If you want to know more about eFootball PES 2021: Season Update then you can simply read our review of eFootball PES 2020, as this is almost identical in every single way. To be fair to Konami, it’s been uncharacteristically upfront about the nature of this year’s soccer simulation, pointing out at practically every opportunity that the title’s been touched less than a Liverpool player looking for a penalty.
That said, for our money, this is the pinnacle of PlayStation 4 footie – unless the anticipated FIFA 21 can pull a miracle out of one of its pricey Ultimate Team packs. Matches flow with the kind of sharpness and fluidity that EA Sports’ option struggles with, and the whole thing is underpinned by excellent ball physics and animations. The dated commentary style drags the presentation down immensely, but players generally resemble their real-world counterparts – even if you’ll need to download files to put many of them in the correct kits.
The overall lack of licenses is what makes this roster update bizarre: the player data has been revised to reflect real-world statistics, but without even the right uniforms you have to question the purpose of this package. The series’ Ultimate Team alternative My Club tries its best but ultimately pulls up short due to the fact you can’t scour the auction house for rugged League 2 right-backs, and campaign modes like Master League and Become a Legend also suffer for similar reasons.
And yet, to borrow the brand’s slogan, when you feel like the pitch is yours this is one of the most engaging sports games available on Sony’s system. Konami is effectively taking a year off because it knows it has the basis of something special here and it wants to ensure it makes an effective transition to the PlayStation 5; we can respect that. But with barely any changes and the abovementioned licensing shortcomings, we’d recommend you just pick up last year’s game for a couple o' quid instead.