After some time with the Xbox version, Neal is ecstatic for the Switch launch of PGA Tour 2K21.
It’s been a long time since a PGA Tour game has been on a Nintendo platform. The last release was from EA Sports on the Wii in 2011. Remember Wii MotionPlus? That was an integral part of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 on Wii, which came out before the Wii U was first revealed. The 3DS also launched days before this game. Simply put, it’s been nearly a decade since a pro golf game came to Nintendo. Even outside of Nintendo, 2015 was the last time EA released a PGA Tour game. Back when that final EA golf game came out, developer HB Studios was supposed to make an entry in the series. That didn’t happen, and they wound up making their own golf game: The Golf Club, with the first game coming out in 2014, followed by a sequel in 2017. Starting in 2018, 2K Sports partnered with HB Studios to release The Golf Club 2019, which featured the PGA Tour license. Now, two years later, PGA Tour 2K21 is on the verge of launching and HB Studios’ golf series is coming to the Nintendo Switch for the first time.
Now, as of this writing, I haven’t been able to play the Switch version. That’s not to spell doom for the Nintendo release of this game; it’s just how pre-release code distribution works sometimes. I have put a lot of time into PGA Tour 2K21 on Xbox One and it’s a sublime golfing experience. The game manages to thread the needle between a challenging simulation of the sport and a chill way to shag some balls and do some putting.
What impressed me most were the controls. Complexity is there, but some straightforward tutorials made it easy to jump in. Your golf swing is controlled with an analog stick. Bring it down for your back swing, and then send it back up with proper timing to hit your shot. The rhythm can be tricky, especially because the penalty for being too slow or too fast can be dire, as your shot will dramatically fade or draw (i.e. go far left or far right) if you screw it up. You also need to be mindful of keeping your down-and-up movement relatively straight. There’s wiggle room, but drift too far left or right and it will negatively affect your shot. It’s a stark difference from the tried-and-true timed button presses of the Mario Golf ilk. What I like most about this control method is that it actually better mimics the sport itself.
On top of the analog stick swing, you can fiddle with your shot in a variety of other ways. You can change your club or shot type, which affects distance and placement. An option is also there to tweak how you approach the ball as well as altering the angle it comes off of your club. I can mimic my own personal insane golf swing in which I always insanely fade on my tee shots.
I can’t speak too much to past games in HB Studios’ Golf Club series, but I did see some chatter about how difficult the older games were. I didn’t find that to be the case as much here, primarily because of the effective tutorial and the easily customizable difficulty settings. This game can get hard, but it doesn’t seem unfair. It also lets you tweak how the computer plays against you and what kind of weather occurs.
The primary mode is the PGA Tour Career Mode, where you create a golfer (that I promptly named Neal Golfer because I laughed that the default name is just Pro Golfer) and then take them on a career path rising through the ranks of golf stardom. You level up as you play, unlocking gear and in-game currency to buy new outfits and clubs. You can heavily customize your golf bag, pulling from a wide variety of clubs. It can be daunting, but also, you can just kind of roll with what you start with without much issue. During the Career Mode, there are two mechanics I thought were really neat: Sponsor Goals and Rivals. You can partner with a sponsor and level up your sponsorship with them. With Rivals, you can face off against another golfer over the course of several events. While most of Career Mode is just “do the best you can and win,” having these two side objectives pop up adds a lot more depth. Leveling up sponsors and beating rivals helps to unlock exclusive gear, which can be worn like a badge of honor if you beat a tough golfer. A Course Designer is also available, though it won’t be in the Switch version at launch; 2K is hoping to add it in post-launch. Online play is another thing in the game that I wasn’t really able to test pre-launch.
We will have a full review of the Switch version soon after we get our hands on it. If the port holds up, PGA Tour 2K21 could be a fantastic new sports game for the Switch. The golfing experience here is robust and fun, and the potential for portability excites me. I hope the Switch port is good because I absolutely want to kick back and play a quick 18 from the comfort of my bed.