PES 2021 Shows The Roster Update Model Could Work

PES 2021 has forgone a full new game, instead, they're giving players a cheaper roster update while Konami moves the series to the Unreal Engine.

September 22, 2020

Many fans of sports video games have been calling for developers to move to simple roster updates in lieu of a full “new” game each year. Largely, this is because it has proven out that yearly releases often mean you can’t make gigantic improvements to the franchise. Well, those fans have finally gotten their wish with PES 2021. This year’s edition is just a roster update. No new gameplay. No new modes. The team at Konami is simply saving time while they work to move everything to a new engine for PES 2022.

For the most part, this move works. Obviously, PES doesn’t have nearly as many licenses as FIFA, so you’re missing out on several official teams. For instance, Konami doesn’t have access to the Premier League but does have rights to Manchester United and Arsenal. So, those teams are the only ones with official kits and headscans in the entire league. It’s off-putting at first, but fortunately, PES lets you import teams, which means you can fix all of that yourself.

This brings an interesting factor into the debate though. Since you can import teams, players, and kits, you could potentially do a lot of the work this season update does manually. Of course, that’s only for online modes. If you want to get into myClub or play with your friends, you’d be stuck on the 2020 roster if you don’t update. That said, for offline-only players, it might not make sense to drop $30 for this.

Unless, of course, you really want to manage as Pep Guardiola, Frank Lampard, or Ryan Giggs. Outside of the roster updates and new kits, those new managers are pretty much the only other new thing in PES 2021. Again, I don’t know if that’s worth the upgrade, but that’s for you and your wallet to decide.

All of that said, I do like this move from Konami, but only if it’s not just a one-time thing while they move to Unreal. From my perspective, if you’re choosing to play PES over FIFA, you’re choosing gameplay over licenses and pretty menus. So, seeing Konami move even further into improving gameplay is awesome.

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Were they to turn this franchise into an every-other-year thing the developers would have plenty of time to implement more wholesale changes. Obviously, that doesn’t guarantee it will be better than FIFA, but it absolutely gives them a better chance. Konami simply doesn’t have the money to compete purely on licenses. They have to choose their battles and going all-in on gameplay seems like the correct move.

As for this package, PES 2021 is absolutely worth it if you want to play PES online. Look, I might have dropped the $30 just to get that Roma away kit. It looks so good. But seriously, PES gameplay feels so much better than FIFA if you’re looking for a football sim. Sure, FIFA does a decent job as a more arcadey game, but PES forces you to play actual football.

However, the biggest talking point with this game won’t happen until next year. If Konami comes out next summer to show off PES 2022 and it isn’t a big leap forward, this move will make a lot less sense. But, if they can deliver something that really pushes against the behemoth that is FIFA, this will be a success.

PES 2021 is available now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

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