When it appeared eFootball, the sensations were bad. We had been waiting for the new Konami for a couple of years -with a more than solid update of PES 2021 in between- and we found a game that threw overboard what we had fallen in love with in recent years. now which one FC Barcelona with the arrival of Xavi, eFootball wants to redeem itself and get back on the path to success. We have been in London testing version 1.0 for several hours, which changes a lot and for the better what has always been important in the saga: football. This is the first step.
The model free to play of eFootball, with cross-play with all platforms -including mobiles- still has to develop and contribute much more to be a success. This goes through the events, modalities and available equipment, naturally. But while we wait for what the plans are in this regard, the truth is that something was much more urgent to solve: the gameplay. The engine change to Unreal Engine 5 was dramatic for the title, which arrived with pacing, physics, reactions, and controls that had nothing to do with the latest PES. The game was heavily criticized and the company apologized and decided to work quietly. The result is these impressions that give us hope: there are many successful and necessary changes.
We start with some general feelings after having played dozens of games. Version 1.0 of eFootball has clearly improved in pace, in player response, in animations, in game situations. Much more agile and realistic animations, crashes, skirmishes and physics that remind us of the latest PES and an obvious improvement in the speed of shooting and passing, as well as in the immediate response to our actions. We have had that feeling that we liked so much: being able to feel that it is a leisurely game, but not slow, where a poorly made pass is punished but on the contrary, the movement of the ball is one of its great virtues. The tiqui-taca shines and is once again satisfying.
All this is due to a much more precise and elaborate application of what the Konami team wants for its soccer game with the new Unreal Engine 5 engine. Now it is taking advantage of it and it shows: we no longer have strange shocks, players who are reeling from normal game situations or stupid moves. The team moves as such, the block goes in harmony and we don’t have surreal holes in defense or ineffective unchecks in attack. Everything is more PES, basically. We see jumps to fight for a ball that are believable, skirmishes putting the arm to our rival that recreate real situations, and many more details that convince us. This does look good. And to all this, there are several novelties in mechanics that help to convince us completely.
In defence, eFootball is finally something else
As we said, the players move in a balanced way and as a group without major errors, but there are some mechanics that make us feel like we have control of our defense again. On the one hand, we keep the pressure with X, but we have added the ability to press with a teammate just by pressing R1. This, which is basic, returns to the saga to give another air to the defense. We can send a partner to the pressure and accompany him with our player, or instead, go to cover possible gaps with our central defender.
The possibilities are logical again. More so when we have other tools like Matchup, which is basically holding L2 so that the defender moves towards the one with the ball, holding with lateral steps. To all this we have added the square charge, which allows us to put the body with the shoulder as a new way of trying to stop the rivals. The feeling is that we have a much greater and much more effective control of the defense, something that is appreciated, we like more to delay the line and wait or press with several players at the same time. Now you can decide.
In attack, more solutions
On the offensive end, with the ball at our feet, we have also noticed improvements important. Not only in dynamics and automated movements, such as unchecking, second line arrivals or breaking defenses from the outside, but also in options. The sharp touch, which allows us to go to a touch to one side or the other when we receive the ball, now it is agile to do and very useful to overcome a first line of defense (we simply quickly press R2 and then, with the left stick, decide where we will go when we receive the ball). We liked its use both in band and in interior areas, although sometimes the animation seems a bit slow to us.
But where we find an important differentiation is in the stunning kicks, a new mechanic that allows more incisive and risky passes, crosses and shots. To activate it we need to press R2 and the action button we want at the same time. Instead of having a green-orange energy bar as usual, it will become blue-purple, with many peculiarities to take into account.
The first thing is that it is a movement which is not meant to be used when we are pressed, since the pass or shot animation of the stunning kick it is somewhat slow. Far from seeming like a mistake, the reality is that this system is designed to be used at key moments and in specific ways. We explain ourselves: if we launch one of these shots from the front with two defenders in front, they will surely steal the ball from us while we are performing the animation. On the other hand, if we make a pass to the front and activate this shot before the ball arrives, the player will have started the animation and, first of all, will launch a much more powerful shot. Shots of this type are much more violent and tight, so they are worth trying.
In the case of centers, the same. If a winger or winger has time, this center will go with a lot of bad intentions, faster and looking for that deadlock between the exit zone of a goalkeeper and the arrival of the striker. They are spectacular crosses, but as before, you have to do them with your head: if we are pressured by a defender, we will not have time to launch it as is allowed with a normal cross. But instead, if we open the band and try it first, we save time and it can be successful. Naturally, if we don’t have opponents above us, we can accommodate the ball and prepare this center without problems.
Finally, there are also the passes in this mode, which are used to, for example, easily break rival lines, but due to their nature and slowness – more in the center of the field where there are many more players – it has not seemed as effective as it is, because it is similar in proposal, the strong pass of a FIFA.
Football with many more possibilities
The result of all this is that we find ourselves with a very solid and fun game to play. With a good rhythm, with clear improvements in passes and shots, and with a series of options that allow us to enjoy what happens on the field more. Stunning shooting and passing options open up a range for spectacular plays on very precise crosses or violent shots. On the other hand, the options in defense allow us to control perfectly when we send a center back to the cut and at the same time we control the side so that, with a diagonal, it will close.
It also helps and not in a minor way the addition of improvements in the game plan, which was pyrrhic at the start of the game and now has substance again. It’s not just about choosing the way to play, which is noticeable in movements and how the team stretches or not (possession, counterattack, long balls…) but also the possibility of assigning specific actions to players. Make Busi go down and position himself between the central defenders when we don’t have the ball, make Alves go up the wing whenever he has the chance or make De Jong break from the second line, to give three examples of tactical instructions that have a real and direct impact on how we play.
To all this are added the wallsthe uncheck, the oriented controls or the quality shots that are already hallmarks of the saga, giving an interesting range of possibilities. It is true that at the level of animations, where we see endless controls and varied and spectacular (and realistic) first-touch passes, we feel that with the ball at the foot it is somewhat slow to turn from one side to the other, as it is also true that at least in this version that we have played we have encountered several situations of strange rebounds that can despair at some point. But in general, the football experience is more than satisfactory, above all because it continues to offer something different from what we are used to, and it is nice to see that also works as proposal.
To all this, it is necessary to emphasize how the players have improved to visual level. The facial recreations are much more convincing and without problems or bugs like those seen in the original release of the game a few months ago, and with the addition that many promising young players have their faces well recreated, as can be Pedri O Gavi. We also see differences in bodies, in certain animations (the goalkeepers have a good list of saves, although some are somewhat strange) and the licensed fields such as the Camp Nou or the Allianz are made in detail, including their interiors when we see previous or later scenes to the match. Something that has not convinced us is the lighting in day games, something strange when it comes to generating shadows on the field. In night games it looks much better.
Here you can see how the faces of the Barça players look:
All this is what eFootball 1.0 wants to propose this spring to be a real option to play quality soccer for free. It will be necessary to thoroughly test new modes that they have in hand, such as the Dream Team with player cards of different variants that can be evolved, the eFootball League as PVP mode in two-month seasons and find out if the selection of teams is extended and how (we play with those who are currently). But if the base is solvent, the next step is to provide it with content. And little by little, getting eFootball to achieve the success, or at least the solidity, that PES managed to recover some time ago. The leap in quality is evident, and we celebrate it.