Editor's Rating

As for me personally, PES has the better gameplay in absolute sense, and it's a really good football game if you look at it that way. However, as a complete package the experience is a bit of a letdown. Even though you fix the licenses, I'm someone who loves to play online and create my own teams (with real players), and that experience is a real letdown. Matchmaking is slow as well, due to the smaller community.I f I could mix both together, I'd choose the complete package that FIFA has to offer, but with PES's gameplay on the pitch.

9
Gameplay
8
Graphics & Audio
8.5
Replayability

There used to be a big variety of football games on various consoles, but since the last decade (roughly), dedicated ‘footie’-players have had the choice between Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) and FIFA. For years the games have been competing with each other, and this year’s no different. FIFA, as always, has the better licenses, while PES has less realistic but more enjoyable gameplay, according to its fan base. Having played both FIFA 17 and PES 2017 extensively this year, I have to wholeheartedly agree with this.

Core Gameplay

Looking just at the football gameplay, PES 2017 feels much better to play to me. It’s not realistic, but it’s not too arcadey either. Passing the ball, running and sprinting are at a higher pace than FIFA, of which the latter feels rather sluggish at times. A lot of gameplay elements, especially defending, are a lot simpler than in FIFA and the game is easier to pick up for new players because of that.

This means that there is not much build-up play, which in my opinion isn’t really exciting when you’re playing match halves of a couple of minutes. My playing style leans heavily towards attacking, and PES matches this much better. In FIFA I have to pass the ball around endlessly, looking for an opening to execute that one perfect attack, or in the case of the opponent having possession, execute complex defending tactics in order to get back in possession.

While I definitely understand the appeal of FIFA‘s playing style and why many players prefer it, if you’re just in it for a quick game of football like me, PES definitely wins in this department.

Licenses

It seems a bit silly, but like many others, I like to play with my favorite players and clubs. Even though the gameplay wouldn’t change a thing, it’s a very big part of the appeal of football games to play with your heroes. Unfortunately for PES fans, FIFA wins this hands down. They have the exclusive rights to nearly all clubs, competitions and players, whereas PES only has a full license for FC Barcelona, Liverpool FC, Borussia Dortmund and a number of clubs you and I haven’t even heard of. For other teams and competitions, often only the players that are in the national teams are featured. Some clubs are even renamed as a result, for example; Manchester United and Manchester City are respectively ‘Man Red’ and ‘Man Blue’. For some reason though, PES does hold the licenses for the UEFA Champions Champions League and the Europa League.

pes17_spec_list

While you can download and install player databases made by the community, it just doesn’t feel the same. Furthermore, this option doesn’t work online.

Online

Since a few years now, FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) has been the franchises’ most played game mode by far, and thus PES had to come up with something similar. They finally did a couple of years ago with the game mode MyClub. Having played FUT and MyClub, it’s clear that the latter has some serious balance issues. The lack of licenses makes it less enjoyable, it’s really hard to build up the club of players that you really like.

In MyClub you can play matches against online players or the AI and you’ll receive rewards based on the results, just like FUT. Sounds the same, right? However, in FIFA you can take those coins to the online market and purchase that one player you still need to perfect your team or save it for a pack of random players if you’re willing to try your luck. In MyClub, there’s no such thing as a player market. You can use your money on ‘scouts’  who can then look for a player to fill a certain position or a player of a certain country. After clicking through a bunch of menu’s, you’ll get one random player who may or may not fit what you are looking for.

It makes it really hard to create a balanced team. For some reason, the good players are not even that rare either. This means that if you’re playing for a while and rank up, everyone has a Messi, Ronaldo, or Ibrahimovic in their team. I myself had Arjen Robben and Manuel Neuer (two of the best players in the world) after just two hours of play, while even now I haven’t been able to obtain even one player of my favorite team (PSV Eindhoven). As a result, it’s really hard to create a balanced squad of players that you like, and it just becomes a mix of random fake players and star players. This kind of defeats the whole point of the game mode, for me. Therefore, if you want to build your Ultimate Team, PES is not really the game for you.

Graphics and audio

Looking at the graphics on a technology level, I’d say that FIFA with its Frostbite Engine and PES with its FOX Engine are roughly on par. However, the licenses are what makes the differences here. If you’re playing as FC Barcelona or Liverpool FC, there’s hardly a difference as both games have licensed the clubs, and thus have detailed stadiums with realistic chants from the crowds, and detailed player faces. When it comes to fictional stadiums and faces, FIFA looks a lot better. Furthermore, it does seem like PES runs less stable and has more framedrops than FIFA, although this is a subjective impression as I have no way to measure the framerates.

In conclusion

As for me personally, PES has the better gameplay in absolute sense, and it’s a really good football game if you look at it that way. However, as a complete package the experience falls short. Even though you can fix the licenses, I’m someone who loves to play online and create my own teams (with real players), and that experience is a real letdown. Matchmaking is slow as well, due to the smaller community. If I could mix both together, I’d choose the complete package that FIFA has to offer, but with PES’s gameplay on the pitch.

There’s not a lot of possibilities for a soccer game to stand out or be different, so there’s not really a point in buying both. Therefore, if I had to choose one, I’d still go with FIFA, even though PES is a really good game.