were as awful at passing as the game would possibly allow.

So I think I get what Konami is doing here witht heir ratings. Basically, the floor is "still a competent, professional footballer." The difficulty level makes all the difference, and frankly, that's really disappointing in 2020. I'm tired of playing games where there is no functional gameplay difference between playing Preston and playing Barcelona once I get t any appreciable difficulty level.

Basically, when you're playing the AI, your players ratings matter but it's ratings only matter for like, 10-15% of gameplay, and honestly, for me, that's a dealbreaker. Because it's clear that they can't make the game realistic, so instead they've gone for "hard for the sake of being hard". I just can't watch another defender that's 15 or 20+ points lower in speed and acceleration than my winger easily outrun and muscle my guy off of a long through ball.

It's sad, because PES plays a better game of football than FIFA for me, it's just laden with so much obvious bullsh*t that it ruins the experience.

Fifa 21 has just been added to EA Play (Not Pro, just base EA Play). which means it's also available if you have GamePass Ultimate.

I was really disappointed in FIFA20 to the point that I went back to FIFA18, but I downloaded 21 yesterday to give it a chance and it's still just complete garbage.

Defending is laughable in these two latest versions and the advice from the usual youtube suspects seems to be to tell your fullbacks to constantly hang back when you go forward and don't use contain at all if you can help it, because EA have clearly not watched any modern games of football.

This feels a lot like what happened to PES around the 07/08 time period where they completely lost direction with their game.

I do enjoy watching people play FIFA Road to Glory series on YT, but I have noticed RE: the defending, once the opposition gets into he final third, the only people on your team truly defending are the back four. You can be playing with two DMs, and they'll literally walk around a couple yards off the edge of the box, not engaging with defense unless you come close to them.

And your forwards don't track back at all.

Does anyone have experience with PES mods for PC? I have the game on PS4, but I just want to go super optimized single player now.

A football-management game called We Are Football has just released. Reception on Steam is "mixed" right now.

I hope the devs make some post-release tweaks to improve it. Back in the 1990s, I was an aficionado of the genre, and there were so many management games: Championship Manager, Player Manager, Tracksuit Manager, The Manager, Football Director, Graham Taylor's Soccer Challenge, Ultimate Soccer Manager, Premier Manager, Graeme Souness Soccer Manager... and probably a bunch more I can't remember.

Nowadays, there is one. Football Manager. I mean... I understand that FM is basically untouchable as an in-depth simulation of football management, but surely there is room for some niche entries in the genre that have a different focus and are less dense. (In the same way, there must be space for football action games that are not trying to be photo-realistic replicas of the televisual experience, a la FIFA and PES).

I'll keep dreaming, I suppose.