Another year, another PES, and right now we've got an online beta to play on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One for PES 2018, allowing us to venture online and challenge others in Quickmatch with either Brazil or France at the Neu Sonne stadium (the Allianz Parque in São Paulo in real life), but there's also another mode that's been exciting PES fans, which is Online Co-op.
This mode is interesting is because it lets three players play against another set of three players, which on the surface doesn't sound too different from what you've been able to do in the past, but there's a very interesting stats system that shows who's doing well and who's not. After each half there's a list of stats highlighting things from shots and passes to interceptions, and there's nowhere to hide if someone's been letting the side down, which gives things a new competitive edge within teams.
Players also get ratings within games which go up for things like shots and good tackles but go down for things like fouls, although this is far from perfect. For example, one time we played as a defender and dispossessed the attacker who would have been one on one with the keeper had we failed, but it marked us down for a bad dribble, and all in all there also doesn't seem to be a lot of nuance. Shots always see your rating go up, for instance, even if it's from 40 yards out, but things like pressure and decoy runs aren't rewarded at all.
That doesn't stop it being a hell of a lot of fun, though, even if you don't know the teammates you're playing with. Having three people on the same team changes things dramatically, and you can even celebrate together too, making the whole thing that bit more special when all three of you work the ball into a nice position before smashing one in the back of the net.
We just hope that pauses are regulated a bit more in the final game, though, as one game we played saw pauses being taken every five minutes, which spoiled the match and disrupted the flow. There was a timer at the top, granted, but this still allowed for a lot of pauses within a short amount of time.
Quickmatch, as you'd expect, paired us up with randoms, but this time in a one on one match, and this is where we noticed more of the gameplay changes in action (rather than keeping an eye on what our teammates were doing). As a whole everything felt smooth, much like we've come to expect from PES, but there's a few things we should highlight specifically from the beta.
Firstly, the defending feels pretty different and might feel harder for players initially. We struggled in our first few matches to tackle attackers in one on one situations, for instance, and you definitely need to get a hang of the pressure using X/A combined with slide tackles. Once that's nailed down, you should have a much better time of things.
Another thing to notice is the shooting, which feels the most satisfying it's been. In past PES games we felt that shooting could be a bit repetitive, with goals feeling very similar to one another after time, however, there seems to be a bit more variety in the shots here, and it's not just a case of when you get close to the keeper it's a guaranteed goal. More must be done to beat the keeper now, whether that be chips or slotting it in the far corner.
The online beta, while just a test for the game modes, does show a lot of promise for PES 2018, especially in regards to the co-op mode, which will be implemented into the PES League in the future. If the rest of the game turns out to be of similar quality, we're definitely looking forward playing the demo that's coming our way in the future, and we're also looking forward to hearing more, which we should do at Gamescom next month, where we'll see more of the game and hear new team announcements.