By now, we all know what happened with eFootball 2022 so there is no need to rehash that. That said, after a few months of non-news apart from the occasional apology, the highly anticipated 1.0.0 patch has arrived. I detailed the patch notes last week, and now I’ve had a chance to spend a good amount of time with it so here are my initial eFootball 2022 1.0 impressions.
What Has Improved
From a gameplay perspective, nearly every aspect of the game has been improved upon from the previous eFootball 2022 version (0.9). While still not quite at PES 2021 levels, especially in terms of a total package, there are a few areas where eFootball 2022 is better than its predecessor. For starters, player movement feels really good. The freedom of movement that I heaped praise on way back in the summer was hampered by poor AI and an atrocious collision system. While it’s hard to fully judge the AI due to the limited offline modes, the players move with a sense of weight that straddles the line between FIFA and older PES versions. Foot planting still isn’t as consistent as I’d like, but the complaints of “players stuck in the mud” are more than likely by players who are used to FIFA’s lack of inertia when running with or without the ball.
Speaking on movement and flow, Version 1.0 feels less robotic than eFootball PES 2021 Season Update, which suffered from that “on-rails” feeling as you were magnetized towards the ball.
I mentioned how the freedom of movement is better, so naturally this leads us to the attacking side of the game where eFootball 2022 is in a much better state than where we were before the patch. Passing was for the most part poor pre-patch due to input delays, slow animations, and basic mechanics being ignored. I struggled to find a pass assistance level that I felt comfortable with, which led to a lot of stray passes, frustratingly sending balls to teammates I did not intend on passing to.
Ball speed is much better now as shorter passes travel at a realistic speed and crosses/long passes carry the required weight. One of the newer mechanics implemented for this patch is the “stunning pass” feature. Using the R2/RT modifier, these stunning passes can be applied to low passes, crosses, and lofted passes.
I’m still getting the hang of these. The low stunning pass travels in the air longer while lofted through balls have a better trajectory. In essence, the stunning pass travels with much greater speed, but since it’s tied to the new sprint button, you have to really time your pass if you’re trying to sprint and then play one of these new passes. Balance here is key and the stunning pass does have its drawbacks. I mentioned the sprint dilemma before, but because you have to wind-up your kick for a little longer, the animation takes longer to play out — meaning you might get caught on the ball while trying to execute a pass of this ilk. In addition to the animation taking a longer time, the increased pass speed should mean that these passes are harder to control and for the most part they are. Ball touches are also heavier when using this mechanic when you play a regular pass into the feet of a teammate.
When PES was at its best, the stats mattered. The difference between good and great players could be felt as well as seen by the way different animations played out, a testament to player skills and abilities. All of this seemed lost at release and is something Konami has corrected for 1.0.0. While it’s not perfect, the improvements to shooting are much appreciated. Not to sound like a broken record, but once again, I’m finding myself getting used to the new stunning kick, which I guess is a good thing if you look at it from the perspective that a new command should take time to figure out.
Again, the balance that was applied to stunning passes has been tuned as well for kicks, with the animation taking longer to play out. Tying this into player skills, Konami has given us the following bit of help:
|Skills||Power Gauge Input|
|Dipping Shot||About 20%-50%|
|Knuckle Shot||About 50%-65%|
|Rising Shot||About 65%-95%|
Side note, kudos to Konami for giving us a nice breakdown of what was included in this patch for once. When it comes to shooting, one of the most disappointing bits about eFootball 2022‘s release was the lack of animations and/or the incorrect animation playing out. The latter has long been one of my favorite things about PES, one which makes FIFA look very arcade-like at times. Konami has gone back to its roots with this patch that has led to the goal variety that made the series such a hit with soccer fans during its heyday.
Dribbling was one of a handful of features that was done well at release. With the player movement feeling free, dribbling when running at pace felt really good and still does after this patch. Being able to wrong-foot defenders with simple body feints and touches is more realistic than rainbow flicking your opponent in the middle of the park. Not that skill moves haven’t been improved upon because their speed has been increased to a more realistic pace, but the little instinctive touches have been made better by the sharp touch command (R2/RT before receiving a pass). This command has been in PES for a bit, but now Konami added the ability to execute this when dribbling.
The equivalent of FIFA‘s right-stick knock-on, this sharp touch command while dribbling helps to create more space and elude challenges.
Even nutmegs, which used to be contextual when executed by a player with high dribbling stats, can be triggered now by the sharp touch command. Speaking of contextual movements now mapped to a button, the shielding, which was laughably poor at launch, looks much more realistic now and is a very good skill to learn when facing teams that like to press or mark tightly around the box.
With a lot of the attacking improvements already discussed, it’s time to look at the defensive improvements post-patch. One of the biggest changes for this patch was to bring back the second man press button. Yes, that controversial assisted way of playing defense, this time named “Call for Pressure” in eFootball 2022.
Just when we were getting used to manually defending, Konami goes ahead and brings back an old system. Well, I for one am not too upset by this, especially given the awareness issues that plagued the game at launch. By reverting back to its defensive roots, Konami has attempted to balance the attacking options and newfound freedom while also making the standing tackle button more responsive. Defending isn’t without its risks because pressing the solo pressure button will see your player run in a straight line, meaning that it really isn’t that useful if you’re up against a tricky opponent who knows how to dribble.
Another mechanic introduced at launch that was poorly implemented was the “Matchup” button (L2/LT).
The equivalent of jockeying with the added mechanic of facing up, the matchup command does a pretty good job at getting the player into a defensive stance, allowing him a greater freedom of movement when defending 1-on-1 matchups. This new mechanic is my go-to command when defending in my box as it allows for better defenders to stick out a leg to make that all-important block. The animation even looks good with the players putting their hands behind their back even though there are no handballs in eFootball 2022. Unlike FIFA, matching up will not make your defender move quick enough to keep up with players who are using the turbo button over long straights. It’s also susceptible to feints, especially the fake shot, so I’ve learned to only use this command when I’m defending on the wing or am in pinned inside of my own box while defending.
Physicality was a huge eye sore at launch. Players were bouncing off each other with no regard to physics.
Now that the collision engine has been tuned some, even to include fouls again, the new shoulder barge command looks and feels much better than at the time of release. Being able to throw a well-timed shoulder into an attacker or someone closing down a 50-50 ball is a great feeling just as long as you’re not too aggressive.
Defending in real life is all about risk vs. reward, so seeing it reflected in eFootball 2022 is a welcome sight. Even manual cursor change has been improved upon with the ability to change the reference point — it’s now an option customizable to your personal preference.
What Still Needs Work
Sadly, it’s everything else that needs work. Sure, there are some gameplay elements that need to be improved, but for the most part, the gameplay is now worth playing. But where exactly are you supposed to play? At launch of this new patch, the Dream Team mode wasn’t fully functional, but for some odd reason the exhibition mode is still limited to the same teams it was at launch. Sure there’s the Dream Team Training mode workaround but those matches lack the proper environment, seeing as though they are glorified kick-arounds with no time or score to give matters an official match feeling.
The decision to not fully unlock exhibition mode or even include some sort of a tournament baffles me. I personally love playing one-off exhibition matches here and there as a way to break up my career mode saves, but I can’t do the same nine teams all over again, especially when restricted to five minutes and only two difficulty settings.
Player faces and player models all look much better than before. PES always had very good scanned faces, but sadly they dipped in quality as did the crowd visuals at launch. This led to a lot of rumors and speculation that this was basically a mobile game despite a good portion of the community playing on either next-gen consoles or gaming PCs. All of the power of these devices plus the prowess of the Unreal Engine, especially when teased with the Messi scan we saw a year ago, led many of us to expect big things graphically and boy were we wrong.
Both of these areas have been improved upon, but the grass still looks poor when compared to FIFA. A good representation of grass is usually down to textures and they’re strong in eFootball 2022, but the lighting and color still need work. Speaking of color, the first thing Konami should have done for this patch was to change the blue and yellow user interface, but alas it’s still there.
You can tell by the looks of Juventus’ new third kit that the same group is at play, but that group needs to get their eyes checked. Some of my favorite Chelsea kits have been yellow and blue, but it only works when there is a backdrop of another darker, more dominant color softening the color combination. The grass does this in real life, but how Konami uses it makes it stand out like Pep playing a striker centrally. I’ve never worked on a video game before, but it seems like once Konami gets a hang of the Unreal Engine we could see the grass sorted. Sadly, the menu interface most likely went through some rounds of approval, so we’re just going to have to live with it until next year, Season 2.
Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised. Given how Konami has stumbled nearly every step along the way, I expected the focus to be on getting their modes functional, especially those that are monetized (Dream Team). It was a long time from the initial release to where we are now in terms of gameplay, but the game now has that old PES feeling again, which is paramount to the importance of this game’s future. That core feeling that PES offers, its soul, is what attracts and keeps a lot of players chugging along.
Sure, the fact that it’s free helps in this instance, but the people who appreciate this game want it to succeed because they value the gameplay over anything else. That said, version 1.0 is still far from perfect. There are still legacy player awareness issues and various other kinks to iron out, but had Konami released this version initially, the negativity around this game would have been much less. Seeing the long list of areas they touched upon, you can see why it took so long between updates. Make no mistake, Konami is 100 percent to blame. The company learned a painful and probably expensive lesson, one which the rest of the gaming industry no doubt had eyes on.
In addition, this update won’t change the overall view of the game from a general perspective as the lack of modes cancels out a lot of the good will done by this patch. Perhaps it’s Konami’s way of making us lean towards its cash cow? Regardless of what happens down the line, eFootball 2022 is at the very least playable and surprisingly enjoyable now. It’s worth re-downloading and trying again if you’re looking for some fresh footy.