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PES vs FIFA : Tips for switching to Pro Evo this year

There’s a lot to take in, but switching from FIFA to PES is much easier than you might think.

pes vs fifa

It’s that time of year already. Football’s biggest rivalry is about to renew itself for yet another season, and you’ve got to decide which side you’re on.

No, Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira aren’t coming out of retirement, and this is a rivalry which runs much deeper than that. This is gameplay vs licences. Konami vs EA. PES 2021 vs FIFA 21. And the choice between the two has never seemed more difficult. 

This year, however, it’s time for a change. I’m making the switch to Konami. In fact, many other long-time FIFA players are thinking of doing the same, either fed up with gameplay issues or (like me) wanting to freshen things up a bit. 

However, there’s certainly plenty to get your head around, and you might feel a little overwhelmed with the differences between the two series. So, I’ve put together a quick guide to help any other players wanting to hang up their EA boots this season. 

Customise Your Controls

This should be one of the first things ex-FIFA players do on PES. Image from PES 2020.

For the past 10 years, I’ve been almost exclusively a FIFA player, while I played Pro Evo (or ISS Soccer) for the 10 years preceding that. Not only does this mean I’m now officially an old fart, but it also means that EA’s controls have become second-nature to me, and I didn’t like the idea of having to change what I’m used to. 

Fortunately, you can customise your PES controls to match your FIFA preferences - whether you play on classic or alternate. The biggest one for me was switching the sprint button (seriously Konami, nobody runs with R1), and switching the button to jockey opponents. 

This ultimately made the game more enjoyable, since there’s nothing more frustrating than getting through on goal and pressing the wrong button. Just as importantly, this means I can seamlessly switch back to FIFA if I wanted to enjoy some of their new modes, such as VOLTA.

Download an Option File for Licenses

Licenses have always been Pro Evo’s biggest problem, but I’ve never understood why so many players refuse to play the game because of this. After all, you’re paying your money to play a game of football, not to admire the accurate names while setting your formation, right?

Okay, so you obviously want a sense or realism, and playing as the East Midland Blues certainly takes away from that. But you can simply hop over to PES World and download a free option file, which will give you all the right kits, team names and league names in just a matter of minutes. 

Hmm, Real Madrid look a little different here… Image from PES 2020.

Don’t worry, I found this off-putting too. It’s 2019, for goodness sake, and having to faff around with a USB stick does seem a little ridiculous. Honestly, though, it really doesn’t take that long, and I’ll be releasing a full guide on how to do it in the run-up to the game’s release. In the meantime, just make sure you never pay for one, it’s not worth it. 

It might sound like a bit of a pain (it’s not), but at least you won’t be stuck with Piemonte Calcio all year. Shudder. 

*PLEASE NOTE: since Xbox doesn’t allow you to plug in a USB stick, players on this platform are unable to download an option file. PC and PS4 gamers will have no trouble at all. Curse you, Microsoft. 

You Can Even Make Your Own Kits

You can make basic kits directly in the game. It’s awesome. Image from PES 2020.

This is a major pull for me, because I really am sad enough to sit around designing my own kits. More importantly, so are many other players in the PES community, and they’ll share their awesome designs for you to download and use in your own game. Yes, I will be giving my Master League team a brand-new set of kits every season, and so should you. 

PES boasts a really impressive in-game editor, where you can quickly create your own basic designs and assign them to a particular club. However, the really impressive Kit Creators can be found online, where you can access a huge number of templates, colours and design features to make something really special. 

I think PES Master is my favourite site so far, even though the mobile version is an absolute disaster. You can spend hours creating your own kits on your desktop or laptop, and then upload them to the game in the same way you did the option file. Each team can have up to 4 kits, so there’s no need to replace the real-life 2019/20 kits which are already there. 

Oh, and yes - these custom kits can be used in myClub and Master League. Otherwise, there’d be no point in bothering. 

Give the Gameplay a Chance

The first time you kick-off in Pro Evo, things might feel a little… strange. 

After years of sticking to FIFA, you will have grown accustomed to playing in a certain way - this most probably involves holding down the sprint button at every opportunity or bending in long-distance finesse shots every 5 minutes. Be honest, you know that’s basically what you’ve been doing. 

PES feels completely different at first. After 4 or 5 games, however, you’ll start to feel much more comfortable with how everything works. Of course, this is why it’s such a crying shame that so many people give up on it too quickly, especially since Konami’s gameplay has been streets ahead of EA for a couple of years now. 

Patiently timing your tackles is crucial in PES. Image from Konami.

Build Up

Whereas FIFA will yield mind-boggling skill moves and outrageous overhead kicks, PES will have you screaming “THAT IS LIQUID FOOTBALL!” at your TV time and time again. While this might be terrible news for your elderly neighbours, there’s no question that the slower pace of Pro Evo feels so much more rewarding. 

It’s just so damn realistic. FIFA’s ping-pong passes make way for slow, methodical build-up play, and accurate through balls are far more valuable than optimistic long-range shots. At times, PES 2021 genuinely feels like you’re playing a game of chess out on a football pitch, and it’s all about exploiting the right spaces. 

Ball Physics

At risk of sounding like a crazy person, the ball feels a lot different on PES. In fact, this was one of the biggest challenges I found with switching from FIFA. 

How can I put this? The ball feels… looser. It never feels like it’s locked onto one particular player, whereas FIFA seems much more programmed and predictable. At first, I didn’t like this at all, since it didn’t feel as though I was in full control of the ball and I couldn’t keep possession for very long at all. Cue the noob police. 

But now I think it’s fantastic. This sense of unpredictability means every move feels different, creating the type of fluid gameplay EA could only dream of. After pouring hours into PES 2020 (which is essentially the same game), I can safely say this is the most authentic game of football I’ve experienced on a console.

Yes, that even includes Sensible Soccer. 

Some players, such as Messi, have their own unique player ID. Image from Konami.


Don’t just run at the player on the ball to win possession back. While this might be okay sometimes, PES is all about exposing spaces and threading through passes to attackers, so racing out with your centre-backs is usually a very bad idea. 

Instead, you need to be patient. Keep control of your centre-back to close off the passing lanes, then use the second man press (just hold ◻ on PS4) to have another player race towards the ball. Thankfully, this is quite similar to how defending works in FIFA, so it shouldn’t take you too long to get the hang of it. 

Start With a Low Difficulty

You might be quite comfortable cranking every game of FIFA up to Legendary. In fact, I’m a fairly average player, and I found myself blowing teams out of the water on Ultimate difficulty. Of course, this is what makes Career Mode go so stale so quickly. 

PES presents much more of a challenge, and there’s certainly no shame in playing on a lower difficulty and working your way up. In fact, you’d be pretty stupid not to. Pro Evo’s Top Player and Superstar modes are notoriously tough, so jumping straight in with these difficulty settings will soon have the CPU completely embarrassing you. 

Obviously, I learned this the hard way. 

To be honest, it’s probably even worth trying out some of Konami’s skill games to learn the mechanics first. I know, I know - training drills are never usually much fun, but they’re genuinely worth the time for players transitioning from FIFA. 

MyClub vs Ultimate Team

If you buy FIFA solely for Ultimate Team, then PES 2021 isn’t for you. 

Despite working in a very similar way, Konami’s version feels like a bare-bones version of FUT - at least, this was true for PES 2020. Ultimate Team basically has much more going on: more game modes, more updates, more ways to play. So, if you’re only planning on playing myClub, I would honestly advise you to stick with EA. 

myClub doesn’t have as much to offer as Ultimate Team. Image from PES 2019.

However, if you’re like me and prefer to dabble between different game modes, then myClub is actually a much better alternative. Although microtransactions still exist, it doesn’t feel quite so intense, and one of my biggest gripes with Ultimate Team is the fact it makes you feel like you have to play so many games a week. Everything seems like a grind. 

Since myClub is much more basic, it means it’s easier for casual players to keep up and have fun. Don’t get me wrong, I still plan on sinking a fair few hours into myClub, but the immersive Master League is undoubtedly Pro Evo’s biggest mode, especially since they’ve announced so many awesome changes.

myClub Basics

I won’t go into too much detail here, but myClub replaces Team Chemistry with Team Spirit, which will improve every time certain players play together. This basically means you can actually put together your dream team and let them gel, rather than worrying about seeing as many green “chemistry lines” as possible. 

Your players will also get better every time you play them, so it’s always more rewarding to stick by your team rather than constantly bringing in replacements. On that note, the transfer market is also very different on PES, and you’ll be bidding for agents rather than players. These agents can then be used to find the players you want. 

It’s an incredibly refreshing experience, and makes a nice change from the aggressive commercialism of Ultimate Team. I can’t wait to get started. 

Setting Your Formation

Auba isn’t as good out wide, but Kolasinac and Bellerin improve at full-back positions. Image from PES 2020.

I don’t like Konami’s menus. I don’t like them at all. They look about 20 years behind the design and navigation of FIFA, which is why so many players will dismiss it as a cheap rip-off. However, you’re choosing PES because of the experience on the pitch, not off it. 

Fortunately, you can whizz by a lot of these menus on your way to playing a match (big fan of seeing Scott McTominay up there, by the way). The one place you’re bound to spend a lot of time is the Game Plan screen which, again, is pretty horrible to use. I mean, who thought the click and drag approach was a good idea? 

One benefit here is that this lets you drag players into entirely new positions - for example, you can pull your right-winger out wider or defensive mid much deeper. Depending on where you place a particular player, their stats will actually increase or decrease on the screen, telling you how effective they are in that area. 

When your top players all like to play similar positions, this turns everything into a realistic balancing act. You need to find a way to get the best out of your players, rather than just shoving in the 11 with the top OVR rating. It’s a nice challenge. 

When Do PES 2021 and FIFA 21 Come Out?

PES 2021 releases in the UK on 15th September. FIFA 21 releases on 6th October 2020, while EA Access members can get hold of the game a week early. 

When the games officially release, you can compare prices at FOOTY.COM to find the best deal. If you’re struggling to choose between them, we might even help you get your hands on both of them this season! 

Ben Hyde

Rubbish FIFA player with an addiction to buying football shirts which are way too cool for me.