After eFootball PES 2021‘s Seasonal Update, Konami announced its switch to the Unreal 4 engine. In addition to the engine change, Konami announced that eFootball PES was being converted to a free-to-play experience and re-branded as eFootball. The name change was influenced by Konami’s ambition to continue its success in the Esports world. The result of these changes is a free-to-play football title that is nowhere near ready to take the main stage at any Esports event. eFootball is a mediocre, watered-down football experience that is way below the expectation of Konami.
eFootball is a noticeable downgrade from its predecessors. New cinematics appear laggy and full of texture glitches. Player faces render weirdly and appear poorly done, and the pitch looks horrible regardless of which stadium you are playing in. eFootball PES’ atmosphere was never as good as FIFA‘s. Still, the lack of authentic chants and the bland reuse commentary from PES 2018 make matches feel lifeless.
On the flipside, Konami still owns the rights to big clubs like Barcelona and Manchester United. Their respected stadiums haven’t changed much from last year’s game, meaning the interiors remain stellar.
What stops you from scoring in eFootball isn’t a fantastic Juventus defense, but more so the gameplay itself. Player movements are inconsistent; simply turning a player to face the goal can be a tall task because of how slow players move. In addition to the slow movement of players, short passing feels like you are playing in mud instead of a professional football pitch. If you are a fan of fast build-up or tiki-taka, eFootball gives you no option for those play styles. This is unfortunate because clubs having different characteristics and play styles gave eFootball advantage over FIFA in terms of gameplay.
Defending is awful; players comically run into each other trying to get the ball. Tackling is still the same from previous games, but it’s hard to distinguish between a foul and not. This results in what feels like inconsistent illegal calls.
Since Konami plans to give eFootball frequent updates, it currently doesn’t have much going for it. Right now, players can participate in events with objectives and earn eFootball coins after they complete them. The objectives are very basic and require you to win X amount of matches within a certain amount of attempts. Currently, there isn’t anywhere to spend eFootball coins, but Konami plans to bring in a new “creative team” mode, where players can spend virtual cash on players and managers. Along with events, eFootball lets you play as nine different teams in an exhibition match.
Overall, the two modes that eFootball presents are bare and time-consuming. Unfortunately, no career mode, ultimate team, or tournament mode, along with mediocre gameplay, means the game gives you no reason to play it in its current state.
Konami’s attempt to bring eFootball to a new engine has cost them dearly. History shows switching game engines and releasing in the same dev cycle means a poor launch. That seems to be the case here. The current eFootball appears to no longer have an identity and lacks quality in many departments upheld by its predecessors. The game’s presentation brings some new cinematics, but quality remains inconsistent, and the atmosphere in matches feels lacking. Currently, the game brings new features that, on their own, do not warrant much merit. eFootball is not necessarily unplayable, but other games like FIFA, Football Manager, and UFL will likely hold more fulfilling experiences by comparison. Konami has updates planned; it is not a farfetched conclusion that eFootball will become the platform they envision, but for now, it simply needs more time.
eFootball 2022 Review
While changing game engines is likely to prove useful down the line, the initial launch of eFootball as a F2P platform comes off as a mediocre, watered-down football experience far below the expectation of Konami.