It’s that time of year again. After doing the basic editing on PES 2016 with the kits at pesworld, my master league campaign is ready to go in the traditional manner. Excitement and heartbreak await. Much like a normal Aston Villa season.
Traditional Master league
The only way to play Master League is with the default players. This means whichever club you pick, their players are stripped out and replaced with the stock or default players. In years gone past the names of Espimas, Varany and Castello have rang out as fan favourites for years. The real players are then are deposited into the transfer market of the game for other clubs to snap up. On some occasions, you may be able to get one of your own players cheap at the beginning. I don’t consider this cheating as the finances involved in this mode are watertight. You run out of money and it’s game over. Sure you may be a United fan and want to buy De Gea as a free agent. Do it and you will lose, as his wages cripple your finances. The default players start as losers and some remain that way. It is up to you to lead your Mighty Ducks from rags to riches, selling the worst and replacing them along the way. It is possibly the most rewarding single player, offline mode in sports games. There is just something that makes you constantly drive your team forward. Playing one more game, just to tinker with your team. It is the perfect marriage of Football manager and a simulation. You make the tweaks then see how it plays out. Unlike FIFA, it really matters.
You desperately need a goalkeeper and some centre backs straight from the off. The default Keeper is ranked 60 and the centre backs aren’t much better. In a game where one overall point can make a huge difference, the second tier opposition is around 70-75. I conceded in my first ten seconds. The ball was played over the top and split my defence, leaving my keeper exposed. Even top keepers in the game can struggle with a one-on-one so you level 60 keeper may as well not be there. Scout some young keepers and get a cheap one in with room to develop. Same story for the defence. You can cherry pick some from your youth team, but they will take a time to get to a decent level. Like a real manager, you will need a mix of youth and experience to succeed. So get scouting and you will find a gem somewhere. Hence the appeal of getting to the next transfer window with enough money to make a difference.
The difficulty Level
In PES 2016 Top Player seems to be the Master League sweet spot. On this level, you still get the rarest of things, a satisfying defeat. In other games, a defeat is a frustrating often unfair event. In PES 2016 defeats are necessary. Some games play like you are on absolute fire, you dismantle teams 4 or 5 nil. A painful defeat lets you know you are on the correct level. My worst came last night. Blackburn and more importantly Jordan Rhodes had already eliminated me from The FA Cup 4-2. I was determined not to let my useless default defence fall prey to him again. 20 mins in I was 2-0 down, both from Rhodes. I clawed my way back with a well-worked goal but was still under immense pressure every time they attacked. Just before half-time, they made it 3-1. A few changes at half time involved me taking off the best default player Castledine and putting some steel into the midfield in the before unused Hettich. He was the tough tackler that changed the game. After a lucky escape when Rhodes (again) hit the post. I broke and scored on the counter. A cross and header later and it was 3-3. I saw the computer switch tactics to offensive. They carved my useless defenders up again, this time, Rhodes the provider. In the 86th minute a shot from Coutinho, my superstar striker is saved and the resulting rebound is bundled in by Yankov, my useless other striker. Joy unbounded as I punch the air. Unfortunately, 5 mins in PES is a lifetime and Rhodes set up his strike partner, before finishing the rout of my heartbroken team. It finished 6-4, despite losing in such a cruel manner, I had won the previous game thanks to a last-ditch saving tackle. PES Master League has a glorious way of throwing up these moments of high drama, despite the implausible scorelines. Treat this as a game, not a dour simulation that ends 1-0 or 1-1 each time. Don’t dwell on the high scorelines, just beat the opposition.
Master League is all consuming. It has taken over from the other excellent games I have this month to play. I am constantly thinking about playing another game until the lure of another match sucks me in. However, there comes a point in all Master League campaigns where you have a Zen-Like moment and become unbeatable. Usually, this is the season after promotion. If you are good enough to be promoted, then you are good enough to do damage in the league above. You have honed your team to a competitive level through transfers and development. Here is where an instalment of PES lives or dies. If the game keeps up the difficulty you will have many happy months of slogging your way to glory. If you break it too soon, you will go unbeaten for a season and win everything. It is a fine balance, that needs to be right for the game to succeed. By contrast FIFA 16 takes so long to do one season, that you never question the length. Either that or you switch between the multiple excellent game modes. Unfortunately, on PES Master League is it. The other modes a just not at the level of FIFA and as such are mere distractions.
So there you have it. Like a drug addiction, Master League is back with a vengeance. Stay tuned for how the game holds up when the promotion is finally achieved.
You can get the Euro 2016 Edition now