Konami’s “New Football Game” doesn’t make a good first impression

Konami's "New Football Game" doesn't make a good first impression

A few days ago, Konami dropped something they’re calling “New Football Game Online Performance Test”. It’s hard to tell if this is our first look at Pro Evolution Soccer 2022 for Series X|S and PlayStation 5 or if this is actually them testing something completely new. In any case, allowing people to play a pre-alpha version of a potential new game this early may have been a mistake.

An example of a one-bar connection in matchmaking for New Football Game

Testing stability and your own patience

This online test allows you to play 1-vs-1 against another human, as one of four Konami-partnered clubs (Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Juventus, or FC Barcelona). You aren’t given any sort of tutorial going in. There are a few game settings to make changes to the controls but not once you’re in-game. You’ll have to choose and edit your settings before attempting any kind of matchmaking. It’s easy to miss (I missed it) and it’s annoying that you can’t make these kinds of adjustments in the pre-match menu.

I was constantly struggling to find ‘good connection quality’ with opponents.  For an online-focused test, I was expecting a few problems but it still made it hard to enjoy playing the game. In the few hours I spent with the Performance Test, regardless of the connection quality, there were problems. 

This was the case on both Series X and PlayStation 5. I had multiple games end prematurely due to connection problems. The only saving grace is that those matches didn’t reach past the 25th-minute mark, so they didn’t feel like a complete waste.

But the connection quality makes the rest of the game harder to enjoy. It’s hard to keep playing (or trying to play) when players start to stutter, there are longer than normal pauses between players, and you’ll deal with controller mistakes because of input lag. I suspect that a lot of impatient people won’t bother to keep playing if they’re encountering performance issues.

A low-angle shot, showing a Juventus defender making a run with multiple United defenders close by

A cinematic feel that’s unnecessary

I want to keep the focus of my thoughts strictly on the online aspects of the game, but there are other elements that can’t be glossed over. I’m not going to comment too much on the new Unreal Engine graphics (which are fine but still need fine-tuning, especially with hair) or sound (the stadium atmosphere is nice with club-specific chants and random PA announcements throughout the match). However, I must discuss the controls and the camera.

Before you start trying to find a match, I strongly suggest going into the controls and turning off ‘auto-switching’. I absolutely hate auto-switching in sports games as I find it never implemented properly. I didn’t know you could customize your controls, so I played a few matches with it on. This was extremely frustrating.

The other problem I have is with the game’s default (and only) camera angle. They are using a dynamic camera angle that pans at what seemingly feels like random moments. Sometimes, you will have a high-angle view of the pitch, where you can see your teammates. Then suddenly, it will start panning to a low-angle view, which makes it harder to see passing options or off-camera defenders.

These changes happen on both offense and defense and there is no way to turn it off. I understand wanting to make certain moments feel more ‘cinematic’ but these shouldn’t happen in online matches. I don’t remember PES 2021 having these camera changes and I hope it’s turned off or removed.

Messi scores a penalty

Hopefully, this isn’t a sign of what’s to come

The developers have said upfront that this “Performance Test” is “to assess the stability and connection quality of our servers, as well as the performance of our matchmaking system.” They are also adamant that everything else is “subject to change”. From a strictly online perspective, I had a hard time enjoying myself and it doesn’t leave me with a lot of confidence moving forward. But, when it was working, the gameplay was fine.

For those interested, the “New Football Game Online Performance Test” is only available until July 7/8 (depending on where you are in the world). Konami is planning to make an official announcement on July 21.