PGA Tour 2K21 review: A strong start to the new era of golf games

2K Games
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PGA Tour 2K21 has finally arrived and marks the franchise’s second year with the PGA Tour license and this time includes a ton of new additions.

Title: PGA Tour 2K21
Developer: HB Studios
Publisher: 2K
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (version reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam, Stadia
Release Date: August 21, 2020

PGA Tour 2K21 is here and is the first game in the series to fully have the 2K name in its title. The last release was The Golf Club Featuring the PGA Tour which was also published by 2K. Now, the game seems to be officially apart of that family along with NBA and WWE 2K.

As with most sports games, you start out by creating your character known familiarly as the MyPLAYER in PGA Tour 2K21. The customization is solid and not to the point where it may seem overwhelming. You change many details in your golfer’s face and body. The hairstyles are limited (for now) but they’re decent enough to get the job done.

And if your golfer will be rocking a hat, then this won’t be a big issue. After making him or her look the way you want them to, it’s now time to hit a short tutorial which you can skip if you wish.

You’ll now officially begin your career as a professional golfer. You will be able to start out however you want in the PGA Tour Career Mode which makes a return. You can start out at the Korn Ferry Tour’s Q-School, the Korn Ferry Tour itself or you can jump right onto the PGA Tour if you’re feeling macho.

Once you reach the PGA Tour, you’ll be able to choose sponsors, a returning feature in the game. However, the big difference is that there a ton more brands that are available this time around for you to choose from. After completing your first tournament, you’ll be able to choose which sponsor you want to represent. The brands you can partner with in PGA Tour 2K21 include Addidas, Bridgestone, Under Armour, Wilson, Callaway, Taylormade, and Vice Golf among several others.

PGA Tour 2K21
2K Games /

Once chosen, you can complete a set of repeatable in-round goals which will net you SP. Getting enough SP will grant you rewards from that brand such as shiny new clubs and fresh apparel. The nice thing is that you can freely switch between brands after each round so there’s no commitment.

One interesting aspect of the sponsorship system is that you can choose which set of challenges you want to complete based on difficulty. There are three goals on the usual three difficulty levels: easy, normal, and hard. Completing the harder challenges will net you more SP faster. However, you can repeat the easy goals if you so wish, you’ll just receive lesser SP.

Another new aspect of the PGA Tour Career Mode is the inclusion of tour pros via the rivalries system. There are several players including cover star Justin Thomas, Cameron Champ, Bryson DeChambeau, Jim Furyk, Patrick Cantlay, Matt Kuchar, Billy Horschel, Ian Poulter, Gary Woodland, Sergio Garcia, and Tony Finau.

You begin rivalries with each of these players by completing certain goals. For example, your first rivalry is with Champ and is ignited after you complete your first PGA Tour tournament. All you need to do to beat a rival is to simply outplay them on the course.

PGA Tour 2K21
2K Games /

Do this, and you’ll move on to the next rival. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts too as each player offers an item. Champ gives you a new driver if you beat him for example. Some rivals offer equipment while others give apparel.

So really, the PGA Tour Career Mode offers a good chunk of rewards between sponsors and rivalries. And of course, you’ll earn some VC for your tournament performances. You’ll be able to use these to purchase several new items for your MyPLAYER.

The gameplay definitely feels a bit different compared to previous titles. The animations are similar to that of The Golf Club 2019 Featuring the PGA Tour, but there’s an interesting new addition to swings. There is a power meter on the bottom of the screen.

This looks a lot like a 3-click meter that you’ve seen in many golf games in the past. However, you use the swing stick like normal, and the meter will judge your power. There is a white bar on the meter that is essentially the sweet spot. Getting the cursor in this area can lead to a great swing if you have the yardages down.

Depending on the difficulty level you choose, even swinging a bit over the sweet spot will be fine. But, if you don’t want to hit the white zone, then you’ll need to follow through relatively quickly. I actually appreciate this aspect of the swing mechanics. It feels more authentic, as you’ll see pro golfers with quick back swings and follow-throughs.

So in some ways, you need to replicate the proper tempo of PGA and LPGA Tour pros with the swing timing. So this is probably the most notable aspect of the gameplay. The putt preview feature returns too and is even better than it was before.

On easier difficulties, you’ll be able to use on each and every putt. By holding down the X (for PS4), a line will show you where the putt will go. From there, re-adjust yourself accordingly and the line will always be there. So this is a great feature for those who are newer to The Golf Club/PGA 2K experience and are struggling with putting. All in all, the gameplay is very strong, flexible, and authentic.

PGA Tour 2K21
2K Games /

Also in relation to your gameplay sessions, you’ll see a new broadcast presentation that tries to emulate that of the tournaments you see on TV. Luke Elvy, Rich Beem, and TGC original John McCarthy make up of the broadcast team in PGA Tour 2K21.

Elvy serves as the play-by-play man while Beem is the analyst. Meanwhile, McCarthy takes on the role of an on-course reporter. It’s an OK broadcast with a diverse cast of respected voices. Elvy has done golf broadcasting for years professionally while Beem was a former major champion turned broadcaster over the last several years. McCarthy meanwhile has been the voice of the game since its inception in 2014 as The Golf Club.

One issue with the presentation (in my opinion) is that it will cut away from you and show you what other players are doing. This is totally fine and in some ways kind of cool because it’s pretty realistic. However, this occurs after the majority of your shots. Other than that, the career mode is solid.

PGA Tour 2K21 also has some new official golf courses as well. These are on your schedule with new real-world tournaments attached to them. Among the highlighted courses include the always challenging Quail Hollow as well as the legendary Riviera Country Club. And the lovely East Lake Golf Club makes its debut in the series. A couple of other new additions include TPC San Antonio and Copperhead Course.

This means that yes, you can play in the Tour Championship at the end of your season. So when battling it out for the FedEx Cup, you’ll be able to win it realistically. Sure, the game doesn’t have 40 plus real-world courses, but it has a nice chunk. Not to mention, the popular course designer is back once again which opens the door for more courses.

PGA Tour 2K21
2K Games /

Speaking of the course designer, it has indeed made its regular appearance and is a bit deeper than before and it was already full of content. But now, with the PGA Tour license returning in PGA Tour 2K21, you see additional tournament tools compared to before.

More options in crowd seating, concessions, and camera towers will really give your designed course big tournament vibes. If you want your golf course in a city, then you can once again add skyscrapers to your layout and there are plenty of them in various sizes.

And of course, you can still all of the other things from in previous games such as sculpting the land to your liking, adding and adjusting water, adding plants and trees as well as changing the environment with the numerous themes and time of day settings. Lastly, you will be able to import any designs you created in The Golf Club 2019.

In online game modes, Societies make a return again after being a relatively popular feature over the last couple of installments. You can join public or private Societies or start your own. From there, you can partake in that Society’s tournament schedule.

As for online matches in PGA Tour 2K21, Match Play returns along with 2v2 team play. Wagers also come back where you can play with up to four golfers. In private matches, you can play simultaneously for some quicker rounds.

. PGA Tour 2K21. 8.5. <em>PGA Tour 2K21</em> beefed up its career mode with the inclusion of more courses, brands, and rivalries with tour pros. Hitting great shots feels very satisfying and the immense flexibility in difficulty makes the game fun for everyone. Online play is fairly deep with Societies and matchmaking while the course designer continues to be a shining star for the series. If this franchise is the future of golf games, then it’s looking pretty good.. HB Studios

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.