PGA Tour 2K23 is a continuation of the solid foundations laid down by HB Studios with its prior golfing efforts and no mulligan is needed here as this true next-gen step-up makes solid strides.
Being immortalized as a golfing great takes years of skill, practice, and hard work. This ideology almost mirrors HB Studios’ run with golf games as the Canadian game developer went from making a smaller, independent game called “The Golf Club” to working alongside the GOAT of golf himself Tiger Woods, under the stewardship of gaming behemoth 2K Games on PGA Tour 2K23.
Even though PGA Tour 2K23 isn’t a completely bogey-free round of golf as one or two loose swings will keep you up at night, this is the best golfing sim around.
PGA Tour 2K23 key details:
- Developer: HB Studios
- Price: $59.99 / £49.99
- Release date: October 14, 2022
- Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC
PGA Tour 2K23 trailer:
New swing, new success
The act of carving out chunks of Earth with a 7-Iron is a concept that seems alien to many, but those who do will appreciate a ton of the effort that has gone into the latest iteration of 2K’s golf series.
From subtle, yet immersive additions such as on-screen caddies and the ability to choose which brand of golf ball you want to take onto the course, to massive ones like Topgolf, there is an overall sense of ‘more’ with PGA Tour 2K23.
For example, if a MyCareer tournament ended in a tie in 2K21, you’d automatically win. Now, you’re thrust into a heated play-off with rivals who finished on the same score.
Say goodbye to the Splash Shot, unless you’re in a bunker, as this accessible explosion shot is no longer a greenside cheat, one that I relied on so heavily in 2K21. The emphasis on chipping is clearer than ever, and it’s a challenge that should rightfully test players.
A ‘Punch shot’ has finally been added allowing you to negotiate any tricky overhanging obstacles obstructing your path to the green. it works well in tandem with the new 3-Click swing system that looks to be a friendly inclusion to casual players and more inviting to those perhaps put off by PGA Tour’s more realistic qualities.
Real PGA Tour pros have arrived on the course as well with a number of the golf’s elite-level stars fully motion-captured into the game. The attention to detail is wonderful too as Jon Rahm comes equipped with his unique sawn-off three-quarter swing, and the game’s ambassador Tiger Woods retains his classic silky motion that has taken the Legend to 15 Majors.
This star-studded list is also joined by celebrity inclusions such as Basketball legends Michael Jordan and Stephen Curry, and they’re accompanied by brand-new courses to take the overall selection to 20.
Add in SkySports’ Henni Koyack as a new mid-round analyst and there’s a real emphasis on the finer details this year as HB Studios have clearly made a concerted effort to build the best golfing game possible.
MyPlayer tees it up for you
The way in which your present your created pro and how they’re artificially crafted has been given an overhaul in 2K23 as there are new Skills and Archetypes to shape your golfer like a pro would use exquisite artistry to shape their shot.
Skills are presented in the form of a progression tree that offers boosts to every aspect of your game and are triggered during a round. Certain skills are tailored to give you a helping hand with lie percentages if you’re struggling, whereas Momentum skills will reward your excellent play.
Whereas Archetypes are a set of pre-set attributes designed to upgrade the areas of the game you want to excel. Fixated on lashing 350-yard bombs down each fairway regardless of where it goes? Then ‘Powerhouse’ is the way. Interested in following the Luke Donald mold of accuracy over everything? Then a ‘Rhythm’ archetype may suit.
Fittings are another tool presented to you and they are stat-altering modifiers that determine the strength, accuracy, etc, of your clubs through their rarity.
PGA Tour 2K23 has made it so that you have more control over your path and how you want your ideal golfer to be and I’ve found the options to be liberating.
The grass is greener, but patchy
For all that the devs have done to reinvent and refine the way a golf game can be enjoyed in 2022, there are certainly some things that are still lacking, several iterations later.
MyCareer is the game’s primary source of entertainment as you embark on a journey from Q-School to the Korn Ferry Tour to the lavish riches and fame of the PGA Tour.
As with 2K21, it still feels a bit undercooked, and like so many golfers out there is not hitting its potential. The Rivals mechanic is pushed as one of MyCareer’s biggest allures as it sees you square off against different Tour pros over the course of your rounds. Yet, it still feels like an arbitrary mechanic that rewards you with very little for how much it’s pushed.
Trophy presentations are a nice touch for claiming the win, but other than that, it just feels like MyCareer needs fleshing out a bit more like other sports games. Drills to help improve your player, even more, press conferences that could add more tension to a rival, interviews, etc.
Furthermore, there are still basic components of the game being presented incorrectly such as the lack of lateral hazards – a basic fundamental of golf – that will unnecessarily add more shots onto your score as you basically have to go back to the point you played the original shot instead of taking an adjacent drop.
I also feel that while Topgolf is a fun addition that will be a multiplayer staple, it too shares that familiar feeling of lacking substance. I think of Rory McIlroy’s PGA Tour golf which had a litany of bite-sized challenges to conquer, and Topgolf could do with expanding its repertoire a bit more as it risks becoming samey.
Feels like you’re on the course
Graphics are a noticeable next-gen step up in PGA Tour 2K23 as everything just feels smoother and looks more polished.
The Course Designer has been improved to encapsulate the feeling of unleashing your inner Pete Dye, trees have been uprooted and remodeled to look even more life-like, and the prettiness of the game complements the engaging on-course action.
Sinking a 30-footer draws the adrenaline-boosting roar of the crowd and you can tell that extra work has gone into the sound effects as the devilish crack of a driver hitting the ball squarely is almost too tantalizing for the ears.
The same can’t quite be said for the commentary which has arguably gotten even worse this year with newcomer Henni ruining a putt I had to win a playoff. “Tweet tweet” she chirped reminding me that this was for two birdies in a row — not the win itself.
It’s a small sore point, but one easily rectified by heading into the menus to turn it off. Speaking of which, the interface has also been redesigned and looks sleek, with a professional feel to it now.
The Verdict: 8.5/10
PGA Tour 2K23 is more than just the standard annual sports release with minor changes here and there. It’s a two-year project that has added a ton of star power and new features. HB Studios clearly went back to the drawing board on this one and found new ways to make 2K’s golf franchise even more competitive and invigorating.
Its realism and immersive qualities easily overshadow some of its weaker moments and make this one of the best sports games, period, and will have you eager to board the birdie train.
Reviewed on PlayStation 5.