Full disclosure before we get on with the review. I am a huge fan of the Pro Evolution Soccer and I’ve met with the team at Konami responsible for the game a few times. This is not to say that I won’t do my due diligence to ensure I give the game an ethical review, but I believe you should be aware that I may have a few biases. As always I recommend getting a second and third opinion whenever watching any of my reviews. This particular review is mainly about the single player mode, Master League and the changes which have been made to it. If you’re looking for a full opinion on the full game and all other modes then check us again two days after this review goes live for the full review of eFootball PES 2020.
So without further adieu, let’s talk PES Master League. Master League is the single player football manager career mode for the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise. This mode has been my favorite since my teens, and it continues to keep my attention to date even with other modes being added to the game. In Master League you usually create a manager, then choose a team to manage, set a few parameters to adjust the difficulty, choose either a custom starting eleven or the official one for the team you selected, then go through season after season with them. Along the way you can swap teams, sell and buy players, and all that other footballing jazz, but most of all you get to feel the adrenaline rush of winning titles with your team.
This year the devs have made a few changes to this mode, some for the better and others not so much. As always I’ll start with the bad first then circle back to some good stuff.
The first and arguably the biggest problem with the changes is a massive downgrade to your manager choices. You use to be able to create your own manager using the robust character creator in the game, but this year that feature has been dropped in favor of legendary manager choices. Managers like Maradona and Zico look great, but not everyone wants to use a manager like them. This is especially true when considering that there isn’t enough variety for the manager ethnicity. There’s only one truly black manager, a few white ones, some Hispanic, two Asians and that’s about it. In the previous games you could create whatever manager you wanted. If you wanted a virtual you, you could do that. If you wanted to create a doppelganger of a current or past manager, you could do that, but this. This is a step back.
The new legend managers look cool and all, but removing more options from a game mode that is all about the fantasy element of managing teams in the beautiful game won’t ever go over well with fans. As for the new managers they’re mainly their for the new cut-scenes, mostly cosmetic stuff. In fact, a lot of the improvements to this game mode this year are cosmetic. There are a few times when you’re able to make a choice before a match or make changes to the squad, but for the most part you’ll be a passive participant in the new cut-scenes. Finally, as mentioned before, most of the improvements to Master League this year seem to be cosmetic. This is not to say that these and other changes aren’t significant, but I do see some not viewing them as a big enough jump from last year’s game.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Now all that negative stuff aside, I’m a strong believer in not changing what’s not broken and for the most part that’s exactly what has happened this year. Master League has for the most part been pretty solid in it’s implementation, so it’s mainly got minor changes that vastly improve the quality of life experience for players. Simple things like the game not forcing your to watch status updates after every match is a huge plus. Now you can decide for yourself If you wish to check updates in your own time. This vastly speeds up time between matches and the addition of messages also shows more involvement from the assistant staff and backroom of the clubs you manage. You’ll have them suggesting players who should get more time on the field, squad rotations for less important matches and so much more. You don’t have to do what they say, but it’s nice to feel like you actually have support staff as real life managers do.
eFootball PES 2020 Master League also ups the quality of life with a much more organized top menu with a lot more information readily available to the player. Being able to view my next three matches along with my league standings without having to hop into another menu is a huge plus. These information tiles are larger and thus more legible. Even going so far as to feature a virtual social media following count (purely cosmetic) and the names of your sponsors. Speaking of sponsors, you can customize these using an improved option file system. I recommend getting them from PES World when they’re live since they’re free and very well detailed on there.
Outside of the visual improvements to the menus, there’s also an improved transfer market with New more realistic prices and the addition of sliders to change the aggressiveness of teams in the market and the amount of money you receive from the club. What this means is that you can prevent players from moving around too frequently, and you can also have more of a challenge when signing new players. Percentages have also been removed from the transfer screen so there’s now more of a reliance on the words of your assistants which makes the whole thing more unpredictable, and for me, FUN!
eFootball PES 2020 Master League also has way more leagues to choose from including all the leagues from last year’s game along with a fully licensed Seri A, Italian second division, Spanish second Division, and the fully licensed Brazilian 2nd Division, Campeonato Brasileiro Série B. Having more leagues means more gems to find, opportunities to develop teams and interesting stories to tell. Additionally the game now has an improved injury system which sees more players getting injured, and thus a greater emphasis on squad rotations. You can also import players from your myClub so Legend players can also join in your Master League campaign to winning trophies.
As for the on the pitch action I’ll save most of my opinions for the full review, but I will note that the emotional investment factor has been turned up a lot thanks to audio improvements during away matches and the way the manager reacts on the touchline. Home fans will not celebrate an opposition goal on home soil, leaving the stadium almost silent when they conceded only to then come roaring to life when their team scores. You’ll also hear whistling when an opposing player is on the ball and approaching goal. Tie that in with the attention to detail of players, the new camera, improved gameplay and you have what is almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Seeing your manager on the touchline react to the on field action also adds a lot. I only wish there were more managers from current teams along with created managers. There’s nothing like scoring a goal in the last minute to win the game and seeing your manager run onto the pitch in full excitement like Jürgen Klopp.
Master League this year has seen some setbacks in the manager creation department which I’m sure PC modders will fix since the creation suite is still in the game for Become a Legend, however outside of the new manager implementation the rest of the mode has seen a reasonable amount of improvement to warrant interest, especially from players coming from other football titles. Having more leagues, players, scenarios, and improved gameplay really makes a big difference. Add to that the amount of emotional investment one can gather from winning a game in the nineteenth minutes to the feeling of signing and developing young stars, eFootball PES 2020 Master League is where it’s at.
The copy of eFootball PES 2020 used for this review was provided to by the games publisher, Konami.