For a number of years, soccer video games have proven to be one of the most popular offerings in the sports genre, even in the American market. It seems that the American belief that soccer is boring is quickly becoming the opinion of the minority, as both major soccer franchises- "FIFA" and "PES"- have seen great success. This is nothing new for the rest of the world, of course, but for anyone in America or anyone else who doesn't have a favorite franchise in the world of soccer video games, which of the two franchises is offering the best game for their 2016 iteration? Read on to find out.
On the PS2 and Xbox, "Pro Evolution Soccer" was widely regarded as the better of the two games. When the PS3 and 360 hit, though, the tide turned quickly in "FIFA's" favor, as "PES" reviews weren't the greatest and sales quickly plummeted. Now that both franchises have landed on the PS4 and the Xbox One, will the scales tip back in "PES"'s favor? Answer: They just might.
It's too early to be sure what the sales for the two franchises will tell us, but gameplay wise, "PES" is a very satisfying game to play. If you're a "FIFA" vet, you're gonna have to rely a little bit less on your controller skill and instead learn a little more about positioning tactics, formation, etc; which means that strategists will definitely want to give this one a try. In addition, the feeling of being control is tighter than it has been in years, and when something goes wrong on your end, it's usually your fault, not the game's.
"FIFA" on the other hand, while suffering from "Madden Disease," or "COD-itis" (how do you improve something that's already pretty much been improved as much as possible?) offers just enough new features to get "FIFA" fans excited. For the first time, women's national teams are in the game (great way to get your girlfriend interested!), and there is also the ability to control the length of your tackle, dribble separate from the ball, and a couple of new defensive moves that give the player better control.
Graphically, both games look great, but "FIFA" has the slight advantage. All of the innovations in "PES" might make the graphical sacrifice worth it, but the better visuals and the sleekness of the UI make "FIFA" a more impressive game to show off to your friends.
Speaking of your friends, both soccer franchises have proven their worth as great games to sit on the couch with a few friends and share the screen for. Of course, it's no fun to play a game with someone who has no clue what they're doing, so how do these two stack up when it comes to accessibility? Well, both are easy to learn but difficult to master, but it seems like "FIFA" again has the advantage just because of its more arcade-style gameplay. If you think of the two franchises like racing games, "PES" is more "Forza" while "FIFA" is kind of like "Need for Speed." Because of the accessibility, this means that casual gamers will be more likely to purchase "FIFA" just because they feel more comfortable with it, so if your heart is set on "PES" after reading this, keep in mind that you may have to buy both games just to stay social.
Since we can't talk about sales yet, it's hard to make a 100% definitive decision, but at this point I would say that the competition is at a stalemate, and only because different aspects of each game will appeal to different types of players. "PES" makes a ton of innovations and feels really rewarding to play, which will increase replay value, but the incredible following that "FIFA" has built in recent years due to the fast-paced, arcadey feel will win over the casual crowd. In addition, the graphics look a little better and the addition of women's teams will increase the appeal even more. So the verdict is this- if you're a big soccer fan, plan on getting "PES". If you're just looking for a game to casually play with friends, stick with "FIFA."