With football action heating up around the globe, it’s time to return to the digital pitch as well. New features, game modes, and a focus on online competition headline Konami’s latest offering in the world of soccer simulation. Take a look at eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020, out now for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 Details
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Developer: PES Productions
Modes: Single player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Online competition around the world
The Pro Evolution Soccer (or PES) franchise is back for it’s 19th season with eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020, yet with a slightly different name. This year Konami elects to prefix the game with the moniker “eFootball”. But what does it mean?
According to the publisher, the addition of “eFootball” to the title comes with the intention of pushing the game’s focus on online play. From modes like myTeam to eFootball Pro Tournaments and more, this year PES wants its players to know it’s making a bigger splash in the online space. However, in the end is the impact truly all that large?
Get ready for Matchday
The most notable new addition in eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020’s bid to justify its new title is Matchday mode. With Matchday, the PES team will select a feature match coinciding with a real-world match taking place on the global stage. It is then up to players to choose allegiance between one of the two clubs participating.
Once players choose a side, they will participate in online group matches. Here they will face off against the opposing side to earn event points. Event points ultimately determine which side gets an advantage moving into the final stage of Matchday. For those familiar with Nintendo’s online shooter franchise Splatoon, Matchday has a strong “Splatfest” vibe to it.
Moving into the finals, the best performing Matchday participants will be identified. These players will be invited to participate in a livestream Matchday finale. The victorious squad will receive impressive in-game rewards. Of course everyone who participates will receive something, but naturally player’s earnings will correlate to their degree of success.
With a full season of Matchday events ahead it’s difficult to tell from the outset how popular the mode will be. However it is certainly an interesting exercise in creating real-time competition with a global focus. It certainly lends credibility to eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020‘s focus on online play.
The loneliness of becoming a legend
Of course if online play isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of single player options. As someone who typically enjoys playing solo, I took an extended look at the player-focused “Become a Legend” career mode this year. This is where players choose or create a single superstar to lead through their pro football career.
Become a Legend has all the standard fare of a career mode. You can play, train, negotiate your contract, and basically navigate the waters of a sporting career. Playing games in this mode offers a fresh camera angle that looks North-South instead or East-West, which gives a better perspective when only controlling one player.
Ultimately however my patience got the better of me. Soccer can be a slower sport, and yes those on the outside often take heat for not appreciating why this does not make the game less interesting. In Become a Legend mode however, I think you really have to have a deep appreciation for watching the game play out as much as participating.
You simply don’t get enough touches to keep the attention of less-devoted players. In other sports games when you control just one player, usually the action still dictates significant involvement, but here the ball moves to so many places that you can go long periods without really doing much. Again, I think this boils down to personal taste, but other modes are likely better suited to those who enjoy constant engagement.
eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 also features a number of new improvements to its already solid core gameplay. Chief among these is the addition of the new “Finesse Dribbling” techniques. These are advanced moves aimed at improving agility when evading defenders.
I really enjoy this new mechanic. In particular it is helpful that despite being “advanced” techniques, many of these moves are relatively easy to pull off. Most finesse dribbling moves simply involve some combination of moving the twin joysticks in various directions, or a timely press of the R2/RT buttons.
This means that even newer players can generally enjoy the spectacle and reward of finesse dribbling. Just about any finesse dribble is a good move in most situations, so a random move can be beneficial even if you are still learning and just guessing at a combo. That said, veteran players will certainly command an epic level of control when they can anticipate opponent moves and perform the perfect response accordingly.
Those pesky licenses
With so many different leagues and clubs all over the world, licenses will likely always be the thorn in a game like eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020’s side. This year PES gains great clubs like the Italian Juventus, but loses Liverpool of the Champion’s League. These shifting licenses will always be a detriment to any developer’s ability to create the perfect soccer sim.
Of course Konami has a band-aid solution for this in the form of custom rosters and logos. Those willing to put in the work will always be able to craft proxies for the gaps created by endless red tape and licensing legalese.
eFootball pro Evolution Soccer 2020 puts the focus on online play with a dose of new gameplay
eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 builds well on the franchise’s solid core gameplay with new features such as Finesse Dribbling. It also makes a great push to bring more players into the online space, especially with its new Matchday mode. It seems that Konami’s focus is to make its soccer sim the world’s game, just like the sport it emulates.
Single player options see less innovation, and as always not every club is available due to complex licensing agreements. Of course there is a deep editor available to customize kits, rosters, and more. All in all eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 is a pleasing entry in the series and worth a look for football fans.
+ Solid gameplay
+ New Matchday mode
+ Finesse Dribbling
– Not all clubs available
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF eFOOTBALL PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER 2020
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5