Game Review: eFootball PES 2021 Season Update

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Posted October 8, 2020 by Richard Lee Breslin in Featured, Game Reviews, PS4 Reviews


This year with this pesky pandemic that seems to be not going away anytime soon, 2020 has been well and truly turned upside-down, and dropped on its head.  Whether it’s a education, health care, a local business, the world of cinema or the videogame industry, just about everything has been impacted heavily this year.  So with that in mind, the developers at PES Developments has decided that rather than releasing a full release eFootball PES 2021, instead we will be getting the eFootball PES 2021 Season Update, an update, rather than a typical full retail release.

Essentially, this is the exact same game as eFootball PES 2020.  Visually it looks the same, apart from a colour palette change and updated player images, the in-game menus are practically the same too.  On the pitch, the gameplay is also more or less the same as well. The only real difference to the gameplay of PES 2021 is that it’s benefited from the fine-tuning of the updates and patches that came with last year’s release.  So for better or worse, while gameplay is more or less the same, it can be said that the gameplay at the launch of PES 2021 is improved upon over PES 2020.  Though it is fairly minimal, so don’t go expecting any major overhauls to the gameplay.

eFootball PES 2021 Season Update has all the same modes that featured before, including the officially licensed UEFA Euro Championships 2020, with all the bells and whistles that you would expect from Europe’s most celebrated international tournament.  The UEFA Euro 2020 tournament made its  way into PES 2020 as a free DLC, which back in the day, EA’s FIFA used to release such officially licensed tournaments as standalone products and the DLC has made its way for free into this year’s release too.  In the real-world, the tournament was delayed until 2021.

As with most releases of the PES series, while most of the top leagues in the world feature, not all are officially licensed, such as the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and Germany’s Bundesliga once again being absent.  Though there are some officially licensed leagues such as France, Scotland, Brazil and more.  You can check out all the officially licensed leagues here.  Thankfully as with previous releases, PES 2021 has a fantastic edit mode and if you’re talented enough, you can make all kits, leagues and competitions look as official as they would in EA’s FIFA series.

However, if like me, you’re not talented enough to edit the game to an official level, there are some fantastic fan-made Option Files that you can download and export into PES 2021.  It’s a very easy process, and shouldn’t take much longer then 5-10 minutes from the point of downloading the file.  I’ll include a link at the end of this review.  As before, there are some partner teams, which feature official kits, likenesses and stadiums.  The partner teams includes FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Arsenal and Manchester United.  You can even pick-up special Club Edition’s of PES 2021 for each of the partnered teams.

These editions only cost £29.99, in comparison to the £24.99 for the standard edition.  If you can, I’d certainly recommend picking up the Club Editions, because they come with a wealth of bonuses such as 3,000 MyClub Coins, an Iconic Moment Player Agent for each respective club, a classic football kit, a full squad of players and manager for the club in question, 3×30 weeks of contract tickets, 30x weeks of Premium Agents, as well as the in-game menu’s having the respective Club Edition theme.  Even if you just pick-up the standard edition, everyone will be gifted with bonus Iconic Moment Player Agents that depend on if you’re a returning player, how many online matches you’ve played and how many legend players you owned in PES 2020.

If you enjoyed PES 2020, then picking up the Season Update is a no brainer, as it’s a seamless transition.  Though it is worth keeping in mind that this is classed as a standalone game, so data such as MyClub progress and in-game currencies will not carry-over from last year’s release into this year.  While in the most part, I really like the fact that this year’s release has been delivered in the way in which it is, as you are essentially getting a more finely-tuned PES 2020, but with updated transfers, kits and leagues, it’s not all sunshine and roses.

The computer A.I still isn’t great.  Well in fairness, its fine when you’re playing against it, especially on the higher difficulty settings, but if you ever sim a match, you’ll see players quite literally running around in circles before putting a cross into the opponents box, even when a match is about to end and the team really needs an equalising or winning goal.  Hopefully with next year’s release, which is moving away from the Fox Engine and to the Unreal Engine 4, we’ll see improved A.I.  I must also mention an issue that I have with the Collector Boxes in MyClub.

Last year, if you purchased a box with 3 random players with in-game currency, it would include the likes of a basic Black Ball Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.  However this year, while those 3xplayer Collector Boxes are still present, at least at the time of writing, the likes of Messi and Ronaldo have been moved into separate boxes (with other players) and they can now only be purchased using the microtransaction currency, Konami Coins, which is disappointing that they’ve made that change.  All in all, this is last year’s game with all the updates you’d expect from a new season, with some added Master League managers to choose from, and with it costing half the price of a full retail release, it makes eFootball PES 2021 Season Update well worth the price of admission.

I’ve also not scored this release like I had with previous games in the series, because as the name suggests, this is an update rather than a full release, so much of the positives and negatives would be practically identical.  Finally, if you want to download a fan-made Option File with kits, leagues and competitions to look official, as promised, easy step-by-step instructions can be found here.