The whole rebranding of the former football game behemoth Pro Evolution Soccer to eFootball really hasn’t gone well for Konami. Despite being free-to-play, its official launch as eFootball 2022 was seen as utterly atrocious, which put off a lot of their loyal players. Even with a content update featuring some necessary improvements for eFootball 2023, it didn’t do enough to convince anyone to return. And now, it’s time for eFootball 2024 to try its luck, but is yet another glorified update going to change anything in the grand scheme of things?
Before delving head first into my analysis of eFootball 2024, it’s worth noting that there aren’t wholesale changes from eFootball 2023. As such, the focus is on whether any prevalent issues are still present and if the new additions enhance the experience at all.
The gameplay is the heart and soul of any sports title, which is slightly bad news for eFootball 2024. Once again the difference in movement with the ball in your possession, and without it, is mildly concerning. Not being able to outrun defenders using the likes of Marcus Rashford makes no sense, especially as players – even the bulky defenders – have a rocket up their backside chasing someone down to regain the ball. The contrast is bizarre.
Furthermore, releasing a pass and unleashing a strike at goal is sluggish. Even upon taking a shot though, the joy arising from it actually resulting in a goal is missing. I think that’s due to the simplistic ball physics, which just don’t feel satisfying in the slightest – a far cry from the good old days. It’s not all doom and gloom however, for the close control dribbling is incredibly responsive and allows you to skilfully weave past onrushing opponents at the flick of the stick.
The defensive setup and off-the-ball positioning are great too. It’s almost a case of shutting up shop once the team are in their defensive positions, with potential gaps suitably covered according to the chosen tactics. While on the attack, teammates make runs for fun and exploit any areas left unattended. Moving the ball around, luring the defenders in and creating more space is important here. Having to partake in patient build-up, unless it’s a counter, is to be commended.
Nobody is handing out medals to the AI though, who become absolute idiots at the most inopportune moments. Whether it’s for or against you, passes will trickle past players who should easily latch on and intercept them. Instead they watch on gormlessly as the ball successfully arrives at the recipient and they could then be through on goal. Far too often those not involved in the action being performed, yet are within touching distance, behave like spectators.
In regards to the game modes, nothing has changed and there’s still no sign of the Master League making a return in eFootball 2024. You’re presented with just the same two main options as in the previous iteration – Authentic and Dream Team.
Authentic matches are one-off contests against another human or a computer-controlled opposition. In these you can use the teams that Konami has acquired licences for, which equates to very few that are well-known. You’ve got Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and the Milan teams, but otherwise it’s lacking. Unless you follow Liga BBVA MX (Mexican), J-League (Japanese), or the Thai League, it’s really not enticing to play this mode. On the plus side though, the squads and kits are up-to-date, so there’s definitely authenticity.
Dream Team doesn’t provide anything new that’s of real substance, but for those unfamiliar it’s essentially a way to build and use a fantasy team in a similar vein to the PES mode, myClub. Starting with a bang average squad of nobodies, you’ll play matches to earn currency, which you can spend on buying players.
The PvP league is the crux of the Dream Team offering, seeing you take on other people to climb up divisions and garner rewards for your performance. Due to some of the players carrying over for seasoned gamers however, it’s going to be tough for newcomers with the opponents’ excellent squads awaiting them. Other than that, there are events that pop up and regularly change, with set criteria for what teams and players you can use.
The eFootball 2024 content update is disappointingly bereft of anything decent enough to tempt players to return. The close control dribbling is the sole noteworthy addition to the already problematic gameplay. Meanwhile, the modes available are essentially no different to the previous year and the quality of authentic teams present is certainly below par.
There’s no doubt eFootball 2024 is a flawed game and, if a measly update is all that’s coming each year, it’s hard to see it ever being worthy of your time.