Seasonal Showdown: FIFA 16 vs. PES 2016

There was a time when Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer was the supreme football game, eclipsing the offerings made by EA’s FIFA. However, over the course of the last generation, the balance of power shifted and FIFA gained dominance. While Konami struggled to attract fans back to PES with average games, EA was exploring new ways to make football titles even more enticing. Now though, PES has returned stronger than ever to challenge for the title that FIFA has held for so long.

Of course, the first thing you’ll see as you boot up each game are the menus, and FIFA 16 has a much smoother and cleaner looking user interface compared to PES 16. The menus are more clearly presented in EA’s game with simple to navigate tabs, while PES 16 feels a bit more jumbled, and while it looks good the UI just isn’t as friendly. The real difference though is noticeable in the team management screen, with the squad formation screen much better organised in FIFA 16 than PES 16. In FIFA you can clearly differentiate between who is on the sub bench, and who is in the reserves, but PES makes that difficult to figure out, and you have to double check selections just to make sure you haven’t left your star striker on the bench.

FIFA again has the advantage when it comes to content, while PES looks a touch bare-bones. Most of this is down to the fact that Konami simply can’t compete with EA’s hold on licenses, and its vast array of real clubs and accurate squads. Sure, PES can try to compete with the UEFA Champions League, but without updated transfers in the game or real club names for the majority of teams it is a situation that is hard to beat.


PES 16 also tries to compete with MyClub, an alternative to FIFA’s Ultimate Team, but in comparison there just isn’t enough of a draw. In MyClub you don’t open packs or scour the transfer market for players. Instead you use in-game points to acquire a scout and then send them off to search. This search consists of going to a screen where different coloured footballs rotate, and you press a button for the rotation to slow to a halt. The ball then bursts to reveal the player your club has acquired, who you can then put into your squad or use as a trainer to improve another player before leaving the squad.

Ultimate Team is simply the better experience, particularly as it boasts a much more active player base and a transfer market where you can snap up a bargain should you play your cards right. There’s nothing quite like opening a pack and finding that you’ve got a top in-form player lurking inside. While both PES and FIFA have tournaments and leagues within MyClub and Ultimate Team, it is FIFA’s offerings that stand tall here.

FIFA also has the addition of women’s teams for the first time in either series’ history. At the moment that offering is a little lacklustre with just 12 international teams, but it is a start and once again leaves PES 16 on the back foot. The women’s football is well implemented within FIFA with very little difference in terms of gameplay between that and the male side of the game. There’s just as much skill required to beat the top teams that women’s international football has to offer.

The Career modes are remarkably similar though, with both FIFA 16 and PES 16 pretty much identical in how things are presented. Of course there is more depth to FIFA 16’s career mode in terms of how many teams you can select from, and the way training works. Otherwise though transfer negotiations and club objectives don’t differ too much, with each of these being interchangeable. However, FIFA does have extra pre-season competitions to hone your squad with, while PES 16 seems to prefer to throw you straight into the season and onto the pitch.


Regardless of licensing, presentation or modes this rivalry is really settled on the pitch. While Konami and EA have created football games they’ve made them to have their own pros and cons that makes it a lot harder to judge whether PES 16 or FIFA 16 is the best game this year. In fact that really is a subjective now because it all depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for.

FIFA 16 is an incredibly good looking football game, though at the same time very similar to both FIFA 15 and FIFA 14 thanks to the Ignite engine – PES’s Fox Engine is still excellent, but cannot match FIFA’s visuals. Don’t expect a major graphical overhaul between last year’s offering and this one. The gameplay does however feel different, and games are much more challenging too. Goalkeepers are considerably tougher to score against as they catch the long balls, dive at players feet, and parry away shots with much more consistency. While this more intelligent goalkeeping brings a better sense of realism, it does feel like risk has been sacrificed.

It is a lot harder to score spectacular goals in FIFA 16 and this in turn can make proceedings a bit boring at times. In fact, things feel safe and predictable for most of the time, particularly as you can see where the ball is going to be passed or fall every time it’s hit. Additionally, through all the time I’ve played FIFA 16, I don’t think I’ve scored a goal I will remember, with most being pretty simple affairs.

PES 2016, on the other hand, is a much more unpredictable affair on the pitch, because you never know if a shot is going to go in or where the ball will land if it ricochets up into the air. The opposition AI is strongest in defence and will close down your players quickly, making up for the goalkeepers who aren’t as good at stopping shots as their FIFA counterparts. It is easier to score in PES 16 compared to FIFA 16, but you will work for those goals and when the ball hits the net it still feels sweet.

PES 16 also seems to reward risk and has players taking more interesting shots compared to FIFA 16, such as the above wonder goal, as Ibrahimovic popped up to score an incredible volley from a long range free kick. These ‘something from nothing’ chances are more prevalent in PES 16 than FIFA 16. When playing PES 16 the dribbling feels smoother too, but defensive play like tackling seems to be about the same compared to FIFA 16.

PES 16 is also a faster game alongside this, with action that moves from end to end really quickly, whereas FIFA 16 is a more methodical affair that focusses on the battle in midfield and has you probing for weakness of the opposition before bursting through the ranks to try and beat the keeper. In PES 16 it definitely feels like the majority of the action is either in the opposition’s box or yours, allowing for more shots to be taken as the defence tries to close players down. As a result PES 16 is a bit more arcade-like, while FIFA 16 continues to aim for a more realistic and lifelike approach.

Recommending one game over the other is tough and is much more reliant on your personal preference. If you’re looking to play either Ultimate Team or MyClub then FIFA 16 is the clear winner due to its depth, and if you want to play a game that has a myriad array of modes, then again FIFA 16 is the winner. On the pitch though, things are different enough that playing both may be warranted. FIFA has the simulation formula down and if you enjoyed the gameplay of FIFA 15 then you may enjoy EA’s latest, though you’ll have to get used to the much tougher goalkeepers. If you fancy something that is a lot more unpredictable, risk rewarding, and arcade-like then PES 16 is the game for you.

There’s not really an outright winner between FIFA 16 or PES 16, since they both offer a rather different experience. It’s clear that Konami is now back at in peak condition with PES 16, while FIFA 16 changes just enough from FIFA 15 to make it a good upgrade, as EA ride the wave of their recent successes. For me PES 16 is the football game that exudes fun, but FIFA 16 is the game that will hold attention longer simply due to offering more things to do.


  1. I think EA have done a great job this year, expanding on all modes. Player and Manager Careers have training features, and pre-season tournaments; FUT has Draft mode; there’s the addition of Women’s football; the new training drills. It’s much more than just an annual refresh.

    They’ve also done a great job to balance pace, with physical strength, and as such the better player seems to win more often than not.

    Haven’t really played Pro Evo but I didn’t take to the demo. Probably should have stuck with it for a while, but I can’t cope without the licences. It would be like having Gran Turismo, without real car manufacturers.

    • FIFA has been utterly incredible this year.

      Pace is finally balanced and its glorious, lets the rest of the game shine.

  2. PES is a great football game and that is enough. It also in my opnion has much better graphics in terms of lighting and dynamic visuals than Fifa i.e. stadium effects etc. Its myclub is an interesting mode too which is in the same vein as FUT but you can also sim matches against an opponent which is surprisingly entertaining.

    But no matter what PES does, its lack of licences does it no good. Master league is great and the gameplay is also-but in the face of FUT which is an absolute juggernaut, Fifa is the better game for most people out there wanting a social football game.

    Hopefully myclub improves because PES has turned around so much over the past 2 years.

  3. Loving PES 2016 at the moment, I get to feel as though the buttons I press really do translate to the on screen action, and when I do mess up and concede a daft goal I realise it was my fault and wasn’t through some stupid scripted action as in Fifa.

    Oh and you call THAT an insane Ibra goal? Take a look at my overhead backheel goal ;)

    • That’s the most stupid, yet best goal ever! ;)

      FIFA doesn’t seem scripted this year – there are a lot of people saying they’re FIFA “Veterans” and are losing a lot this year.

      • Cheers :) It was a cracking goal…not repeated anything like it since!

        I played a few Fifa 16 games last night, and a couple just now after work and you know what…. I still saw the most bullshit of goals. Scripting/Momentum they may not have been but totally ridiculous bullshit goals? Definitely. Fifa (15 and 16) just makes me so mad sometimes, utter nonsense goals. When I concede in PES 2016 I at least feel responsible ALL of the time. ;)

        Oh and the replay feature on PES is skippable, so even though you may be still playing an utter douchebag…. they do not have the opportunity to replay the whole thing 3 times! All after “shusshing” you before hand of course.

        Plus the whole rating system in matchmaking does mean there is a disincentive to quit when you are losing. It’s great to actually finish a high scoring match, rather than the idiot opposition quitting at 2:0 down as in Fifa. So, another couple of pluses in the PES camp ;)

        PES certainly is a long way from perfect, with special note being the appalling presentation, and the mind numbingly long “matchmaking” times, but I just don’t get that love/hate relationship. More a love/tsk relationship!

    • Epic goal & only that man could pull such a brilliant goal.

    • That goal is quite incredible.

    • Woww. Dare to Zlatan.

  4. Hands down pro Evo is the superior footy game this season, it’s a shame that the die hard gullible FIFA fans that think the little change makes FIFA good, I find that every year since FIFA 14 (first FIFA game I played) has been nothing but a downgrade.

    But after all that, I find myself putting pro to one side & jumping onto pro clubs. I am just addicted to pro clubs

    • FIFA 14 was the worst FIFA game in years though, if you liked it I can see why you think the others were downgrades, but most long term FIFA players hated how overpowered pacy wingers and heading were.

      • That was my first FIFA game so wouldn’t know about the ones before 14 but it felt solid compared to 15 & 16

  5. I think each franchise can suffer from fatigue if purchased year in year out. I’m a PES fan but during the dark days of last gen I was entertained by FIFA though I never brought myself to buy a copy I still found it quite refreshing.

    Honestly I don’t get the license debate for 2 reasons, especially this year since you can import kits on most (all?) platforms:

    1. It’s not really konami’s fault as they cannot compete financially with EA. If anything I’d like to see licenses become available for all since that will breed better competition and who knows maybe then TIF would return?

    2. I guess there are no FIFA fans who are football manager players since that’s the king of football (management) sims and has little in the way of licenses. It wouldn’t make sense to beat down one game over it and tolerate another.

    I do think PES could and should have a lot more content like teams, stadiums etc as that is solely down to them.

    • I don’t blame Konami for not having the licences – as you say they can’t compete – but when a lot of games are trying to be as realistic as possible or immersive, having all the tiny details makes it feel more complete. That’s not going to be the case for everyone, but I think it adds to my enjoyment of the game.

      Also, with a lot of divisions across Europe, people who support lower league clubs from the Championship and Football League can try and get their teams to the Premiership etc!

  6. Its good that there’s two good Football games on the market. Every year tho, I’ve always liked PES more for the offline experience. It was much more exciting with the A,I as well since Fifa’s seems so brain-dead. Licenses never bothered me, I’d always play a premier league or a Brazilian team along with Serie A. Though, it really needs the stadium editor back along with more made up ones.

    Also does Fifa 16 have auto subs and better tactics this year because it baffles me that it hasn’t been in the game for so long. Its so handy in PES.

  7. The licensing really isnt an issue anymore, atleast on the PS4, as konami have allowed PS4 users to import kits. Also I’d like to write a review for PES 2016 for the TSA as I’ve played the game thoroughly since it’s release and have a history with both FIFA and PES

  8. “…and arcade-like then PES 16 is the game for you.”

    PES 16 is NOT arcade-like, not at all! In FIFA you just need the fastest players. The weather physics in PES is also superior to FIFA, and their license situation improves every year.

  9. I dont know why they have ported the PS3 version to PC, that really sucks. You can really tell the difference. I get frame hitching and stuttering all the time, the Demo on PS4 is much smoother.

  10. To me PES is surely in every way possible. Kits are easy to import. Also I perfer MyClub to FUT. MyClub mode just has that one more game feel until you realise ‘oh no it’s 2am.’

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