Review – eFootball PES 2021 Season Update

Konami shocked consumers and industry specialists when they announced that this year’s PES 2021 would not be technically a brand new game, but as its full title implies, a season update over last year’s fantastic eFootball PES 2020. The company is focusing on next-gen hardware and the brand new Unreal Engine 5, giving their team enough time to come up with a brand new graphical overhaul and better physics. Because of this, they knew they wouldn’t have time to properly focus on this year’s iteration. They also caused a stir by charging much less than usual for this game when compared to previous PES titles.

When compared to what EA does with its FIFA titles, basically charging us full price for a game that features little to no upgrades with each new iteration, Konami’s strategy is indeed more honest and upfront. They didn’t try to hide the fact that eFootball PES 2021 is basically PES 2020 with new kits and rosters. That’s what I thought I was going to tackle, a simple update, something more akin to mere DLC. After playing a few matches, however, I could notice that the gameplay has been improved as well, even if not by much.

PES 2021

PES is still the go-to option if you want to play with Brazilian teams.

The main improvement I could notice was on first touch. Previous versions of PES (and FIFA, for that matter) made the sole act of keeping the ball close to the player a bit trickier than it should have been, but things felt a bit easier in PES 2021. Controlling the ball feels smoother and players feel a little bit less robotic as a result. In short, the gameplay is still the same as before, which is a relief. Last year’s PES 2020 featured the best controls I’ve ever seen from a PES/Winning Eleven game, so I’m glad they didn’t try to tinker that much with something that didn’t need a lot of fixing to begin with.

The rest of the game is exactly what its title implies: an update. The modes are the same as before. The amount of leagues and teams is basically identical, with the exception of one or two teams that have been replaced by generic counterparts due to external licensing issues, such as Brazil’s Palmeiras. There are a few new licensed player faces, brand new player stats, a few new kits, and that’s it. The visuals are still the same, being most likely the last time the FOX Engine will ever be used, and the sound department is still comprised of good narration and forgettable indie music when you’re in a menu.

PES 2021

‘Member when stadiums were packed with fans throwing bottles at the players? I member!

If anything, eFootball PES 2021 Season Update is very upfront and very honest. It offers almost nothing new when compared to last year’s PES 2020, besides some very minute (but still welcome) gameplay tweaks and some roster updates. However, it does feature a much more honest price tag as a means to compensate for that. After playing a greedy dud like NBA 2K21, I’m glad to see a publisher out there being straightforward and pricing its sports title accordingly. While I’m looking forward to seeing what Konami will do with PES next year, I’m glad PES 2021 will keep me busy until then.

 

Graphics: 9.0

There’s little that needs to be said about the visuals. They were great in PES 2020 and they are the same this time around. A nice goodbye to the FOX Engine.

Gameplay: 9.5

It’s almost identical to PES 2020‘s excellent gameplay, but with some very minute tweaks that improve what was already pretty good.

Sound: 7.0

The narration is still pretty good, but the licensed soundtrack is even more forgettable than last year’s edition.

Fun Factor: 8.0

It offers almost nothing new when compared to PES 2020, but it’s also being upfront about it. It features small gameplay tweaks that make it stand out from its predecessor in terms of gameplay, but it also lost a few licenses.

Final Verdict: 8.5

eFootball PES 2021 Season Update is available now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Reviewed on Xbox One.

A copy of eFootball PES 2021 Season Update was provided by the publisher.