The football game wars are going to get interesting this year, the battle between Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer and EA's FIFA series has proved to be a lopsided one for close to 10 years now, with EA's marketing, licenses and FIFA Ultimate Team machine making PES a footnote in the gaming calendar.
It wasn't always that way though, at one time you wouldn't be seen dead with a FIFA disc in your PlayStation 2, with Pro Evolution Soccer offering the best football experience in gaming.
It looks almost impossible for Konami's offering to upsurge a dominant FIFA but history may well look back on 2021 as the year we realised this was AC Milan vs Liverpool in Instanbul and we are only at half-time.
The reason for that being that Konami is rebranding PES as eFootball and going free-to-play, they are also leaning into what they do best -- offering up the most realistic football simulation on the market and they are doing that with the help of a few legends of the game, namely Andrés Iniesta and Gerard Piqué.
In the first full gameplay video released, much is made of a new 1v1 duel system, a system produced with the help of Barcelona legends, Andrés Iniesta who is now at Japanese first division team Vissel Kobe and Pique who is, of course, still at the Catalan club.
To do so, both donned motion capture body suits that tracked their movements on and off the ball; helping the developers get a greater level of detail in dribbles and tackles.
It's a system that is meant to improve both defending and attacking from a player perspective offering up new opportunities and a higher skill ceiling than is currently seen in games.
Both defenders and attackers will use the weight of their bodies more to intercept and block off the ball, while a series of special kicks are also being introduced that drastically increase the options on the ball.
To make the most of this new tech, a new 'Duel' camera setting is being introduced which gets tight into 1v1 duels but then expands out as the flow of the game widens. It could prove to be a game-changer in the way football games are played.
That won't be the only new additions though, the developers promise enhanced opponent A.I. with teams setting up as they do in real life and a Seamless Restart system that means play isn't stopped when throw-ins or kick-ins are being taken.
Whether this is enough to make a dent in FIFA is anyone's guess but with eFootball you know they at least have an idea of how they want the beautiful game to be played.