Another year and another attempt by Konami to try and dethrone the crown of EA Sports with eFootball 2024.
Since rebranding to eFootball from the old Pro Evolution Soccer days, Konami’s alternative to FIFA (or now EA Sports FC) has been met with snorted derision in the football (soccer) game community for its laughable player models, clunky gameplay and just overall lack of polish.
You might think eFootball 2024 is the same as last year’s title with updated kits and rosters, but that would be unfair.
As previously mentioned, eFootball was always mocked for some of the horrendous player models on display.
Now, it feels like Konami took that personally, and the players’ faces no longer look like something out of Madame Tussauds. Crowds have also noticeably improved, with crowd movement now more in sync with what is happening on the pitch.
My biggest gripes with last year’s edition were that the gameplay felt so slow and like the players were running in treacle. This time, they have made players move in a more realistic way, and the movement off the ball is superb, and the players feel like they have brains.
The only real issue with the on-pitch gameplay is that when you get into the box, there seems to be a little delay in the button input, which either leads to the player missing the ball or taking an unnecessary touch, which gives the defender a chance to put a tackle in.
The ball itself pings around the pitch at a much faster rate and makes games feel smoother as a result.
The referees also seemed wildly inconsistent last year, where sometimes they’d pull you up for breathing too heavily on your opponent and then just become blind to a two-footed studs-up tackle. In my sample of this year’s game, the refs seemed to be more consistent, which is always a positive change.
The only real negative in gameplay comes from the commentary team. The lines are delivered with over-enthusiastic abandon but sometimes feel too dramatic and over-the-top in a realistic football sim.
Overall, the gameplay seems to have improved quite a bit in eFootball 2024 compared to last year and feels like a more realistic football game (however, I can’t say that till EA Sports FC drops next week).
Modes and Menus
Now comes the biggest negative for me, and it has been eFootball or Pro Evolution‘s biggest issue for several years: the lack of teams to use in “authentic” matches. There are just a couple of authentic teams available at the time of writing per league, which isn’t the best, but the teams here are very well presented.
The other major mode in eFootball is the Ultimate Team-esque Dream Team. This may be a controversial opinion, but…I love Dream Team. Unlike EA’s offering, it rewards you for playing the game and doing things in matches. While FIFA can boast SBCs and more promos than your local DFS, eFootball 2024 feels like you are making incremental improvements to your team. Right off the bat, you get given cover star Lionel Messi for your side, which is a great boost when starting.
You are then provided with “tickets” that allow you to sign a new player to your side. These tickets are quite upfront in telling you what to expect. You get a player in a specific position rated between one and five stars, and that’s it. Some promos give you special players linked to a particular campaign, for example, AC Milan forwards or Turkish Super League stars.
The standard Team of the Week also gives you massively boosted players based on the top performers that week.
Once you have assembled your team, you can take them into battle against others in ranked league play, similar to FIFA’s division rivals or single-player matches or games centred around a particular league or campaign; e.g. there is a start-up campaign and a Japanese League campaign to get stuck into.
In terms of the look and feel of the menus in the game, they are most certainly slick and to the point. Understandably, the big focus is on Dream Team as this is where this F2P game makes its money, but navigating its different parts is a breeze.
Every part of the UX feels crisper, given the black and purple colour scheme, and feels modern and stylish. Also, making the different menu icons in different colours makes them all stand out. The scoreboard in the top left could do with some updates, but that is a minor quibble.
New Features in eFootball 2024
As to be expected in just an update patch to a year-old game, the new features are very scarce. The classic Master League is still nowhere to be seen.
There are only a handful of new features in this year’s update to take note of. You can now track a player’s goals and assists. The biggest new feature is the introduction of boosters into Dream Team. These cards allow players to perform beyond the normal parameters. Various types of boosters are available, including ones that are player-specific, those that affect the entire team, and those that appear by selecting players who meet certain criteria.
Overall, this year’s update does feel like the biggest step up eFootball has made since the rebrand. While it still lags behind the competition in the sheer volume of teams and modes for a free-to-play title, it more than does enough to warrant space on your hard drive.
Platforms: PS4/5, Xbox One/Series consoles, PC
Release Date: 7th September 2023