PES 2018 Review

Richard Walker

You always know what you're getting when you buy a PES game. Crap commentary, a lack of licensed squads, and much of the time, an exemplary representation of the beautiful game. And it's that last bit that's the most important thing; the reason why Pro Evolution Soccer remains relevant against the fully licensed might of FIFA. After PES 2017 provided one of the best footie games in recent memory, PES 2018 is predictably about refinement, really polishing that core experience to a glimmering shine. And on that front, it most definitely succeeds.

The result is a more realistic, slightly slower game on the pitch that's no less tight and responsive than its predecessor, throwing in some neat, iterative tweaks to make for an even more intuitive and fluid experience. In gameplay terms, yes, PES 2018 remains stellar, making meaningful progression over PES 2017 in the gameplay stakes, thanks in part to the new 'REAL Touch +' system, which ensures players behave appropriately when receiving the ball using their chest, head, legs or feet. Having complete control over the action is once again, PES's speciality.

The keepers are still capable of acrobatic leaps.

In its ongoing quest to achieve complete realism, Konami has also overhauled the animation system for PES 2018, while improving the lighting and apparently going into greater detail on “over 20,000 components” including things like turf, pitch hoardings, the tunnels that players run out of at the start of the match, and the other incidental bits of the game's various stadia.

So, yeah, yeah, PES 2018 looks wonderful and all, the player likenesses are superb once again, and the attention to detail really shines through. But again, it's the quality of the football itself that makes PES 2018 stand out.

Which is why it's a bit of a shame that in terms of new modes and other additions, PES 2018 feels like a bit of a retread. Certainly, the numerous improvements all add up to make for a better game, but is it worth upgrading if you're still playing PES 2017? I'm not so sure. Where FIFA 17 marked the beginning of EA attempting to push things forward a little bit with its story-driven career mode, PES seems content to keep on adding to and improving what's already there. This is all well and good, but something completely new and interesting would have made PES feel far fresher.

As it is, you can rely on the PES staples of Master League, myClub and Become a Legend, as well as the licensed UEFA Champions League stuff, to provide hours of deep and involving football, covering all aspects of the game from carving out a rep as a player or managing a team. However, this is nothing we haven't seen and done several times before, and the various additions to each mode don't really do much to alleviate the sense of deja vu. Even the menus look exactly the same.

Thankfully, Master League remains as engrossing as ever, tasking you with once again building your fledgling club from the ground up, while myClub gives FIFA Ultimate Team a run for its money, despite failing to replicate the thrill of opening packs with players instead acquired by signing them through scouts and agents you earn after each match. Become a Legend is still great too, shifting the game to the perspective of a custom or existing player who you'll take through an entire career. There's no faulting the wealth and quality of the modes and content on offer here, but it's all too familiar.

Liverpool and Arsenal are this year's licensed Prem teams.

This familiarity is PES 2018's primary issue. Like the uniformly awful commentary from stalwarts Peter Dreary and Jim Boglin, throwing up gems like “high class goalkeeping there to back up his high class wage.” What? The core modes and substandard commentary remain as you'd expect, but it's worth reiterating that PES 2018 really does have it where it counts, delivering on the pitch with one of the most immediate and realistic games of football to date. Set pieces have been fleshed out, the referees punish cynical, dangerous tackles accordingly - although some card decisions can be slightly arbitrary at times – and penalties have also undergone a positive change.

There's a lot of good stuff worth shouting about in this year's PES, and the new additions make for a more satisfying footie game, even if none of it feels like a particularly significant stride forward for the series. It all counts for something. Online too, PES 2018 carves a familiar furrow, with the same options and modes to choose from, and again, it all works just fine. Or at least it did when we last checked. In myClub, you can simulate matches against other players, or go head-to-head, and being able to set parameters for the quality of the connection you're matched with helps to ensure that things are as smooth and stable as possible.

Another strong entry for PES, in PES 2018 Konami has once again delivered a sublime game of football that's fluid, immediate and every bit as gratifying as last year's game. And that's the thing: PES 2018 doesn't seem like a major step forward for the series, and with the lack of licenses continuing to hold it back somewhat, Pro Evo is in real danger of settling into too comfortable a groove. For PES 2019, Konami would do well to shake things up a bit.

PES 2018

On the pitch, PES 2018 still delivers big with a footie game that remains the best around. Unfortunately a lack of anything truly innovative holds it back somewhat, as does the continuing shortage of licenses. Next year, PES needs to go big or go home.

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Whether you'll like the soundtrack is entirely subjective, but it's fine for the most part. As for the commentary, it's dire yet again, bringing out some truly stupid phrases that would never be uttered by any commentator ever. The match day atmosphere is spot on, though.


Unparalleled player likenesses (mostly for the big players), fantastically atmospheric stadia, genuine attention to detail throughout, PES 2018 looks great. The only thing lacking is the licenses.


As sublime as PES 2017, but more so. However, as an incremental improvement over last year's game, I can't really see any justifiable reason as to why you'd get PES 2018 if you already own PES 2017. It's better, but only slightly better.


All of the usual modes are present and correct, which means there's nothing particularly new here. The menus are the same, the presentation on the whole is mostly the same and all of the content is pretty much identical to what was included in PES 2017. It's all good, but very familiar.


Hold on a second. We recognise this list. It's the same bloody list from last year! Lazy!

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