NEWS

eFootball 2022 Impressions

Konami’s free-to-play successor to PES misses the mark at launch

By THE OMEN NEWSROOM TEAM | April 19, 2022

Konami isn’t afraid to shake things up with its storied football franchise. The developer-publisher of the Pro Evolutions Soccer (PES) series had announced that it would not release a new game in 2020 and would instead focus on a new experience for 2021. With it, the series was ditching its previous game engine in favour of Unreal Engine, going free-to-play, and eventually, it also changed its name. PES is gone for good, and the series is now called eFootball. We got our first taste of the future of this franchise when Konami launched eFootball 2022 recently, and to say it needs work would be putting it mildly.

The game, launched as a skeletal experience with just nine club teams and only offline and online friendly matches available, has been universally panned. So much so that Konami has publicly apologized and promised to address the issues, of which there are many. The one thing we can’t accuse Konami of is playing it safe. Where rival EA has stuck with its premium-priced FIFA games every year, Konami is going free-to-play, and in opting for a new engine, has committed to rebuilding from scratch. But goodwill will only take this game so far because it’s clear that eFootball is nowhere near ready for primetime.

Let’s talk about visuals first and foremost, because Konami promised a generational shift with the move to Unreal. Instead, the visuals here look dated and the player faces are inconsistent at best. Animations too are jerky, limited and don’t flow well from one to the next. Pre-match cutscenes and stadium visuals look like they’ve been lifted from previous games rather than being rebuilt for eFootball. With Konami planning to launch the game across PC, console and mobile platforms, fans have worried that it could lead to a compromise on all fronts, and that does seem to be the case here.

Gameplay too is far from perfect and lacks PES’ signature responsiveness. Collision animations are often buggy and it’s not uncommon to find players unrealistically floating around. Ball and player physics are also too inconsistent. That said, Konami does have a few things going well in the gameplay department. The speed of the game seems more realistic now and the emphasis on strategy is welcome. It’s also nice to see the game continue without cutscenes when the ball goes into touch or out for a goal kick. It’s a minor detail, but a step in the right direction.

Like we mentioned, the first launch of eFootball 2022 only features nine club teams and no game modes. So this is more of a demo than anything close to a full game. PES’ staple game modes like myClub and Master League are missing here and will probably come later as paid content. But before that, there’s a lot to fix for Konami and lots of fans to win back. From their response to initial player feedback, they seem hard at work to do just that. We’d recommend waiting a while for these issues to be addressed before jumping in.

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