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PGA Tour 2K21 Review

/ Aug 20th, 2020 No Comments

PGA Tour 2K21 Review

When PGA Tour 2K21 was announced, it was somewhat of a surprise. With The Golf Club series, HB Studios had created a successful franchise with a loyal community. But when the developer began working with 2K, it was clear that the publisher behind the immensely popular NBA 2K franchise was interested in forming a partnership with HB Studios to reach a shared goal: to grow the game of golf

With the rebrand, the first iteration of PGA Tour 2K21 delivers various new features that didn’t seem possible under The Golf Club name, including an emphasis on MyPlayer, licensed courses and pros, and a focus on building a deep golf experience that is accessible for all types of players. The result is the best golf game in years.

Golf Like a Pro

When you first start playing PGA Tour 2K21, the most noticeable differences are the addition of pro golfers, including current world number two Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau, and 15 real life courses (up from six in The Golf Club 2019) that have been meticulously recreated through a partnership with Terra Imaging. Luke Elvy and Rich Beem anchor a smooth broadcast-style presentation with live look-ins at some of the competing pros. These updates neatly wrap up PGA Tour 2K21 as a complete golf simulation package.

However, when you get below the surface, the biggest difference is the introduction of MyPlayer, the signature create-a-character mode of 2K Sports titles. Your MyPlayer is the custom avatar that you will use across all game modes (you can’t play as any of the pros), and players have much more options in PGA Tour 2K21 than they did in previous The Golf Club games. There is loads of licensed gear available to outfit your avatar from brands such as Malbon Golf, Polo Ralph Lauren and Adidas. Overall, you have much more control of your created player this time around, but hair and facial hair styles are bit limited.

Of course, the 2K branding brings with it concerns about virtual currency and microtransactions, but PGA Tour 2K21 steers clear of those issues. In-game currency is earned by leveling up and completing sponsor challenges in the Career Mode, and progress transfers across all game modes. Cosmetic items and clubs don’t cost an exorbitant amount. I was able to outfit my avatar in stylish new gear from head to toe after completing a single one-round event in the career mode. Upgrading clubs is more costly, but there is not a need to do so frequently. After I exchanged some of my in-game money for a driver with a little more power and a lot more forgiveness, I found that the other clubs available would not net a significant upgrade in any category. Additionally, I was able to unlock new clubs and gear without spending any of the currency I had earned by completing sponsor challenges.

Golf Got Game

The Golf Club has always been a series built for more serious players. Controls were simple to learn but difficult to master, and reading the course required at least some knowledge of the nuances of the sport. PGA Tour 2K21 eliminates the barriers for entry by providing access to more feedback and implementing six difficulty levels from beginner to legendary.

Gameplay systems such as Pro Vision, the Yardage Book, and Shot Feedback UI give players the ability to study the course and integrate changes to their swing as necessary, but these features can be disabled for those who wish to truly challenge themselves. Help is always available to those who want it. For more casual players, developers introduced Partial Swing and Dynamic Shot-Shaping to PGA Tour 2K21 to fine tune each individual shot, but these systems aren’t just in place to help beginners–they also provide veteran players with a lot more authority over their shot.

Career Mode is extensive in PGA Tour 2K21, with sponsorship goals and Rivalry Challenges against real pros keeping seasons interesting. For more competition, players can compete against other members in the community through Online Societies, essentially built to be virtual golf clubs where players can tee off in a competitive, yet relaxed environment. However, the bread and butter remains the course designer.

PGA Tour 2K21 opens up thousands of possibilities by unlocking all assets for every theme. Previously, players had to choose a theme for their course and would get access to specific items within that theme. Now, you can create courses to your wildest imagination. All wildlife, plant life and man-made objects are at your disposable, and published courses are then available for all of the community to tee off on across all platforms.

Overall

PGA Tour 2K21 is a huge leap forward for golf gaming, both literally and symbolically. Not only is it the best golf game to come out in years, but the 2K moniker brings with it a certain distinction that will no doubt draw attention from audiences that may not have otherwise played the game. All of the classic grace of golf is on display in PGA Tour 2K21, but it does so with an exciting modern flair that no other golf game has achieved before. It simply makes golf fun.

A code for PGA Tour 2K21 and early access was provided by 2K for the purposes of this review. The game was reviewed on Xbox One.

Ryan Bloom

Ryan Bloom

Chief Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Ryan Bloom is a writer and avid gamer from Orange County. He received a B.A. in Communications with a minor in American Studies from California State University, Fullerton in 2010. Follow him on Twitter @BloomsTweets.
Ryan Bloom
Ryan Bloom

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