PES 2021: Release date, trailer, cover star, Demo, Master League career mode, New Engine, gameplay, PS5, Xbox Series X & everything you need to know

2020 moved the dial for Konami, but with next-gen consoles on their way - what can we now expect?

2020 is set to be a defining year for gaming, with the upcoming releases of both Sony’s PS5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X.

Therefore, we’re expecting Konami to build on the solid foundations set out by PES 2020. After a few years struggling, this title appeared to be the first legitimate threat to FIFA titles in a long while.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about Konami’s next football title.

NOW WATCH BELOW: Keep up to date with all the latest Pro Evo news!

Release Date

There is no official release date for PES 2021 yet, but last year they stole a march on FIFA by releasing a couple of weeks earlier in mid-September.

LEADING MAN: With the help of Lionel Messi, PES clawed back at FIFA this year

Using the same approach, we would estimate the release to be Friday 18th September 2021.

That said, there was a free demo available a few weeks prior to launch of PES 2020 and hopefully, this will be repeated.


We know that the popular gaming trade show, E3, will be held from 9th-11th June this year. It’s here that we expect to get our first proper look at PES 2021.

This year, it is expected that the guys at Konami may potentially announce an entirely new game engine that has the potential to fundamentally affect play style.

STEP CHANGE: Last years trailer showed off wholesale changes to gameplay

A whole new style of gameplay was the focus last year, an overhauled passing system and improvements to players likeness was the focus in trying to compete with being a more ‘realistic’.

READ MORE: PES 2020 now available on Gamepass

Following the pattern from last year, we expect Konami to release further trailers and selected access in and around July 2020.

This is dependant on there not being any issues if they do introduce a new engine aimed at utilising the most out of the next-gen consoles.

Cover Star

PES has always been genuinely competitive with FIFA when it has come to cover stars.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi have both adorned the cover multiple times, but the recent tendency has been to have multiple stars or teams on the cover of Konami’s soccer title.

FANTASTIC FOUR: PES gave us a cover star twist last year

PES 2020 won the rights to multiple teams and picked players to represent this.

We had Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, alongside Manchester United’s Scott McTominay and Bayern Munich’s Serge Gnabry. The final star was Juventus’ Miralem Pjanic.

FIFPlay PES 2021 cover vote

FIFA community website FIFPlay has already commenced a vote on who should be the PES 2021 cover star.

NO SURPRISE: The game’s biggest name is winning the vote

There are no surprises in this poll with the two biggest names splitting the vote. Cristiano Ronaldo leads with 23% of the vote, to Messi in 2nd with 19%. Mohamed Salah is 3rd with 10%. 

RealSport’s PES 2021 Cover Stars prediction

Based purely on speculation we expect Konami to secure the rights to big teams across multiple leagues and repeat PES 2020 by having four stars from four partner clubs.

Arsenal – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Barcelona – Lionel Messi

Bayern Munich – Robert Lewandowski

Juventus – Paulo Dybala

Master League career mode

PES 2020 made some great strides with their Master League career mode that made it much more competitive with FIFA.

The addition of immersive options to choose a management style and answer questions in press conferences that shape the outcome of your team was an improvement on previous years.

READ MORE: PES 2020 announce new club partner

It is good to see this kind of investment in a career mode within a context where pay-to-win gaming is growing in My Club and FUT. However, Konami has the opportunity to take advantage of EA’s focus moving to FUT and filling a void in the management side of gaming.

Partner Clubs

Part of the resurgence for PES has been them battling FIFA for exclusivity rights. For years, PES has been mocked for having to have made up team names like ‘Merseyside Red’ for Liverpool.

But they got one back last year, and bagged the exclusive rights to Juventus. For the first time, FIFA had to make up a name and they were called Piemonte Calcio in FIFA 20.

TURNING OF THE TIDE: Juventus were the first, but who will follow?

When it comes to licences, it’s an all or nothing game.

When FIFA had everything it was in their interest to keep it this way, but as more and more spread to PES it becomes in the interest of neither game to have that divide and to focus on gameplay as a way of beating each other.

But with Juventus blazing a trail to not just be licensed to PES, but exclusively so, who will be next?

We expect the front runners to be Barcelona, Bayern Munich or Manchester United. All of these clubs have strong links to the game and its history.

PARTNERS IN CRIME: Konami make the most out of their relationship with Barcelona

Barcelona would be a real coo for the franchise but is likely to come at a huge cost.

They have strong links with PES, with the Camp Nou stadium exclusive to the game, and Barcelona is one of the best clubs at leveraging its commercial income.

READ MORE: Every single club and national team on PES 2020

Bayern Munich would be a good strategic choice due to the fact they haven’t got a license to use the Bundesliga and therefore there are only two German teams in the game.

Given EA’s relationship with the Bundesliga, it could be tricky to have FC Holywood exclusively on Pro Evo.

Finally Manchester United offers a chance to get a globally known team at a big of a bargain.

Some mocked them for having Scott McTominay on the cover for PES 2020, but due to their on the field performance, Konami might be able to get a bit of a bargain for a team that is still one of the most supported globally.

The Premier League’s relationship with EA Sports is rock solid, with every single English top-flight club on FIFA 20. EA also has the rights to run the ePremier League esports competition.

Potential new Gaming Engine

PES 2020 already made strides in the visuals of the game, and this was one of the points it was commended for. However, the expectation is with a new gaming engine this will come again even further.

Konami’s historic battle with EA has always been about image rights and realism. PES 2020 was where they have gotten competitive again but this was on a six-year-old Fox engine utilised since PES 2014.

UNREAL: Could PES Mobile hold the key for the game’s future?

Kei Matsuda of Konami has previously mentioned that they do plan on using a new engine for the series “in the future.”

He did not specify if that was applicable for PES 2021, but he was clear it wouldn’t be planned until there was a new generation of consoles that could maximise the rationale behind updating.

READ MORE: Mesut Ozil removed from PES Mobile

The change could be to Unreal Engine. This is currently used on PES Mobile.

With it highly unlikely that next-gen consoles could run with Fox Engine, a switch to Unreal is an organic and sensible switch.

As we move to 2020 we can start to look at what this year holds for gamers. With the PS5 and Xbox Series X just around the corner, PES 2021 could be a defining release as it attempts to make a comeback of sorts.

Next Gen

With both the PS5 and Xbox Series X boasting impressive specs that will help bridge the gap to the PC, it is looking more and more possible that cross-platform play will be possible on next-gen consoles. We await confirmation though.

Xbox Series X has a sleak new design
NEXT GEN: The future is coming

Both the new PlayStation and Xbox are expected to hit during the 2020 holiday period, with some speculation that they will arrive in late November.

This means that PES 2021 will first be available on the current generation of consoles, PS4 & Xbox One, which limits the scope of cross-platform play on release.

READ MORE: PES 2020 now available on Xbox Game Pass

Still, with more and more games offering it, it’s surely only a matter of time until PES players can do the same. It is also a point of competitiveness where Konami can stand out if they can get there before EA.


At the moment, PES 2020 players are only able to play with and against those on their own hardware.

Konami is much less reliant on its myClub model which means the marketplace barriers that EA has is less of an impact for them. Cards are priced very differently across platforms, making it hard to align.

FUTURE OF GAMING: Non-exclusive titles are moving towards a cross-platform model

This could be the perfect opportunity for Konami.

They have to constantly find unique ways of taking small parts of market share from their rival FIFA.

Being the first to enable cross-play could make a huge jump as players encourage their friends to purchase the game despite being on different consoles.

READ MORE: PES 2020: the best three skills you need to know

Tom Owen

First console: SNES / Favourite Game: Call of Duty 4: MW / Currently playing: Madden 20 (Xbox One X)