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The Golf Club franchise from HB Studios will be rebranded by 2K in 2020. PGA Tour 2K21, the first game in the PGA Tour 2K franchise, was thereafter released. Since the original Tiger Woods/Rory McIlroy PGA Tour franchise was the first triple-A game to include real PGA golfers and bring the sport back to the forefront of sports gaming, 2K21 heralded a new age of golf video games. After a strong debut with 2K21, 2K is now aiming to expand with the release of PGA Tour 2K23.

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This second book is revolutionary for a number of reasons. It’s the first triple-A golf game on the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 to be launched, for starters. Second, Tiger Woods is back, and this time he’s not only the cover athlete; he’s also a playable golfer and the franchise’s creative director. 2023 will see the release of EA Sports PGA Tour, making 2K23 the first shot in the EA/2K war. Did it, however, land fairly on the course? It’s really not that horrible in terms of gameplay.

Get back on the path.

The gameplay system in PGA Tour 2K21 strongly emphasised stick skills. The left or right analogue sticks were the two main controls for playing golf. The A/X button is one of three new button combinations that have been added to PGA Tour 2K23. Players only need to hit one button to control the strength, timing, and direction of a shot when using this combo. Given that it only requires three taps to learn, it is definitely one that beginners should use. This new feature ought to at the very least simplify the onboarding procedure.

The physics engine and gameplay haven’t altered all that much between 2K21 and 2K23 as far as gameplay is concerned. Golfers who previously used sticks won’t need to learn anything new because the controls are essentially the same. To others, the idea that a sports game plays the same as its predecessor may sound strange and unsurprising. But the issue is not with 2K23’s gameplay. The weaknesses of this game are actually in other areas of it.

This year, the clubhouse construction matters.

MyPlayer builds are possibly the largest difference between NBA 2K21 and 2K23. Golfers could only be upgraded in 2K21 using their clubs. This game was going to bring about a significant change, as we briefly mentioned in our preview of PGA Tour 2K23 earlier this year. Archetypes, Fittings, and Ball Sleeves are three brand-new additions from the game’s creator, HB Studios. These are ways a player can change a golfer’s traits and hone in on their strengths and shortcomings, along with club improvements.

This was a much-needed change in my opinion. Avatars and playing in MyCareer have more variation with the addition of Archetypes, which range from driving-heavy players to precision experts who know how to shape and putt. Since every golfer in the real PGA has strengths and weaknesses, why shouldn’t PGA Tour 2K23 feature them as well?

Fittings and Ball Sleeves are, however, potentially harmful, and much of this is related to MyCareer. The career mode in PGA Tour 2K23 is very similar to that of its predecessor: it features a rival system that has been somewhat enlarged to allow for alternative pathways and an endorsement system where players may acquire apparel and personalization options. While Fittings and Ball Sleeves can be acquired via winning matches in MyCareer and simply playing the game, a significant investment is necessary to truly shape a MyPlayer into a well-rounded machine. Simply said, you won’t be able to add to that by grinding in MyCareer.

The curriculum may use some trimming.

The absence of internet leaderboards in 2K23 is one of the game’s most glaring flaws. 2K23 does indeed support internet gaming. Users will be able to play in many modes, such as standard golf, skins, Divot Derby, and the new Topgolf mode, as well as online leagues through Societies. However, none of these truly have online leaderboards. Leaderboards weren’t present in 2K23 but were in 2K21. It’s not the best option for people who only want bragging rights or a more competitive experience.

Furthermore, Societies in 2K23 don’t actually have much power to regulate the playing field. This brings up the Fittings and Ball Sleeves problem again because there is no way to limit the usage. It is impossible to put everyone on an equal level in terms of appearance and attributes if you wish to run a more competitive Society.

These two issues make the online component of 2K23 feel somewhat underwhelming, as does the absence of a concede putt option, which would speed up online games in general. In general, it would be wonderful to have more features that cater to both competitive and casual PGA Tour 2K players.

This does not imply that 2K23’s other modes are all subpar. With the return of Course Designer, golf will once again place innovation front and centre. Returning to MyCareer, it’s ok but doesn’t offer a lot of interesting features. I wouldn’t support a story mode, but adding more ways to gather customisation souvenirs and requiring players to attend press conferences and corporate events in exchange for VC could make this more tolerable.

The result

If you didn’t play 2K21, PGA Tour 2K23 is the way to go. It’s a good golf game. The gameplay in 2K23 isn’t particularly flawed, and it presents enough of a challenge to make getting a low score all the more enjoyable. The main problems with PGA Tour 2K23 are the things it does not include.

I’m a little concerned about the direction this franchise is heading given the dearth of fundamental online functionality and a MyPlayer system that does somewhat rely on microtransactions. These two criteria might not be that important if you only intend to play the single-player modes. However, the absence of these features and ineffective game modes render this a passable but not outstanding golf game.

Final result:

6.5 / 10

a well-functioning golf game

A creative and enjoyable time is had thanks to Course Designer and the addition of TopGolf.

There haven’t been many changes to MyPlayer or a few other game modes.

Concerns about its live service remain with the implementation of Fittings and Ball Sleeves.

The absence of key internet features detracts from this game.

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