Konami has finally spilled the beans on PES 2017, making an official announcement and revealing a boatload of new features in time for the E3 gaming expo.
Pro Evolution Soccer is a series well known to many. In fact, people of a certain age (mid to late twenties to, say, late thirties) hold the series in particularly high regard. While FIFA was dominating sales charts during the PS2-era with fancy graphics and Martin Tyler's dulcet tones, Pro Evolution Soccer (or PES or Pro Evo to its friends) was quietly bubbling away, garnering a fan base all of its own for its incredible recreation of the beautiful game.
That was then the divide; did you want the licensed names and the production values, or the beautiful game with a few ugly menus and strange player names? We always wanted the latter.
Then things changed. EA realised that FIFA had stopped resembling the sport it was trying to emulate and went back to the drawing board for the start of the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation. FIFA was good again, and Pro Evo couldn't keep up.
But now, PES and FIFA are on a more even peg. However, PES 2017 still has a lot of ground to cover to make sure it maintains its reputation.
We'll be collating everything we know about PES 2017 here, so make sure to keep it bookmarked.
PES 2017 RELEASE DATE: WHEN IS IT COMING OUT?
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 is to launch sometime in the Autumn and will release on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Perhaps surprisingly given that many games are moving away from the last console generation, PES 2017 is also coming to Xbox 360 and PS3.
We'd guess that the final PES 2017 release date will lie in September. It's a standard launch window every year; giving Konami time to get in all the last minute transfers before the game goes live.
PES 2017 COVER: WHO'S GOING TO BE ON THE FRONT?
A bone of contention for many; with EA's FIFA series landing Messi, the Pro Evolution series has always had to settle for a step down from the Argentinian wizard. Last year we had Neymar (admittedly excellent), but with Messi's contract with EA expiring this year there's every chance the Barcelona star could feature on this year's cover.
PES 2017 GAMEPLAY: WHAT'S NEW?
So PES 2017 is all about what Konami is describing as "control reality", which means fans can expect more realistic shooting, passing, dribbling and player intelligence.
It all starts with Real Touch, which sees different players control the ball in unique and unpredictable ways - something that will dictate the flow of the game.
This feeds into Precise Pass, which is described by Konami as an art form in the new game. "The pass that is made on the best situation and timing will generate a perfect trajectory, creating a great satisfaction when a killer pass is made."
Goalies have also been overhauled in PES 2017, as Konami concentrates on upping the quality of shot-stoppers with new motions and animations to make them even more agile.
PES 2017 is also shaping up to be one of the most tactical footy games on the market, thanks to features like Total Team Control for speedy attacking and defending strategies while you play and Advanced Instructions such as Tiki-taka and tight marking, which can be set before kick off.
Taking a page out of FIFA's playbook, PES 2017 even lets you set corner strategies, as players decide on marking options and where players move to attack the ball.
Konami is also bigging up the adaptive artificial intelligence, claiming that "for the first time in a football game, the AI will learn how you play"... don't they say that every year?
PES 2017 NEWS: WHAT DO WE KNOW SO FAR?
As you might expect the graphics are set to be improved; stadia, fans, players and the hallowed turf are all being upgraded thanks to further incorporation of the Fox Engine.
According to Konami: "Nothing has been left untouched, from player models, lighting, crowds, pitch and stadiums totally revamped. Never has a game looked so real."
This will also benefit the Natural Player Movement, as the devs add hundreds of animations to bring the players to life and give each one its own personality.
Oh yeah, and Jim Beglin is returning too. We love him, but we know, he's not everyone's cup of tea. Still, the commentary in Pro Evolution Soccer has steadily been improving over the years, so hopefully we see an improvement again.
PES 2017 WISHLIST: WHAT WE WANT TO SEE
1. DON'T CHANGE ITS APPROACH TO FOOTBALL
What we want is fairly simple. PES 2017 has to maintain its confidence in the actual football bit of the game because it is without peer. The folk at Konami understand the ebbs and flows, the ramp ups, the pinball drama of thumping deep crosses into the box with time against you. They understand that incredibly well, and what we want is for that to remain the case.
Where Pro Evo has always struggled is with everything around the football. The menus are obtrusive, options are buried deep within layer after layer of oddly titled drop down menus, the Master League system is obtuse and tries to be too different from FIFA for the sake of it.
Keep it simple. Please. Respect the sport and respect your players.
2. A FRESH NEW UI
The menus need a complete overhaul both in terms of content and design. It feels as though every iteration gives them a lick of paint and buries a few new options in there without any consideration of how they're being navigated. If that's not the studio's strength then fine, outsource it to a UI company – we don't care how you do it.
3. BETTER ONLINE FUNCTIONALITY
The online, too, has a few issues. FIFA 2016's crowning feature, and a completely inspired addition to the series, is Be A Pro. This is a mode in which you control just one player; you can go online, use your player and join your friends as you play against others doing the same. You can be a tricky winger, a midfield general or even an unambitious right back – it's completely up to you.
FIFA's realisation of this mode works, but given how little we care for FIFA's version of "football" we can only dream of what this might look like in the slower, more realistic pace of PES. In fact, it's a shame that the only thing Pro Evolution Soccer has copied is 'Ultimate Team' – but that's a completely different discussion for another time.
4. TRULY FOCUS ON PES
The bottom line is; we hope Konami realise just how special this game could be and now, given the future of Metal Gear Solid is in limbo, it's more important than ever that they make it the best it can be.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 will be with us later in the year, but you can expect more details to be revealed around E3 in June.