This year’s goalkeepers are one feature Konami really should be shouting about. They will make mistakes, yes, but they’re more convincingly human ones rather than the kind of blunder you can predict before it happens. They’ll rarely drop the more straightforward catches, and will more frequently hold onto softer shots rather than spill them into the path of onrushing strikers. The best stoppers will react quicker to deflections, too – perfectly illustrated during one game where a fortunate ricochet forced David de Gea to change direction, twisting to shovel the ball out for a corner. Later, he acrobatically flung himself across his goal to tip away a thunderous 20-yard half-volley from Fernandinho – a moment that also served to highlight how good the shooting feels. Long-range strikes won’t always find the top corner, but the connections you make when the ball sits up perfectly feel crisp and clean.
The same could be said of the passing, but that’s always been a PES strength. But this year, Konami has made a change that might upset a few of the purists. Essentially, it’s a system that will, under the right set of circumstances, gently massage the trajectory of a pass to pinpoint precision. It depends on a number of factors, including the quality of the passer, the space in which they find themselves, and the position of the receiver relative to their markers. Once or twice, it felt to me like defenders had slowed up slightly to allow a runner to receive a ball on his instep and burst clear. But for the most part, it’s handled expertly, convincing you that you were wholly responsible for that perfect clipped through-ball. You found the right moment and the right type of pass, sure, but it was Konami’s invisible guiding hand that changed a good ball into a thing of beauty.