The spookiest Football launch just in time for Halloween?
You have seen gelatinous limbs flailing. You may have seen flatlander referees cursed to bear uncomprehending witness to the juddering of limbs and writhing of faces. Who could ever have expected that a football game would be the spookiest Halloween title this year?
During one match I looked into Lionel Messi’s eyes and I swear he asked me to end his suffering. The grotesque denizens of the abyss, screaming through their swollen, blocky heads, echoed his screams from the crowd. This game is not okay.
Tormented players and pancake referees are just the tip of the iceberg, though: Most of eFootball's problems lie under the surface. Konami has dismantled gameplay that had been showing real promise over the last few iterations of Pro Evolution Soccer. Gone is the sharp, responsive football experience that captured the essence of the beautiful game. In its place quivers a rattle-boned husk that could crumble at any moment.
It is impossibly difficult to build momentum in eFootball. Passing is sluggish to the point where my brain literally skips ahead to execute the next move before the ball has reached its destination. Adding power makes zero difference. You could file your tax returns in the time it takes to switch direction, and you have no guarantee that the player will decide to take the ball along.
Players will occasionally just watch the ball fly past them during an otherwise perfectly coordinated attack, and sometimes the game can't decide if you kicked the ball or an opposing player, making you question Konami’s entire strategy for the future.
Pro Evolution Soccer has had a one-year sabbatical during the transition to eFootball, but the time does not seem to have been well-spent. Challenging FIFA in terms of sales was never going to happen. Not when EA Sports dominate the licensing market, which truthfully, will always outweigh the need for superior gameplay with a casual audience.
PES fans always had their gameplay to hold onto. Brush away the awful music, incomprehensible menus and the uninspired content. It didn’t matter; PES had gameplay. Until it didn’t.
eFootball was Konami’s opportunity to show the world that it had a plan, that it was taking a bold leap into the future with a free-to-play game that didn't compromise on quality. Launching with hardly any content and little more than a promise to expand it in the future would be completely forgivable if the game played as well as its predecessors. But it doesn't, so it isn't.
Don’t let people tell you it’s just a demo. For the majority, the impression eFootball left on September 30th will be its last. Bug fixes in the future won’t sway those who were prepared to give it a chance and got burned. One has to wonder if the PES boat will ever fully make its way back, especially with FIFA 22’s general release swooping in just a day after eFootball’s debut.
This series has given us Castolo, Minanda and Adriano. Let’s try and remember it that way.