EA Sports’ flagship title FIFA has been at the top of simulators since its conception, back in 1993.
Even as certain instalments have disappointed over the years, it is still one of the best-selling games every year. However, an old rival has re-emerged in 2019.
For years PES existed in the shadow of FIFA, but Konami have really put in the groundwork this year. The Japanese publishers have produced a gameplay experience that appears superior to that of FIFA, plus some high-profile licensing deals have given them a greater summer than EA.
The FIFA 20 Demo was sneakily released the same day as PES 2020's launch - meaning we have our first real comparison.
A fair fight?
If you grew up in the early noughties, you will have witnessed the heyday for PES and Konami.
As FIFA became the go-to destination for licences and increasing realism, Pro Evo faded away.
Konami have now made steps to revolutionise eFootball, with new interactive dialogue systems in Master League putting the reins in the hands of the player when controlling their story progression, and brand new game mode Matchdayclosing the gap between the virtual world and reality.
Given the criticism of EA's competitive platform Ultimate Team - this is a genius move from Konami.
eFootball PES 2020
The focus on improving PES 2020’s gameplay, both
online and offline, could transform Konami’s cult following into worldwide
fandom this year.
The Japanese gaming giants are looking to correct the path for future editions by delivering enhancements to the physics engine, allowing for a deeper gameplay experience.
Improved graphics, ball physics and unique first touches all add to the authentic feel that the developers are striving for.
The new game dropped earlier this month on 10th September and has a whole new feel to it.
I was most surprised how reactive the AI defenders were when it came to blocking shots and passes. It created varied rebounds that all the players instantly react to, creating more moment-to-moment variance and a less predictable outcome to the game.
Konami’s use of professional footballers as consultants is clearly paying off, and will continue to set PES apart from FIFA.
One of the new features that we are intrigued by is a trait that some of the gifted passers now have, called Inspire. This allows your teammates to make runs and expect certain kinds of deliveries, since they know that your player is skilled enough to deliver the through ball.
I'm curious about how this will sync up with the runs that teammates would normally make, as well as the gamers' own ability to manually initiate runs. This could be a really valuable addition to the game if it complements the player's ability to spot passes and runs.
FIFA 20 Demo
Much like the recent introduction of VAR to the world of football, EA Sports are sucking the imperfections out of the beautiful game, with FIFA 20 Demo’s gameplay feeling like a FIFA 19 rehash.
As satisfying it is to see your players successfully link up play at 1000 miles an hour, it is actually previous editions of FIFA that have influenced us to expect the unexpected from online football simulators.
Loyal FIFA followers have made their voices heard online, as they are disappointed by the lack of changes to modes like Ultimate Team and Career Mode.
The introduction of the brand new game mode Volta Football has the entire community excited. On the demo, players can get their first taste of Volta, as well as the standard 11v11 ‘Kick off’ game mode.
Though Volta Football has been included in the
demo, users will only be allowed to play a short 3v3 game, which is won by the
first team reaching 4 goals. We really wanted to see more of Volta on the demo,
but this was the only taster we could get our hands on.
FIFA 20’s gameplay may not have seen the upgrades that PES has this year, but EA’s introduction of Volta Football, the spiritual successor of FIFA Street, has the inner child in all of us excited for the official launch on 27th September.
PES edge ahead
It is really exciting to see the playing field more level than ever between the two gaming giants.
If you want to play it safe this year, go for FIFA 20. You know what you are getting, and any minor improvements on last year will be greatly appreciated.
The addition of Volta Football, plus changes to Career Mode for the first time in eternity means that there is enough new material for you to give it another shot.
Then there is PES. The tactical setups may be less realistic, but don't you fancy a change?
There is certainly a greater "pick-up and play" feel to Pro Evo - something that FIFA has lost with it's timed finishing, first-time finesses and back-post crosses.
What makes PES 2020 feel so great is that it isn't FIFA, a football sim that has different quirks to it. Plus, the remastered Master League looks to have blown Career Mode out the water, and Matchday has the premise to do the same to the online scene.
If licensing is your issue, there is a solution if you play on PS4 or PC, by downloading the Option File to get you all the kits, crests and even stadiums of the unlicensed teams - a literal game changer.
There's not much in it, with both games having their obvious faults - but so far, in terms of execution, it's 1-0 to PES.
FIFA 20 Demo: 7/10
eFootball PES 2020: 8/10