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Is eFootball 22 Career Mode free?

No, eFootball 22‘s career mode, known as Master League, is not available for free. To access Master League in the latest eFootball 2023 game, you need to purchase premium DLC priced at $29.99 on PC or $39.99 on consoles.

The base eFootball 2023 game provides access to exhibition matches, online modes, and training drills for free. But Master League and other deep single player experiences require paid DLC purchases.

This represents a major shift from previous PES games where Master League was included out of the box. But for eFootball‘s new free-to-play model to succeed, Konami is segmenting the game into a free entry point with paid premium content.

Does this approach make sense? Is Master League worth the additional purchase? As a longtime PES player myself, let‘s dive deeper into what to expect from Master League in eFootball 2023!

The Background Story of eFootball 2022

To understand eFootball‘s transition, we need to briefly recap the history:

  • Konami‘s Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) series was once the king of virtual soccer, but it had been overtaken by EA‘s FIFA juggernaut in recent years.

  • In 2021, Konami rebranded PES as the free-to-play eFootball 2022 to rebuild the game from scratch.

  • But eFootball 2022‘s initial September 2021 launch was a disaster, with missing features and bugs galore. Fans destroyed the game‘s user score on sites like Metacritic.

  • Over the following year, Konami worked to improve eFootball 2022 by adding more content and gameplay tweaks. In August 2022 it was rebranded as eFootball 2023.

  • The latest eFootball 2023 game is much closer to old school PES, with modes like Master League finally added post-launch. The rebuild continues.

This turbulent evolution is important context for understanding why Master League is now premium DLC rather than an expectedinclusion.

Konami needs eFootball to succeed as a service that engages players daily with competitive online matches. That requires a free entry point. Master League caters to a different type of player – the single-player career fan.

By segmenting the audience, Konami hopes to attract a large free-to-play player base while still monetizing the PES loyalists who want Master League.

It‘s a risky strategy, but the failure of eFootball 2022 at launch forced Konami‘s hand. Let‘s now dive into the details of Master League itself.

What is Master League? A Primer

For those unfamiliar, Master League is a deep career mode that has been part of the PES franchise for over 25 years. It places you in the role of a club manager.

As the manager, you are responsible for:

  • Handling transfer market negotiations to buy, sell or loan players

  • Setting tactical approaches, formations, and matchday squads

  • Developing youth academy prospects into superstars

  • Training your squad and upgrading their attributes over time

  • Managing club budgets and facilities

  • And of course, playing out every match!

The goal is to achieve success across domestic leagues, continental cups and tournaments like the Champions League. You take a club from mediocrity to domestic and global glory over many seasons.

Master League offers tremendous depth if you want an immersive single-player experience. You can put hundreds of hours into taking a minnow club to the top.

It has traditionally been a selling point of PES over the faster-paced FUT mode that dominates FIFA. But Master League was noticeably absent from eFootball 2022 at launch.

The DLC Approach – A Necessary Evil?

Given Master League‘s pedigree, Konami knew it had to bring the mode back into eFootball. But the shift to a free-to-play structure meant a change in how Master League would be offered.

Hence the $29.99-$39.99 DLC package.

This has caused some grumbling from PES veterans used to getting Master League included at no additional cost. The value proposition is different.

But looking at it objectively, Konami didn‘t have great options. Developing quality content costs money, and Konami needs eFootball to generate revenue after the free download.

Segmenting the player base into free and premium categories is the easiest way to do this. FUT whales will never pay for Master League. But that PES loyalist who enjoys offline play? Konami is betting they‘ll pay the premium price for Master League.

And considering the depth of the experience you get, the $30-$40 pricing is fair compared to the cost of a full retail release. You could spend months enjoying Master League for less than it would cost to go out for dinner and a movie.

Viewed as a slice of DLC content, Master League seems reasonably priced. Viewed relative to the complete PES packages of the past, it represents a downgrade. Your perspective will depend on your expectations.

For Konami, it was likely the only way to deliver a polished Master League mode while keeping eFootball free to play. Not necessarily ideal for players, but understandable.

What Do You Get with Master League?

If you do decide to purchase the Master League DLC, what exactly are you getting?

The good news is that Master League includes all the key components fans expect:

  • Youth Academy – Discover young talents and help them reach world class potential

  • Transfer Market – Buy, sell and loan players to build your dream squad

  • Player Development – Shape your players via training regimes and match experience

  • Tactics – Find your ideal system and refine matchday tactics and squad roles

  • Competitions – Compete domestically and continentally across multiple seasons

  • Management – Handle budgets, facilities, staff, sponsorship deals and more

On top of delivering the core experience, Master League has some other notable inclusions:

  • 700+ Licensed Clubs – Take control of authentic teams and players

  • Official Competitions – Participate in the Champions League, Europa League and other tournaments

  • Football RPG Elements – Build camaraderie between players and craft your manager avatar

  • Cross-Play Matchmaking – Take your club into games against players on other platforms

This adds up to a deep Master League experience that lives up to what made the mode so addictive over the years. You‘re getting hundreds of potential hours of strategic club management.

That‘s also without factoring in eFootball‘s acclaimed on-pitch gameplay. Refined over many PES iterations, eFootball provides satisfyingly realistic and fluid football action. Which leads us to…

How is the Gameplay?

While Master League offers tremendous depth via its management systems, it would ring hollow without strong core gameplay. The football itself has to be up to par.

Here eFootball 2023 delivers the quality fans expect. The game builds on decades of football game refinement by Konami.

On the pitch, everything from passing and shooting to dribbling and physical battles feels right. Players have appropriate weight and momentum. There‘s an emphasis on build-up play and strategy over ping pong arcade action.

This means matches unfold in a dynamic but believable fashion. Goals and chances come from breaking down the opposition with clever movement and interplay, not spammed through balls.

There‘s a good variety of tactics and styles of play available too. You can build your club‘s identity in Master League through the type of football you choose to play.

Of course EA‘s FIFA offers stellar gameplay as well. It‘s subjective which game feels "better". But eFootball‘s considered pace of play suits Master League‘s managerial nature well.

The underlying quality of the football itself will keep you engaged across multiple seasons. It feels great to watch your tactics and strategies come to life on the pitch via the strong simulation gameplay.

Presentation – Where Improvements Are Needed

If Master League has a comparative weakness, it‘s in the presentation department. This includes elements like:

  • Menu interfaces
  • Graphical fidelity
  • Commentary
  • Atmosphere and matchday effects
  • Licensing and official branding

All of these contribute to the "package" surrounding Master League. And it‘s in these areas that eFootball 2023 still trails the polish of FIFA‘s career modes.

In eFootball, the menus feel basic and unintuitive. Graphics look dated compared to FIFA‘s slick player faces and animations. The crowds are lifeless and commentary repetitive.

There are frequent immersion-breaking moments that remind you this is a free-to-play game rather than a AAA release. It lacks that visual shine and personality.

Konami would do well to focus on presentation upgrades in future updates. The Master League foundations are excellent, but get let down by lackluster aesthetics. Improved visuals and atmosphere would take the experience up a level.

What About Microtransactions?

Since eFootball 2023 is free-to-play, there‘s an expectation of some microtransactions and monetization. Does this creep into Master League?

The answer is yes – but they are easily ignored if you choose. While Master League itself is not pay-to-win, you can optionally purchase "DLC Players" to boost your squad using real money.

These provide alternative methods for acquiring top talent besides the transfer market or youth academy. But they are in no way necessary to build a world class team.

Outside of DLC player purchases, there are no mandatory microtransactions in Master League. The mode can be enjoyed to its fullest without spending anything beyond the initial DLC purchase.

But for those with more money than time, the DLC player purchases offer a way to fast track your team‘s success. It will be important for Konami not to over-emphasize these microtransactions in the future to avoid pay-to-win perceptions encroaching on Master League‘s integrity.

The Chance for Ongoing Improvements

An advantage of eFootball adopting a "live service" model is that the game can continue to be updated and expanded over time. This provides hope that Master League will get even better post-launch.

Ideally Konami will listen to player feedback and target weak spots like presentation, UI, atmospherics and commentary for improvement via patches. Expanded transfer options and league customization would also be welcome additions.

At the very least, it seems likely that new contemporary player likenesses, kits and rosters will be regularly updated to keep things fresh.

Meaningful expansions like improving youth development or adding manager customization could encourage players to keep investing in their Master League saves over multiple seasons. Post-launch support will be key.

So, Is Master League Worth It?

This brings us to the big question – given all we‘ve discussed, is Master League worth purchasing for $29.99 or $39.99 in eFootball 2023?

For me, the answer is an overall yes – with a few caveats.

The depth of Master League itself remains phenomenal, and eFootball‘s core gameplay is terrific. There are hundreds of potential hours of soccer management enjoyment here if you have any interest in the concept.

However, the lackluster presentation holds back the experience somewhat. And the $30-$40 buy-in may be tough for those used to getting Master League included in old PES games.

So while I firmly believe Master League has the substance to be a must-play mode, Konami needs to invest in presentation polish and post-launch updates to address the pain points.

For diehard single-player soccer gamers, I still think Master League is worth your money and time despite some rough edges – you‘ll struggle to find this kind of depth elsewhere.

But more casual players may want to wait and see if Konami addresses the weaknesses before taking the plunge. I remain confident the foundations are strong for Master League to become incredible again with long-term improvement.

Either way, a free trial version would be welcome for those on the fence. But in the current form, my advice is to set expectations accordingly and know you‘re buying into an ongoing service with room to grow. There‘s magic here, but it needs more nurturing.

At the end of the day, Konami had a tough task reviving Master League in a free-to-play context. They‘ve succeeded in delivering the essence of the experience, if not all the desired polish yet. Hopefully Master League will continue to evolve into something truly special again down the road.

But for now, is eFootball 22‘s career mode free? Unfortunately not. The Master League DLC offers deep substance, but you have to pay to enjoy the experience. Time will tell if it was the right call.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.