FIFA 15 vs. PES 2015: the definitive comparison

Soccer fanatics, semi-professional players, virtual coaches and video game fans get together every year to passionately discuss the same dilemma: FIFA or PES?

The discussion is more lively than ever here at Softonic. Editors Alessandro and Daniel have spent hours playing FIFA 15 and PES 2015, and after some spectacular goals, goal line clearances, and a lot of mistakes, they’ve picked sides in the battle: Alessandro prefers EA’s FIFA 15, while Daniel’s leaning more towards Konami’s PES 2015.

For both games, Daniel and Alessandro analyzed the most important factors: gameplay, graphics, tactics, licenses, and feeling on the pitch. Keeping an open mind, they simulated a soccer game between the two soccer heavyweights to determine the best soccer sim of the year.

Gameplay

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Animations

Daniel – PES 2015: I was really impressed with the animations of PES this year. Even the demo lets you appreciate Konami’s hard work. In the games we played, there were several high quality moves; a high pass made ​​by Hamsik with the outside right foot found Higuain alone in front of the net, allowing him to finish off with a half volley bicycle kick, and it looked great.

As I got to see at E3, PES 2015 let me enjoy more freedom of movement: the classic problem of running on the spot is now a thing of the past. Not only that, players can now maneuver better with less space, being able to lose defenders with feints that are much closer to what’s possible in reality. The difference is huge when compared with FIFA, where players can execute moves with feints and tricks that are completely unrealistic.

The return of the PES ID– where individual players have their own style and animation– and its extension to more players makes PES 2015 even more realistic. In the old PES, you could recognize Roberto Carlos’ style of gameplay, but now it’s even better. Ronaldo, for example, is identifiable from each frame and motion, almost as if you’re in front of the TV watching a Champions League game.

Even the one-on-ones with the goalkeeper seem much more realistic. In FIFA 15, it’s almost impossible to score with a lob, and it’s one of the most common shots in these situations! In PES 2015, on the other hand, everything seems more natural, which we saw on several occasions.

Speaking of goalkeepers: they’re more realistic too. The goalies of PES 2015 have improved significantly, especially when they’re outside the box, anticipating shots from strikers much more intelligently. Then you have then animations that you see in the stadium, like when players’ momentum takes them off the field, in danger of falling over the ad hoardings.

Alessandro – FIFA 15: Yes, it is true, PES 2015 offers gameplay improvements, movement, and an impressive looking new graphics engine (the FOX engine), but despite a general improvement in the animations, it seems like Konami still has some work to do on its sometimes slow and cumbersome animations.

In FIFA 15, animations have improved too, and while PES is catching up, it’s not up to FIFA’s standards yet. In FIFA 15, players also react emotionally to gameplay. Players will look angry if things go wrong, just like in real life!

You mention PES ID, but we saw how well players move in FIFA. The fast dribbling of Messi, the physical power of Cristiano Ronaldo in one-on-ones, or the ball stopping stop control typical of Aguero are just a few examples where you can really feel the individual player you are controlling.

In terms of goalies, I only partly agree with Daniel. I found the PES goalkeepers less realistic, alternating between extreme calm and stillness, and exaggerated movement. In FIFA 15, however, the goalkeepers are more responsive and have 50 new animations, created by digitizing the movements of Howard, Everton’s goalkeeper. The result is extraordinary: they seem instinctive, coming out of the box fluidly, punching away shots, touching the ball with fingertips, and much more. Seeing is believing.

Conclusion: FIFA wins. 1-0.

Physics

Daniel – PES 2015: The physics of the ball in PES 2015 is significantly improved compared to previous years. In past games, it felt like kicking around a bowling ball: players seemed to kick the ball heavily as they ran across the field.

Now, however, the ball behaves in a much more natural way, especially in precision shots, where you can see much more realistic effects. Even in the contact between the players, you can almost feel the sweat on the opponent while taking on physical battles during the game.

I know it’s far from perfect, but I’m convinced that the small defects that are attributable to the features and demos will be fixed in the final version. If we’re talking strictly about physical improvements, the steps taken by PES 2015 are huge, while FIFA has changed almost nothing compared to last year.

Alessandro – FIFA 15: I don’t agree. Personally, after making huge claims, I was expecting PES 2015 to have more realistic physics. The ‘bowling ball’ effect remains for me, although it does seem a bit less pronounced. The ball is still ‘heavy’, some trajectories don’t seem believable, and throws-ins don’t feel right. This is the complete opposite to FIFA, where the physics of the ball almost verges on perfection: the trajectories of shots and crosses are clean and natural, and the deviations and rebounds are very convincing.

True, player contact has improved in PES (and it took time), but players falling after a foul looks a little fake. FIFA is clearly ahead in this regard; here, physical power and timing are crucial for winning a tackle, and if the opponent escapes, you can grab his shirt to stop him.

Conclusion: FIFA scores again. 2-0.

Artificial intelligence and style of play

Alessandro – FIFA 15: FIFA 15’s AI is much improved. Your can give players personalized orders and ask for specific movements on the field. For example, you can ask the attacker to pressure the opposing defense in possession of the ball, or ask the left wing defender for offensive support, to name a few. Players follow directions in an intelligent way, allowing for more experienced plays and strategies to shape the team according to the philosophy of the game.

The AI is also brilliant when talking about opponents. Your rivals are now able to interpret your style of play and adapt their strategy to changes in the game . If you’re wining 1-0 just a few minutes from the final whistle, expect pressure from your opponent (taking the chance to play on a break), or vice versa; you can surge forward to the bitter end to if your opponent is ahead in the last minutes of the game.

Finally, I can’t say anything without mentioning the corners. You can now choose between 4 predefined strategies on corner kicks: directing the ball towards the first or second post, on the edge of the area, or into a mass of players in front of the box. It’s great for increasing the unpredictability of corner kicks.

Daniel – PES 2015: Even though the teams in PES 2015 won’t be wearing official shirts, you’ll still be able to recognize them by the way they play. The re-creation of the way that each team plays is good enough to make it hard to distinguish between reality and fiction. Real Madrid plays with speed in counter-attacks, Barcelona makes a lot of short passes, while Atletico Madrid is defense-minded.

The AI of individual players, in your team and your opponents, are really amazing. While you’re attacking, your teammates move up the field and take the wings to open up space in case you want to make a pass. This also makes the game more fun, so much so that you feel like you’re playing with other “soccer smart” people on your team. Compare this with FIFA, where you often feel abandoned and alone on the field.

In this demo, I saw opponents do things that FIFA players have never been able to appreciate. Individual players react very well to situations in which you have to act instinctively, like when a defender is clearing the ball and must sweep it away immediately, when the attacker sees an unguarded net and pulls away, or when a goalkeeper comes out of his box to anticipate an attacker.

In addition, even in PES, there are tactical options for corners, but you can also take a player and strategically place him where you want him to be able to better take advantage of a corner.

Conclusion: PES scores. 2-1.

Graphics

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Player realism and the field

Alessandro – FIFA 15: The next-gen graphics engine in FIFA 15 looks incredible. The field degrades during the game, while the uniforms of the players get covered in dirt and grass during the matches and move in a natural way.

This isn’t the case with PES: when you score a goal, for example, the ball hitting the net seems really unnatural. In short, PES seems like a step back, not being 100% aesthetically pleasing.

On the other hand, the two simulators seem equal when it comes to each players’ physical resemblance to the real thing. Features, expressions, scars, hair cuts, beards: every detail is reproduced with meticulous detail in both FIFA and PES. I must admit, however, that on the ground level, the Konami game is really impressive .

Daniel – PES 2015: Player resemblance in PES 2015 is amazing; all of the most famous players are perfectly recognizable and their every feature is faithfully reproduced, as Alessandro noted, even down to the haircuts.

I think that from the point of view players in Pro Evolution Soccer, it’s a cut above those in FIFA 15. During replays especially, you can appreciate the attention to detail, such as the eyeline of the players, which follows the movements of the ball and the action.

Conclusion: No one scores. Still 2-1.

Stadium atmosphere

Daniel – PES 2015: Pro Evolution Soccer has always been a step ahead in terms of setting and atmosphere, and this continues to improve year after year. In PES 2015, your living room seems to turn into a stadium every time you start a game.

In the stands, the fans are enthusiastic, and each time the action moves closer to one of the goals, the audience’s excitement grows, just like in reality. In addition, the cheers change from team to team, showcasing which team is playing in their home stadium. Even the banners on the sideline give the impression of watching a real game.

Alessandro – FIFA 15: Daniel hit the mark. Pro Evolution Soccer has always enjoyed a certain advantage in terms of atmosphere. This year, however, I think that FIFA has caught up. For me, both simulators now let you believe you are at the stadium.

EA has fixed a lot of details off the field: on the sidelines, you’ll see LED ads, ball boys ready to give back the ball, cameraman, coaches, and lots more. Above all though, you’ll see a graphically well-defined and participatory audience.

Why FIFA? Because the crowd in the stands is more dynamic and alive, while in PES, fans often move overly mechanically. I agree on the absolute domination of Pro Evolution Soccer with regard to the banners in the stands, but did you notice that while changing teams, some of the slogans are repeated?

Conclusion: Stalemate again. 2-1.

Celebrations and Replays

Daniel – PES 2015: The details in PES player celebrations are amazing. After scoring a goal, Vidal runs towards the curve mimicking a heart with his hands– exactly like he does in real life! Even when I played with Bayern at E3, Ribery approached the camera, grabbed it, and shook it with both hands while screaming into it. These kinds of details in PES are just amazing.

Even the replays are a highlight of the series. The auto replays may not be as spectacular, but the freedom to manually move the camera during replays allows you to watch the goals from every angle and zoom the camera in on every player’s face.

Alessandro – FIFA 15: A goal should be celebrated. Always. EA knows this, and it’s introduced new ways to celebrate, digitizing real celebrations from real soccer games. Unlike Konami’s game, where the type of celebration is decided automatically, FIFA lets you choose (with a special combination of buttons) how you want to celebrate a goal you’ve just scored. You can choose between tens of celebrations!

After the goal, you can’t miss the replay to relive your best moments. Even here, FIFA 15 has caught up when compared to PES. The replay system has been revisited in the EA game, with results that are more realistic: the replays have been cut much more like they are on TV, and the movements and angles of the camera make you feel as if you were reviewing the highlights of the match in front of the TV.

Tactics and strategies

Alessandro – FIFA 15: The tactics and strategy system in PES has always been better than that of FIFA, especially in recent years. But now, EA has finally caught up.

The renewed tactics menu makes it easier to customize your formation. It’s also possible to give custom instructions to each player. You can get your center forwards to run in behind defenders or to press the opposing team whenever they’re not in possession of the ball. You can give freedom of movement to the superstar player, get the wingers to help out in defense, or have the center backs push up and play as strikers if you’re in the last minutes of the game and you desperately need a goal. The new system allows you to do all this and much more.

Yes. PES has added the ability to use different styles of play based on the context of the game: early in the match, with or without possession of the ball. However, in this aspect of the game, not much has changed. Then again, why should you change a winning formula?

Daniel – PES 2015: Exactly. You don’t change a winning formula. You make specific adjustments to resolve minor problems or to make improvements. The tactics and strategy system in PES has always been fantastic, and while you can criticize the aesthetics of the interface, you certainly can’t say anything bad about the practicality of all the tools it provides.

Changing the behavior of the team based on the situation of the game increases the simulation aspect of PES 2015, once again confirming that Konami is dedicated to providing a complete range of soccer dynamics on a virtual field.

FIFA 15 has undergone some major changes and more importantly, many features and tactics that were absent before have now been added.

I do have some doubts as to how much impact all of these aspects and tactics will actually have on the game though. Between the two, I think I’d rather stick with the winning formula, namely the tactics and strategies of PES.

Conclusion: FIFA comes out strong with a counterattack by PES. 2-2.

Team licenses, stadiums and competitions

Daniel – PES 2015: The chaaaampioooons! Hearing the song of the most important European competition gave me goosebumps, as did the view of the starry banner laid out in the middle of the pitch by the UEFA ball boys. In short, being able to play in the Champions League in PES 2015 is a unique experience, as it is for the Europa League, European Super Cup and the Copa Libertadores.

FIFA 15 doesn’t offer official competitions, so you’re forced to play the standard championship or made up tournaments, but I think Konami could make a bit more effort to obtain licenses, at least for all the major teams, stadiums, and European competitions. Nevertheless, the fact that I can see my team play in the Champions league (in the game at least) is truly amazing!

FIFA vs PES - Licenses

Alessandro – FIFA 15: The work done by EA is impressive. There are over 25 championships, all licensed. You also have the complete Premier League, along with all the stadiums from the first division. In short, there is something for everyone.

The range of licenses offered by PES is notoriously worse: only leagues from Argentina, Spain, France and the Netherlands are fully licensed, while leagues from Brazil, the United Kingdom, Italy and Portugal have only partial licenses. Having the rights to the Champions League, Europa League, European Super Cup and the Copa Libertadores doesn’t compensate for the clear difference.

Conclusion: FIFA retakes the lead: 3-2.

Feeling of the game

Alessandro – FIFA 15: FIFA has been substantially improved in terms of gameplay, animations and responsive controls. What’s more, it really gives you the impression of a stadium atmosphere. Playing is fun and, and above all, the game is particularly entertaining. On top of that, the multiplayer mode, skill games, and endless game modes will keep you glued to the screen. The goalkeepers, on the other hand, aren’t exactly impeccable, and at times it’s a bit too easy to score a solo goal using fast or highly skilled players.

For its part, PES 2015 gave me a nice surprise. The generation gap has given new life to the simulator by Konami. The gameplay has been significantly improved, as has the responsiveness of the controls and the physics of the ball. It  does, however, still need a little something extra to be on par with FIFA. Nevertheless, the jump in quality is obvious, particularly regarding the specific movements of the players and the control touches, which are truly exceptional. I still prefer FIFA, but I must admit that PES has regained much of the charm it had lost in recent years.

Daniel – PES 2015: The game by Konami manages to reproduce the atmosphere of great soccer, along with events such as the Champions League. What’s more, the sensation of playing has been refined to perfection. Although the graphics in FIFA 15 are still a little better than PES 2015, where contact between players and movement on the pitch could still be improved, as far as the “feeling” of soccer goes, Konami takes the prize this year.

PES 2015 is a true simulator. The transitions, the movement of players, the team play, the AI of opposing teams, and its reproduction of different playing styles give you the experience of real soccer simulation.

I was a little disappointed with FIFA 15. Although it has been improved, the game by EA seems more arcade than it was a year ago, not only because of the many things you’re able to do with the ball, but also because it seems like you have slightly less control over the players. Of course, everyone will have their own opinions, but this is the impression that I have this year!

Conclusion: PES changes formation forces FIFA to defend. 3-3.

The final whistle goes as one an intense game comes to an end

In our first test with the demo versions, PES 2015 fell short of FIFA 15 by one goal. The fact that EA was ahead at the end of the first half was mainly due to a slight delay in the preparation of Konami’s game, with the full version having been released on November 13.

Now that it’s back, PES 2015 has regained the upper hand with a game that’s much more convincing than it has been in recent years. Although FIFA 15 has introduced many new features and still has fantastic physics along with great animations, Konami has managed to catch up in many aspects, successfully replicating the feeling of a soccer game in a way that it’s never done before.

Ultimately, the preference remains a matter of taste. However, if you are a fan of virtual soccer, the choice this year is certainly more difficult than ever.

Download the full games: PES 2015 | FIFA 15

Original article written in Italian by Alessandro Licitra and Daniel Barranger.

Original article published September 23rd, 2014, regarding the demo.

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