PES 2020 review

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It's surprising that for a soccer game that has taken a long time to improve its defensive skills, only one of seven announced gameplay changes has been made to PES 2020 – now with an unauthorized heading eFootball PES 2020 to reflect Konami's growing focus on esports focuses on this aspect. Even then, the defensive improvements mentioned have more to do with player animation than with Konami's philosophy and approach to the art of regaining ownership. In PES 2020, defenders still attack like target missiles, are not interested in tracking forward runs, and tend to get caught on the ball. It is almost as if the developers are satisfied with the current state of affairs. That means there are attempts elsewhere – although the results are decidedly mixed.

To dissuade defenders from harassing attackers, Konami appears to have reduced the amount of aggressive shoulder pushing and pushing allowed in PES 2020. With a limited defense pressure threshold, the percentage of attempts that result in fouls is, of course, much higher than in previous versions years, with a corresponding increase in the number of precautions. In short, it is much easier to earn yellow cards. (This is especially true for those who switch from FIFA to EA Sports and like to engage in physical battles.) From our time with PES 2020, we wondered whether Konami didn't think that soccer should be a contact sport.

The other thing that makes defending easier than it should be on PES is that there isn't enough room to play on the field. PES 2020 gives players two new tools to deal with this threat, but both are strangely limited to high-profile footballers due to their nature. (It's a possible by-product of how most only play with the largest teams, which causes Konami to develop features that serve the majority of its audience.) A new skill called "Tight Possession" offers better ball control on tight Room. Sneak past defenders with the new finesse dribble mechanic, which is operated using the right joystick. The second, however, is even more restrictive as it is not easy to master, as you can easily run into a player trying to get past them.

Nevertheless, these are encouraging signs that Konami recognizes his defensive pitfalls, even if he is unwilling or unable to revise the existing approach. In addition, the above changes in PES 2020 help to water down the weird mix of realism and arcade fun that PES 2019 had become. (The introduction of dynamic weather is one such factor that forces you to adjust, although there is still no visual accumulation of snow.) While PES 2020 is more geared towards the former than before, it enables seamless one-touch football on On the other hand, with goals that aim to cross and shoot straight away, as if the ball was whizzing weightlessly through the air.

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Camp Nou, Barcelona at PES 2020
Credit: Konami

For what it's worth, Konami helps with a much belated introduction of “context-sensitive step accuracy” in PES 2020, which means that posture, position on the field and defense pressure have a noticeable impact. If you don't look at your receiver, you can expect the speed and accuracy of your passport to be severely affected. This also affects in front of the goal if even unmarked players can miss the target if the balance or the swing is not right. PES 2020 is more selective and punitive than FIFA when it comes to one-on-one matches. The differences are how much you can push the left stick for the direction of fire and how high the force of the shot is compared to the placement equation.

Konami speaks of a focus on realism and has fixed the fun transfer issues that affected the Master League – in other words, manager mode – in PES 2019. Don't expect to entice your rival's biggest club players or sell your bankers who are approaching retirement with a premium. In fact, the PES 2020 clubs take age into account when placing their bids, which means that they (usually) offer less than the market value even if the player is among the best in their position (rating 85+). Not only is it more difficult to sell but also to buy. Konami has eliminated the "signing opportunities" feature that makes navigating through difficult transfers easier and allows you to mess around and find out the least payment you could get away with.

But there is still a Master League aspect that has not been resolved – and has probably worsened: release clauses. At the beginning of the first season, the market value of almost all players in our squad had almost exceeded the respective publication clause. Even the new players we signed up to would insist on a release clause lower than what we paid for, which makes absolutely no sense. That would never fly in the real world. And if you want to add value, PES 2020 yells the same thing every time, and your sports director claims you "may have rubbed it wrong". Fortunately, it mostly lies.

Of the almost 30 players with whom we negotiated higher publication clauses, only three youths declined directly and six others asked for an appearance bonus. Finally, we were able to get most of them to sign on the dotted line, except for young players who are looking for more play time elsewhere. Our experience shows that you can increase the release clause values ​​at a financial price and that it is nowhere near as impossible as the overly dramatic sports director sounds. Unfortunately, our (natural) concern that clubs would snatch our players was unfounded, as PES 2020 still unsettles players by triggering release clauses unless you play in the tougher "challenge mode".

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A dynamic cutscene in PES 2020
Credit: Konami

There are other improvements in the Master League for PES 2020, but they're all on the visual side. (The game itself has received a visual upgrade, although we have nothing more to add than what we said after the demo.) The big problem is the introduction of dynamic cutscenes at critical points during the season – launch, derbies, transfers and etc. – whereby you sometimes have the opportunity to interact by choosing from three dialog responses. This essentially helps to determine your personality and thus your perception by fans and the media. And luckily, this happens without telling you how your reaction is perceived and how it affects your overall personality, unlike EA Sports with the FIFA story mode "The Journey".

But the cutscenes are limited in their variety and tend to advance a tense narrative, even if there's nothing to exaggerate. For example, we were nine points ahead when there were only nine games left for the championship title at the time of the second leg. However, PES 2020 was forced to claim that the title was based on the result of the derby game, even if it clearly was not. In addition, cutscenes with new broadcasts have even less variety, and you'll find that you skip them from the second instance. For what it's worth, PES 2020 isn't too happy with the possibilities of a cutscene.

There is also a new user interface for the Master League, although Konami doesn't make navigation easier. It still consists of drop-down menus that you can't go through with the trigger buttons on the controller – RB on Xbox One / R1 on PS4 – and are therefore entirely dependent on your left stick or D-pad. We think it would be much better to have every area – from "Team Management" to "Manager’s Office" – spread across different screens, just like EA Sports does with FIFA Career Mode. The new menu is still a welcome change. Although Konami's focus is clearly more visual than the details, typing errors that claim that clubs your players want to buy are open to letting him go, and deadline day nonsense that doesn't allow you with every action do multiple tasks – from salary negotiation to actual transfer – in your own time.

Such minor problems – from banal to more important ones – are present across the board in PES 2020. AI keepers rarely charge, although this may be helpful. And if you let the AI ​​handle the tactics independently in PES 2020, this can lead to funny results. Once during a game, PES 2020 chose one of our defenders for our Counter Target strategy. Wait what? Others are more annoying than harmful to gameplay, whether it's commentators treating a two-legged season opener as a knockout game, or the Master League, which doesn't automatically prompt you to choose a team if more than one controller is connected.

On the move in the online area, the big innovation is called “Matchday”, similar to the previous “Matchday live” in FIFA. In Matchday, which is available for a few selected hours per day, you can support either the home or away team. In this post, you can select a team that depends on the real matches scheduled for this week. Since the start of PES 2020 during an international break, the European national teams have been the first week. (PES 2020 has the UEFA Euro 2020 license, which is nice.) With your team, you take part in group stage games to collect points for your team and receive myClub rewards. At the end of a given game day, the best player will be selected to represent a "grand finale" where he may start with a goal advantage if your team scores more points in the group stage.

Konami didn't talk about the money-hungry myClub this time, though there is a welcome change that should theoretically be less effort. (In practice, it will take more than a few hours to find out.) In PES 2020, the player baseline was reset from level 30 to level 1, with players now performing at their nominal level from the start. You can still level them up, which will improve their stats. That being said, myClub is still the same annoying game mode as FIFA's Ultimate Team. On the first day, players with brilliant ranks emerge by (probably) spending a lot of money on in-app purchases, starting at Rs. 76 for 100 myClub coins and up to Rs. 7,400 for 12,000 coins. Belgium put an end to this nonsense – at least in FIFA – by classifying it as gambling and it is high time that other countries followed suit.

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Juventus at PES 2020
Credit: Konami

If you're wondering why we haven't talked about licenses for so long, it's because we think this is essentially a lost thing at this point. Sure, Konami has new partnerships with greats like Juventus, Manchester United and Bayern Munich as part of PES 2020, the first of which are exclusive to PES this year. (For this reason, Juventus’s name, logo, and shirt are not included in FIFA 20.) However, this is a struggle to take a step forward and a step back. Liverpool is back with EA. Fortunately, Konami had the good idea of ​​giving all unlicensed clubs a more recognizable name: Chelsea B instead of London FC, for example. And as always, enterprising gamers can rely on the PES community to get unofficial updates.

While football fans value licenses, the financial dominance of EA Sports means that Konami can hardly compete at this point. PES – and its fans – are better served by developers by focusing on what they can control. PES 2020 looks much better both on and off the field than its previous counterparts, and while gameplay is still a mix of arcade and simulation, it's more playable and entertaining than in previous years. (A new standard camera offers a broader perspective of the field, but we reverted to the old default setting.) Unfortunately, fixing PES's defensive deficiencies will take a lot more than the half-hearted attempts shown here. PES 2020 is the best PES game since the beginning of the decade, but that's not good enough to challenge the crown.


  • Looks a lot better
  • New tools to escape defenders
  • More realistic passes and shots


  • Soft fouls and yellow cards
  • Still a mix of arcade and sim, though improved
  • Release clauses are a joke
  • MyClub's pay-to-win behavior was ignored

Rating (out of 10): 8th

Gadgets 360 played a trial version of eFootball PES 2020 on Xbox One X. 2,960 on Xbox One, Rs. 3,499 on the PS4 and Rs. 3,902 on the PC via Steam.

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