Konami has announced gameplay changes set for PES 2020's first big patch.
In a post on Facebook, the PES development team addressed controversy within the community about the differences between the PES 2020 demo and the retail version that launched soon after.
Players feel the retail version of PES 2020 features inferior gameplay to the demo, which was more responsive, slower and had a more agreeable referee. On the latter point, the ref in the retail release seemingly lets rugby tackles go. It's quite annoying.
"Basically, we were focused on fixing the things that were deemed as bugs by the gameplay team," Konami explained.
"One example of a bug that got fixed is how the fouls were being judged. We noticed some fouls that were being judged in the demo would not be considered as fouls in real life. Since we always strive to make PES as close to real life football as possible, we did our best to make the judge better at defining which plays should be considered as fouls and which one were not."
My takeaway from that is Konami went a bit too far in giving the ref a more lenient outlook on fouls for the retail release.
So, why not simply revert the gameplay to as it was in the demo? Here's Konami again:
"As with the example above, many bugs were fixed in between the demo version and the final product.
"Thus, it would not be viable to revert the gameplay back to the demo version, because that would mean that all the bugs that were originally fixed would arise again.
"We're sorry if this sounds disheartening to some of you, but we wanted to make this clear to everyone."
So, no revert to demo gameplay for PES 2020, but what players are getting is a gameplay patch by the end of October. This addresses two key complaints. Over to Konami again:
"1. Better player reaction to loose balls.
"We will be improving how players react to loose balls, ensuring that they will do their best to try and gain possession. This will ensure an exciting gameplay for 1 vs 1 duels in the sidelines or the battle for the ball in the penalty box.
"2. Better positioning of the defense line and midfield line.
"Some people pointed out that there was a gap between the defense line and the midfield line, which allowed killer passes to reach the forward attackers with ease.
"We noticed that this resulted in a fast-paced game, since it was possible for the ball to reach the front lines with only a few passes. With the fix, it will become harder for the ball to reach the attackers, so constructing the play will be more important during matches. As a result, the pace of the game will come closer to reality."
The first gameplay change addresses a key complaint I made in our PES 2020 review. Here's the relevant snippet:
"Let's start with the AI defending. On occasion - and I should stress, this doesn't happen all the time, but it happens often enough for it to be a significant problem - one of your defenders will ignore the ball. I'm not joking. He'll just let it pass him by, leaving an opposition player to collect it, knock it on or, worst of all, get a shot on goal.
"I've conceded goals because of this, both online against human opponents in myClub and offline against the AI. The issue is so stark, I initially thought it a launch bug that would be patched by a day one update. Well, I'm all up to date, and it still happens. It's pretty criminal."
The second gameplay change ultimately addresses the pace of the game, which has come under fire from fans. But drilling down, this is more about the weird situation in the game currently where it feels like there's no midfield. You can go straight to your forward players with little buildup, with defenders playing an extremely low line.
So, these changes are welcome, and should go some way to improving the brilliant but flawed PES 2020 gameplay. But there's no mention of tweaking player responsiveness, which many - myself included - feel isn't quite up to scratch.
Here's a final word from Konami:
"Sometimes we may not be able to please everyone, but be assured that we always try our best to provide all of you with an awesome experience. Please continue giving us your feedback on the gameplay (and other aspects too).
"As you see, we may take some time to check them all, but we will eventually get around to it."