A “proper” PGA game has been a long time coming, and 2K Games and HB Studios is finally bringing it to golfing enthusiasts far and wide with PGA Tour 2K21. John Muise, Creative Director and Shaun West, Senior Producer both of HB Studios gave a presentation to the press on what to expect from the game, which is pretty robust to say the least. Without dilly dallying too much, let’s just get right into the interview session! Do peruse our demo tryout article here, as well as the presentation for all the game’s features here.
Golfing enthusiasts should have been watching Bryson DeChambeau, most of all his sixth PGA Tour title win. The man’s gained some heft between seasons, and the model in-game won’t be a 1-to-1 representation of him anymore. Muise jokes that the studio will have to play catch up on a few things, which does neatly show their commitment to continuously refine their game accordingly to feedback. West acknowledges the fun in the possibility of a golf course on the moon due to low gravity, but it won’t be in the game.
He does say that the sheer amount of tools and objects that players will have access to will give rise to unique courses. Muise also adds that at the end of the day, PGA 2K21 is still a video game, so they’ll see what they can do, like making mini golf courses. They don’t have the rules for that in the game, but they’d be expecting people to be able to make their own regardless with the engine they have in place.
Speaking of the custom courses, there will be an import feature. If you’re using the same account as you did for The Golf Club 2019, you can have it for PGA 2K21. West would like to point out that they’ve made plenty of changes to creation tools, including customization and additional objects, so he says designers should give their course a once over before they republish it. Muise hopes that they’ve mostly reduced the need for major overhauls and is looking forward to seeing what the community can do with the updated tools.
The game will have 15 licensed courses with one more to come later on. They do plan to add more post-launch, one of them being the Detroit Golf Club and at least two more after, and they’ll see what else they will add. The licensed courses have been scanned in with Terra Imaging, in a concerted effort to maintain the atmosphere of the courses. This ranges from the grandstands, to the crowds, to give you the feeling of both playing the event for yourself, while also watching it on the TV.
It’s allowed us to create a visual fidelity of these courses that we never really thought possible… having all those nuances is really phenomenal and we also work with a lot of great people who provided tons of references to help us recreate the in-game experience and broadcast presentation that you would expect.
Music can only further enhance the experience, and the soundtrack is just as important as the sport itself. For the first time for the PGA Tour series, they’ve hired a composer – Christopher Tin, whose Baba Yetu from the Civilization games you should recognize – to work on the composition, described as “Vivaldi meets trap”. The score is mostly still orchestral, while also having licensed official music and theme songs of some tournaments.
Besides the music, there’s the commentary too. Rich Beem and Luke Elvy, both big names in golf, provide theirs to the game. John McCarthy, HB Studios’ senior audio engineer, is also a commentator for PGA 2K21, and keen fans would have seen a certain tweet from McCarthy that mentions commentary from the dynamic Beem and Elvy duo “would only play once EVER”.
Oh man…. We've got some bits of commentary in @PGATOUR2K that will only play once EVER and you wont hear it again. Just got a classic from @Luke_Elvy and @beemerpga that I had forgotten about. Can't wait for people to hear these two in full flight 😂😂😂
— John McCarthy (@Mstr_John) July 17, 2020
Muise thinks it’s fantastic that this has gotten picked up as a story, but West would like to clarify that it’s not that they would only “play once”, but that some of their commentary is extremely specific and unique, and thus would play very, very rarely, as a “two- or one-percenter”.
We figured out a number of scenarios based on if you’re performing well or in a middle of a struggle, and we ended up landing on this kind of system where there’s calls throughout the season or in your rivalries where you might get a little special story from these fellas to help you along your journey.
Justin Thomas graces the cover of PGA 2K21, who recently made it to world no. 1 for golf. Muise jokes about how considerate he is for doing so, praising him for his consistent performance to get him to the top. Muise believes Thomas to be a “new wave of golfer”, with social media that showcases his playful side, while being a serious and skilled competitor on the green. The more “youthful, playful” side gets seen in his choice of clothing, like the pink pants he’d worn, or the cover pants, the former of which Muise says has to be added to the game if it hasn’t already. “He’s the complete package,” in other words.
West enthuses about how awesome it is to have the world’s no. 1 golfer on the cover, and does say that Thomas is akin to the final boss of the Rivals system in the game. He does give a shout-out to the other pros who “all bring unique characteristics” to the game as they progressively get harder as you play the game. There will “absolutely” be more players they want to bring into the game, like pros from other regions and female pros in the future, with their starting 12 having been chosen due to being a “strong cross section of talent that is enviable group of rivals for players to test their skills against”.
You might be able to make a copy of yourself with the character creator for that extra degree of immersion. West doesn’t specifically answer how robust the creator is, but he encourages everyone to have their fun and coyly talks about how some of the development team have made “pretty spot-on” recreations. You’ll be able to join online Societies with your characters and your designed courses across all platforms, but there won’t be cross-play unfortunately.
At the very least, you can deck out your myPlayer with 15 to 20 equipment brands at launch, with more in DLC. They’ve chosen a mix of brands from both historical, long-standing brands, and newer ones that have won over even purists, so there’ll be something for everyone to show off their personality.
Players on PC will be able to use both keyboard and mouse or a controller for PGA 2K21, and consoles will be their respective controllers. The Nintendo Switch will not have motion controls, perhaps to some disappointment, as West points out the presence of discrepancies and dead zones that can crop up. This is mitigated with the practice range feature, where you can take a few shots with your controller and have adjustments made accordingly to help your shots be more consistent so that player experience can be tailored to every user whatever they prefer.
With many a promising system for fans of golf, and support for newbies, PGA Tour 2K21 could be the most accessible and robust golfing game yet. Even if you haven’t given golf much thought, the features might be enough for non-golfers to at least give it a shot. We’ll see how par for the course we can get. PGA Tour 2K21 launches 21 August 2020 for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia and Windows.