Call of Duty versus Battlefield. Xbox versus PlayStation. FIFA versus PES.
For years, gaming has been a battleground for rival titles and platforms - each one fighting for market dominance.
Some years have seen victory shift from one to the other. Battlefield 1 obliterated Call of Duty's misfiring Infinite Warfare back in 2016, only for Black Ops 4's 'Blackout Royale' to steal a march on Battlefield V's Firestorm.
In the football world, though, there has only ever really been one winner - EA's FIFA. Last year's game outsold Konami's PES 2019 40 to 1.
PES was on the ropes.
Instead of rolling over and accepting defeat, the Japanese publisher went at FIFA even harder - this year pulling off a marketing tour-de-force including acquiring the rights to Juventus, Manchester United, oh and a small tournament called Euro 2020.
They even hired Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta as a consultant to improve gameplay and reworked ball physics.
FIFA, meanwhile, added Volta football. Oh, and I think the grass looks a bit better.
Leo Messi has been leading the marketing charge for PES 2020
So, what game comes out on top this year? Here we go through key aspects of both to help you make the best decision.
Gameplay and presentation
FIFA 19 is regarded by many as the worst game ever produced in the series – its 1.4 rating out of 5 on the Xbox Marketplace speaks volumes.
After the first-time finesse, back-post crosses and overpowered kick-offs – FIFA 20 had to deliver on its gameplay, and we believe that thus far, it has.
With more difficult skill moves and long shots, as well as improved AI defending, the steps have clearly been put in place to restore the balance between attack and defence.
It's just not that fun.
PES 2020 is withut doubt the best PES game in years when it comes to gameplay and presnetation. The ball itself is a technical marvel.
It boasts a far more arcade-like feel to it than EA's game. The midfield seems often out of the game as play switches rapidly from defence to attack, sometimes more like a game of basketball, rather than football.
Messi in action for Barcelona
This doesn’t mean you will see plenty of goal fests though – finding the final ball can be difficult and when familiarising yourself with the game, you’ll have more luck seeking overlaps or chipped through balls out wide than you will through the middle.
The passing game makes a top-class midfield even more obsolete. First-time passes are difficult, even the most technical midfielders need to control the ball before playing an accurate pass, unless your timing is exquisite.
Gameplay isn't perfect. Defenders often stand still, leading to some very cheap goals - while player swtiching can be a real issue when playing online - it's just a bit erratic. Still, when it works, PES 2020 is a lot of fun.
Career Mode / Master League
At long last, Career Mode has had a revamp this year, with overhauled manager customisation and more interaction with your players taking you closer to the action than ever before.
Dynamic player potentials ensures every single Career Mode is different, and can give you the joy of growing an unknown home grown talent into one of the finest players on the planet.
FIFA 20 Career Mode has had a few tweaks but nothing revolutionary
Although there has been a huge reform to the mode, at large it is still the same. Shame... it could have been so much more.
Konami promised this year’s Master League would provide players with the opportunity to manage their clubs with a more distinct sense of personality and navigate a more intricate transfer market.
The set-up certainly has more of a storyline to it than EA’s version.
You first choose between a cluster of legends or fictional managers – Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff are the headline options, but there are plenty of great choices such as Roberto Carlos and Lothar Matthaus.
Master League is a fantastic achievement and builds on last year's game
You are then taken around the halls of the club by a supposed board director, meeting the captains and various key players. Your chosen manager even holds a polystyrene coffee club as he oversees his first training session.
You then face the media where you’re given your first chance to shape your managerial personality in a press conference.
You can adjust pretty much everything about the transfer window, including transfer frequency, negotiation difficulty, starting budget and whether there is a first window transfer market.
Essentially, you can choose whether you want a realistic experience of a Football Manager-like transfer frenzy.
All in all, if you are looking for a proper story mode in your career, the new Master League will suit you well.
FIFA Ultimate Team returns with some great new features. The kick-off modes such as Survival or Headers & Volleys come to the online mode this year in FUT Friendlies, allowing you to take on your mates and wind them up online.
New objectives and customisable options including tifos and celebrations create a greater feel for your club BUT you need to patient.
When you commence Ultimate Team, be prepared to wait half an hour before you play your first match. But why?
Well after setting up, and unlocking more players for your Ultimate Team, you then need to customise your tactics.
Somehow EA haven’t sped up this process from last year, where you need to customise your style of play for each of the five attacking mentalities.
Setting up in a 4-4-2 without adjusting your tactics will sap out any joy of the most popular FIFA mode.
It won't be hard finding a game on PES - it's sold far better than last year, and Steam hit 10,000 players for the first time in its history.
That being said, servers can be erratic, so do prepare to get frustrated every now and then thanks to lag.
The usual modes are here - quick play, online divisions - which is tough but fun if you fancy coming up against the best, but it's Match Day that's probably the biggest draw.
Here, you represent your club as part of a larger collective by winning online matches.
Each week, Konami will select important upcoming matches or possibly a derby game. You will then select which side to represent and play games to contribute to an overall score.
Matchday is the brand new online mode in this year's PES
The selected games will form part of a group stage before the very best players from the winning teams face off in a “Grand Final.”
This will be streamed in-game so you can continue to support your team, even if you are not playing.
A nice touch, but Ultimate Team is still a more compelling online mode.
eFootball PES 2020 is a step in the right direction, but that step is probably not significant enough to significantly threaten FIFA’s stronghold on the football gaming market.
It still lacks the licences to compete with FIFA’s realism and its online matchday feature cannot seriously challenge FIFA Ultimate Team in terms of personal user experience.
Juventus were the big signing in PES 2020 this year
However, matches are genuinely enjoyable to play, packing plenty of attacking football. Also, Master League is pretty great – if FIFA’s changes to Career Mode do not make an impactful improvement, there will be no doubt regarding which game has the better single-player mode.
FIFA meanwhile, feels like just more of the same. EA has to now seriously rethink what they produce in the series, as gamers are no longer falling for a rehashed version each year – FIFA 19 sold 35% less than its predecessor FIFA 18 during the opening week.
Eden Hazard in FIFA 20
Career Mode, Pro Clubs, FIFA Ultimate Team, and the headline act Volta are a step in the right direction, but this year PES 2020 is the clear winner.
Winner: PES 2020