ea sports pga tour

EA Sports PGA Tour Review – On Par

A welcome return to the golf course.

It’s been over seven years since EA Sports took its last swing at a golf game, but I’m pleased to say EA Sports PGA Tour is a heck of a lot better than that outing. It’s lacking in some staying power and I’ve had some frustrations with a handful of its gameplay mechanics, but there’s a lot here for newcomers and die hard fans of the sport to enjoy.

This starts with the approachability of PGA Tour’s gameplay. EA Orlando and EA Madrid have done an excellent job in making the game feel approachable for newcomers, all the while maintaining a sense of complexity for seasoned pros. This is due to the plethora of settings that can be fine tuned to get the most out of your time with the game.

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As someone who has an appreciation for the Mario Golf games (laugh at me if you will), I was curious to see if my enjoyment for the more arcade-style of golf would translate over to PGA Tour, and it has to a degree. You can adjust a variety of different systems, like swing difficulty, power boost and spin control, to make the game feel more arcadey and less unforgiving than what you’d see in a professional golf sim, and it mostly works.

Pure Strike, PGA Tour’s big gameplay innovation, also goes a long way in making the game feel realistic. Powered by PGA Tour ShotLink and TrackMan data, ball movement is accurately recreated according to the type of terrain it’s landed on, wind conditions and the club you’ve used. It did take me a bit to get used to, but after some time (and several woeful shots) I began to understand how to best place my shots and what to keep an eye out for. 

ea sports pga tour

One thing I didn’t like, however, was the lag that would seemingly appear every time I went to take a swing. For a game that’s based heavily around accuracy and an appropriately timed swing, I often noticed my golfer not hitting the way I’d have liked them to thanks to the slight lag spike during the swing animation. I’m sure a jump in framerate would help (as the game’s currently locked to 30fps on current-consoles), yet no matter how much I tinkered with the settings I couldn’t seem to get rid of the problem. I’m unsure whether this is happening across other platforms, but my Xbox Series copy had this issue on both Series S and X, ultimately leading to some frustrating game situations.

ea sports pga tour

Further to this, I’ve also experienced difficulties with the game’s suggested putting lines. There’s been more than a few times where I’d follow the line suggested by the game, only to have my ball miss the hole by some distance. I feel in these instances it’s been better for me to use my intuition rather than strictly following the guidance provided, but for beginners especially it’s a bit weird for the system to be so inaccurate at times.

I also found the game to be fairly averse in taking the time to guide players through the nitty gritty of the sport in my initial couple of sessions. While I generally know my way around golf, those who don’t know too much – be it the scoring system or types of clubs and shots – will likely feel overwhelmed at the beginning. Thankfully, there’s a decently large selection of challenge tutorials that help outline everything from approach shots all the way up to making the perfect putt, but you do need to look for them.

ea sports pga tour

These come by the way of the Coaching Academy, which forms part of the challenge area in PGA Tour. Rather than being taken through little tutorials, you’re instead given challenges that range from getting a shot onto the fairway a certain amount of times to making a successful putt. It feels like it’s more about the experience of playing the game rather than getting bogged down in the theory of it all, which I can understand – there’s no better way to learn than failing, really. 

Along with the game’s Coaching Academy challenges, there’s a truly astounding amount of other challenges available to jump into from the get-go. There are real-time featured challenges that highlight what’s currently happening in the real sport, over 500 challenges based on championship moments from PGA and LPGA history and a section to earn sponsored gear to take onto the course with your golfer.

ea sports pga tour

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Completing challenges is fairly important no matter what you do in PGA Tour, as they act as a primary way of getting more experience for your created golfer as well as cash to spend on customisation items.

Most of my time was spent within the game’s career mode, as it has the most longevity to it. That’s not to say there’s not much else to keep yourself occupied in PGA Tour – as the game’s quick play section has a lot of fun little modes within it, alongside social and competitive options – but it was the best way to get acquainted with everything the game has to offer. 

Career mode casts your created golfer right into the spotlight, allowing you to take on the amateur circuit to rise up the ranks or bee-lining straight for the bigger tournaments – the choice is yours. And I really have enjoyed my time with it, whether that’s through the litany of competitions I’ve played through or the coach/sponsor challenges that have encouraged me to try something a bit different for some extra rewards.

ea sports pga tour

The only major issue I had with the mode was how lifeless it felt at times. There’s just not a lot happening behind the scenes as you make your way through each tournament and set of challenges, which was disappointing.

As well as this, the commentary, while decent most of the time, didn’t feel as personalised as I’d hoped. This was in part due to the commentary team constantly referring to my golfer as the ‘featured golfer’. I did like how accurately the crowd seemed to react to my shots (whether they were good or bad) though, and the presentation packages continued to impress me throughout. With that said, everything else felt a little bit lacklustre in terms of general atmosphere.

ea sports pga tour

Aside from gaining basic experience points for participating in tournaments and completing challenges, quests form a big part of PGA Tour’s progression system. They reward you with points that can be used to purchase new gear and equipment to deck your custom golfer out in. And while the system certainly works, lots of quests have more than a couple of goals to achieve, meaning it can feel like a bit of a slog to get to the nicer cosmetic items in the game. Similarly, you’ll need points to jump into the more prestigious online tournaments, so expect to spend quite a bit of time grinding for those higher priced items in the store.

ea sports pga tour

Spending time out on the green isn’t so bad thanks to the gorgeously recreated (and brand new) courses on offer in PGA Tour. Whether you’re playing through Augusta National or plying your trade in the Wetlands fantasy course, there’s a lot to experience and admire. The team’s done a fantastic job bringing each course to life and making it look particularly wonderful. I was disappointed to see a lack of weather conditions in-game, though, and hope they might make an appearance in a post-launch update. 

PGA Tour’s menu system can feel a bit clunky, as well. Oftentimes it’s slow to update and can be confusing to actually navigate through, and it’s something I hope the team addresses sooner rather than later.

ea sports pga tour

Similarly, the selection of professional golfers currently on offer is fairly disappointing. While greats like current world number one, Scottie Scheffler, are available to play, there are more than a few key players that aren’t included (for one reason or another). The team has said more will be added in post-launch updates, however.

It’s not all bad, and certainly marks a solid return to the course for EA Sports after many years out of the game. It might not be for everyone, and it can feel like a bit of a slog at times, but among the excellent selection of courses, deep career mode and accessible gameplay, EA Sports PGA Tour should satiate the appetite for those wanting an enjoyable golf game.

ea sports pga tour
Conclusion
It has its fair share of issues, but there’s more than enough in EA Sports PGA Tour to keep newcomers and golf pros occupied. It’s a solid step forward for the EA Sports golf titles, and a welcome return to the course.
Positives
Enjoyable gameplay
Excellent recreation of a range of courses
Great set of challenges available
Accessible enough for newcomers to enjoy
Negatives
Gameplay can be a bit finicky and laggy
Not a lot of longevity outside of career mode and online tournaments
Career mode can feel a bit lifeless
7