FIFA 19 and PES 2019 are two excellent games, offering stellar interpretations of the beautiful game. But which game is the best? Is FIFA 19 good enough to persuade long-standing PES fans to jump ship? Or is PES 2019 able to lead FIFA fans to shun the need for licenses and Ultimate Team and join the team over at Konami? It’s been a slow year, with both PES and FIFA delivering iterative releases that have parked the bus, shrugging off big improvements for
Trusted Reviews has compared the two games and come together with what we think is the verdict on this year’s best game. Disagree? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Facebook.
FIFA 19 vs PES 2019 – Gameplay
A football game can be packed with loads of modes, shiny licenses and all the snazzy visuals it wants – but it won’t cut the mustard unless the gameplay is great.
Thankfully, both these titles really impress with the game of football they offer. However, each is quite different in their approach.
PES 2019 doesn’t alter the formula set by its predecessors. This isn’t a huge reinvention for the series, nor does it boast any huge advances. Yet, the multitude of smaller tweaks and changes make for the most realistic football we’ve ever seen on a console.
First touches are now more natural with a bevy of new animations and this adds an extra fluidity to the game. FIFA 19 works on its first touches too, with a new feature called ‘Active Touch System’. Flick the left stick when the ball is coming towards you and you’ll bring it down and move on quickly, letting you start a counter-attack without too much faff.
Passing is smooth in both games, but in PES 2019 there’s a bigger focus on build-up play. With FIFA, we’re always expecting players to get into the obvious positions and they never really seem to. Start a run in PES and you’ll also find something well placed to play the ball to.
We have also found that in FIFA you have have to learn so many more buttons combos than in PES. Curling a shot requires a combo, as does one-twos, but that’s not the case in PES 2019.
There are a couple of other new additions to FIFA 19. You can now quickly double-tap the shoot button to take a risk and have a shot perform better – more often than not though, in our experience, it makes things a lot more difficult. You can also use that Active Touch System we mentioned previously to flick the ball up and attempt an audacious volley from anywhere.
In our opinion, PES 2019 plays the better game of football. That’s taking nothing anything away from FIFA 19, which remains great. It’s just the slightly slower, more thought out play and marginally more realistic animations win us over.
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FIFA 18 vs PES 2018 – Graphics
PES 2019 continues to use the FOX Engine and there hasn’t been any massive upgrades over last year. Like the improvements to gameplay, small tweaks to the visuals are spread throughout.
You’ll notice there’s a huge divide between officially licensed players and teams – Messi or Coutinho, for example – and those that are not. The creative duo from Barcelona both look fantastic and the Camp Nou is rendered in stunning detail. Compare that to, say, Leicester’s team and the difference is monumental.
Lighting, however, does look very nice in PES 2019 – especially if you have an HDR TV and compatible consoles. There’s also 4K visuals available.
While we’re talking graphics, we have to talk presentation too. Like in previous years PES’ menus and UI are truly awful. This is same basic user interface we’ve had for years and it remains slow, ugly and frustrating.
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FIFA 19 suffers in a similar way to PES 2019 and you’ll notice that some players look a lot worse than others. In our opinion, facial details look better in FIFA and there’s more realism in expressions. Players in PES 2019 can often look a bit dead behind the eyes.
FIFA 19 also has PES 19 thoroughly beaten in terms of presentation. Everything is cleaner and quicker in FIFA, with a much more modern look.
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FIFA 19 vs PES 2019 – Modes
It might play an excellent game of football, but unfortunately Konami has failed to innovate in other areas. Actually, PES 2019 lacks some of the modes even offered by its predecessor.
Master League continues to be a nice idea, but one that falls short in many ways. The transfer system is ludicrously borked – Harry Maguire for 7m? Wilf Zaha for 19m? – and there’s no immersion thanks to terrible interactions with players. It at times feels like it was developed by someone who has never played, or even watched, football.
MyClub is still here and minor improvements do add something to the FIFA Ultimate Team rival. Featured Players – this is when real-life stars have a strong week in real-life leagues – are a nice touch and add some variety week-to-week.
The elephant in the room is, of course, the UEFA Europa League and Champions League license. Once a stalwart of the PES series, this year sees them move across to EA. This means all the references to the greatest club champions tournament (and the less illustrious sibling) are gone. This is a massive loss to PES 2019 and means it lacks even more big licenses. To make up for this loss, Konami has added extended licenses from the Scottish, German and Dutch leagues, along with marquee clubs likes Liverpool, Arsenal and Barcelona. You’ll still be deciphering EPL clubs from their geographical locations, though.
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This loss to PES is a huge gain to FIFA. In FIFA 19, the Champions League license is baked in everywhere: Ultimate Team, Kick-off, tournaments and online.
You can even go straight into playing the Champions League final – a really nice touch.
Kick-off might seem like a mode you’ll never touch, but that’s not the case in FIFA 19. EA has added a load of new ways to play and some are ridiculously fun. You can play a game where only heads and volleys count, or another option where you lose a player every time you score.
Aside from including nods to the Europa and Champions League, almost nothing else has changed in career mode. And that’s a shame. You’ve still got those clever real-time contract and transfer negotiations, which sees players and managers walk into your office and you engage in a dialogue to try and seal that deal, but even these become tedious after you’ve done a few.
‘The Journey: Champions’ is the final instalment in EA’s surprisingly successful single-player story and it’s the first to allow you to play as more than one character. Alex Hunter remains the hero, but you can switch to his friend Danny or sister Kim throughout. As you can probably imagine, the Champions League plays a big role in this year’s story.
The final part of the puzzle for FIFA is Ultimate Team. This card-based online and offline mode is hugely popular and equally as addictive. The only real updates to this are some UI tweaks, but you do benefit from Champions League updates and the gameplay benefits. If you weren’t an Ultimate Team fan before this likely won’t sway.
FIFA 19 vs PES 2019 – Verdict
Neither FIFA 19 nor PES 2019 are huge step-forwards. Instead they make smaller tweaks to the already familiar formula.
Both games feel more fluid than their predecessors and as a result offer up a more realistic game of football. FIFA’s new Active Touch System is arguably the biggest gameplay tweak across both games, and is a welcome addition.