PES 2021 will be a smaller 'season update' but still a standalone game (updated)

Update: Though it's not clear in the announcement, it turns out that PES 2021, which Konami described as a streamlined "season update," will actually be a standalone game rather than a PES 2020 update or DLC. It's still not clear what this season update will contain, but it's disappointing to see that Konami is still determined to continue its unnecessary annual releases even when it doesn't have the time to make a full game. 

Original story: Fans of watching people in shorts chasing a ball around have probably been a wee bit bored lately. For two months, football was pretty much cancelled, and while it has returned—without the crowds—things aren't quite back to normal. And it looks like there won't be a new PES this year, either. 

PES 2020 launched last year and earned itself a respectable 77 in Phil Iwaniuk's eFootball PES 2020 review, and players are going to have to be content with this version for another year. While plenty of launches have been pushed back due to the pandemic, in this case it's Konami's next-gen ambitions that are the cause.

With the next generation of consoles imminent, the developer is working on its next-gen debut, which it claims will have more realistic player models and animations, enhanced physics, photorealistic graphics—the usual stuff. It's also switching to the Unreal Engine. It won't arrive until next year, and to focus on this version Konami has decided to scale back its plans for PES 2021, making it an update to the existing game rather than something entirely new. 

This season update will be a "streamlined offering," apparently, but aside from that Konami is yet to detail what it will contain. It has, however, teased PES 2022 with a terrifyingly realistic facsimile of football boy Lionel Messi. Why does he look so stern? He's a millionaire footballer—he should have a smug grin on his face permanently. 

Given that there hasn't been much football this year and the fact that the sport never really changes enough to justify these annual franchises, an update sounds like it should be the norm rather than an anomaly. It does, however, seem likely that the series will return to its original cadence once the next generation of consoles are out. 

Konami hasn't provided any specific dates for the update or the new game, though the latter will begin testing in mid-2021 and release later that year. 

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.