eFootball PES 2020 Demo: First Thoughts and Impressions on the


by in Sports Games | Aug, 9th 2019

There are plenty of new things in the upcoming installment of Pro Evolution Soccer. Some of them are visible even before you first boot up the game. As the title implies, this year PES 2020 isn’t just PES 2020. It’s eFootball PES 2020, announcing the potential pivoting to esports waters. With EA’s FIFA franchise already a well-established name in the esports industry, it will be interesting to see KONAMI’s struggles in esports waters. But, for what it’s worth, my PES 2020 Demo first impressions aren’t half bad.

Let’s talk about it!

Disclaimer

This PES 2020 Demo First Impressions blog is written by a casual FIFA player. I am not that used to the Pro Evolution Soccer ecosystem but I’m 100% sure my objective approach will be both informative and interesting to people looking for the freshest PES 2020 news.

I have played every PES that came out (since PES 6 which is still my favorite) but I’ve started preferring FIFA (since FIFA 13) due to better multiplayer gameplay options and far wider set of leagues and licenses. It’s just my personal preference, I’m not saying one game is better than the other. They’re pretty different and we should all cherish the fact there’s enough room out there for two proper football simulations.

Additionally, everything you’ll read below refers to the DEMO version of eFootball PES 2020 that came out on July 30th. Many issues that I point out below ought to be resolved by the time the full game hits the digital shelves.

Now that we have the disclaimer out of our way, let’s start talking about PES 2020 Demo first impressions!

PES 2020 Demo First Impressions: The Presentation

The first thing that hit me was right before the kickoff of my first PES 2020 match, the cut scenes. Even though there were some issues on my ultrawide monitor (more on that later), the cut scenes were absolutely insane. The lighting has been perfected, but that was to be expected considering KONAMI’s statements ahead of the Demo release.

But even the picture-perfect intro cutscene couldn’t prepare me for what unfolded on the pitch. The game kicked off and I was absolutely blown away by the graphical fidelity. To be honest, I don’t really remember how good the PES 2019 graphics were in comparison to FIFA 19, but I’m pretty sure they were nowhere near as crisp as this demo.

And I’m not just talking about ultra-realistic lighting or high-resolution textures. There’s more to it than just that. The animations, the tiny on-pitch details, heck, even the grass looks greener than on FIFA. Everything seems a bit more fluid, it’s just how the game plays. Even though the animations can take a bit of time getting used to, the sheer number of details and player movements (including the jerseys) will definitely sweep you off your feet.

User Interface Modernization

KONAMI finally decided to listen to years and years of players’ feedback regarding the age-old user interface. PES menus were always five steps behind FIFA and it’s about time we see some changes being made. My PES 2020 Demo first impressions menu-wise are pretty good. There are none of those boring swamps of menus that overly complicate the simplistic and delicate nature of soccer sim navigation. Instead, KONAMI opted for a simplistic solution that’s easy on the eye and looks pretty charming thanks to several complementing background images.

PES 2020 Main Menu Example Screenshot

Keep in mind though, there’s only a glimpse of menu-to-menu navigation in the Demo version. Once the full game comes out we’ll be able to thoroughly assess and analyze the eFootball PES 2020 UI modernization.

Newly Licensed Teams and Leagues

As most of you already know, PES lost the licenses to European club competitions (both Europa and Champions League), making the game even more packed with made-up teams and leagues. However, there’s a bunch of new names joining in, be it smaller and lesser-known leagues. Additions are additions and they are not to be taken for granted!

  • Italian Serie A
  • French Ligue 1
  • French Ligue 2
  • Brazilian Brasileirao Serie A
  • Brazilian Brasileirao Serie B
  • Russian Premier League
  • Belgian Pro League
  • Danish Superliga

In addition to all these leagues, PES 2020 will also have exclusive access to Juventus, meaning EA’s FIFA 20 won’t be able to use the team’s official name. Instead, Juventus will be called Piemonte Calcio in the next FIFA iteration. Other notable licenses include Arsenal, Manchester United, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but their team names and logos aren’t direct exclusives, meaning FIFA 20 will be able to use them too.

Issues with Ultrawide Displays

Now there are certain issues I’ve noticed with my ultrawide display and I’m not quite sure they’re just a byproduct of the Demo version. You see, one of my PES 2020 first impressions was the jaw-dropping cut scene quality. However, these cut scenes are all played in 16:9 aspect ratio which leaves black bars on the sides when watched on ultrawide displays.

The intro cut scenes aren’t that problematic. After all, I consume a ton of media on my ultrawide display and I’ve already gotten used to having black bars on there. However, during in-game cut scenes (for example, after promising opportunities, before corners, free kicks and so forth) the constant switching between 21:9 gameplay and 16:9 cut scenes can be a bit overwhelming.

Even if this is only a temporary thing with the Demo version, it’s still unbelievable to see developers not natively supporting ultrawide aspect ratios in new titles. Once again, we are talking about the Demo version here so KONAMI has plenty of time to fix this. However, since I couldn’t find a lot of info on this anywhere, I just had to point it out here in my PES 2020 Demo First Impressions blog.

Gameplay Improvements & Alterations

Once again, I’m a casual FIFA player so take everything you read here with a huge grain of salt, especially if you’re a hardcore PES player. Be that as it is, PES 2020 Demo first impressions gameplay-wise were absolutely mind-blowing.

The game plays smoother than FIFA, a lot smoother, mind you. There’s actual weight to the ball and it’s shown with every pass you make on the pitch. New dynamic dribbling mechanics offer a brand-new set of chance creation, unlike anything I’ve seen in FIFA over the last few years.

While there aren’t that many breakthrough improvements in PES 2020, those added nicely round up the base gameplay. There’s much more freedom on the pitch, both players and ball-wise, making up for the lack of official team and league licenses. In PES 2020 Demo players make mistakes, it’s all a part of the game, bringing realism to a whole new level in what seems to be the most feature-rich realistic football simulation ever.

However, all these feats come with some costs. KONAMI did excel in some areas but left other segments without notable improvements, or worse, made changes that won’t benefit the end product.

Pros

  • Much more fluent gameplay
      • As stated above, the base game mechanics are much more balanced and polished than before. Every pass has a weight to it, every lofted pass, every shot on goal leaves you in anticipation because you can never know just how accurate it will be. Through balls seem like an overpowered weapon at times, slicing defenses apart like a knife through butter.
  • Perfect on and off the ball animations
      • Even though FIFA was dubbed as the superior game animation-wise, I’m starting to think PES aims to take that flattering title with the 2020 installment. Player animations have been brought to perfection, portraying extreme realism yet not affecting the gameplay in a negative manner. All on-pitch movement seems smooth and fluid, just the way it’s supposed to be.
  • Realistic passing and collisions
      • I just can’t wrap my head around these passing mechanics. They’re pretty similar to PES 2018 (although I haven’t played it that much so I could be wrong), yet pan out so different. The end results, especially with newly added first touch mechanics, make up for brilliant attacking segments that look much like the action we see on TV.
  • Rewarding shooting mechanics
      • PES 2020 Demo allows you much more freedom when it comes to shooting positions. While the goalkeepers do seem a bit OP when taking your chances from long distances, you can’t really expect to nail goals under the crossbar from way beyond the box and do it constantly. In fact, that’s one of the things I hate about FIFA 19 and its absurd timed shot mechanics.
  • Adjustable gameplay speed
    • Nothing new but still worth pointing out. If the default gameplay speed is too slow or too fast for you, you can always increase or decrease it. There’s a dedicated gameplay speed slider and is easily accessible through the main menu.

Cons

  • Slow tackle reactions
  • The only thing that PES 2020 does worse than FIFA 19 is the defensive segment. Even though the defensive mechanics are much like legacy FIFA, they’re still awfully slow. I know the folks over at KONAMI wanted to approach this game with as much realism as possible, and don’t get me wrong these tackles really do look realistic, but they’re awfully slow and not that intuitive. This is a clear result of trying to achieve extreme realism while not paying that much attention to the actual gameplay segment.
  • Poor AI interceptions
      • This is a problem I’ve noticed during my first PES 2020 Demo match. The players are awfully bad when it comes to intercepting passes. And I’m not talking about fast passes far from opposing players that can’t be intercepted due to their speed but slow balls that are literally inches away from players’ feet. In most cases, players begin the interception animation but fail to react in time. This happens all the time and is the biggest game-breaking issue I’ve found while playing PES 2020 Demo.
  • Lack of animation variety
      • I already mentioned animations as one of PES 2020’s biggest virtues, but this time around we’ll be talking about their variety. Quite frankly, it’s not that good. The folk over at KONAMI did a splendid job with all player animations, that’s for sure. However, it seems as though they went with quality over quantity. That quantity, according to the Demo version, seems to be suffering. A lot. Same (be it brilliant) animations repeat over and over again and it’s most clearly visible with goalies/shot-takers and inside-the-box shots.
  • Weird new camera angles
    • Now this is a love it or hate it situation. If you’ve already played a match on PES 2020 you’ll know what I’m talking about right away. If you haven’t, here’s the deal – the default camera has godawful angles on both final thirds, messing up directions and pitch vision. On the bright side, the camera settings are easily adjustable so there’s nothing to worry about.

PES 2020 Demo First Impressions: Multiplayer

Just like last year’s iteration, 2020 PES Demo edition suffered from the lack of players. While the situation on PS4 is not worrying, the PC segment is absolutely dead. Less than 24 hours after the Demo’s launch and I couldn’t find a single opponent on PC. I waited for more than 20 minutes on two occasions that day, nothing. And when I finally did get an opponent, the lag was terrible and the game crashed halfway through.

Obviously, this isn’t something that’ll plague the full game once it comes out. Especially when it comes to the console sector. PC PES gamers, on the other hand, are already familiar with the multiplayer issues their go-to football simulation has. That said, let’s just hope the new Master League will be able to justify the price tag single-handedly.

Summary | Can eFootball PES 2020 Become a Viable Esports Title?

Yep, my PES 2020 Demo first impressions are pretty positive. In fact, they’re more than just pretty positive, they’re amazing. PES 2020 Demo is amazing and that’s coming from a FIFA player so you better believe it’s true.

Yep, it’s all true!

Considering everything I’ve seen in PES 2020 Demo, and I’ve played more than 20 matches in the first week, the full game is going to be a solid contender to EA’s FIFA. However, knowing FIFA’s presence in the esports industry and KONAMI’s efforts to establish itself in esports waters, will PES 2020 have any chance of taking its share of the esports cake?

Well, it takes more than a name change (eFootball PES 2020) to make a proper entry in the esports industry, it’s safe to say KONAMI is heading in the right direction. Seeing as licenses will always be a burning problem for PES, having the superior gameplay and presentation is of utmost importance to kickstart its esports existence.

Will I Make the Switch?

This year’s PES Demo feels great. The gameplay is fantastic, the presentation is jaw-dropping, and it’s the only game where you can play with both GOATs in their official kits. It does lack top European team/league licenses but that can be fixed with mods on the two main platforms, PC and PS4.

But, is the brilliant and buttery smooth gameplay enough for me to switch over to the dark side? Can my PES 2020 Demo first impressions affect my purchase decision for the new go-to football sim?

Well, unfortunately, no… While I really love how PES plays for a football simulation, great multiplayer options, authentic Premier League career mode experience, and the newly announced Volta mode are just enough to pull the odds in EA’s favor.

Gameplay-wise, I can only compare PES 2020 Demo with FIFA 19 since the FIFA 20 Demo is yet to come out. For what it’s worth, I really do like PES 2020 Demo gameplay more than FIFA 19, even though I’ve got close to 1000 hours in EA’s golden goose.

To be honest with you, I doubt FIFA 20 will be much different from FIFA 19 in terms of gameplay. Perhaps a few tweaks here and there but I highly doubt we’ll see some notable changes. But I’ll still purchase it. It’s actually quite sad – to purchase a game with inferior gameplay but superior multiplayer modes and licenses.

Unfortunately, that’s the current state of affairs in football simulation market…

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