Fans of set pieces also need to change up their approach this year too, as free kicks and corners have changed to fall more in line with the FIFA style. There's no wibbly-wobbly arrow to guide you anymore, as now you need to direct your kicks based on your own intuition, which can, of course, be learned in the training games. While this might make it harder, this is more of a test of skill now, especially when it comes to making that perfect shot in the top corner from a free kick. More gratifying, yes, but that doesn't mean everyone will be pleased by this change, although we found it to be a great one.
In terms of modes, at the time of writing the online servers aren't open to us, but one new mode we were eager to try was Random Selection, making its return from older PES games. Here you pick a kit for your team to wear, and then the game randomly assigns you players based on the parameters you choose. We ended up playing on an Arsenal team featuring Lionel Messi, while the Fulham we played against had Gareth Bale, for instance. There's also a trading round where you select which players to try and steal and which of yours to protect as well, so this is perfect for those who want something weird, wild, and unique to play. On top of the co-op multiplayer mode, there's a lot of fun new things for players to get stuck into.
Some niggles with PES remain from past instalments, though, and one of these is the commentary. The lines delivered by Peter Drury and Jim Beglin still feel a bit forced and wooden at times, not to mention the repeated phrases you'll get to learn within days of playing the game. For a game that delivers so immersion in the gameplay, the commentary really reminds you it's a video game, and some of our reviewers even turned it off entirely while playing.
The refereeing isn't always great either on PES, which is also frustrating. For example, if players collide with one another without a tackle being made (for instance, if someone pushes you off the ball, which would be a foul in real life), this more often than not isn't given as a foul, something that's incredibly noticeable in a very physical match where people are jostling you constantly.
Visually, PES still looks brilliant, especially in terms of players. There's no massive leap when it comes to this side of the game, but that doesn't matter, because all the big players still look as they should, and there's plenty of detail when it comes to lighting, sweat, etc. Some faces pulled when you zoom into player faces during gameplay are a bit terrifying, but that doesn't particularly bother us when we're not looking for it.
All in all, we came away from PES 2018 with many more positives than negatives. It's a true polishing of the winning formula that has been established over the past few years, and the added features like improved goalkeepers, advanced dribbling, and Random Selection mode should all go down well with fans of the series and football games in general.