This is a big year for Konami’s PES series. With the full rebranding to eFootball 2022, Konami has gone with a free-to-play model that caught the attention of many, including myself. With an early Online Performance Test to gauge its online architecture, Konami is attempting full-on cross-play at some point this year with eFootball 2022. Before that can happen, Konami has to release the game in its current state. With so many future promises of features and updates, it’s time to look at what’s here right now with our (in progress in perpetuity) eFootball 2022 review.
eFootball 2022 Review – What I Like
I thought long and hard about what to include in this section. There are some positives with eFootball such as the ball being more free, but even that needs some work as ball physics aren’t what they used to be. After much thought, “it’s free” is what I settled on. The community is upset — and those members have every right to be — but just think about the reactions if folks had paid for this.
On the flip side, just because the game is free doesn’t mean we should give eFootball 2022 a pass. That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I am trying to state is that you’re free to move on from eFootball 2022 if you don’t like it without any remorse. The casual fan who wants to check out a footy game might get sucked in by the free-to-play element of it, but the deterrent ($) to delete the game isn’t there.
What I Don’t Like – eFootball 2022 Review
Normally, here’s where I’d detail a list of the items, whether they be gameplay or off-the-pitch related, I’m not particularly fond of. With so much wrong with this release, I’m instead going to run through my first impressions of all things eFootball 2022 from the moment it appeared on the PlayStation Store.
Where Is It?
First and foremost, finding the game was tricky enough. Rumors around the actual release time were flying around on Twitter. Although the original date was slated for the 30th, the differences in time zones meant that it was available for us here in the US at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST on the 29th.
But where exactly was it? Well, I had to go to the eFootball game on the PS Store, bypassing the $39.99 Pre-Pack Edition to click on “Full Game” where I could finally download it. Although Konami insisted that it wasn’t a demo, the title of the game when it downloaded actually said “demo” on it. That being said, the total file size is roughly 42 GB, which puts it significantly behind NBA 2K21 (about 104 GB) and FIFA 22 (about 52 GB). A bigger file size doesn’t necessarily equate to a better game, but what it does potentially allude to is a bare-bones product that I think we all knew eFootball was going to be.
Immediately after loading up once the full game was downloaded, you’re treated to the worst color scheme you could imagine. Now, blue and yellow have looked good in recent years for my beloved Chelsea’s away kits as well as Arsenal, but as a choice for a menu it’s downright awful — as is the eFootball logo that blatantly mimics the euro logo. Perhaps it’s foreshadowing the eventual death by microtransactions, but again, how this made it past focus groups is beyond me.
Beyond the team selection menu, many of the menus are distracting, not user friendly, and at times they even make it hard to read the on-screen text. It seems like every year menus are a point of contention with Konami’s soccer franchise, so at least the company is consistent here.
Most of us knew that only nine teams would be included in the demo, but to be honest, this wasn’t sold as a demo so it’s a bit misleading how some options are locked. Match time is limited to five-minute halves. You cannot change any weather settings, and for some reason only two difficulty levels are enabled, Regular and Superstar.
There are nine teams to use for matches against the AI, but if you play online there are a host of other teams to choose from. So why can’t we use these other clubs versus the AI? Again, this wasn’t billed as a demo but everything in it screams that it is. There’s even a tutorial disguised as “Training” that completely neglects to show you the on-screen controller commands as it does earlier in the video. You can thankfully change the camera angle from this new duel camera, which isn’t a very good camera to play on, especially online where most players use zoomed-out angles to see more of the pitch.
The pre-match activities were something from the trailers and Online Performance Test that I enjoyed, but after seeing them a few times I’m already skipping them. I do like the panoramic shots of the stadiums before the match with the pitch being watered and spectators making their way to their seats. The kit selection screen looks nice as do the warm-ups, but it’s here where we get our first taste of what the graphics will look like.
Before you enter the match, the Gameplan menuthat veteran PES players spend a decent amount of time in has been dumbed down and presented horizontally as opposed to vertically, which is how it was presented in eFootball PES 2021 Season Update. You can still move players around, but the tactics that we have all became familiar with over the past few years have been dumbed down with only five offensive team play styles available — and oddly no defensive tactics to choose from. I’m not sure if they’ll get patched in at some point, but how can you have one without the other?
Overall, everything so far seems bare bones and stripped down to the core, which doesn’t help to silence the whispers about this basically being a mobile game.
If this is being marketed as “next-gen graphics,” then I think I need to get my eyes checked. Kit textures look nice as do some of the more recognizable faces, but that’s about it. The crowd, which looked half decent last year is downright laughable. From the repeated models to the washed out pixels, the crowd looks like a throwback to the PS2 days where developers had to sacrifice crowd visuals for better graphics on the field.
Next up in the long line of disappointing visuals is the grass, which looks washed out and appears that players aren’t actually stepping on it, rather gliding on it. The authentic stadiums that are included in the game do look nice and the lighting is generally good, but there’s an odd silver/gray glow that illuminates around the players while moving. It’s like early green screen technology in use, and it’s something that wasn’t in PES last year.
I mentioned player faces before, and while some are good, the generic faces are again a huge letdown and look very out of place. None of this is as shocking or as scary as the odd mouth movements the players make in what I can only guess at Konami’s attempt at showing player emotion. This game has disappointing graphics, and considering what we were shown from the Unreal Engine in the engine reveal trailer, this isn’t close to the standard we expected.
Now, here’s where the real problems begin. The game is as buggy as any AAA sports game I’ve played, including PES 2014 which was pretty bad at release but eventually became a decent game of footy after several patches. From the start, the passing speed is insanely slow, and with Konami changing up the pass assistance it’s hard to put any type of pace on ground passes.
After you kickoff, you’ll notice the sluggishness and lack of response by players when controlling the ball. It’s bad enough that Konami changed the dribble mechanics, which now means R2/RT serve as both sprint and dribbling mechanics depending on how hard you depress the button. With haptics not in the game, it’s hard to get a feel for this new feature, which should have been patched in later like “Sharp Kicks” — which again, will also be tied to R2/RT.
Returning back to passing, let me just say that it’s hard, which I would not mind at all if it were consistent. However, even with Pass Assistance Level 3 there are times where the ball just doesn’t go to the player I was trying to get it too. It seems like the game just determines when passing errors will occur, and it doesn’t matter if you’re playing way out of the back or through on goal with a 2-on-1 opportunity, it’s all completely random.
The overall game speed and match tempo isn’t bad, but it feels forced in the sense that the only time your players move quickly is when you mash the turbo button. Turning and dribbling are sluggish due to the lack of response, and while player weight and momentum have always been a staple of PES, those things do not feel as good as they used to.
Not only are there issues with player movement, but player awareness, which has always been hit or miss depending on the Data Pack, is really poor this year. Players completely ignore the ball at times when it’s passed to them, and the dreaded “run back to your position” issue still persists. Super Cancel is still in the game, but I’m afraid I’m going to wear out those two buttons if Konami doesn’t address this issue soon.
Player collisions, warping limbs, disappearing players, and other hilarious bugs have all made the rounds on Twitter. It seems like every time I play a match I see a new bug. Look, with demos you can expect to see bugs here and there, but as we saw with the Andrew Bynum NBA Elite glitch from years back, these type of bugs can ruin your game to the point where it’s hard to recover from it all.
Further down the list of gameplay issues — but equally as important — is the collision system or lack there of. Not only are the collisions visually appalling, but obvious fouls such as slide tackles from behind aren’t called. The ball this year is a little more free, but it seems as if the game cannot determine what’s a foul and what isn’t due to the ball not being glued to your foot. Keepers, which Konami cleaned up after years of being subpar, are back to being insanely bad. They often leave their box to close down an attacker that’s in no position to threaten the goal, therefore leaving a wide open net for you to pass into.
Before you even get into the box, the defending needs serious work. I do like the responsiveness of the tackle button in terms of how fast the animation plays out after you hit the tackle button. It’s one area I’d like to see improved in the FIFA series, but the new matchup mechanic seems like second-man press, which was supposed to be taken out of game as a way to increase the skill gap and appeal to competitive players.
Player switching has its issues too as too often the game selects the wrong player for you. Perhaps it’s a skill gap thing and we all have to get used to pointing in the direction we want to switch to, but on the fully assisted switch settings the game should be smarter in who it selects next for us.
All in all, when it comes to gameplay, eFootball 2022 is in bad shape. If eFootball 2022 were a shape, it would be a dad bod. It kind of resembles something that used to be good in the past, but it’s still a good year and some life changes away from being able to take its shirt off at the pool.
Somehow, despite the poor trailer, misleading information, and money hungry cash grab that the Premium Player Pack DLC was/is, the game was released and managed to be worse than expected. There are bits and pieces here and there that have promise, and while it still feels a little like a PES game, there’s so much to fix at this point it begs the question, “Whose idea was it to green light this game?”
Was Konami trying to rush to get this out before FIFA 22 officially released? Maybe. But after playing eFootball 2022, I can’t imagine too many folks will be sticking with it right now. I’m sure Konami got what it wanted by way of downloads, but was it worth all the community backlash? PES/eFootball is a community game, one where the community took what Konami did and enhanced it, whether that be through PC mods, Option Files, or tactical guides. It created a sense of togetherness and community, as well as generating the feeling that no matter how small it may be you were a part of making this game better.
Even the decision to take a year off was universally applauded, but after two years of development this is the game Konami has released? The next big update is supposed to bring in some new modes and game mechanics, so I wouldn’t fault anyone who deletes the game and gives it a go then because, at this point, there’s only one direction eFootball 2022 can go, right?