Ah, reboots. A key word of this generation. We’ve seen so many of them by this point that it’s becoming commonplace to expect almost every major franchise to get a reboot at some point. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, DOOM (2016). All of these are examples of major IP rebooting their mainline games, giving a refresh to their formulae and creating something new and exciting for fans to enjoy, while still staying familiar to longtime players.
Not all reboots are successful however, and then we get games that do exactly what they were trying to prevent- kill a franchise. Games such as the Medal Of Honor reboot or DmC- Devil May Cry doomed their franchises, at least for the time being (Devil May Cry is due to receive another reboot soon). Now, at what end of the spectrum does eFootball 2022 lie? Oh, most definitely in the latter.
eFootball 2022 is a modern continuation of the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise (PES). This classic series had been a staple of the 2010s, not quite equalling but remaining a valid alternative to FIFA. While not quite a financial giant like EA’s footballing behemoth, PES was still respectable enough to warrant several yearly releases. eFootball 2022 is an attempt made to capitalise on the significant market space several free-to-play games have enjoyed. The problem is, eFootball simply wasn’t ready for launch. The sorry state we find eFootball in even after its “1.0” update, or “full release” would make the term “alpha” blush. Even the very basics seem like they need a massive amount of adjustment for this game to even reach the PES levels of success enjoyed years prior. The issue with eFootball 2022 is that almost none of its systems feel complete or even remotely ready for release.
A free to play version of FIFA, a series of games known for its exploitative monetization and predatory microtransactions, is an incredibly appealing premise. The clean, smooth gameplay of a FIFA game, but with none of the baggage that comes along with trying to settle into playing EA’s biggest moneymaker. Unfortunately, eFootball 2022 gets very little of what made FIFA so great, right. When it launched late in 2021, eFootball earned scathing reviews for its poor amount of content and imprecise gameplay.
After the launch of Seasons 1 and 2, eFootball feels almost as barebones as it did during its “early access” phase, with very little being added to make the “full release” label accurate or feel any different from its previous phase. There’s a basic ultimate team mode now, and it isn’t a patch on what FIFA offers, not that that’s entirely a bad thing, but an ultimate team mode simply isn’t enough to fill out what continues to be a very thin package.
eFootball 2022 comes with very few modes to play, even months after launch. Online play does exist, but it doesn’t always work well, as almost a third of the matches I connected to I was disconnected from fairly soon after joining. This feels like a demo, not a full game, and that’s a serious problem for a game struggling to break away from its already bad reputation post launch.
The worst problem that eFootball 2022 still suffers from is its gameplay. Ironically, gameplay is the biggest attraction of its biggest competitor, FIFA, therefore gameplay was the one thing Konami had to get right for this game to really hit the right note. What should have been eFootball 2022’s biggest strength, then, is actually its biggest failing. Nothing here feels precise at all. Passes feel slow to input, shots fail to go in the intended direction, and even tackles feel woefully inaccurate.
One thing I will admit is that eFootball attempts to and partly succeeds in making this a much faster game than the average game of FIFA. The ball whizzes back and forth, as the speed of the game makes a blistering counterattack all too possible in almost any situation. Too bad then, that the players’ shot power is so badly balanced that it only takes a tap of a button to send the ball into space. Passing is really the worst offender here though. It’s so inaccurate and wildly inconsistent that it actually makes playing eFootball 2022 considerably unfun. I’ve played a fair amount of FIFA in my time, and I’ve never been this frustrated in a game’s ability to follow my commands.
The second worst offender of eFootball 2022’s plethora of unfinished features is the AI. I’m not just referring to the opposition AI, although that is also extremely unreliable and varied, but to your friendly player AI, how your team behaves when not controlled by you. Some of my most frustrating moments playing this game come from attempting to pass to a friendly player, only for that player to either completely fail to control the ball, not be in the correct position at all, or miss the pass entirely. Such an incomplete AI system should not have been allowed to ship with this game at all, let alone in the “full release”, as it’s a huge part of playing a game that depends on positioning and timing. It’s genuinely shocking to see how little care has gone into the detail here in the main gameplay systems of eFootball 2022, and that doesn’t stop here at the gameplay either.
A big reason eFootball 2022 gained so much notoriety at launch was for its truly, truly awful character models and facial animations. The quality of these would vary massively, going from decent for a popular player, to atrocious for a mid or low level footballer. I’m happy to say that this isn’t quite as bad as it was at launch, however it’s still not in a state even close to acceptable for the modern generation of gaming. Once again, this is a thing FIFA gets hugely right, and something eFootball needed to perform strongly on, but didn’t.
The worst thing about the graphics of eFootball, however, is the crowd. Now, I’m aware that the crowd isn’t the most integral part of any game, but for a game that wishes to position itself as a realistic football simulator, immersion is a huge factor in deciding its success. And there are not many things more immersion shattering than seeing a cardboard crowd do the exact same set of animations for ten minutes while trying to concentrate on dealing with an already immersion breaking set of controls.
One thing I’ll admit that eFootball 2022 does well is the stadiums, with a changing room shot before every game followed by a tunnel walkout. That’s a very small plus in a field of minuses though, and talking of another minus, there’s the miniscule amount of content this game actually has to offer.
EFootball 2022 is now classified as a fully released game, a fully released game now in its second season of content, and therefore all the usual expectations of content provision apply. That being said, eFootball 2022 offers possibly the thinnest amount of content seen in a full release sports game in a long time. It does now offer an ultimate team mode, but this is extremely paired back compared to the FIFA version, due to licensing issues. These licensing issues also stretch so far as to severely limit the amount of teams available to use as part of regular gameplay. There’s so little to dive into, it’s not even worth a download to see what’s new.
I come away from eFootball 2022 feeling deeply disappointed. There was such a good premise here to create a more accessible football simulator for those that didn’t want to buy into EA’s piggy bank with FIFA. Instead, eFootball will likely have the opposite effect, with many more moving towards FIFA, looking to experience what eFootball advertised. It takes up the space in the market that was reserved for PES, an alternative to FIFA that still had the gameplay flourishes, but was just different enough to fill the gap left by EA’s magnum opus.
So many have become outright hostile towards this game, which is quite honestly understandable, as eFootball 2022 is in an utterly shameful state that fails even to get the very basics right. There aren’t many reasons to play eFootball 2022, and I can think of a dozen more deserving games to store on your hard drive; as it stands, this doesn’t even offer the very least we expect from a fully released game.
eFootball 2022 is a disaster, plain and simple, and there has been very little added to Season 1 or 2 that can alleviate that.
eFootball 2022 is available to download from the Xbox Store