Despite being postponed until summer 2021, Konami went through with its original plan to release its UEFA EURO 2020 DLC on June 4. Now that it’s been out for a little while, let’s see what all the fuss is about
What I Like
First and foremost, the best thing about this update is that it’s free to all those who have already purchased the game. In an era of microtransactions, it’s good to see Konami continue its support of eFootball PES 2020 well into the summer, which is usually reserved for spending time and resources on developing the next iteration of the series. In years past, both Konami and EA have been guilty of offering this as a standalone purchase, albeit at a reduced price. While this EURO 2020 update doesn’t have all the bells and whistles (qualifying) of those standalone titles, it does offer a nice distraction from Master League or MyClub.
International licensing is tricky to acquire as evidenced by the sparse licensing found in both FIFA in PES, but Konami has provided us with the most recent kits for all European nations involved. Not only does this free up valuable kit space for option files on the PS4, it also throws Xbox One owners a bone since option files do not exist on the Xbox One. Overall, the kits look really good even if the official patches cannot be found on the sleeves.
Stadiums & Atmosphere
As with the 2018 World Cup update in PES 2018, Konami enhanced the authentic EURO 2020 experience by adding two new stadiums, Wembley and the Gazprom Arena. While PES still trails its competition when it comes to stadiums, the addition of licensed stadiums is always welcomed, especially Wembley as it hosts the final of England’s FA Cup. Along with the stadiums, the match ambiance has been enhanced with national anthems before the match and a crowd that’s far more lively than your normal match environment. Scoring a goal in the Euros is met with a boisterous crowd reaction:
Just listen to the crowd here as the Freuler puts the Swiss ahead. Notice how the crowd anticipation builds as he races towards the goal and they erupt when he puts them ahead. I’ve been critical of PES in the past when it comes to crowd atmosphere, particularly matches sounding like neutral contests, but the boisterous environments that often accompany international tournaments is in full effect.
New cutscenes and post match animations are also welcome additions. The overall match day experience still trails FIFA’s presentation package, but by addressing some of the lesser details, PES has closed the gap on FIFA in relation to the “little things” on the pitch.
It’s no secret that Data Pack 4 was my favorite update when it comes to gameplay changes. Since then, the gameplay has regressed but this update works towards making the game more of a finished product.
Playing on Top Player, one area that I’ve noticed an improvement in has been the AI difficulty. To put it bluntly, the AI is better but not in an artificial way. Their attacks are more varied, they switch the play and defend more aggressively in/around their box. They also are more capable of putting together more human-like moments, utilizing skills and taking advantage of special skills to pull off moves like this:
Nice off-the-ball movement by Turkey’s striker (Yilmaz) is complemented by a good through ball into space. With work still to be done, Yilmaz takes the deftest of touches as he maneuvers around my incoming Italian defender, ultimately finishing the move off with a lovely left-footed finish.
Not to be outdone, England’s AI-controlled Raheem Sterling gets in on the act:
What impressed me the most about this passage of play is how human-like it looks. Starting from their own box after stifling an Italian attack, the Three Lions push the attack forward, not quite at a breakneck counter-attacking pace but enough to take advantage of an Italian side that’s stretched and open in the midfield. As a through ball comes to Harry Kane’s feet, he’s quickly closed down by my defender. Realizing that he’s going to get a knee in the back, Kane plays a quick 1-2 with Sterling before bringing Jadon Sancho into the play.
With the pass being a little off (more to come on passing shortly), Sancho still has work to do finding Sterling who did a great job at continuing his run. Realizing that the angle is too tight for a shot on his weaker left foot, Sterling uses the Italian defender’s momentum against him to cut inside and hammer a goal into the far right corner. Again, excellent AI and player ID as Sterling would have most likely attempted something similar in real life.
Additionally, passing is also more realistic as it seems that passing error, for both the AI and human, have been enhanced — meaning that you’ll see more misplaced passes.
Passing error isn’t artificially done either, which usually frustrates players when simple passes go astray. Instead, if your body is positioned awkwardly and you’re attempting to do a 180-degrees pass you’ll see the passing accuracy and speed suffer (as seen in clip #2 in the video above).
One area that’s hard to replicate in video games is human error. Sometimes the understanding of players is off and you’ll make a pass to an area where you think a player will be only to see it go behind them (as seen in clip #1 in the video above).
Lastly, sometimes you’ll just over-hit a ball (as seen in clip #3 in the video above), which is a welcome sight considering PES has removed “pass support” levels over the years — making the game feel more assisted. Passing and shot speed have also been tuned for the better, and while you could always put your laces through the ball in PES, shots from distance that were previously nerfed have been tuned, inviting players to give it a go from outside the box.
What I Don’t Like
I Just Wish More Was here
With the mode being free of charge to gamers, Konami could have put a little bit more effort into the EURO 2020 mode. Perhaps it’s down to the postponement of the actual EUROs to next summer, but once you’re in the tournament the display is far too plain. Apart from the cool intro that plays before you start the tournament, you never really get the feel for what’s going on during the tournament because of the limited options.
Even Master League provides you with stories from around the world, and even though they might seem repetitive, it still helps to get rid of the tunnel vision that can occur sometimes with career modes. A more immersive user interface would go a long way towards breathing some life into this standalone mode.
One ugly thing that has migrated over from Master League is the poor managerial AI when it comes to time and situation. While it’s good that your AI managerial counterpart changes his attack/defense levels during the course of a match, it’s particularly worrisome that teams go out all-out attack (full red) far too early, leaving them exposed in the back because they bring an extra attacker up front without altering their formation.
Real-life managers would certainly push defenders up during the match’s last moments when chasing a result but few, if any, would go all-out attack with 30-plus minutes to play leaving a gaping hole in the back, which most players find easy to exploit. Better AI (hopefully we get it on the next generation of consoles) on the touchline would really make PES a more fun experience versus the AI.
With some sports slowly coming back, the more content, especially free content, the better. While this Data Pack improves upon the last few patches, there’s still some work to be done before PES 2021 releases. Konami seems determined to provide support and updates to this franchise well into the summer, and I know I have personally appreciated it as I attempt to conquer Europe.
How are you enjoying the EURO 2020 update?