Konami has quietly launched a demo for PES 2022.
The brilliantly-named 'New Football Game Online Performance Test' is available to download now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X and S. You don't need PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold.
The demo kicked off at midnight just gone, and runs until midnight on 8th July. The video below includes gameplay of a full online match I played this morning between Manchester United and Bayern Munich. Spoilers: there are a few goals!
Konami did not announce this demo, which is odd. There is no mention of it on PES' official social media channels, either.
In a note to Eurogamer issued this morning, Konami said this demo is only a limited test version of the next PES, and its purpose is to check the quality of online matchmaking and connection to servers. All aspects of the game, including gameplay mechanics, balancing, animations and graphics are all under development, Konami stressed, and have already been improved and will continue to be improved before the official launch. Konami warned players to expect errors, such as crashes.
It's worth noting this demo is built in Unreal Engine. As Konami announced last year, it decided to switch game engines to Unreal for PES 2022 on next-gen.
The demo only has a limited number of teams available to play (Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Barcelona), each with a squad of 22 players. There's cross-gen play between PS4 and PS5, and between Xbox One and Xbox Series X and S. Don't expect to carry over data from the test to the official launch version.
I can report a few headline changes. Dash is now on R2 instead of R1 - as it is in FIFA - and L2 when defending makes the selected player press. (Konami has uploaded the new controls to its website.)
The visuals didn't blow me away, the game plays very slow, and there's no commentary. There is stadium PA dialogue, though. Hilariously, at the end of my match the PA announced a father had lost their son. Yikes!
It's a curious launch! It's all pretty rough, and the game doesn't even have the PES 2022 name in it. If Konami was hoping to avoid attention while getting the testing it needs done, well, that was never going to happen.