PGA Tour 2K21 review: Video game golf returns with best release in years

While there is nothing drastically new with PGA Tour 2K21, the seamless combination of several features make this the best golf video game yet.

When the PGA Tour and EA Games closed the door on the golf video game series in 2018, it looked like virtual golf game experience had come to an end. Like Links golf, Jack Nicklaus Golf, Microsoft Golf and even Leaderboard Golf, it another golf video game title had come to an end.

But thanks to a collaboration between 2K Games and HB Studios, makers of The Golf Club game series, PGA Tour 2K21 has been launched.

  • Platforms: PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows
  • Developer: HB Studios
  • Publisher: 2K
  • Released: August 21, 2020
  • Price: $69.00

It’s not hard to jump right into the game.

After a quick tutorial on the shot mechanics, you’re thrown into the first stage of your career by teeing up in a qualifying tournament to see if you’re worthy of playing on a bigger stage. Some good performances there will earn you money to upgrade your clubs, catching the eye of sponsors and hopefully a spot on the PGA Tour.

It’s here you’ll spark up rivalries with a bunch of tour golfers including Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia. The in-game commentary provided by Australia’s Luke Elvy and three-time PGA Tour winner Rich Beem works well and along with the sounds of big crowds and cuts to other players, it does feel like you’re playing and watching a big golf tournament.

But it’s not all about your career though. You can play rounds against other golfers in different golf formats including Stableford, Skins and Alternate shot.

PGA Tour 2K21 now has a golf course design feature where you can build, shape and share your golf course. Or maybe even replicate your local public course down the road.

And if you’re like us, you’ll dive into the online societies to play tournaments against other golfers where the true heart of this game shines.

It’s all a seamless, fantastic user-experience.

Let’s go into some more details about what we love, and a few things we don’t.

What’s good
There are three things we particularly loved about the new PGA Tour 2K21.

The first is the vastly improved user experience compared to previous versions The Golf Club and PGA Tour franchise games. The menus are clear and easy to navigate.

Career mode, online gameplay and tournament setup are simple, and the in-game experience won’t disappoint. Anyone who hasn’t played any golf video games for a long time will love it.

The second is the combination of course design and the online gaming experience. We loved the ability to design or choose fan-made golf courses to host your virtual tour. In these times of lockdowns and border closures, we can see this being invaluable for golf gamers.

But to be honest we can’t see too many people spending the time to perfect a new golf course design. Instead, it’s the ability to play what others have created that has given us the most fun.

Are there near-perfect recreations of Augusta National, Pine Valley and Barnbougle Dunes out there to play? Yep, and we love them!

The third is something that took us a while to appreciate in the previous version of The Golf Club. We hadn’t delved as deep into the online community before, but right now, it’s all we want to do.

Join or create your own society, set up a schedule of tournaments with a set difficulty (with or without an entry fee of virtual in-game credits) play.

Not everyone needs to be online at the same time. Play the round before the cut-off date, see how you fared against other golfers at the end of the week and claim your prize money!

What’s not so good
While the career mode is good, it never quite reaches the heights you might expect if you’ve played some of the other big franchise sports games including FIFA and NBA2K, for example.

You play tournament-to-tournament and build up your winnings, catch the eye of sponsors and get a great set of clubs in the bag, but it isn’t overly compelling. And neither is the much-hyped rivalries with tour pros.

The official courses are ok; a stack of PGA Tour approved TPC courses which are fun but not overly different from one another and the graphics aren’t anything special.

The renderings and golf swings of the PGA Tour golfers are below par.

The in-game goals are a nice touch but we ended up ignoring them most of the time. It wasn’t necessarily a goal of ours to get XP to make par when we were trying to make par or better in the first place.

Probably our biggest gripe is the inability to play against someone else in the same room who also has a console account. Someone sitting next to you must play in “guest” mode.

And while we are at it, the lack of a playoff mode for tied tournaments is hugely disappointing. It’s quite the let down when you nail that birdie putt on the 18th to tie for the lead only to just be awarded the trophy.

What we want
Now we considering ourselves hardcore online golfers, we think we can make a request. We want a cross-platform multiplayer feature.

Meaning, we want to play golf online on our Xbox One, against someone else playing the same game on a Sony PlayStation, for example.

Even if it’s not live it’d be fun to at least post scores on the same golf course, under the same conditions, perhaps even on the same tour. It seems like it could be done within the online societies. Hopefully in future editions of the 2K21 series.

In summary
Gamers familiar with the previous PGA Tour video game series and The Golf Club will be pleased with the way these have been brought together in PGA Tour 2K21.

The combination of both worlds makes this the best golf video game yet and hopefully the start of a bigger, deeper golf video game franchise.

Aussie Golfer was provided with a review code for the Xbox One version of PGA Tour 2K21.

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