With the release of Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 on August 28th, Konami have delivered one of the most authentic footballing experiences in their series to date. While, yes, PES will never be able to compete with FIFA and EA when it comes to licensing these days, that's never been the selling (or stumbling) point for this series, and it seems like Konami are very aware of that.
If you want an arcade, back-and-forth, larger-than-life football game, then quite honestly, FIFA is probably what you're looking for you. If you're a football purist, however, and you want an authentic footballing experience, then Pro Evolution Soccer has always been the game to deliver that. Building on the excellent gameplay from last year's game, Konami have managed to stay true to their name, taking PES 2018's quality gameplay and evolving it into something even better.
That's not the only evolution in PES 2019 though. FIFA may have the monopoly on licenses, but the in-game graphics for this year's edition have never looked more spectacular. Player faces continue to flirt with photo-realism, while the teams, kits and stadiums that they do have licenses for look nothing short of incredible (oh, and there's a whole lot more of them this year too).
Whisper it, but PES 2019 might just be the start of a new, very exciting era for Pro Evolution Soccer fans...
5. A Serious Goalkeeper Upgrade
One of the most frustrating, rage-inducing issues with last year's game was the goalkeepers (or perhaps, more accurately, lack thereof).
Now to be fair, goalkeepers got a raw deal in PES 2018. Not only would you frequently see them doing some of the most mind-boggling things - a Tom Daley dive for a shot that resembled a back-pass was always a bit excessive - but their overall animation and AI just felt a bit lacking at times. Then again, after seeing Loris Karius' Champions League Final performance, maybe they were onto something?
Nevertheless, the outcry from fans was clearly loud enough, because this year the men between the sticks have received a much-needed overhaul. Shot stopping has drastically improved, while the frequency of which they manage to get a hand to something is much, much higher.
Alongside their performance upgrade, goalkeepers have also been given a whole host of new animations that feel far truer to real-life. Gone are the days of your 'keeper looking like Bender from Futurama, and now watching your number one pick a long-range bullet out of the top corner has never been more satisfying.
As always, there's room for improvement - the mechanics for goalkeeper's coming out to close down a player probably still need a bit of work - but with such a vast upgrade to every other aspect of goalkeeping, this feels like a minor issue.