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EA Sports PGA Tour review: a solid new beginning

EA Sports is getting back in the game with EA Sports PGA Tour
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EA Sports is back in the golf game after almost a decade since the last PGA Tour edition. Despite a similar fate happening to the NBA Live series, EA Sports PGA Tour has managed to get back on its feet and deliver a very competent simulation of the fast-rising global sport.

Golf fans have not been left wanting in recent years, as 2K has been providing a very solid interpretation of the discipline in their PGA Tour 2K series. EA Sports’ goal is quite similar - to create as credible a reproduction of the sport as possible, so the clash between these two giants will be inevitable; if not today, then in time both publishers will have products mature enough to play as equals.

Compared to its direct competitor, EA Sports PGA Tour offers a probably more intuitive shot system. The player is required to move the left analog stick in the same direction as the shot bar, let the cursor scroll up to the desired point, and move the stick again to end the swing.

In a mechanic that is similar to one of FIFA’s set pieces, you can create an effect – such as curving – on the ball with the right stick, while the D-pad allows you to choose where to send it. This allows beginners to just smash and go, while experts can focus on the precision of each shot.

If you feel like it, you can decide the type of shot and bypass the basic setup presented to you at each hole; whether this is setting the starting direction precisely or grabbing the iron of your choice. This all has an impact on the theoretical length of the shot. It works. Even on a tactile level it really gives the perception of hitting a ball on a golf course, and it's immediate enough not to require too many explanations.

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The game also challenges you to find your own way, as the shooting simulation is rarely as accurate as you'd expect - after all, where would the fun be otherwise? It deliberately doesn’t take into account factors such as wind and slope - that’ll be up to you to work out.

When putting, you can see the in-game trajectory, and over time you learn which point you should hit on that line. It’s generally in the middle, but this also depends on the wind, slope and distance from the hole.

These are just some of the factors you need to consider during a game, and that helps make each hole a fresh and new experience. Studying the course and conditions is at least as much fun as the execution itself.

The Y button (on the Xbox controller) activates the golfer-to-hole camera, while pressing the back button gives you an overhead map of the entire green, something we really appreciated on an ultrawide PC screen.

However, the onboarding of new players will need to be revisited at some point in the future. There is no tutorial at the beginning of the game, and the closest to that you’ll get while playing is hidden among the challenges. EA Sports PGA Tour takes good knowledge of the basics of the sport for granted. That’s not ideal for players who could be approaching golf as a complete stranger, and also for an official video game returning to the shelves for the first time since 2015.


Quite a steep learning curve aside, the customization of the experience is granular and covers both the skill level of the AI in Career Mode, and a whole range of assists and obstacles to customize your gameplay to the smallest detail.

In terms of content, EA Sports PGA Tour feels pretty rich, whether you want to compete locally, with the rest of the world online, or are looking for a deep single-player golf game. About thirty courses are available on day one, and they’re all visually distinct, each with its own set of challenges in terms of scenery and conformation.

Furthermore, when it comes to the modes, the game features challenges based on historical moments of the sport and the live season, sponsor tests to gain you exclusive equipment, and a career mode, which doesn’t break new grounds but ultimately works - from youth tournaments up to the PGA Tour.

There’s an appreciable RPG component too, since everything you do with your golfer rewards you with experience points you can spend on upgrades ranging from basic attributes to special abilities that emulate those of the best players around. This is not just in Career Mode, but also in quick play and multiplayer.

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As a cautious relaunching of the brand, EA Sports has made a good call not including a golf version of Ultimate Team, and there’s no trace of the highly controversial loot boxes. You only have an in-game store where you can buy points using real money between $5 and $50, so you can spend them on tickets to participate in tournaments or on customization items.

That’s something you can easily do with the base in-game currency, which does not require significant grind to accumulate. The only issue is that the same currency is used to enhance your golfer's skills.

The roster lacks some well-known stars you’d expect in any PGA game, like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, but the number of well-known golfers here is high, and members of the controversial LIV are surprisingly included. By comparison, 2K ditched them to reflect the PGA ban.

The sound presentation is impactful. The buzz of the audience falls silent as soon as they notice your avatar is focusing on their next shot. There’s the very natural chatter of the commentators, too, and the soundscape is something you will notice right from your first shot.

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On the other hand, the camera can be a bit messy from time to time, making it so you’re not able to even see your shot loading bar when you are close to the boundaries of the course. When putting, the colored grid on the ground can make it confusing to find the hole.

It’ll be interesting to see how EA Sports can keep up with its live service, as the developer promises to follow the actual golf season and aims at cultivating a multiplayer scene. The foundations laid by this reintroduction will only shape a great series by listening to player feedback for the games to come.

As of today, EA Sports PGA Tour is a very solid starting point for the franchise, and one that allows EA Sports to get back in the game.

Score: 7/10

Version tested: PC