Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series is back, after the company announced its return, its release date and the plethora of new improvements coming in this year’s iteration all in the space of a few days. Amongst all of the excitement that PES offers, a gameplay trailer was released that showcased a lot of the new improvements first-hand. Having watched the trailer a multitude of times, let’s dive into all of the nitty-gritty the trailer has to offer and look at what we can expect when the game releases in September.

The first thing you’ll notice from the trailer is that Konami are making a big deal over the series’ 20th Anniversary. There’s already been a PlayStation-exclusive Anniversary Edition of PES 2016 announced, and we can expect to see a lot of in-game content focusing on the big milestone for the series as well. 20 years is a big accomplishment!

The Gameplay

There’s an extensive amount of new gameplay enhancements in this year’s iteration, and the trailer shows off a lot of them, so I’m going to be referencing time codes in the trailer quite a lot to make sure you understand what I’m talking about and where it fits in.

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0:19 – Precise Dribbling and New Player Animations

This one’s a given considering both football sims always improve in the animation department, but players slipping after being beaten is something I haven’t quite seen before in either FIFA or PES. As well as that, having better control with the ball is showcased here and it looks like making your opponent look a fool will ultimately end up with them on the deck every so often.

0:21 – Advanced Attacking Movement

While this has been a staple in the professional game for most of its lifespan, having AI understand your movement and where you want them to run to open up the opposition is a difficult thing to cater for in the virtual game. PES 2016 has an emphasis on new, dynamic player movement and it’s clear from this snippet that players will now make runs after making passes to continue the attacking momentum during play.

0:27 – Player Controlled Celebrations

They’re finally here! I’ve loved manual celebrations since they were introduced in FIFA quite a long while ago, and I’m excited to see what entertaining celebrations Konami have included in PES’ maiden year with player controlled celebrations. Football is all about personality, and celebrating a goal against your friends and opponents online is one of the most personal (and arrogant) things you can do in a game of this nature.

0:35 – Realistic Physical Battles and Emotions

Football is all about controlling the game, and let’s be honest – if it’s Messi versus Vidal or some sort of midfield machine and they’re going for a loose ball – I’d back the powerhouse over the maestro any day as Vidal is a stronger player than Messi is. PES 2016 is incorporating more physical, realistic battles this time around and player emotions catering to that throughout the game as well.

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0:54 – Realistic Player Collisions

The game isn’t just about fancy footwork and making a dance of things, it’s about getting down to business in putting in the tackles every once and a while. Some are goal-saving challenges, others are red card worthy leaps of faith – it’s all about collisions in the game and it seems as though collisions this year are an important part to Pro Evolution Soccer.

1:00 – Improved Goalkeeper AI

It’s nerve wracking when you’ve given the ball away to the opposition and they’re in on goal and all you can do is hope that the keeper saves it. Most of the time goalkeepers are controlled by the AI instead of you, and they’re your last ditch attempt at salvaging a result in tight games. More often than not PES’ keepers have been very wonky and glitchy, letting in very soft goals and glitching out at the wrong moment. It seems as though Konami have put a lot of effort into fixing up the keepers this year, which can only be a good thing.

Master League

Now we’re on to Master League, personally my favourite mode in the series and one I’d previously hoped would be revitalised and revamped for 2016. And here we are with exactly that!

1:19 – New Player Bios and Interactions with Fans

The first thing you’ll see when we enter the Master League contingent of this trailer is that there are now new player bios that give a bit of detail into who they are for the team and what they can give back. Juventus’ Claudio Marchisio’s bio is the first that pops up and you’ll notice that because he came up from the youth ranks, he’s a prime example to the younger players of how hard work can garner successful results. We’ll have to see how this directly influences players growth throughout, but it’s nice to see that there is some sort of bearing on them. As well as this, just a bit after the next segment (at 2:03) there’s a section where fans can now name players, which is a neat touch considering there’s a feeling of isolation between fans and clubs in the virtual world.

1:25 – Possible New Lineup Menus

Another addition (by the looks of things) is a new, revamped lineup menu that will enable you to change up tactics when you’re in possession, all-out attacking, defending viciously and so on. This gives a multitude of new possibilities for taking on different opponents and could be utilized very creatively if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of your team’s tactics.

1:33, 1:34, 1:37 – In-depth Stats

This is single-handedly one of the biggest improvements I’ve ever seen in a football sim. While it’s fine to see your possession for the duration of a game, shots on and off target and the basics – I’ve always craved for an analytical take on the statistics of teams throughout the duration of a season.

At 1:33, you can see a bunch of menus that give you specifics on periods of time you concede the most and score the most, as well as your passing directions, what passes you use, their success rates and a percentage of where the action happened most throughout what I can only assume to be the game just played ( hopefully there’s a section for the season as well).

Following on, at 1:34 there’s a massive section that shows a great amount of player-specific stats. Dribbling, passing, pass targets, shooting, aerial battles won and tackles won are all highlighted here, with the blue highlighted numbers on the left showing successful attempts, followed by the grey numbers being total attempts and the numbers on the right showing the percentage completed.

At 1:37 you’ll see that this section is all about overall team stats. There’s a section for trends throughout months which highlight average attacking time (in seconds), average pass distance (in meters) and average defending time (in seconds) that stack up against each following month. It gives you an idea on how the team has been handling the games during that month and what you can work on when you’re on the pitch, which is really handy.

As well as that, there’s a section that shows if you’re utilising counter attacking more than the possession game, short passes instead of long passes and frontline pressure over all-out defence. These again are compared with the previous months stats and are measured accordingly. There’s a section for attacking areas and it shows in percentages your attack from the centre, the right and the left. Likewise, there’s also a section for ball winning areas, which is divided into the nine specific sections of the field.

Finally, there’s also a culmination of stats that will tell you what your favourite attacking and defending approach is.

This is really handy, and as a stats man that consistently analyses how my teams perform (Manchester United and Sydney FC respectively), this’ll be something that I will consult with on a regular basis.

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1:40 – Redesigned Master League Menu

This menu looks fairly gorgeous and super slick. There’s a section for everything you really need to know about – a dedicated news area for player input, game previews and the latest news, player ratings, the league table, current top scorers, the obvious calendar with upcoming matches and even a supporters part that showcases how many fans you have. I really like the look of this menu, it’s miles better than last year’s and will be much easier on the eye.

The Rest of The Gameplay

2:12 – Advanced Attacking Movement (cont.)

This part of the trailer goes into specific detail about how players will now make runs that will cause the defence quite a lot of problems. There’re three examples in this trailer from this point onwards and show just how much more intelligent the AI has become. Let’s hope these movements happen often instead of sporadically.

2:47 – Are We Going to See More Crowd Interaction?

One of the missing links of the virtual game is that we don’t see a lot of the crowds. While I can understand this (because they still look a little scary and very blocky), there’s nothing quite like watching a replay of a beautiful goal and seeing the crowd behind the goal posts going ballistic in jubilation or going mental in dismay. It’s one of the facets of the game, and while I think that this crowd reaction was just added in to put some filler in the trailer, I’d love to see something like this in the game. It might slow down the momentum the game has, but it’d definitely make it feel more realistic.

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3:02 – New Celebrations

We have the selfie celebration confirmed. I mentioned above about how I’m excited to see what quirky celebrations Konami will add into this year’s iteration of PES, so I’m hoping we see more of this in the future. Giving the player manual control over celebrations gives a lot of room to move when it comes to implementing a solid amount of different and unique celebrations to keep things interesting.

myClub

3:21 – Player Level Rankings

To cap off the trailer, a bit of myClub was shown off showcasing that players will now advance from level 1 onwards which, in turn, will increase their overall stats to make them a better player. I’m assuming they will jump levels by doing things in matches like scoring, assisting and the like, but we’ll have to wait and see. This’ll make things very interesting indeed.

So there we have it, that’s all of the information I could squeeze out of Konami’s gameplay trailer for Pro Evolution Soccer 2016, but that’s certainly enough for one day anyway! If the trailer is anything to go by, it looks like this year’s PES iteration should be a very solid entry in the series and will hopefully start to jockey with FIFA for that #1 position once again. Of course, some of these features I’ve spoken about in the trailer may be altered or stripped for the full game’s release, but for now this is all we can go on.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 launches on the 17th of September on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC.