There’s something cathartic about playing a round of golf. Sunshine blaring down on crisp grass, the peacefulness and the fresh air, the satisfaction of whacking a small ball made of plastic and rubber hundreds of yards towards a hole without a care in the world. Few sports provide such an experience, and PGA Tour 2K21 manages to encapsulate that feeling perfectly. HB Studios has made sure anyone can pick up and play PGA Tour 2K21. If you’ve never indulged in their Golf Club series, there’re tons of options to help you become a great player. However, if you’ve been playing them for years, you’ll also find many options to mould the difficulty to your personal requirements.
Hitting the ball is done simply by pulling back on the right stick, then pushing forward when you’re at the correct power. This takes a little bit of time to get right, as the slightest misjudgement can send the ball a few feet in the wrong direction. A thick white line appears on the screen, and your back and front swing movement appears as a line within it. If you’re not straight enough, or you’re too fast or slow, it can have a negative impact on the accuracy of your swing. On top of the actual swing, there’re plenty of other factors you need to take into consideration.
Thankfully, the amount of control HB Studios gives you is excellent. You can adjust the trajectory of the ball, the power of each shot, and whether you need to curve the shot using the draw or fade. On top of all these choices, you have various shots to choose from depending on whereabouts you are on the course, and which clubs you may need to utilise. Thankfully, PGA Tour 2K21 suggests the best shot type and club for you, but you can change this depending on your preference. The Scout Cam can be turned on before you take each shot, and it allows you to see where the ball will land, and how level the ground is at the point of impact.
PGA Tour 2K21 also lets you have a bird’s eye view of the whole course including the putting green. The shot-line highlights the path of your shot, giving you the clearest idea of where your ball will land, and on the putting green you have the option to see where the slopes are, as well as a simulated guide as to whether the ball will go into the hole if you use the right power. All of these options can be turned off or on, giving players a varied difficulty palette. Whilst there are set difficulty levels, you can play around to get the most customisable experience ever seen in a golf game. There’s also an option to let the rumble of your controller let you know when to hit the shot instead of having the power bar appear on screen.
Turning this into a fully fledged 2K sports title makes the flow of everything work in tandem, allowing your created MyPlayer to earn an array of gear and clubs as you play. You do level up throughout the career, but there’re no skill trees to improve your skills. Whilst some may not like the fact your player doesn’t improve in stats, I actually found this a breath of fresh air. It means your player improves as you become better at the game, and no matter how much Virtual Currency you earn in PGA Tour 2K21, you can’t spend it to improve your stats.
There are plenty of items to purchase, from new sweaters to trousers to hats, and various golf clubs can be purchased that improve your overall golf bag. Some items are unlocked in your career as well, meaning you don’t have to spend money to gain a lot of new gear. I had a great time progressing through the career. It’s pretty straightforward in the way you start as an amateur to taking on real professionals on your route to win the FedExCup. Rivalries with these professionals open up the ability to earn new gear, but they never feel like anything more than an opportunity to gain swag.
Sponsorships play a role in your career as well, and by completing challenges set out by your sponsor, you’ll unlock more stuff exclusive to their brand. The main focus of the career is to experience all the new courses on offer and to enjoy the excellent golfing mechanics as your rank up in the leaderboards. 2K previously worked with HB Studios on Golf Club 2019, but this is the first time the 2K name has been associated with the franchise. There’s plenty of room for the two companies to grow, but this is a huge step in the right direction.
PGA Tour 2K21 is a beautiful game. The courses look both authentic and gorgeous. The lighting and shading highlights every course’s layout, with plenty of detail in the tiniest of places. The commentary is good, too, but I often found that Luke Elvy and Rich Beem repeated themselves quite a lot. Still, the presentation feels authentic, from replays to the camera angles, making the career thoroughly enjoyable on the whole.
Outside of the career, you can create Online Societies where friends can join up, set specific difficulty settings if you wish, and play your own courses or those created by the community. The Create a Course is a brilliant way to build courses not featured in the game (such as St. Andrews), and also build some rather impressive stuff. It’s intimidating at first due to the wealth of options, but once you get in the swing of it, you’ll likely end up perfecting the smallest of details to make sure your own course is something special. If you’re put off by it, you can just download courses that others have spent time creating, meaning there’re even more for you to get stuck in to.
PGA Tour 2K21 has the best gameplay in any golf game yet, giving you complete control over every shot. There’s plenty of help for newbies, and myriad options for the more experienced to get plenty out of it as well. The career mode has some of the prettiest official courses and PGA pros to compete against, but it’s not as fleshed out as you may think. Personally, I don’t think it matters. I had tons of fun competing against the world’s best, and the presentation and simplistic flow of the career made it easy to get on with, and, more importantly, enjoy.
Beautifully designed courses
Online Societies are a nice new feature
Plenty of customisation not blocked by a paywall
Career mode is a little bare
Commentary can be repetitive
Rivalries could be better