eFootball 2022 is Konami's replacement for the long-running Pro Evolution Soccer series, and it heralds a major shake up of the soccer-gaming world.
Rather than going toe-to-toe with FIFA 22, the latest version of EA’s annual football juggernaut, Konami has decided to make eFootball 2022 a free-to-play game that will only be available as a download. What's more, it will offer true cross-platform play, with gamers on pretty much every device eventually able to take each other on.
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With eFootball 2022 also switching from Konami's FOX engine to Unreal 4, and with the next-gen might of the PS5 and Xbox Series X to tap into, this could be the first game to give FIFA a proper challenge in years.
Here's everything we know so far about eFootball 2022, including its release date, trailer, gameplay and its various modes such as Creative Team and Master League.
eFootball 2022: Release date
eFootball 2022 will be available on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PC, iOS and Android from September 30, 2021, although that’s really only half the story.
As a free-to-play, download-only game, eFootball 2022 will be released in instalments, with only a few features and teams available immediately. You’ll be able to play one-off games locally and online (including against users of other generations of the same console, so PS5 owners can take on those playing on a PS4), but only with a choice of nine teams: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Juventus, Arsenal, Corinthians, Flamengo, Sao Paulo and River Plate. There will also be six stadiums in that initial release: Camp Nou, Old Trafford, Allianz Stadium, Emirates Stadium, Allianz Arena and, er, the famous eFootball Stadium.
Konami hasn’t set exact dates for when the other features will be released yet, but there will be two major updates: one later in the fall and another in the winter, although that doesn’t rule it out being in early 2022.
The first will expand the number of teams available to play as — although by how many we don’t yet know — as well as adding online leagues and also Creative Team mode. You’ll also be able to play games against people on other platforms, so it won’t matter if your mates all got sick of waiting for PS5 restock and bought Xbox Series Xs instead, you’ll still be able to give them an online hiding.
The final major update will see the launch of proper eSports tournaments and add phones and tablets to the list of compatible cross-platform devices, so somebody on an iPhone will be able to play against a PS5 owner, although you will have to attach a controller to the phone in order to take part.
eFootball 2022: Trailer
Konami has released two trailers for eFootball 2022 so far, both of which are over six minutes long, so there’s plenty to feast your eyes on.
The initial reveal trailer (above), released back in July, details the overall thinking behind the game, with contributions from Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and some chap called Lionel Messi, while the official gameplay trailer (below) goes deeper into some of the specifics of how the game will actually play, breaking it down feature by feature.
eFootball 2022: Gameplay
This year, Konami has switched to the Unreal Engine to run eFootball 2022, which is what allows somebody on a phone to play against someone on a console or PC, despite the vast differences in processing and graphics power. It’s the same with Fortnite.
The Unreal Engine also increases the number of animations available, so each player has more options when it comes to manipulating both their body and the ball. That should help when it comes to outwitting defenders one-on-one — a real focus of eFootball’s matches.
Of course, this also works the other way, so defenders now have more ways to intercept passes and block shots if they can successfully predict what an attacker is going to do. More imposing players will also be able to make better use of their physical advantages, but the system that judges fouls has also been revamped, so you’ll have to be careful you don’t use too much force.
Konami has also added "sharp kicks" — more specialist manoeuvres such as rising shots, faster lofted passes and snappier crosses — but these will require more time to execute, so you’ll have to use other skills to create the necessary space.
However, these won’t be part of the game at launch, coming as part of one of the later updates along with use of the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers on the PS5’s DualSense controller. The game’s edit mode will also be added at a later date.
eFootball 2022: Creative Team
Creative Team is one of eFootball 2022’s free-to-play modes. It allows you to build up your own dream squad of players, a bit like FIFA’s Ultimate Team, earning in-game currency and rewards by completing specific objectives. This, in turn, will allow you to recruit more stars or add a manager who suits your style of play.
Players fit into one of four categories: Standard, Trending, Featured and Legendary. All except the Trending players can have their attributes developed over time, turning a team of Standard chancers into world beaters if you get things right.
There will eventually be five different match types available in Creative Team mode, although not all of them will be available straight away. The same goes for the Match Pass rewards and Objectives.
eFootball 2022: Master League
As well as the features included on Konami’s free-to-play roadmap mentioned above, other elements and features will be released that require an in-game purchase to use.
These haven’t been revealed yet, but Master League is coming as “additional downloadable content,” so expect to have to pay to access that.
eFootball 2022 demo: will there be one?
Last year’s eFootball PES 2021 had a Lite version that essentially functioned as a demo, but considering eFootball 2022’s initial launch version will only include limited functionality itself, it seems unlikely that we’ll see a demo version of the game before that.
eFootball 2022: Outlook
Konami is taking an interesting approach with eFootball 2022, focusing on reaching as many people as possible rather than just selling as many copies of a game. The cross-platform play features should certainly increase its appeal — particularly if your friends don't all have the same console that you do — while the switch to Unreal Engine promises to greatly improve the animation and make for slicker gameplay.
Of course as ever, how well it fares will depend to a great extent on whether FIFA 22 takes a similarly big stride forward. Check out our FIFA 22 hub for more on that game, and look out for reviews of both titles soon.