A lot of gamers, especially those located outside of the countries where football is a popular, probably don’t know nor care about both FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer, but they might not be aware of just how popular these games are. Most of them, however, as well as a lot of actual football gaming fans, don’t seem to know or pay attention to the differences between the two series.
Pro Evolution Soccer, formerly known as Winning Eleven, used to be THE definitive footballing game back in the PS2 era, back when FIFA had ugly graphics and really dated gameplay. The tides changed at the end of the 2000s, with FIFA beginning to reign supreme while PES started to lag way behind. It became forgotten by many, myself included, despite constant updates with every new iteration.
We have now reached the middle of 2018 and we are obviously getting new versions for both PES and FIFA. I have managed to play both games during E3, one at a private showcase at Konami’s booth and the other one at EA Play in Hollywood. Both games were tested on PS4 Pro consoles.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 impressed me from the getgo with its noticeable visual improvement over the already visually impressive PES 2018. The FoxEngine is being put to good use with very realistic lighting and weather effects, extremely realistic grass (a minute detail but still impressive nonetheless), excellent physics and improved collision detection. The gameplay has also been improved. PES 2018 still felt a bit stiff at some moments. Dribbling was annoying. The game favoured the good old English style of running like a maniac and kicking the ball as hard as possible instead of performing tricks or passes. For the first time since way back when the series was still called Winning Eleven, I was legitimately having fun with a Konami football game.
The game still suffers when it comes to licensing, though. Despite the addition of some interesting leagues such as the ones from Russia, Portugal, and Scotland, PES still lags behind in terms of amount of teams and content. It still doesn’t hold full licensing rights to the English Premier League, for instance.
And then there’s FIFA 19…
Honestly, with the exception of the Champions League theme being played at the beginning of each match during the trailer, as well as some UI overhauls, you could give me either FIFA 19 and FIFA 18 and I’d have a hard time noticing the difference. Unlike NBA Live 19, there are very few gameplay or visual tweaks. Sadly, it’s pretty much the same game. The demo was comprised of an exhibition match and didn’t allow me to see anything from FIFA‘s now estabilished story mode or its lucrative Ultimate Team mode.
To sum it up, FIFA 19 might be the most glamorous of the two, with more modes, more licenses and more notoriety, but Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 wins in what is actually a lot more important: gameplay and fun factor. Simply put, PES 2019 had the better controls, the better AI, collision detection, as well as the best visuals and overall fun factor. It still lags way behind in terms of licensing, but the addition of lots of new leagues in this new iteration is already good news. We might see some tweaks before the release of both games, but as of now, PES has the advantage.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 is slated for an August 28th release for Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC. FIFA 19 comes out a month later on September 28th for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.