Game Review | eFootball PES 2021

Every year there’s a new PES game and this year is no different. eFootball PES 2021 Season Update is probably the most accurate depiction of sports games being the same every year. It’s a statement we hear all the time accompanied by others such as: “It’s just a kit and roster update”. All mostly true statements however devs tend to make a few noticeable changes between releases to make them stand out a bit for the regulars to be compelled to splash that cash. Sometimes this involves removing features while adding others (I’m looking at you custom manager creator removed in PES 2020, “I’ve not forgotten”). Mostly it’s a positive enough change that the core players are usually content. This year there is no change.

Konami have for most part re-released PES 2020 as PES 2021 season update at an MSRP of $30. For those disenfranchised by FIFA, this is a sweet deal to try out the competition but it offers nothing to justify that price tag to its core demographic. Just because something is cheaper doesn’t mean that everyone needs to purchase it. Whether you should get this update or not will depend on your own individual circumstances. As such I’ll break it down into a table to help make it easier to understand then we’ll delve deeper into the game.

I own PES 2020Don’t Get It
I mainly played Master League 2020Don’t Get it
I played become a Legend 2020Don’t Get it
I just want to play a football game with my brother/ sister/ friends and don’t own 2020Get it
I only play myClubWait till PES 2021 Lite releases in October/ November
I didn’t own or play PES 2020Get PES 2021 SU
I play PES Lite 2020Get it if you want to try single-player modes
I play PES mobileGet it, the console/ PC versions are better

Basically you should only get this season update if and only if you don’t already own PES 2020 for PC or PS4. If PES Lite wasn’t a thing then I could see a possible reason to get it for myClub but it does and no amount of first few months FOMO will change that. 

So what do you get if you do decide to pick up eFootball PES 2021 Season Update? 

You get all the same modes and gameplay available in PES 2020 including: myClub, Master League, Become a Legend, UEFA EURO 2020, Matchday and other standard single/ multiplayer modes. It’s the same great gameplay we’ve all come to love. Each pass has weight to it, shots are very varied, players feel unique and visuals look just as good as you’d expect. Well that’s when it’s not clipping, glitching or using overused redundant commentary. Konami will likely tweak the gameplay throughout the year for better or worse but as they’ve already stated, their focus is mostly on the next iteration for the Unreal Engine. PES 2022 is slated for next summer and will also be the first PES game on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. If you’re hoping for something new then that’s likely where you’ll find it, not this version. 

The only additions I’ve noticed in my time with the game have been new celebrations, 3 new managers and a few license changes. The biggest being both Inter Milan and AC Milan were dropped in favour of A.S. Roma. There are other licences changes including some in the Asian champions League, like the legendary Andres Inesta’s current club, Vessel Kobe. Some may moan about the dropping of licenses however there is a complicated reason for that involving EA.

Let’s talk Licensing

I usually see a lot of people talking about this topic without being properly informed about it, so allow me to take the time to explain it to you. EA owns most of the football/ soccer licenses in the world thanks to exclusivity deals they’ve signed with leagues. What this means is that they and only they can have access to those entire leagues present in console version simulation football games. These licensing deals are different from league to league but essentially EA holds exclusivity over the best ones.

Now I hear you asking: “but Q, how does PES have Arsenal, Manchester United, etc?”

That my friend is due to them being able to sign individual licensing agreements with only about 2 to 3 clubs in some of the leagues EA has exclusivity to. This has resulted in Konami picking up and dropping some licenses like in the situation with Liverpool and Manchester United last year. This all seemingly as an attempt to appeal to fans of more clubs and potentially get them hooked on the gameplay. In an interview with Lennart Bobzien (former PES Brand Manager) last year he clearly explained the situation with licenses, even going so far as to elaborate on why the Bundesliga isn’t in the game in a generic fashion similar to the Prem and other leagues.

All of it related to the exclusivity deals EA has with leagues and the limitations that places on any other developer hoping to make a football sim. Konami have of course found ways around these limitations by having option files which allow the players to create and implement the right kits and line-ups for the leagues and teams missing from the game. This is a feature available in all versions of the game excluding the Xbox versions due to file transfer restrictions on the system itself. For the PS4 and PC there have been communities formed around these option files who create and distribute them to players each year. The biggest and most talented community in the space is of course PES Universe followed closely by PES World. PES Universe charges a fee of about £10.00/ year while PES World offers them for free. 

Outside of those two there are others who offer option files and even Mods. These Mods allow for the game to be altered in numerous drastic ways including adding missing stadiums, player faces, lighting, gameplay tweaks, overlays and so much more. Having so many options makes what is an otherwise great game so much better. Which brings us back to where we started. 

Sir Alex Ferguson Manager Face Mod

Why purchase PES 2021 when it’s intentionally just a roster and kit update? It’s exactly the same game as last year with a few license changes, different menu colour scheme and some updated faces.

The team behind the game have attempted to sway interest by featuring 5 special editions of the game. One for Arsenal, FC Barcelona, Bayern Munchen, Juventus and Manchester United. Each includes an iconic moment player for the club chosen, an in menu theme, a classic kit, 30 premium agents, 3000 myclub coins, free contracts and access to the manager and squad.

All very tempting stuff but be mindful that though myClub can be extremely fun, it is not a mode of kids or adults with gambling problems. I’ve personally played it without spending a dime for years and you can too because of how generous the mode can be. There’s even a loyalty bonus for those who’ve played the previous year and acquired a certain amount of Legends in it. At launch my team included about 5 iconic moment players and I’m sure it’s only going to get better within the coming months. 

If you happen to be among those who indulge in this mode then hit me up in our discord. I’d love to play you in a match or two.

Final Verdict 

With new featured players, Legends and online challenges no longer being supported in last year’s game, PES 2021 is the only option (at launch) for myClub players. Konami will evidently release a new free version of PES Lite to capitalize on their loot box microtransaction mode – myClub but they’re already trying to entice their core audience with iconic moments through different versions of the game. Simply put, if you play myClub then PES 2021 is an update you may consider. If Master League or pretty much any other mode is your thing then just get you some option files for PES 2020 and wait till next summer. 

The review copy of this game was provided to us by its publisher.

Qudduws Campbell

That messy hair bloke: Romantic, Food lover, Gamer, Sports Fan, Manga Reader, Tech Head, Podcaster... Pretty much do a bit of everything.