It seems like just yesterday that eFootball 2022 released, but in reality that was nearly two years ago. A lot has changed during that time in regards to the landscape of soccer/football games. EA ditched their partnership with FIFA and rebranded the game to EA Sports FC and independent startups like UFL and Goals have made some noise as they prepare to test the waters. After the initial launch turned out to be nothing short of terrible, Konami followed up with last year’s version (eFootball 2023) that didn’t do much to keep the game out of the relegation battle. With eFootball 2024 out now, it’s time to see if Konami will move up the table or continue to offer footy fans a mediocre product.
What I Like
Dribbling & Increased Responsiveness
Once the ref blows for kickoff, you immediately can feel how much more responsive eFootball 2024 is when compared to its predecessors. PES had always been more of my cup of tea when it comes to player movement as I prefer the weighty feeling of the players over FIFA‘s janky and inconsistent foot-planting system, one in which they intentionally ignore physics to cater to the competitive online crowd who can’t handle having to see your defender swivel their hips to keep up with attackers.
Speaking of the defensive side of the game, tackling is more responsive to button input and you can really feel a difference between elite ball dispossessors and clumsy strikers. Despite this, there are still are some times, mostly online, where it feels like the smarter eFootball 2024 player doesn’t actually win, only the one who can maneuver the game’s movement engine knowing which animations will come into play at certain moments. While it’s not perfect by any means, eFootball 2024 feels a tad more sped up when compared to eFootball 2021 Season Update but still much more enjoyable than FIFA 23.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of eFootball 2024 is that there is legit good game of footy in there thanks in large part to the AI. On the higher levels (Superstar) where I spend the majority of my offline time, the AI is dynamic in the way they attack switching up from attacking directly to mixing in some counterattacks while alternatively slowing things down and actually playing the ball back at times. Matches can still turn into end-to-end sprints that can give off an arcade vibe, but playing teams like Brazil is a real joy because of the player individuality they have on display.
The amount of flicks and skills the AI pulls off makes you feel like you playing against a prime ’90s/early 2000s samba team, but the way the AI pulls this off is much more believable than FIFA 23 where the AI will randomly do a trick just for the sake of doing so because the player individuality is turned on and you can see the indicator above the AI player who has such traits. It’s not just about AI skill moves either, shots from the outside the box and crosses — both air and ground — have to be dealt with, so you always have to be one step ahead as you learn to cope with such varied attacks.
Changes To The Color Scheme
This is a small win, but hey, every win counts. While there are still traces of the awful yellow and blue color scheme that Konami introduced at launch, many of the menus have undergone a makeover with a more toned down backdrop that doesn’t hurt your eyes when you’re managing your Dream Team. It seems a bit weird that Konami didn’t polish up all of the blue and yellow menus, such as the pre-match menu, but then again, quality control isn’t eFootball’s strong suit despite a somewhat more transparent approach than in the past.
What I Don’t Like
With all of the positive things eFootball 24 does when it comes to gameplay, there’s a huge element of staleness that comes along with the lack of modes and repetition for the modes that are included. There are but a handful of events and special players that seem to get recycled year after year, and while Konami does send out updates if there’s a bid derby match upcoming (especially with partner clubs like Manchester United vs. Arsenal), by now those who have played eFootball since its release will have that “been there, done that” feeling. Perhaps this is Konami’s way of attracting new players, but as of right now the game sorely needs Master League and Edit Mode because there’s a good game to be had versus the AI. PES, at its best, was held up by these two modes and luckily PES modder Durandil67 has found a glimmer of hope in analyzing the PC codes and found several elements of what appears to be traces of the modes we expected Konami to release by now:
So the question becomes not how but when this will happen, and will the PES diehards still be there or has Konami burned its fans one too many times?
Graphics are a bit of a mixed bag this year. Player models, faces, and crowd visuals all look better as Konami’s art department has worked to smooth over and improve on the initial release that saw itself trending negatively on social media. While eFootball 2024 still doesn’t rival EA’s product when it comes to visuals, it’s slowly moving towards looking more like a proper console/PC game than a mobile one, a fear that longtime PES aficionados still harbor.
What drags the visual experience down is the actual pitch. The grass texture and hue screams mobile game, and the fact that Konami restricts so much (no day matches and/or weather effects in an online game, no ability to select your stadium online, etc.) makes the one area of the game you see throughout gameplay look bland and washed out.
No Cross-Play Allowed
As Konami does when they release a new season in eFootball, your rank and divisions drop down. While this isn’t uncommon in the world of competitive sports games, the lack of a true player base works against Konami here, especially when it comes to matchmaking due to cross-play action not being available despite Konami’s promises displayed in the first roadmap way back in 2021:
As I play on both the PS5 and PC, I was slightly surprised to find myself matching up with the same players countless times. This isn’t always a bad thing if you have an enjoyable match, but when you’re in Division 9 and you match with a team that fields a starting 11 of all legends, it gets old really quick. When you match with that same team three times in a row, it’s even worse. Cross-platform play is a huge selling point for games now, especially with EA Sports FC 24 implementing the feature. It’s very disappointing, yet not surprising, that Konami can’t get crossplay up and running — especially if you know the company’s history with online experiences.
Not to be misleading, there are still fouls in eFootball 2024 when someone rushes in over-aggressively, but the issue I’ve experienced comes when a defender takes the ball off you while you’re attempting to pass or shoot the ball:
Here you can see the defender clearly step across and make contact with my plant leg while I’m passing the ball. It’s moments like this where the little bit of input delay that exists in all online games comes into play — and you can maybe say that there’s an issue with an incorrect animation playing out that takes too long and gives the defender a chance to dispossess me. For that argument I have no retort, but any way you look at it, instances such as the one displayed above are clear fouls and they too often lead to direct attacks on your goal, again giving the appearance that this is a mobile game.
eFootball 2024 plays a decent game of footy, but just like the two versions that came before them it quickly becomes boring due to its lack of modes, strange design decisions, and how easy it is to build a top squad filled with superstars both past and present. While it’s enjoyable to play with the likes of Bergkamp and Francesco Totti, it cheapens the experience when nearly every squad has them throughout their starting 11 and bench. Throw in the way online players abuse the formations that should leave them wide open, and you have a good game seriously hampered by a company that allows their game to be played in such a way.
Only the most loyal PES diehards and those desperately searching for an alternative to FIFA/EA Sports FC are still checking for this game despite whatever download numbers Konami throws out there. I just hope that they don’t wait too long and give us something to look forward to when it comes to more expansive modes.