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EA’s golf game returns with more courses, more customization, and more shots

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it seems like only the biggest features EA Sports PGA Tour, Which launches on March 24, they are the same ones that fans played and enjoyed a decade ago. Augusta National Golf Course and all four of the men’s major championships; Even things like Boosted Drive are making a return, along with a “big-hit moment” camera change.

But focusing solely on the return of the Masters Tournament, or the visual fidelity with which Augusta National and other courses are presented, will sell short what I saw at a presentation last week. Namely, a career mode that’s even more RPG-like than before, offers more ways to customize and mold the playing style of your created golfer, and looks like it’ll swallow up as many of my evenings. Much like the old Tiger Woods games did.

EA Sports PGA Tour Looks like a game where, despite having more real-life professionals on the roster than ever before, the developers understand that the users themselves are the real stars of the show.

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“Even when we had Tiger, over 97% of people play as a built player,” producer Ben Ramsour explained in an interview after the presentation. “So we know that’s a core motivation. However, we’ve done a lot to build relationships with these professionals, and we want to tell their stories in the game.

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Granted, we couldn’t glean much from a glimpse of the detailed golfer progress screen shown. But players will rank up to 10 different skills (each with 10 ranks) as they gain skill points with each level up. Lead producer David Baker also informed that at advanced levels, players will be able to unlock packages of traits that will make their golfer’s abilities more akin to the playing styles of the PGA and LPGA’s biggest stars.

Publicity headshot of Ben Ramsour, creator of the EA Sports PGA Tour, dated 2023

EA Sports PGA Tour Producer Ben Ramsour on Course Fit: “It’s the forward agency between you and your character on the course — it’s the primary driving force behind that information.”
Photo: Electronic Arts

This all feeds into new gameplay that continues to offer broad-based shot-shaping features and differentiates them even further with 20 shot types, some of which are unlocked at later stages of attribute progression. It seems those shot types can be ranked as well.

“I think a big thing is experimentation,” Ramsour said, noting that players can again create multiple avatars and pursue them individually. He also said, “We want users to see, Hey, Tony Finau’s game matches up really well for Augusta, but it’s terrible for Harbor Town,

It’s revealed through a nifty little menu I called Course Fit, which stole the show as something new that would connect me to the golfer I created. Course fit, viewed on the course selection screen, gives players a relative view of their skill versus what is expected of a winning player. The five attributes – power, driving, approach, short game and putting – all have bars; The closer a player’s bar is to the course, the more they can take advantage of that feature.

This is not a feature enhancement; It’s just visual information that will give me a sense of how risky my views are on the second shot of one of the par-5 holes at East Lake Golf Club, or how important it is to maintain this view at Pebble Beach. , where a demanding putting game awaits me.

Promotional headshot of EA Sports PGA Tour lead producer David Baker, dated 2023

Lead producer David Baker stated that the new Challenges mode is “for bite-sized gameplay moments and to replicate the experience of professionals in between career events.”
Photo: Electronic Arts

“So for me, I want to win major championships,” Ramsour said. “So in my primary built player, I’m leveling up shot types to win the big four. But ultimately, I want to win every single tournament on the hardest mode. So I know I have to be less bomber and more accurate to win in Harbor Town.

Although players may have several manufactured golfers, most stick with one for the rest of their career. Most likely Ramsaur would have seen all the differences mentioned in Challenges, a different mode, but one that has complementary effects on careers.

The challenges, for me, were bite-sized similar to those available in Madden Ultimate Team’s single-player offering. In fact, they will be live-service content, powered by real-world events, and like MUT, they will use different players in addition to the Pro’s they created. Baker said the challenges are designed to play like in-between practices, meaning they’ll be short experiences focused on a particular skill or a particular moment.

Rewards will be skill points for use in built-player progression, as well as clubs and cosmetic items they can equip. (Importantly, these clubs, equipment, and apparel do not affect the player’s attributes, as they may have in the past.) Golfers can expect a weather-based approach here, which other online sports video games have adopted. is adopted.

All these modes, players and courses – 30 at launch, the most for the standard version of the EA Sports golf title – mean little if the core gameplay isn’t tight, informative and understandable. While last week’s event was not as hands-on, the developers focused on the swing mechanism and the 20 shot types supporting it in a one-hole performance on Augusta’s No. 13.

Best example: a “stinger”, which is a shorter but safer shot off the tee. Gameplay designer Craig Penner used the Stinger to make a 266-yard putt with Jordan Spieth, who still embraces No. 13’s famous left-handed sweep—it just used a downhill fairway to get his distance. did. In the end, Spieth covered about 10 yards to make a safe shot. It’s something I try to repeat often tiger woods pga tour 14But the lowest trajectory the game offered didn’t come close to what I saw last week.

Casual headshot of EA Sports PGA Tour gameplay designer Craig Penner

Gameplay designer Craig Penner said he was “just going after straight pins” on a course with favorable greens. At TPC Sawgrass, he said, “I had to change the way I played to get to the middle of the green. You can’t pin-hunt. You really have to work that course.”
Photo: Electronic Arts

Ramsaur, playing as 2022 Masters winner Scotty Scheffler, used a boost-assisted power drive – impressive, and successful, but still a dangerous shot that has a blind approach, and that clips treetops if not executed perfectly. Can do. But again, Scheffler is farther off the tee than Spieth, so both golfers were playing to type and taking or avoiding appropriate risks (especially as they were highlighted by course fit).

I was also impressed by the commentary portions I heard from the game when the demo was played. For once, it looked like the broadcast team was actually watching what was being played. Lead commentator Rich Lerner returns from 2015 Rory McIlroy PGA TourAnd on Penner’s shot with Spieth, I overheard him discussing the use of fairway width and slope to achieve the desired results.

Returning broadcast partner Frank Nobilo (and new course reporters Notah Bege III and Iona Stephen) also provided context-appropriate color, a dramatic improvement over previous games that offered mostly generic replays.

“We have technology that does a very detailed analysis of how a put will break,” Baker said in last week’s presentation. “There’s also a system that combines field reporter analysis of the current situation, and also highlights landmarks from our great catalog of courses to tell historical stories from those exact locations on the course.”

EA Sports pga tour On March 24 – two weeks before the 2023 Masters – on PlayStation 5, Windows PC and Xbox Series X. It will be available in a standard edition as well as a digital deluxe edition, which offers three-day early access, as well as some content including XP boosts and virtual currency for items from the in-game Pro Shop.

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