It’s time for the giants to hit the same again, in this year’s digital football derby on senses.se!
The two combatants hardly need any further introduction; EA Sports annual monster series FIFA is one of the world’s best-selling games and Konamis Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) may have acquired the petty epithet eFootball on the neck, but is the same underdog, David, who takes on Goliath year after year. As usual, we run a digital derby, because we do not think any normal player buys two football games every autumn, but wants an answer to the question:
Which football game should I buy in 2020 (2021)?
NOTE: eFootball PES 2021 Season Update named as it does because the base game this year is the same basic game as last year, eFootball PES 2020, but with updated players and teams. This is probably because Konami is building a new game engine from the ground up for next-gen.
Then we blow kick-off!
FIFA 21 wins this duel relatively easily against PES 21, which in practice already has more than a year on its neck. EA offers soft animations, realistic and detailed face models and in general a menu and appearance that feels 2000s. PES 2021 is largely the same, ugly menus we’ve seen for almost 20 years and this year’s edition offers no fun images either; but it is almost reminiscent of last-genwax doll puppet, but with higher resolution (good animations and player movements, though on PS4 Pro). The only golden edge is that the PES audience looks slightly better than the competitor’s.
But FIFA 21 takes the lead quite comfortably with 1-0.
Hard to determine. FIFA has generally always had more lively commentators, but in FIFA 21 it feels like the lines are starting to go on repeat and you comment on the game very generally. PES 21 we experienced as a small lift, slightly tighter and more precise play-by-play this year, thought the test patrol and at the same time the surround effect from the football stadium is relatively similar in quality.
No clear winner in this category, but neat and even equalization of PES 21 to 1-1.
We save the most important thing in the end – playability. A football game can be as nice and well-sounding, with as many “real” names and parables (always a branch FIFA wins) as you like – but in the end everything depends on how good and fun it is to play. This part is so important that it counts as two points – here everything is decided.
If we start with the underdog, eFootball PES 2021 here is the same finesse and precision that characterized the series in principle throughout the 2000s. It is skill-based, accurate and it is difficult to score goals (just like in reality). At the same time, anything can happen, just like in real football; posts can be screwed into goals and goalkeepers can commit rough shots, such as taking down the ball so that it rolls over the goal line and so on. Football, simply and very much PES – easy to press and defend, difficult to play free and draw good shots on goal.
FIFA 21 has been described by several reviewers this year as “arcade football” with a focus on goal-partying. And of course it is netted – our second ten-minute match ended 10-7, a result you rarely see even in hockey and never in football (on a professional level). But that is not the case FIFA 21 received god-fearing attackers who fire from perfect fantasy shots from half the field á la Captain Tsubasa – but because the defensive game has become non-existent (read: impossible). It is basically the goalkeeper against the attacking team most of the time. When you press in defense, basically nothing happens from the defenders who are in front of the attacker, but only those behind try to catch up (or trap). So a fast striker can in principle cross forward freely against a defense that only backs home and awkwardly tries to cover shots – but no one actively pokes a foot or tries to challenge and take the ball with the body. This may be “attack” or “arcade football” for some. For us, it just gets broken (yes, this also happens with all help functions turned off – thanks for the “help functions”, by the way). This phenomenon has been discussed in some circles such as that FIFA would be “scripted”, use handicaps that the program algorithm adapts the game with to influence the outcome of the match. EA denies that this would be true, however something is significantly off with the lack of control in FIFA 21.
Winner 2020 (2021) – PES eFootball 2021
So eFootball PES 21 takes home the match easily this year with 3-1. The value of updated team line-ups is up to you to decide if it is worth SEK 300 if you own last year’s game, if on the other hand you do not already own PES 2020, SEK 300 is a really good price for such a competent game. FIFA 21 is happy to keep and hone his idea of easy attack football with a lot of goals, but it must not come at the expense of themselves the game football. It was a downright frustrating experience to try to defend myself. Feel free to turn the attackers into target cannons and speed demons by all means, but let’s get a sporting chance be able to stop their progress.
Footnote: FIFA 21 gets a free patch for the next-gen consoles Xbox Series S / X and Playstation 5. No such patch has been confirmed for PES 2021 for natural reasons we mentioned at the beginning of the review. Tests will be in our special articles on next-gen consoles, soon.