PES 2018 getting an online beta in July – and Usain Bolt as a playable character

Konami has always had a sharp eye for the unconventional when it comes to Pro Evolution Soccer. Remember the PES 3 cover featuring referee Pierluigi Collina, or the ability to replace player faces with animal heads? However, it's surely outdone itself by revealing that Usain Bolt is in PES 2018 (opens in new tab).

Yes: as in multi-time Olympic champion – and, for most, greatest track athlete of all time – Usain Bolt. He's been announced as an ambassador for the new game, and is unlockable within MyClub mode for those who pre-order, with his likeless (and sprint stats) accurately represented in game. 

If that sounds a bit mad, rest assured that the game's more traditional features appear to be coming along nicely too. For many PES 2017 (opens in new tab) was the pick of the two football games last year, and its looking to again overcome FIFA 18 (opens in new tab) with a series of tweaks based directly on fan feedback. One such move is the launch of an online Beta. From July 20 to July 31, it'll be possible to test out the new game in both Quick Match and Online Co-op modes. We'll have more details on how to sign up when they're released. 

Also garnering a big reaction from devoted fans are Master League improvements. Pre-season tournaments are now included in the mode to help you tune up for a fresh season, while pre-match interviews and locker room scenes mean you no longer leap into matches without any sense of occasion. Seasonal objectives also add challenge to the mode, with the threat of the sack if you don't match expectations.

I'll have a much more detailed look at PES 2018 at the back end of next week, after an extended hands-on and interview with series boss Adam Bhatti.

PES 2018 is released on 14 September.

Make sure you check out our full E3 2017 schedule (opens in new tab) to stay tuned for all the details as they arrive, and check out our roundup of all the E3 2017 trailers (opens in new tab).

I'm GamesRadar's sports editor, and obsessed with NFL, WWE, MLB, AEW, and occasionally things that don't have a three-letter acronym – such as Chvrches, Bill Bryson, and Streets Of Rage 4. (All the Streets Of Rage games, actually.) Even after three decades I still have a soft spot for Euro Boss on the Amstrad CPC 464+.