Review – eFootball 2022
It’s October. This is the month of terror. This is the time we like to watch and read horror stories, usually starring monsters, witches, zombies, and the like. But I have a new horror story to tell you all, my friends. Gather ’round, children. Let me tell you the scariest tale of them all. Let me tell you the story of that one time Konami decided to pretty much butcher its most successful sports franchise of all time, in a way not even EA Sports and 2K Sports would have dared. This is the story of eFootball 2022, possibly the worst football game I have ever played.
When it comes to football simulators, I have liked Konami’s sports entries the most; no matter what they decided to call them at the time. International Superstar Soccer, Winning Eleven (the golden age of the franchise), Pro Evolution Soccer, however you want to name them; I grew up with the series and liked almost every single entry. Especially the most recent ones. I love PES 2020, and I firmly believe it is one of the finest football simulators ever made. I even lauded Konami for being upfront with the fact that PES 2021 would just be a roster update, going for a budget price, as they were focusing their efforts on what would eventually become eFootball 2022.
A lot of people were caught off guard when Konami announced that from eFootball 2022 onward, the franchise would adopt a free-to-play format. We would get free roster updates and new teams, hoping that monetization would eventually revolve around their own makeshift Ultimate Team mode. For as much as I dislike these modes, I would have accepted the format. It’s better than paying a premium price every year for minimal updates and roster changes, all while being bombarded with microtransactions, like how NBA 2K is nowadays. But man, I wasn’t expecting for eFootball 2022 to be released at such a disastrous state. An utterly, completely catastrophic state.
Upon booting the game up, you are greeted with an exhibition match between Portugal and Argentina. I thought to myself, “alright, just your typical friendly match so the game can assess your footie skills and suggest the best difficulty preset afterwards”. That match raised my first alert: the game looked hideous. Sadly, I did not witness any of the hilarious graphical glitches that are scattered all over the interne. I also could not help but notice how ugly the game looked, especially when compared to its now last-gen counterparts. I made sure to boot up PES 2021 after playing a few matches of eFootball 2022 just to make sure I wasn’t going crazy. Its predecessor, running on a freaking Xbox One S of all things, still looks miles better than this supposed “tailor-made for next gen” entry.
I also noticed that the game felt stiffer than previous entries, most likely due to the fact it’s now running on Unreal instead of the widely lauded FOX Engine. Players felt heavier and less responsive, in a more “realistic”, yet less enjoyable, manner. But that’s actually the moment when the game works the best. Single player eFootball 2022 is boring and heavy, but mostly hassle-free in terms of bugs. Again, quite sad, because I was looking forward to seeing players t-pose from out of nowhere. This is not where eFootball 2022 fails the most epically. Let’s talk about online play.
Remember how people used to complain about how hard it was to either matchmake or complete a full Fall Guys match at launch day? Weren’t we a bunch of innocent spoiled kids back then. The following sentence is not an exaggeration: it took me two days before I could finally connect to another player online. It took me a another hour for me to FINISH a match without a lot of connection issues. Mind you, there were tons of issues all around, but at least I didn’t get kicked out due to a so-called connection error and get a defeat splattered onto my profile. I was playing Halo Infinite‘s Insider program demo with colleague from California mere minutes before that and had zero issues. Yet eFootball decided to be moody about it.
Playing eFootball online meant that I was experiencing a different kind of sports game. It felt less similar to a football match and more similar to a truck driving simulator. The input lag was horrendous. Upon flicking the analog stick to any given direction, I had to commit to it for the next minute or so. My player would initially fax the game’s server, wait for the reply, go to the toilet, then bake a cake, then perform what I told him to do. Good luck trying to perform tricks or quick responses online. It was easier to just grab the ball and kick it from the midfield than trying to carry it to the goal like a pro would. In fact, I scored once that way. Probably my proudest achievement in eFootball 2022.
You may be asking yourself: “Leo, if playing eFootball 2022 is so annoying, why don’t you just play the game’s offline modes?”. I have the answer for that: there are none. Sure, it’s not like there isn’t any kind of offline play, but all you have available right now is a mere quick play mode where you’re able to play with eight teams. Not eight leagues, but eight teams: Manchester United, Arsenal, Bayern, Juventus, São Paulo, Corinthians, Flamengo, and River Plate.
If you want to play with Liverpool (or its botched unlicensed counterpart), PSG, Barcelona, or any other big shot, you have to play online. For reasons beyond my feeble human comprehension, they are only available in the game’s current disaster of an online matchmaking mode, and you can only pick a team a WEEK. Once you choose your team, you’re committed to it until the week resets. I chose Brighton & Hove Albion (or, as the game calls it, East Sussex White Blue), so I have to play as them until next week. Only then I will be able to choose another team. If I don’t like said team, tough luck, I’ll have to wait the next one. Assuming I’d be playing eFootball 2022 for long.
There is no Master League. There is no career mode. Not even Konami’s own FUT mode is available right now. Can we even call this an unfinished game? This is closer to an unstarted project than an unfinished one. But if Konami treats it as an actual release and not just an Early Access version, I have to treat it as a full release, or better yet, slam it as such. Not even Cyberpunk 2077, as reviled as it is by the community (not me though, I loved it), was released in such an atrocious state. At the very least, the game had 100+ hours of content at launch, and looked the part, especially on next-gen consoles.
This sets such a worrying precedent. I don’t think a lot of people will stick with eFootball 2022 for long, and that will result in FIFA having a monopoly in the football gaming industry. And you know what happens when you have no competition. You have no reason to improve upon your predecessors, since you’re the only option the consumer base has. You end up with a NBA 2K situation. I can’t even blame die-hard Winning Eleven / PES / eFootball fans for giving up on the franchise and jumping over to the EA side of the fence after such an abominable first impression. I’d probably do the same. Hell, I’d rather play the Switch version of FIFA.
eFootball 2022 might be one of the most disastrous launches I have ever seen. I’ve seen magazine demo discs with more content than this “game”. There’s no reason to play it at the moment: its online matchmaking simply doesn’t work, its offline content is more sparse than an Atari 2600 game, and its gameplay is simply not as fluid as the one featured in its last-gen predecessors. Konami will most certainly fix some of its connectivity issues and possibly add a mode or two, but that won’t change the atrocious first impression this game caused. It won’t change the fact its free-to-play formula died before it could even start. It won’t change the fact that Konami’s footballing franchise may have just shot itself in the foot in a way it will be forever be unable to walk again.
Sadly, even though I did not witness any of the hilarious graphical glitches flooding the internet, I was still shocked at how ugly eFootball 2022 looked on the PS5. Any previous PES running on the FOX Engine looks infinitely better than it, despite running on older hardware.
When you’re playing offline, the controls feel heavy and much less responsive than in previous PES games, but you can get used to them, they’re still serviceable. When playing online, it feels like you’re playing football with a squad of eleven rusty Silverados with broken brakes and suspensions.
The narrators seem less enthusiastic than before, and the menu music is a lot less exciting than in previous entries. Still, it’s probably the best thing this game has to offer.
An incompetent matchmaking system, almost no modes available at launch, and the stupidest team selection rules I’ve ever seen in a sports game. I’d rather manually update all rosters in PES 2021 and play that instead for the foreseeable future. Or even FIFA for the Switch.
Final Verdict: 3.5
eFootball 2022 is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X and PC.
Reviewed on PS5.