It may be the middle of winter, but weather conditions for today show that it's a good time to talk about golf. On Wednesday, Electronic Arts took a step onto the links for the first time in years to discuss its return to golf games. EA Sports PGA Tour won't rely on a big-name star to draw in enthusiasts, but rather focus on the pageantry of the PGA Majors instead.
Taking advantage of an exclusive deal, EA Sports PGA Tour will feature next-gen renderings of all four of golf's biggest Majors: The PGA Championship, The U.S. Open, The Open Championship, and The Masters. All four have been built with EA's Frostbite engine in conjunction with a crew of geologists who helped the game's developers get the course layouts just right. In addition to on-the-ground photography, photogrammetry tools, and over-the-air scans of every landscape, EA is adding in dozens of real-world courses. The publisher is touting 30 "bucket list courses" for the game's launch, including Augusta National, TPC Scottsdale, Liberty National, Riviera Country Club, Torrey Pines, Harbour Town, and many more.
More than any individual golfer, EA wants its golf game to be all about the courses. During a closed press meeting, the EA Tiburon team showed off many of the real-world sites that it was able to replicate with the Frostbite engine. Founder's Circle at Augusta National was shown off in full 4K resolution, as were the azalea flowers growing around one of the course's par 5 holes. Pebble Beach's cliffs and rock formations were rendered in full detail, as was its famous lone cypress tree. The Old Course at St. Andrews Links features its original 15th century architecture, deep bunkers, and unique tee boxes. EA is also utilizing its Frostbite Swarm tech to render lively crowds for each event, though users can switch crowds off if they'd rather have a more intimate golfing session.
While polished-up versions of the four PGA Majors and their courses sound enticing on their own, EA wants to go a step farther. A full-blown PGA Tour Career mode allows players to step into the shoes of a golfing pro en route to golf's greatest events. Careers can start at various stages, allowing users to start an amateur run in the USGA, advance to the Korn Ferry Tour, or immediately begin with the big boys in the PGA Tour.
An expansive create-a-player tool will allow users to craft male, female, or gender neutral golfers with a range of different strengths. A robust RPG system will allow those created players to earn skill points towards different stats after competing in any tournament. They can also unlock new shot types and gear as they go along. To further help developer their golfer, users can highlight each available golf course and tournament and see how well they fit with their golfer's particular skill set.
Players can also look forward to refined gameplay systems led by the Pure Strike system, built with the aid of the PGA ShotLink statistical platform. This will allow for players to select their club, as well as one of 20 different shot types. Each shot type is unique to different clubs, adding a variety of options when approaching each situation. Ball behavior has similarly been updated so that balls react differntly to each terrain, each hit, and each landing.
Of course, just because EA Sports PGA Tour isn't leading off its marketing with real-world pros doesn't mean they won't be featured. Players will be able to take the role of top PGA and LPGA pros, like Scottie Scheffler, Nelly Korda, Tony Finau, Danielle Kang, Patrick Cantlay, Lexi Thompson, Jordan Speith, and more. EA notes that more golfers will be revealed closer to the game's release date with additional players coming post-launch. Those players will also have a slew of gear and apparel from dozens of different sponsors to allow for deep customization.
While it's certainly possible to approach EA Sports PGA Tour as a solo game with the sole objective of playing through the game's Career mode, it's also a friendly game with online and offline game modes. In fact, EA Tiburon notes that up to 16 players can jump into an online session and play simultaneously.
While EA Sports PGA Tour will be a fully-featured game at launch, EA has substantial post-launch plans lined up, as well. In keeping with the game's biggest theme, look for updates focused on the four Majors, as well as the Ryder Cup, later this year. Look for EA Sports PGA Tour to release on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S on Friday, March 24. Those who pre-order, starting today, can jump into a three-day early access period prior to launch.
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30 real courses sounds good, majors or not. I don't really care if they have a pro's name attached, just want decent golf gameplay.
The EA Tiger Woods games got too arcadey and were too easy to score super low on the toughest courses. Not really interesting to me, but I haven't played one of these in years, just some of the The Golf Club series and its PGA variations which lean slightly more simulation but lacking overall.
I'm still waiting for a modern golf game that will let me input my actual distances for each individual club of when I used to play, ala Links 2001. This one sounds like more of the same with RPG style stat increases and all that.