FIFA 21 vs PES 2021: Which football game should you buy next season?

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It’s a gaming rivalry for the ages. Ever since 2001, plucky upstart Pro Evolution Soccer (or PES for short) has been competing with the officially licenced FIFA series to win the hearts of football game fans the world over. 

Both franchises have come a long way since then, becoming two of the biggest-selling gaming series of all time. And even though FIFA is way out in front in terms of sales (mostly thanks to the exclusive perks and team inclusions that come from its ties to football’s governing body), PES’s plucky underdog spirit has won over its own loyal fanbase.

The truth is, by now, most hardcore football gamers have already affiliated themselves with one of the franchises. But what if you’re still on the fence, or looking for a change? 

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Ultimately, which footy game you plump for this season will likely depend on which games you’ve played previously, whether or not you’re looking to buy into next-gen, and your love of one particular Italian team…

READ MORE: Which consoles will FIFA 21 be available on?

FIFA 21 or PES 2021? That is the question…

There’s one big difference between the franchises this season, which will likely colour your decision. PES 2021 will be a “season update” rather than a full new game. Which basically means it’s PES 2020, updated with the latest player and club data. PES 2021 will be available on current-gen systems from 15 September priced at £25, and will award “veteran’s bonuses” to 2020 players.

The reason for this? Developer Konami is hard at work on PES 2022, which will be a full version of the game geared towards next-gen consoles and built on the Unreal game engine. That title will be released in autumn 2021.

If you’re looking to move to next-gen before then, though, you might want to go for FIFA 21. The new game, which will feature graphics and gameplay upgrades, will hit current-gen consoles on 9 October. A next-gen version will then be released for the PS5 and Xbox Series X when those consoles launch. 

Even better, if you buy the game for PS4 or Xbox One, you can upgrade to its next-gen counterpart for free thanks to EA’s ‘Dual Entitlement’ offer.

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If you’re a fan of one particular team, though, your decision might be swayed. As with last year’s game, PES 2021 includes an exclusive official licence for Juventus, meaning that you won’t be able to play as that team in FIFA 21

Konami is playing EA at its own game, it seems, although it’s a case of one step forward, two steps back. PES 2021 might be the exclusive home of Juve, but it has lost the licences for two other Italian teams. So if you’re an AC Milan or Inter Milan fan, it’s back to FIFA with you.

READ MORE: How next-gen hardware will enhance FIFA 21