In our PES review we wrote about how the main thing holding it back was its inadequate online matchmaking, which routinely pairs you up with players controlling teams far better than the one you’ve selected to play as.
That shrinks the pool of competitive teams down to a handful and, if you don’t support one of Europe’s elite, makes playing online as your team a frustrating experience.
That said, when you come up against a similarly talented team and player, PES 2018 has given us some of the most enjoyable online matches we’ve ever played.
On the other side, FIFA puts far too more emphasis on its attacking play and there’s very little tactical variation as a result. Far too many Seasons players pick teams with a lot of pace up front and just spend the whole match sprinting directly at your defenders, many of whom don’t possess the necessary agility to cope. It can get boring very quickly.
Both games really suffer if there’s any lag too, as delays between your button presses and the players’ responses can easily put paid to your high-tempo one-touch passing.
FIFA will no doubt attract more players but we’re going to have to call this one a draw.
Talking about longevity on the day of release might seem a little odd, but it’s easy to see which game offers more ways to play.
Pro Evo might have various leagues and cups to compete for but they’re all minor variations on a theme (although perhaps we’ve just described football itself).
If you look beyond the presentation there’s little to split FIFA’s Career mode and Pro Evo’s Master League, right down to the slightly silly transfer activity that often occurs. But, hey, this isn’t supposed to be real life. It’s a game.
Pro Evo’s MyClub does a decent job of imitating Ultimate Team but it doesn’t really get any closer than that. A large part of what makes FUT great is its community and on that front PES just can’t compete.
It’ll never get a mode like The Journey either - the necessary budget just isn’t there. You might be unlikely to play through it more than once, if at all, and our full FIFA 18 review goes into more depth on our reservations with it as a concept, but it’s undoubtedly an interesting way to add variation and drama to a genre that usually relies entirely on the player to create their own narrative.
It’s another fairly comfortable win for FIFA.
Winner: FIFA 18
Broken down in this way it looks like FIFA 18 has wiped the floor with PES this season but on the pitch Konami takes all three points.
Some will say that’s all that matters, and they’ll be very happy renaming East Sussex and taking them to Champions League glory, but as a complete package everything off the pitch in Pro Evo is left wanting.
If you can be bothered to download and overwrite all the kits you can get it somewhere close to matching FIFA on the surface, but there’s nothing you can do to address its comparative lack of atmosphere.
Even if FIFA 18’s Seasons mode is dominated by one style of play, the game’s offline offerings have improved to a point where they’re more appealing than ever.
That means Pro Evo remains the purists choice, but for everyone else FIFA’s still the champ.