What are the best football games on PC in 2021? It can often feel like there are only two or three football games you can dive into (studs raised and all) on PC. FM is the king of football management games. It can’t hold a candle to FIFA’s player-controlled realism and multiplayer modes but, where sports simulation games are concerned, it’s the top dog. Sports Interactive’s long-running franchise will always be our go-to football PC title, but there are a heap of soccer games available on PC, all boasting their own style, gameplay mechanics, and surrealness that deserve your time and attention.
Whether they’re an under-the-radar studio game, an indie title, or a mash-up on different sports, there’s a football game for every fan… unless you’re a Juventus superfan and considering picking up a copy of FIFA.
In order to shine a light on these underappreciated classics we’ve compiled our favourites all in this handy list. So throw on your favourite retro football shirt and drawstring bag these FM alternatives for yourself. For the record, our favourite retro kit is the PCGN-brand Dutch national team jersey from 1976 – all comparisons to Johan Cruyff’s footballing career are welcome.
Here are the best football games in 2021:
Football meets real-time strategy and deck-based card battle games gameplay in this delightfully humourous Demigiant title. As existentially-troubled manager Rocco Galliano, you’re tasked with turning around the fortunes of ailing club Calchester United.
Doing so won’t be easy though. Like Telltale games of old, player choice is a big part of Football Drama. You’ll regularly be in conversation with journalists, the club’s owner, criminal organisations, and even your house cat, and the decisions you make during these chats have positive or negative impacts on all aspects of your management journey. Get into a spat with the man who hired you, and you could be sacked within days of taking over. Do a deal with the mafia to throw a game and find the story leaked to the press, and you could have a baying mob of angry supporters at your door.
Football Drama’s turn-based match mechanics, coupled with the use of “shout cards” you earn based on your interactions, can swing results in or out of your favour, and add an intriguing layer to its FM-inspired match engine. Your team’s stamina and card usage are pivotal to winning matches, so strategically applying them in unison will be the difference between victory and defeat.
Games and the commentary can feel a bit repetitive after a while, and there are only seven endings you can unlock despite Football Drama’s huge branching narrative. With its unique blend of gameplay, droll humour, and literary-inspired plot, however, Demigiant’s title is one you should check out.
This isn’t your typical football game, but Rocket League is technically a soccer-based title thanks to its arcade-style football mixed with rocket fuelled cars and vehicles.
There’s so much to like about Psyonix’s popular game. Its fluid, physics-driven mechanics are a joy and give rise to different, awesome, and sometimes hilariously bad goals and moments. Its 3-on-3 matches are always intense and results can swing one way or the other based on whether you’re having a good session or not, who you’re teamed up with, and often sheer luck about where the ball lands.
Its customisation options allow you to build a vehicle that is distinctly you, and there are various game modes for you to try out until you find your perfect fit. Online casual and competitive matches, an offline Season Mode, basketball and hockey-esque extra modes, and Mutator options are just a few game types available to you, which helps if you want to mix things up and try something new.
Add all of that together with the Rocket League Season Pass – where you can earn rewards, climb up the world rankings, and get XP boosts – and this is a driving-based football title that could rival FM for your time.
Have you ever wanted to see a game with no referee and players imbued with superpowers? Kopanito All-Stars Soccer will be right up your street if so.
Merixgames’ football title has been out for a while, but its cartoonish charm and skill-based gameplay means that there’s plenty here to keep your interest. Regional tournaments and leagues, multiplayer support for up to five players, and four difficulty levels give you your money’s worth, and there’s even the option to turn your slick or amazing goals and celebrations into animated GIFs to send to your mates if you’re in bragging mode.
It’s the game’s superpower abilities that really make it shine though. You can teleport away from opponents, fire a super-shot goalwards that knocks all players out of the way – goalkeeper included – and even use a magnet that pulls the ball alongside you. It’s wacky but rewarding, particularly if you become a master at the game’s control system, and you’ll feel satisfied when you finally beat the game’s hardest difficulty setting after weeks of honing your craft.
On the surface this looks like an FM20 knock-off, but there’s more to Football, Tactics & Glory than that. Combining XCOM chess-like strategy with RPG elements, Creoteam’s original spin on the management sim genre provides a fun yet realistic take on player improvement and tactical gameplans.
Its fully customisable player faces let you give your stars some personality – in comparison to FM20’s plasticine-esque regen faces – while its mod support allows you to add in real-life leagues and tournaments to keep things fresh. Add in a helping of Twitch integration, whereby viewers can interact with streamers, and your fans can play as big a role in your management journey as you.
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to FM20’s in-depth mechanics – or a realistic footballing alternative to Blood Bowl – Football, Tactics, & Glory is a solid PC football game.
Remember when football games were top-down 2D affairs? Super Arcade Football replicates that aesthetic. Harking back to the days of Sensible Soccer and Italia ‘90, OutoftheBit’s retro-inspired title will have you wanting to dust off your old consoles to take a trip down memory lane.
It’s faster paced than its predecessors and is graphically superior, but all the gameplay mechanic hallmarks are here. Different types of pitch – from dry to muddy to icy – are available to play on, simple controls such as pass, shoot, and move are all you need, and there is up to four player support if you want a friend or three to join you.
Chuck in some funny match modifiers, including bigger goals and bouncy walls, and an online mode, and Super Arcade Football is a treat for those of you who grew up during the SNES and Mega Drive era.
Table football, or Fussball as it’s commonly known, is fun, so if you like that then you’ll like this surprisingly effective PC port, Totoball.
Developed by Artur Rezende, Totoball is a carbon copy of the physical game we’ve all played and loved, whether that’s in common rooms and bars across the world. Like its real-life counterpart, Totoball’s mechanics are very simple – so much so that there are only two keys you need to use to play it.
Sure, you could venture out into the real world and play table football properly. For those days where you don’t feel like leaving the house, however, Totoball is an easy game to pass the time with.
Imagine a football game that was developed by someone who had no idea what football was about. If you thought of something along the lines of Behold the Kickmen, you’d be right.
A frenetic soccer sim, Behold the Kickmen reinvents football by, well, not reinventing much at all. With gameplay mechanics including ‘more kicking’ and ‘doing goals’, this tongue-in-cheek affair takes an amusing swipe at football fanaticism.
There’s a silly story mode to keep you engaged, while you can enable a mode in the options that turns the game into a dystopian bloodsport if things are getting a bit too serious for your liking. Its lack of multiplayer is a shame as it would be funny to be batter your mates into oblivion, especially in bloodsport mode. For non-football fans who want to take the mickey by playing a soccer game, though, Behold the Kickmen, is a cheap, fun indie title.
Pixel Cup Soccer 17 has been out for a while, but it’s another title that reminisces about the simplicity of football games in the late 80s and early 90s.
Its pixel aesthetic induces nostalgia of FIFA games before they introduced 3D graphics. Local multiplayer is supported, and there are a variety of different competitions to dig into at your leisure. There’s even support for women’s football here, with the Women’s World Cup and Pixel Cup available to play – something that very few football games, FM included, have supported.
If Super Arcade Football doesn’t bring on the nostalgia rush you were hoping for, Pixel Cup Soccer 17 might help push you over the edge.
The FIFA series has had its ebbs and flows just like any annual game series, but there’s no denying that few games come close to making it feel like you’re controlling a football match. The stats, qualities, and traits that define each player can be felt out on the pitch every time your star centre-back’s dodgy first touch almost puts the opposition strike through on goal, or you’re able to dribble your way through a congested midfield with a close control specialist like Marco Verratti. The career mode can’t hold a candle to that of Football Manager’s – despite recent improvements – but out on the pitch it’s still unmatched.
Related: Here are the best sports games on PC
FIFA 22 hasn’t changed much under the hood on PC as EA has decided to hold off on the next generation engine upgrades this year. Compared to FIFA 21, the gameplay has been balanced to make skill moves considerably less effective. Career mode has also been drastically changed, giving players the ability to create their own football club for the first time. Choose to play among the best football has to offer, or start from the bottom and go through the lower divisions.
You can’t mention FIFA without talking about its fiercest rival, Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series. PES 2021 doesn’t feature any upgrades from the previous year, instead the devs focused on building eFootball 2022. Unfortunately, eFootball 2022 wasn’t the game fans were expecting as it quickly became the worst-reviewed title on Steam.
Don’t worry, the modding community has saved the day once again. Using PES 2021 as a base, players have stuck to last year’s game as fans add in custom kits and teams. For solo players, Master League is one of the best single player modes in any football game. In the Master League mode, players control a football club over the course of several seasons. Not only will you have to deal with transfers, creating unique training programs for development of your players is crucial, especially for clubs without a large budget.
We know we’ve spent much of this list trying to offer alternatives to it, but we feel it’s important to include Football Manager somewhere on this list on the off chance there are football games fans out there who haven’t been sucked in by its addictive one-more-turn gameplay. One of those rare series that just seems to go from strength to strength with each new iteration, the Football Manager series is the ultimate footballing RPG, letting you take a down on their luck club like Blackpool or Bolton all the way to the premier league in a way that doesn’t seem infuriatingly unbelievable. You scout star talent, organise individual training programs, agonise over wages, and try to find the right words to buoy your team after going in at half-time 2-0 down – while you don’t get to control the action you’ll find yourself celebrating and barking orders from the touchline just like a real coach.
Related: Check out this Football Manager board game
If you decide to pursue a virtual career as a coach, you’ll want to check out our FM20 wonderkids, FM20 tactics, and FM20 development centre guides. We’ve got plenty of other highly specific list features here at PCGN, so if you’re partial Viking games or submarine games as well as being a football fanatic then you’ve come to the right place.