The Golf Club came somewhat out of the blue, landing on the fairway back in 2014, a year after the final version of EA's Tiger Woods PGA Tour was released. It was basically a perfectly timed release, as there were no other golf simulators on the market at the time and virtual golfers were getting restless. Not only did it time the release very well, HB Studios also offered virtual golfers a completely new experience. Where the golf games from EA focused on performance-enhancing equipment such as clubs and clothing apparel, HB Studios focused on the players and their ability to improve their own game, without spending a lot of time or money unlocking new equipment. If a shot was made, we had to do all we could do with the ball prior to the shot, without being able to add spin to it mid-flight.
With an impressive custom course designer, backed by the legendary Greg Norman, we were treated to tons of courses made by other players from all around the world. This made it possible to play a new course every single time you started the game. And with an improved level designer introduced in The Golf Club 2 in the summer of 2017, the number of available courses continued to rise.
We've been playing The Golf Club 2 for a year now, and the time for a new game from HB Studios has come. We were able to sit down with producer Shaun West for a quick Q&A about the upcoming release, The Golf Club 2019. Would we get the answers we were seeking in regards to the new PGA Tour license, new game physics and more? Read on to find out...
GR: Run us through your philosophy with regards to the actual in-game golfing experience?
Shaun West: Our goal for The Golf Club has always been to provide a virtual golf experience that is as evocative of the real thing as possible, while still respecting the player's time.
At a base level, the first part of that goal comes down to our physics and gameplay mechanics—both of which received huge upgrades this time around. We also want every success on the course to feel earned. This is tough because each player has their own skill—what's too easy for one person may be frustrating for another. That's where the bevvy of customisation options come in, including the risk/reward system of our improved Club Difficulties.
To complement those gameplay settings we've also added fast forward, scout camera aiming, front- & back-nine rounds, and faster synchronous online multiplayer. These are all ways we're trying to better respect peoples' time without compromising the emotional payoff of playing to the best of your abilities.
How are you making use of the PGA license and what does it mean to you?
Working with the PGA Tour was the next step for the franchise. We have built a fantastic golf game and we're always looking at what is going to keep raising the bar and pushing it to the next level. Featuring the PGA Tour in the Career Mode has been a great addition, and along with that for 2019 comes 6 TPC courses and the official PGA Tour events associated with them.
With there be any officially licensed equipment in the game too?
We are still in talks with different licensors about bringing their products to the game, from golf balls and clubs to more clothing items. For the launch of the game, we are including apparel that can be purchased with VC or unlocked through progression of the PGA Tour Career Mode, including brands like Royal and Awesome, Vice Golf, Under Armour, and more.
Are you still sticking to the mantra: "you get better, not your equipment", as in we won't see clubs that add spin or power to your shots?
A core pillar of The Golf Club has been and continues to be an even playing field and a skill-based experience where the user's ability dictates their results, not the amount of time or money they have put into attributes.
Will it be possible to do a complete tournament week in career mode, with practice rounds and four rounds of tournament play? And if so, will this be from day one of career, or do we build up with minor tournaments in Q-School and Web.com Tour, before getting a shot at the big boys?
We won't have practice rounds available in the PGA Tour Career Mode, but if you want to, all of the courses are available in your local course selection to get a round in before taking the dive. When starting out in the PGA Tour Career you'll work your way through Q-School, and the Web.com Tour, before earning your PGA Tour card. Throughout your career you will have control over the difficulty and the number of rounds you're playing, so there are no restrictions there. The difficulty that you decide to play on will impact the CPU scoring, the speeds and conditions on the course, and that payouts of virtual currency for each event.
Is it a PGA Tour license only, or does it include anything (players) from the LPGA tour? And what famous faces and locations can we expect to see?
For this iteration we wanted to focus on the PGA Tour experience of working your way through Q-school and the Web.com Tour and grabbing a spot on the PGA Tour, before competing in the race for the FedExCup. Throughout that experience you will see familiar locations/events from our 6 officially licenced TPC Courses throughout the 32-event PGA Tour season, including the epic roars on the 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale and much more.
Is there some sort of online FedExCup involved, or is this only for single-player?
The PGA Tour Career Mode is a single-player experience focused on your journey to the PGA Tour and the FedExCup Playoffs. Outside of the mode you will still have access to all of the TPC courses to play and include in online and solo society events.
TGC Tours have done wonders for your game when it comes to people playing the game on a week to week basis with their tournaments. Will you be working closely with them in the future?
All of the community run sites that have been developed since The Golf Club's inception have been amazing to witness and it's fantastic to see the dedication and passion they have for the game. We will continue to focus on the depth of tools available to them in societies to help improve that experience for anyone who decides they want to run an online community, whether a competitive or casual environment.
Apart from the PGA Tour license what's new in The Golf Club 2019 in terms of both gameplay and visuals?
Gameplay has had a complete overhaul with new tunings on every club along with each difficulty setting. We have continued to expand on the number for flight paths for more authentic shot outcomes as well as physics improvements with each surface. There have also been a couple new features thrown into the mix, including a shot preview option and fast forward option.
On the visual side, we have made a big investment in SpeedTrees which has given us both a performance and visual boost, greatly increasing the variety of the environments around each course. It will be a great addition to the course designer as well to see how individuals make use of the new assets.
Each game mode throughout the game will benefit from all of these changes as well, including the all-new Matchmaking and Private Match modes bringing users together for the first time, in peer to peer multiplayer rounds. This includes new play formats such as two-four player Stroke Play, Alt-Shot, wager matches using virtual currency and more!
Now that The Golf Club 2019 has the official PGA Tour license, we're interested to see how they make use of it in this year's game, as well as find out how they're looking to expand their use of it moving forward. With six different official TPC courses and a career mode that stretches from Q-School to the FedExCup playoffs, there still seems to be room for it to grow.
We are also being promised an overhaul to the physics, although we didn't get too much information regarding what the specific changes will entail. "New tunings" with regards to the different clubs could be a positive change and we're excited to see what that means. One big positive is the work being done to the flight paths to make this aspect more realistic. This is very welcome, as this side of the game was a little bit inconsistent in the prequels.
Lastly, we are happy to hear that it's the skill of the player that continues to be the focus, and not the amount of time and money we spend on our equipment. And with The Golf Club 2019 launching on PC, PS4, and Xbox One in August, we don't have long to wait until we find out whether HB Studios is going to really take advantage of the PGA Tour license and build on the solid foundations the developer has already laid down in the first two entries in the series.
Loading next content