Soccer games are probably the most stagnant of all sports genres. FIFA’s pay-to-win arcade hegemony dominates PES’s clunky menu, but it’s realistic gameplay. Rinse, peel and repeat.

But this year it’s all changing. And when I went to Konami’s Windsor headquarters for an eFootball hands-on event-yes, PES, also known as Pro Evolution Soccer Monica, is dead-I’m the same as their vision of making this bold experiment the future. A sports game that was so intriguing to gameplay.

eFootball Screenshot-September 2021

Fortunately, the pre-release build with mitts was a lot of fun. The build was a hybrid of pre-release and post-release. As a result, it included advanced gameplay mechanics (basically shot and pass variations) that wouldn’t appear in the game until later this fall, but lacked other important features such as the PS5 haptics. ..

The developers have repeatedly referred to the terms “simulation,” “strength,” and “physics.” And from the play so far, I think that Konami has generally delivered. Each one-on-one feels like a miniature chess match. eFootball invites you to stab your shoulders (even your elbows) into a dispute for ownership, feeling that this year’s ball isn’t comfortably tied to the player’s foot. Football games have historically tended to “lock on” to the ball when you were in control, but here the ball needs to be cared for and hunted down like the real thing. It feels like a volatile, independent object.

This allows the defending player to push high and hard, with good reference to modern football. Jurgen Klopp will be proud. I think the press is a bit overwhelming in the builds I’ve played, but I think a lot of balancing will be applied in the weekly updates of eFootball after launch. Think of the press as an SMG slightly overwhelmed in the war zone. Hopefully it’s not completely nervous, it’s just a touch down.

A new feature that Konami is proud of is the ability to recycle balls immediately after throwing, such as adding a ball boy. This isn’t groundbreaking (FIFA has been doing quick throws for years), but eFootball’s quick goal kicks are especially exciting to take advantage of your opponent’s limited attention. A new weapon. I myself was about to get caught up in a quick CPU restart. That is, the ball had already bypassed the midfield before returning to the screen. A fun system that might make Trent Alexander Arnold / Divock Origi’s quick set dream come true.

eFootball image

eFootball also targets some of the series’ historic failures. PES 2020 (and the skin-changed 2021) had particularly painful commentary, menus, and referees. The good news is that all three have been significantly improved. It’s not perfect, but the commentary is much less visible and immersive. The referee can still be frustrated, but much fairer than last year’s officials who were fiercely relaxed about assaults and assaults on the pitch.

But the big win here is on the menu. Konami finally bottled PES teeth-a terrible aesthetic for a modern and clean system. Changing players, kits, weather and time zones is much less burdensome than before. At best, some menus were actually really pretty. Again, I’ve played a very limited demo build, so this will be tested for more complex game modes and team management. But so far, it’s very good.

Another area the eFootball team has overhauled is cameras, creating a new “duel” camera system that dynamically zooms in to separate major on-the-ball battles, then zooms out to rake and crossfield passes. View the complete tapestry. .. I thought this would get frustrating soon-if so, you can turn it off. But I was happy and surprised at how sophisticated this camera system was already. This is a promising new tool.

Wanting to know how all this is combined into one cohesive and competitive experience, I quickly jumped into a match with a developer and how eFootball works in a highly competitive situation. I felt that. My possession tactics and highlines were punished by counterattacking enemies, but on the contrary, I was able to creatively invite their pressure and punish them. It was fun and decisively fair.

But the question is long-lasting. This was a gameplay event, but the new F2P model was the service of a large elephant in the room. The first offer is sparse, the game starts on September 30th, with only a handful of teams and pinch modes. With the fall major update, where the game launches on mobile and offers a suite of more specific modes, we need to create a more sophisticated service that will allow players to return to all major platforms. (Unfortunately Switch is not included yet).

The success of eFootball is ultimately alive or dead, based on post-launch appeal and support.


Obviously, the idea is to foster a competitive cross-platform infrastructure that was previously only seen in battle royale style. But that ambition leads to its own questions. This is a “console first” experience, but the PS5, especially the DualSense controller, seems to be particularly preferred. Tactile implementation is a feature that developers are particularly proud of and has been mentioned several times. Will the Xbox and final generation players be left behind?

This could be a new dawn in football games-I really respect the team’s ambitions behind gameplay, and they hit the core loop that made me crazy about the session and wanted me more I was disappointed. Now half of my work is done. But with FIFA still dominating and new start-ups like UFL awaiting, eFootball’s success is ultimately alive or dead, based on post-launch appeal and support. You’ll know over time.

Daniel Curtis is a freelance writer, producer and filmmaker. He is also a fan of Chesterfield FC, who has been suffering for a long time. Say hello to him on Twitter @danielpdcurtis..