It took me a while to realize it and come to terms with it: eFootball (2022) is no longer the games brand I fell in love with in the early 2000s. In this best sports simulation in the gaming world, meticulously perfected over the years by mastermind Shingo Takatsuka. Even before my time as a games journalist, I drove to local tournaments with a friend, later I was allowed to test the titles myself and watch the best Pro Evo players live at world championships or on the gamepad. It was more than ten years ago that I was at PES, but the series had been my football game over the years, a title that despite still felt familiar with the changed adjustment screws. And that, I was sure in my ivory tower, always the better, more valuable, more honest football game than this EA celebrity, to whom the youth of the world throws their millions into the wide open FUT throats. Changes are necessary, small adjustments, maybe even big breaks – I had seen quite a few at PES, some disapproved, others welcomed. In the year before last, the awkward addition to the name eFootball was added, in the preseason many of us PES-Mögers saw the respite as a sign of hope. For Konami not writing off the mark (Hello, Metal Gear and Silent Hill), but is working on a real, high-quality realignment.
In the game after the first start of eFootball 2022 you can play Portugal against Argentina. After that no more!
Well, fuck it! eFootball 2022 can be downloaded and played for free, but for all connoisseurs of the series a kick in the shin in every respect. Oh, what do I say – a de-jong kick in front of the chest, a Pepe kick, a Witsel shin-and-fibula breaker. It starts with the scope, currently version 0.9 of eFootball 2022 only includes two mini-modes: friendship games with a fixed five-minute playing time on two levels of difficulty and so-called events, which are online duels against any opponent (without looking for a player or the chance to find a friend to invite); with the latter you can earn credits for which there is currently no use. After an initial game with the national teams of Portugal and Argentina, there are only nine club teams to choose from: Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Arsenal London, Juventus Turin and FC Barcelona from Europe; Coming from South America are Flamengo, Sao Paulo, Corinthians and River Plate. They are all premium partners of the brand, but there are no other such teams (AS Roma, Atalanta Bergamo, etc.), and neither are any other teams. Incidentally, that also means: Cover star Messi (who is known to be lacing his shoes for PSG) is not playable in the game outside of the starting match!
What’s not in it
There is no career, no My Club mode, no championships, not even training. Wait, in the options the item “Training” is hidden – but unfortunately this is only the intro film to watch again, in which bored a few new features are touched upon, while Iniesta and Piqué deliver blurred moving images in the background. That’s it. For real.
Who will find tactical settings such as the choice of formation? PES has a long history of bad menus, but this time there is unfortunately no tactical depth hidden here.
Even the tactic options are meager: there are five succinct commands for the general switching tactics and otherwise only the options to swap players or to move them on the tactic plan. Not even the line-up may be changed from, for example, 4-3-3 to 3-5-2, the formation only adapts automatically by moving the players. A rogue if you think of a smartphone screen on which you could certainly do it in practice. eFootball 2022 is also available for mobile platforms and even wants to allow crossplay with consoles and the PC. The mobile phone version is currently not yet available, so PC, PlayStation and Xbox players can feel a bit like guinea pigs for the probably more lucrative platforms.