Review: eFootball PES 2021 SEASON UPDATE (PS4)
Konami’s formidable and beloved Pro Evolution Soccer is back for another run in the form of eFootball PES 2021 SEASON UPDATE. For the first time in the title’s twenty-six year history the game isn’t a new version of PES but an update to the previous year’s title.
We’ve been playing Pro Evo 2021on the Sony PS4 since it’s release a couple of weeks ago. Here is our look at what is on offer in what remains a strong, entertaining and fulfilling soccer experience. Our detailed review of Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 is here.
Konami has been fully transparent regarding the main changes to eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 that are included in their PES 2021 SEASON UPDATE. They’ve also priced the game at $29.99 US instead of the usual game price of $59.99 US. The official word from Konami on what’s in PES 2021 is below.
Key Product Features
SEASON UPDATE – PES 2021 is an updated version of last year’s title, eFootball PES 2020, providing the latest player data and club rosters. Due to the delayed season endings for many leagues, the latest data for certain licensed leagues and teams will be available via a day one patch (internet connection required).
EXCLUSIVE UEFA EURO 2020™ CONTENT – Ahead of the real-life tournament in 2021, the official UEFA EURO 2020™ content will be included at launch in PES 2021. Featuring the offline UEFA EURO 2020™ Tournament Mode, all 55 UEFA national teams, Wembley Stadium and more, this is the best way to simulate the tournament before and after its summer debut.
ICONIC MOMENT SERIES – Relive and recreate memorable moments from the careers of current and former football superstars with this new myClub series.
eFootball PES 2021 SEASON UPDATE offers a solid repertoire of official club and league licenses including Italy’s Serie A and Serie B, France’s Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, the Dutch Eredivisie, Portugal’s Liga NOS and the Scottish Premiership.
South America’s major football leagues including Brazil’s Brasileirão Série A and Série B, Argentina’s Liga Profesional de Fútbol, Chile’s Campeonato PlanVital and Colombia’s Liga BetPlay DIMAYOR are also back. All of these leagues are exclusive to Pro Evolution Soccer and not fully available or available at all (in the case of the Chilean and Colombia top flights) in EA Sport’s FIFA 21.
eFootball PES 2021 SEASON UPDATE also has some exclusive club licenses for a second year in a row. The Juventus exclusivity is clearly the biggest with AS Roma joining the mix. This means that the club names, crests and official kits are only available in PES 2021.
Real player names and likenesses for Brazilian clubs including giants Flamengo, SC Corinthians, Sao Paulo FC and Palmeiras are also Pro Evolution Soccer 2021 exclusives. A similar situation exists for Boca Juniors and River Plate who appear with actual club names, crests and kits only in FIFA 21’s Copa Libertadores mode.
As Konami mentioned, all 55 UEFA teams are in eFootball PES 2021 SEASON UPDATE. This includes current rosters, uniforms and federation emblems. Five-time FIFA World Cup champions Brazil are fully licensed in another coup that exemplifies Pro Evolution’s focus on South American soccer. The Seleção shows up with generic player names in FIFA 21 but can be edited.
Pep Guardiola, Ryan Giggs and Frank Lampard join the fold as Master League managers in Pro Evo 2021. Fellow footballing legends Bebeto, Maradona, Romario and Zico and others are also in the mix following their appearances in the Master League manager scene in PES 2020.
A couple of notable club license losses in eFootball PES 2021 SEASON UPDATE are those for AC Milan and Inter Milan.
The game is now easier to edit manually because club names now begin with actual team names in unlicensed league. For example, “Chelsea B”, “Everton B” and “Liverpool R” are team names in the English League. We opted to use an option file to run a community-provided update to PES 2021 to create the Premier League and LaLiga. This included team name and kit updates. See the video below to see how easily we did it.
Konami hasn’t publicly mentioned any gameplay updates in eFootball PES 2021 SEASON UPDATE we’ve noticed a few noteworthy improvements. These include positive tweaks in offense and defense that create an even more realistic soccer simulation than Pro Evo 2020.
Overall we think that the player movement in PES 2021 is more fluid and natural. This may be a product of the fine-tuning of the game’s Finesse Dribbling that arrived with Pro Evolution 2020. Skilled players like Lionel Messi, Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo now seem to have better control of the ball from the second they trap with until they either pass or shoot it. Their accompanying body motions are as close to their real world counterparts as we’ve ever seen in a football video game.
More physicality on offense is now in the mix in eFootball PES 2021 SEASON UPDATE. As you can see in our gameplay video attackers will put arms out and jostling with defenders while sprinting and when trying to protect the ball with their bodies.
Lastly, we’ve noticed crisper, better timed and more accurate passes in Pro Evo 2021. It’s certainly not always FC Barcelona’s Tiki Taka but you can be more confident in your intended target being in a position to receive the ball without quickly losing it.
The defenses in eFootball PES 2021 SEASON UPDATE seem to have spent some time on the virtual training pitch since the last PES 2020 Data Pack.
Defensive players now seem to be smarter and will anticipate and intercept passes more frequently. They pop up in the right places more often to break up attacking plays on a regular basis.
There is also tighter man marking by center backs who have become quite adept at defensive headers compared to the pass. Fullback and defensive midfielders have become masters of hook tackles which are very effective and well animated. However, ill-timed defensive moves are quickly punished by the seemingly more sensitive referees of eFootball PES 2021 SEASON UPDATE.
The first change to gameplay in the PES 2021 SEASON UPDATE that we noticed was a wider variety of saves from the game’s goalkeepers. Their skill set is improved with a host of one-handed diving saves in their arsenal. Expect to see the likes of Manuel Neuer, Kepa and David de Gea flying in all directions and often stopping balls on their knees or bottoms to protect their nets.
eFootball PES 2021 SEASON UPDATE amounts to a fantastic update to a stellar predecessor. It is fun, absorbing and addictive even if you spent the last year rocking Pro Evolution Soccer 2020. At an introductory pricepoint of just $29.99 we think that it is a must have as we eagerly await PES 2022 on the next generation of gaming consoles.
Gameplay: 9.9 /10
Graphics: 9.7 /10
User Interface: 9.5 / 10
Realism: 9.8 / 10
Longevity: 10 / 10