After a lengthy hiatus after the misstep that was 2015’s Rory McIlroy PGA Tour, EA Sports is back into the golf game without placing a famous golfer in its title. This seems to be a combination of design and circumstance, as it focuses more on players creating their own golfer and climbing the ladder rather than using the top professionals, of which there aren’t many. So unless you’re psyched to hit the links as Bryson DeChambeau, who didn’t make the cut for the Masters, then its roster doesn’t hold much appeal after its top five ranked players. And while it lacks star power, nearly everything else about the game is on point.
This includes the presentation since the production looks like a prestigious golf broadcast with hushed commentators chiming in about the intricacies of ball movement and giving useful commentary about putting greens. Electronic Arts leans hard into the seriousness of getting a small white ball into a distant hole with the utmost earnestness, which makes it all work. There’s a fine line between respecting the sport and being pompous about it, and the game does a generally good job of threading the needle, even if its self-seriousness can be unintentionally funny.
The top-notch presentation makes playing the game’s meticulously recreated courses even more enjoyable. Gameplay will be familiar to anyone that has played a Tiger Woods PGA Tour game in the past, as you can once again use the analog stick (which weirdly defaults to the left, but can be switched to the right stick) to simulate making a drive. There are a ton of other options, from shot types to where you strike the ball, and that makes for a strategy-rich game that rewards thoughtful risk-taking on larger holes.
The main draw here, though, is taking an amateur golfer from hero to zero. Thankfully, your golfer improves quite quickly if you play well, and it isn’t an exhaustive grind meant for people to buy microtransactions similar to NBA 2K‘s MyCareer mode. It’s a smart way to leverage the lack of star power in the game because you become invested in your own career and progress instead. Although, it’s admittedly less exciting to win a major when the people at the top of leaderboards aren’t legends like Phil Mickelson, but no-name scrubs.
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Your created character can be used across all the game’s modes, including challenges and online tournaments. The challenges are a particularly smart addition as these range from tutorial-like tasks to recreating real-life golf triumphs (thus making you care a bit more about its middling selection of golfers). It’s a decent mode and one that should be expanded upon as the golf year goes forward. However, this isn’t exactly a feature-rich game, so even though the gameplay itself is quite appealing, there’s not much here besides the career mode.
PGA Tour has a wonderful core that propels it past its uninteresting roster. EA Sports has created a solid base here that doesn’t feel hollow but can clearly be expanded in future updates or proper sequels. Either way, the team has given players a quality experience if they decide to grip it and rip it in the latest entry.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 8 equates to “Great.” While there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds at its goal and leaves a memorable impact.
Disclosure: The publisher provided a PlayStation 5 copy for our EA Sports PGA Tour review. Deluxe Edition reviewed on version 1.000.001.