PGA Tour 2K21 is a brand new golf simulator new from HB Studios, the developers of The Golf Club game series. After teaming up with 2K to create a brand new franchise, PGA Tour 2K21 aims to bring back the professional look and feel of golf simulators of all, all while giving new players to the world of golf the chance to learn with ease.
While it may be a bit barebones, HB Studios and 2K's partnership is filled with promise for what the future can hold.
Bottom line: While it may not be incredibly in-depth, PGA Tour 2K21 is a great first attempt for 2K as they get into the golf game, and the future looks incredibly bright.
- Incredibly user friendly
- Real-life pros/courses are a huge addition
- Rivalry system keeps you playing
- Customizable difficulty
- Most gear/clothing is locked behind in-game currency
- Harder difficulties can be very punishing
What you'll love about PGA Tour 2K21
After three successful iterations of games with The Golf Club, HB Studios partnered with 2K Sports to create a brand new franchise, PGA Tour 2K21. The new franchise aims to do something that The Golf Club couldn't do much of, namely bringing in many real-life aspects of professional golf into the game. For quite some time, players have been waiting to get their hands on a golf video game that accurately brings many of the real-life aspects of the sport to the digital world. Thankfully, PGA Tour 2K21 successfully does that, starting with its inclusion of real-life professional golfers.
|Players||Single-Player, Local/Online Multiplayer|
|Platforms||Microsoft Windows, Xbox, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia|
Similar to other sports games on the market, PGA Tour 2K21 sports a roster featuring some of the best and most popular golfers currently on the PGA Tour. While you, unfortunately, won't find the likes of legendary golfers like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the game, there is a surprisingly big roster, including Justin Thomas, the current top-ranked golfer in the world. All in all, there are 12 pros in the game with their full likeness. Hundreds more that are shown in name while you're out on a course.
Not only does including the professionals bring a level of professionalism to the game, but it also makes everything feel that much more real when you're competing against someone. Instead of being down against random, fictional golfers, you're going neck-and-neck with Justin Thomas or Sergio Garcia, making it much easier to lose yourself into the simulation aspect of the game.
Besides just having their likeness in the game, PGA Tour 2K21 also sports a brand new rivalry system, which allows you to go up against the pros in more ways than one. Once you climb the ranks and make your way into the PGA Tour, you'll be able to create rivalries with other players, which involves beating them in the standings on various courses. Outperforming your rivals will earn you additional rewards, including new gear or in-game currency with which to buy accessories.
Alongside their partnership with 2K Sports, PGA Tour 2K21 also sports a feature that nearly every NBA 2K has had for a decade: MyPlayer. Similar to how it operates in the NBA 2K series, you'll be able to craft your own golfer once you boot up PGA Tour 2K21. Everything from height, weight, gender, and more can be tweaked, so the possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to making your desired player. After that, you'll carry your MyPlayer with you across pretty much all of the game's modes, including Career Mode and various multiplayer modes.
Speaking of, PGA Tour 2K21 features a somewhat revamped and improved Career Mode, especially when it comes to where you'll be playing. Your goal in PGA's career mode is pretty simple, tasking you with rising through the ranks of the golf world until you've dominated the PGA Tour and its many championships. As you make your way through the mode, you'll be able to play across 15 different, officially licensed courses and tournaments, with two more coming post-launch. Alongside the new courses, PGA Tour 2K21 also allows you to unlock various Sponsors along the way, with real-life brands like Adidas and others available to offer you clothing and gear options should you meet specific criteria. While it isn't the most in-depth career mode a sports game has ever had, it's excellent at incorporating many of the new features 2K has brought into the game and serves as a great look at what can come in the future.
Making a golf game for everybody
Early on in the PGA Tour 2K21 cycle, one of HB Studios' biggest objectives for the game was to make a professional golf game that would be for everyone. As someone who only has a rudimentary understanding of the sport and all its intricacies, I'd have to say they passed with flying colors in that regard.
One of the biggest things you'll notice when playing through PGA Tour 2K21 is the almost infinite possibilities you have when it comes to difficulty. There are the traditional easy/normal/hard options. Still, you're also able to tweak the difficulty in certain aspects, giving you the chance to keep one setting relatively easy while maybe tuning another up.
The controls for the game are easy enough, with your right analog stick controlling how you swing and the shoulder buttons on top of a controller giving you extra access to more advanced mechanics. You'll also be able to take an overhead look at the course before attempting a shot, and even preview how a putt may look before you take it. Along with the difficulty options comes a huge, handy tutorial once you start the game. If you're a fan and avid player of golf, this might not be necessary, but for someone like me, it was a great addition.
Besides basic information like how to swing, the tutorial also teaches you more about how to read courses, which club might be best for any given shot, and other advanced tactics, like adding different levels of downswing onto a shot to control where it lands better. As you continue to play through the game, you'll find it evident that a ton of work has gone into making the game accessible for fans who may not know much about golf, and the additions clearly paid off.
Outside of difficulty options, PGA Tour 2K21 brings back one of The Golf Club's greatest modes and something that fans of any degree will like, in the Course Designer. Using the Course Designer, you'll be able to create an entire golf course using the same tools that the developers at HB Studios used to create the courses in the game, all the way down to the objects and props littered throughout the holes. You can choose which theme, terrain, and layout you'd like, and go to town making the weirdest or most realistic course you can think up.
After creating a course, you'll be able to publish the course online and have your friends or the rest of the PGA Tour 2K21 community try it. Where the Course Designer in previous The Golf Club entries limited players to sticking with a biome theme, PGA Tour 2K21 does away with any restrictions. If you'd like to have alligators littered throughout a desert course, then you're free to do so. It's a surprisingly in-depth and well-made feature, and I found myself spending quite a bit of time going through the various choices available to me while creating a course.
Aside from its Course Designer and Career Mode, PGA Tour 2K21 also has a ton of fun multiplayer modes to keep you playing as well. For a sport like golf, it might sound difficult to create an online mode that gives fans the feeling of taking to a course for some competition, but it's handled well. Local and online multiplayer is available for those who might want to go up against one another, and a handful of more fun game modes - including Alt-Shot, Stroke Play, Skins, and 4-Player Scramble - are available to play as well (no mini-golfing, unfortunately).
Also brought back from The Golf Club franchise is the return of Societies. Online Societies function similar to online leagues, with a group of players joining up for some friendly competition. Players in societies can take each other on in a variety of modes, with up to 50+ event seasons being planned by administrators. PGA Tour 2K21 will also have its own society, with official competitions taking place weekly for players to participate in.
What you might not love about PGA Tour 2K21
For all the good that PGA Tour 2K21 offers, there are still some downsides to the latest entry in the franchise. As a whole, the introduction of many 2K Sports factors has been a huge plus, but its use of VC (virtual currency) is still a big issue. While PGA Tour 2K21 thankfully doesn't feature too many microtransactions or really have any pay-to-win methods, it does lock many items behind VC and earning it can be a bit of a grind as you rank up.
Elsewhere, while the difficulty options in PGA Tour 2K21 are vast and customizable, the game itself can be unforgiving even on the easiest settings. For example, timing is everything when it comes to getting a great shot, and even on the easiest difficulty, the game will punish you for making mistakes. It's not an extremely bad thing overall, but constantly slicing or pulling a ball into the trees is certainly something that may keep a newcomer from returning.
Should you buy PGA Tour 2K21?
At the end of the day, PGA Tour 2K21 is a very specific type of game for a very specific type of fan. If you're someone who is a huge golfer or a big fan of golf video games, PGA Tour 2K21 is as close to a must-buy as you'll get this generation. Even if you're someone who may be new to the sport and likes playing golf-centric video games, this is right up your alley.
On the flip side, if you're not big into sports games, or would rather wait for further improvements in the years to come, you may want to skip out on this one. For me, the thrill of conquering course after course was more than enough to keep me coming back, even if I'm not the biggest fan of the sport. With 2K Sports officially on board, I'm also very interested to see what becomes of this franchise, as this was a great stepping stone.
PGA Tour 2K21 retails for $60 and is available on Microsoft Windows, Xbox, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia.
Aim for the fairway.
Create your own MyPlayer, take them through the ranks of the PGA Tour, and become one of the best golfers in the world.
Anthony, there seems to be an omitted word in your last sentence: "Even if you're someone who may new to the sport". I'm still not sure if I'll get this. I really liked the first iteration of The Golf Club, minus the lack of licensed, official golf content. It left the game feeling a bit hollow, since customization of the characters was minimal and equipment wasn't at all customizable. Seeing them get the official PGA license is great, since HB Studios made such good games. That it's released under the 2K umbrella is the problem for me. 2K has the worst microtransaction practices in the AAA/console game industry, IMO. Reading that there is a significant VC grind for player progression in this is a letdown. I'm not going to commit my life to making a decent character, nor am I interested in paying more than the standard $60 to get nothing in return (other than skipping the gated progression that clearly is designed to punish the player for not paying up). If I get this, it will PROBABLY be on the Switch, or maybe PC. I'll have to see how it reviews (particularly performance) on the Switch before making a decision.
kind of barebones. glad i read this review instead of buying at $60.
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