Well, Pro Evolution Soccer’s transition to fully free-to-play eFootball is quite the hot mess.
Konami’s futbol game launched on Wednesday with player expectations already set into the future, thanks to a development roadmap promising a lot of core features coming via title updates. But that doesn’t even begin to account for the cavalcade of jank players have encountered — particularly PC players, who have made it the worst-rated Steam game of all time, according to one site’s metric.
What exactly is going on? Well, this:
and probably the most notorious example, seen from numerous sources:
To be fair, it seems like most of these grotesque contortions, of both body and face, are showing up in eFootball’s cutscenes and interstitial cinematics. Not that it makes it any more acceptable, but gameplay action seems to be bothered by lesser problems — although players are complaining of a general blurriness and sloppy animations, some of which could be seen in pre-release gameplay trailers.
The situation is bad enough that Konami dropped a general-purpose apology on Friday morning.
eFootball isn’t just changing name and format, it’s also changed engines, from Konami’s old proprietary Fox Engine (yes, the one developed eight years ago for Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes) to Unreal Engine 4. Plainly, that failed to deliver more impactful visuals and animations, at least in eFootball’s cutscenes.
But players are also disappointed that Konami failed on its promises of crisper gameplay, with more realistic one-on-one confrontations, more aggressive defenses, and quicker counterattacking. Many of the “overwhelmingly negative” reviews on Steam (11,554 bad ones at last count) fairly give credit to eFootball for some new things (“concept of the new defending mechanics” and “instant play from ball boys without cutting away,” for example), while finding plenty to fault with core gameplay.
“The slow and consistent character models from old games is what kept the gameplay fluid and better than FIFA,” said one reviewer on launch day. “This gameplay is in the middle of both games. PES ball physics and FIFA player character models, which is atrocious. You cannot mix the two because they have completely different styles.
“Two years waiting for a game with no MyClub, no [Master League] or [Be a Legend modes], and on top of that, graphics in 2021 look worse than PES 13 and 17?” they continued. “I don’t know how this was released.” (Konami developers skipped a full release last year and instead updated eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020, launched in the fall of 2019.)
The outcry is of legitimate historic proportions. Steam 250, a site that, since 2014, has ranked all of the storefront’s games relative to one another based on user scores, currently has eFootball as the worst among its bottom 100 games. Sports video games on this list were either launched in a basically incomplete state (WWE 2K20) or lack significant features that their console counterparts have (Madden NFL 22). eFootball, it seems, is both.
“60fps Cap is vile,” said Steam’s “most helpful” review, and it really is a balanced appraisal. “30fps replay cap viler especially as this seems to be an easy to run game,” they added. Elsewhere, they found issues with “responsiveness of controls at times where the player has the ball 1mm in front of him, but just takes a lot of time to respond, or it just glides off and away.”
So what now? Konami’s tweet promises that eFootball “will be continuously updated, quality will be improved, and content will be added consistently.” An update is already promised for this month. The development roadmap offered in August said that the game would have online leagues, a team-building mode, cross-platform matches, and a battle pass system (Match Pass) coming in the first big title update.
Sounds like that may be on hold; if not, it should definitely take lesser priority to eFootball getting the rest of its [act] together.