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EA Sports PGA Tour

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: Sports
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Tiburon
Release Date: April 7, 2023


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PS5/XSX/PC Preview - 'EA Sports PGA Tour'

by Cody Medellin on Jan. 19, 2023 @ 8:00 a.m. PST

In EA Sports PGA Tour, golf fans will be able to build their virtual career and experience the sights, sounds, and thrills of the PGA TOUR including The Players Championship, FedExCup Playoffs and more unforgettable events.

EA hasn't had a golf game in the last seven years. Despite being a prominent developer in sports video games over a few disciplines, the last attempt it attempted to do a golf game was 2015's Rory McIlroy PGA Tour on the Xbox One and PS4, a title that was merely fine by all accounts. EA's absence in the sport has allowed HB Studios to come up with its own golf simulation game. The game was good enough for 2K to purchase the studio, rebrand the game as PGA Tour 2K23, and stick Tiger Woods on the cover. This year signals EA's return to golf with EA Sports PGA Tour. Based on the online press event we attended on Jan. 11, 2023, EA is looking to come back in a big way.

The event emphasized four big pillars of the game. The first is the presence of every major championship that the PGA has to offer. It has the FedEx Cup, the PGA Championships, the Open, the U.S. Open, and the Masters. They also have the championships for the amateur level as well for both men and women. Golf games rarely feature any of these official events, usually opting to focus on just one or creating their own to avoid licensing issues. Seeing everything being offered up here makes this title feel more comprehensive.

The second pillar of the game deals with the courses you'll play in. While there is no word on whether the game will include a course creator, you will get to tee off at 30 different golf courses, all of them real. There's no word on whether the fantasy courses from the previous game will make a comeback. TPC Sawgrass and Boston will be familiar to old fans of the series, and Augusta also makes a return here. Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines are here, along with newer ones like Tara Iti and Top of the Rock. The team mentioned the fact that the courses were created with the course curators advising them and with tools to capture every bump and hill. Considering how often many people will actually get to experience these courses in real life, we can't exactly argue otherwise.

To coincide with the courses, EA Sports PGA Tour features a number of pros from both the PGA and LPGA. Scottie Scheffler and Nelly Korda are here and look stunning in the new Frostbite engine. Tony Finau is also here, and the uplift from his appearance in PGA 2K23 is very significant. A few more pros, like Patrick Cantlay and Danielle Kang, are also here, and while the devs didn't disclose who else made the cut, they did mention that more golfers would appear in future updates.

The third pillar is gameplay. The team emphasized how it used data from the PGA's official ShotLink and TrackMan tools to produce the most accurate and varied shots possible per golfer, but the bigger takeaway is the actual shot system. It still uses the analog stick system from before, and big swings still have a visible arc to display your strength and accuracy. Boosters from the last game also make a comeback, so you can power up your shot with the appropriate screen effects to go with it. One of the bigger changes is the shot selection system, which gives you different shot types with different power meters attached. The names like Approach and Stinger may be fancy, but the presentation didn't touch upon the differences or reveal how many shot types you get to work with.

The final pillar is the RPG-like progression system, which easily dwarfs the efforts made to the prior game's campaign. Not only do you get to create male, female, and non-binary players, but you'll also be able to take part in their respective PGA or LPGA careers, starting from either the amateur to the Korn Ferry tour to the pros. Just like PGA 2K23, you'll earn experience from playing just about any mode, and that experience can be put into each aspect, like shot power or putting, to name a few. One of the big standouts is that you can now see what the game recommends for each course in terms of attribute meters, so you'll have a better idea of how trained you are for the given field. The progression system and the character creation system look quite nice, but we'll need some hands-on time to see how good it is.

Of course, the only thing we can't comment on is the actual playability of the game, since we watched the developers stick to the analog control scheme for golf club control. We don't know if the game still retains the classic three-button press approach, and while the game physics look nice, we still need to experience it for ourselves to see how it matches up with the competition.

Judging from the online stream alone, EA Sports PGA Tour looks to right the wrongs of Rory McIlroy PGA Tour and do so with the sort of fidelity that one expects from a game developed exclusively for the latest console generation. It has the features and content to provide the deep experience that players have come to expect from the company, but it remains to be seen if the final execution is handled well. We won't wait long to know the answer, as EA Sports PGA Tour looks to hit at the end of March 2023.

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