Soccer games continue to offer something incredibly unique that few other sports games outside of basketball (and American football last year) still offer…PC play. Yes, I have my Xbox and PlayStation that I still can play sports titles on, but I still miss the days when everything from College Football, to Hockey was available to be played on PC. I guess as an old school gamer if you wanted quality looking sports titles, PC was the way to play.

Sadly, almost all of those franchises have given up on the PC, so it’s always a treat when it’s time for the new PES game from Konami to be released.

eFootball PES 2020 is the newest iteration of the well-loved Pro Evolution Soccer franchise with an extra long name. As with every new version it brings far more than improved graphics to the game and for 2020 this is no exception. Euro 2020 sides and teams from Serie A and France’s Ligue 1 are all represented here, and Juventus is now an official partner of PES 2020. Along with the addition of the Juventus league, PES 2020 now tells its “story” via a plethora of new cut-scenes, used not only in game time situations, but in player negotiations and training sessions.

Some additional new and welcome features are finesse control of the ball, a dummy pass, and one that I pull off even without trying, the intentional foul (even without pressing the buttons for this, a poorly timed slide tackle will accomplish much of the same thing). Of course, every new season brings new legendary players with their signature moves, but this year we also get a chance to see legendary managers. There is enough new content in eFootball PES 2020 to delight even the most hardcore fan.

Graphically the game looks amazing, with each stadium represented in exquisite detail. While PES 2020 won’t currently be mistaken for live TV footage, each of the players are detailed enough to be able to pick out on the field. The digitally captured player faces continue to astound, and while there is still a bit of “uncanny valley” going on, it’s still nothing short of amazing. The game played at a smooth 100FPS on my ultra-widescreen with my GTX 2080 Super for most of the game although there were the occasional dips to sub 60FPS during parts of the match.

It wasn’t frequent enough to undermine the flow of the game but happened enough to make it worth mentioning. One thing I noticed on the PC version that I hadn’t noticed when I played the game on my PS4 was a slight halo effect around the players. It’s something that I adjusted to fairly easily and is likely due to my proximity to the screen versus sitting on the couch and playing at distance. All things considered however, this is the best-looking PES game yet.

The various game modes are where PES 2020 really shines. If all you want to do is play a quick match against the computer (or your friend) it’s a simple as starting the game and going. The controls as always with PES are intuitive, so a quick review of the controller layout (and previous experience with the game) is all you need to get right into the action.

This is particularly useful if you just have about 20-30 minutes of time to burn and want to get a quick game in before bedtime. PES 2020 however, feels much more like a soccer (football) simulator than its rival FIFA, offering the ability to create your own team from the ground up, or the ever-popular Master League.

MyClub is where I spent much of my time this season, getting an opportunity to name your club, assign a uniform and league and then utilize scouts to identify players and agents to sign big stars. It is extremely addictive (although with a bit of a learning curve to begin). Each match allows you to improve the skills of your players and they level up at the end, even when the game ends in a loss. It adds a distinct RPG feel to a game that I really have not encountered in any other sports title like it.

Each player has a ton of unique skills, so they level up specific skills as they perform on the field, it’s something that draws me back to the title time and time again, even if I’m still learning the complex intricacies of it.

eFootball PES 2020 is still my favorite soccer (football) game. While FIFA might draw its fans with a shiny new coat of paint, it’s the deep game modes that keep me coming back to PES every year. It’s not to say that eFootball PES 2020 doesn’t look gorgeous, because it does, it’s just that beauty is also skin deep. There is far more depth in eFootball PES 2020, even if its new name is a mouthful.

What I liked: Ball physics are spectacular, MyClub is as addictive as ever, Numerous game play options keep you coming back for more

What I liked less: Occasional odd graphical glitches, FPS slowdowns throughout the match for unknown reasons.

4 out of 5 stars

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