Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 will be kicking off this autumn, Konami confirmed today. The long-running football series is traditionally released in Europe at the end of October, though the Japanese publisher is yet to narrow the window for the 2010 release.
Pro Evolution Soccer has struggled both critically and commercially in recent years at the hands of EA's rival FIFA franchise, the latest incarnation of which shot to the number one position in the UK all-formats sales chart today. PES 2011 is being developed for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii and PSP. It will feature Argentine wunderkind and current FIFA World Player of the Year Lionel Messi as its cover star.
For the first time, the franchise will officially feature the Copa Libertadores, South America's premier club football competition. The 2011 iteration will also feature expanded options for the Europa and Champions League, as well as increased difficulty settings. While there are several new game modes yet to be revealed, Konami did detail one addition: Master League Online. This will allow players to bid against each other for the world's top players "and attempt to build a squad that can compete with the best against online peers all over the globe."
Konami has promised that PES 2011 "will deliver a completely new footballing experience." According to the publisher, this will be achieved through AI improvement, and changes to the game's aesthetics, including a revamped animation system and greater control for the player over the speed at which the game is played. Konami made similar promises of AI improvements and player animations prior to the release of PES 2010, although critics found no significant improvement in either.