PGA Tour 2K23 review: The updated MyCareer mode feels too complicated

I don’t spend a lot of time playing video games whose difficulty is a selling point; If it’s anything like Soulslike, I’ll probably avoid it. So it’s been a long time since a game made me swear just as much PGA Tour 2K23 she has. I’m not proud that there was one of those instances when my wife went downstairs to see how things were going, just as I got hit in the head – maybe for the fiftieth time? I lost count at this point – in a thicket of trees on the left side of the trail.

From stray motors that end up in a brew to a gimme that somehow doesn’t fall off, the analog stick swing mechanic is my biggest disappointment in PGA Tour 2K23. After all, swinging is the main thing you do in this game; It takes 60 to 80 shots, on average, to complete a full 18-hole round.

But after doing thousands of swings through hundreds of holes in golf, I still don’t feel like I have much ability to handle my virtual clubs in PGA Tour 2K23. In other words, I don’t feel like I’m getting better—a problem that is compounded by the fact that I also don’t get a meaningful sense of progress for the golfer I created in the game’s MyCareer mode.

Colin Morikawa, wearing a light pink polo shirt and dark pants, watches a shot at the PGA Tour 2K23

Colin Morikawa, one of the best golfers in the world, can play it PGA Tour 2K23.
Photo: HB Studios / 2K Sports

PGA Tour 2K23 Common control system defaults in golf video games: To swing, you drag the right stick down and then move it up. Here, though, the timing of the second movement (swing down) is critical – you’ll pull the shot left if you tap too fast, and shove it right if you’re too slow.

Regression timing is the bane of my existence. I’ve enabled many of the help available in the game settings and was hoping to eventually be able to wrap my head around the swing system. But even on the second easiest difficulty setting, swinging feels like something out of a crapshoot. No matter how many exercises I do, I am responsible for shooting when I’m swinging for real.

Now there’s another option: in response to a longstanding demand, developer HB Studios has added a traditional 3-click system PGA Tour 2K23. It’s less similar to a real-life golf swing than the analog stick scheme, but it’s nice to have an alternative.

This is HB Studios’ second effort under 2K Sports, the mass market publisher. As such, I am amazed at it PGA Tour 2K23 Doesn’t it look substantially easier than its predecessor, 2020 PGA Tour 2K21. Even the three-click swing is done in a way that feels different for the sake of difference. Instead of pressing the button three times, you can press it first to select the power, and then tap it twice to adjust the resolution. I tried this system and quickly got back to the analog controls, despite my issues with them.

Overhead shot of TPC Sawgrass's 17th hole, with green in a lake, on the PGA Tour 2K23

“Island Green”, the famous 17th hole of TPC Sawgrass, which hosts the Players Championship and is one of 20 real courses in the PGA Tour 2K23.
Photo: HB Studios / 2K Sports

PGA Tour 2K23MyCareer’s MyCareer mode also ends up feeling overly complicated, although its foundation is solid. When you create your MyPlayer character, you choose one of five prototypes. For example, Powerhouse players can drive the ball farther than anyone else, but they have difficulty with accuracy and shooting. I stuck with Woodsman because, frankly, I miss so many fairways and green trails that I need all the help I can get when recovering from a bad lie out in the open. It’s nice that I can change my original model if I want to at no cost.

Here, HB Studios’ design works beautifully: the archetypes are meant to present bundles of strengths and weaknesses to support and complement your personal playstyle. My shots often land on pine straw or in a driveway dugout, but thanks to Woodsman’s original model and its benefits in shaping the shot, I don’t feel like all is lost when they do—in fact, I’ve managed to save par in many of those cases.

The same customization-based design philosophy applies throughout MyCareer, but it’s less successful outside of the archetypes. The experience points you earn by playing tournaments are not used to directly upgrade your player attributes, as in a typical role-playing game (or, say, a standard career mode in a sports game). Instead, you get one skill point each time you level up, and the points are used to unlock and upgrade skills.

To avoid getting too deep into the weeds (or woods) here, I’ll just say that almost all skills are only applicable on a situational basis: either they’ll activate when you’re struggling and stop once you’re back in shape, or activate when you’re ok and deactivate if you don’t continue to . The more you level up a skill, it activates more easily and stays active longer.

A black woman in a pink polo shirt and black pants watches a tee shot fly on the PGA Tour 2K23

For some reason, the MyPlayer build system does not allow you to modify your body type. But other than that it is a powerful character builder with a good range of options.
Photo: HB Studios / 2K Sports

While the concept is sound, this setup makes the entire skill system feel lethargic. The first skill of hybrid clubs, Gusto, seems to be of great value: when you’re mired in harsh conditions, your shots will fly farther. But at skill level 1 it only takes effect if you encounter a headwind of at least 15 mph – an extremely rare set of circumstances, in my experience. Since it takes time to gain skill points, I tend not to waste my precious few points on a skill that I don’t expect to make much use of, even if there are more desirable points located along this branch of the tree.

Personalization is also the driving force behind club fixtures, and is the most important (and tangible) way to improve your performance in PGA Tour 2K23. Fittings are parts of a golf putter—head, shaft, or grip—that you can equip to enlarge their attributes. Each one has a level of rarity associated with it, as with loot in a game like Fate 2; The rarer it is, the stronger its effects. Attaching an “unfamiliar” head to a wedge may boost its strength rating by 6 while also lowering its timing property by 2.

unlike in PGA Tour 2K23Basketball’s brother, NBA 2K, you can’t spend real-world money supporting your athlete, luckily – at least not by buying fixtures, because you only get them as random drops. The virtual currency, 2K Sports’ real money currency (here called “Coins”), is used primarily to purchase items such as licensed clothing and gear from companies like Adidas and Mizuno, none of which affects gameplay.

However, the pay-to-win element creeps into the game regarding combinations: it costs to equip each club with coins. Attaching a legendary shaft to an iron costs 150 coins, so I had to spend 900 coins to equip all 6 irons in my bag. Given the slow rate at which you earn coins by playing – roughly 250 coins if you manage to finish one of the best spots in the course – you may end up staring longingly at a bunch of combinations you’ve unlocked but you can. Do not bear processing.

Steve Curry, wearing a multicolored polo shirt and black baseball cap, watches a T-shirt shot fly on the PGA Tour 2K23

Steve Curry is one of two NBA legends who play golf PGA Tour 2K23; The other is Michael Jordan.
Photo: HB Studios / 2K Sports

The real problem here is that I had to spend a lot of words analyzing all that extra stuff, because once I play a hole in the PGA Tour 2K23Most of these inconveniences fade away. This is real golf – I had a diabolical time with the steep greens of the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, and I found it Very satisfying for making and executing shots. The unforgiving difficulty of the swing mechanics, along with the complex game system of equipment and skills, can lead to more frustration than fun. But when it all comes together, and I only manage to take out a baby bird when I need one to fend off a rival on the leaderboard, it makes for dramatic moments of massive glory.

Maybe I’m just an unofficial player of the PGA Tour 2K series. For intelligence: I played several hours of PGA Tour 2K21 And I didn’t remember ever having a problem with their swing mechanics – but when I ran this game to check the options, I realized I had disabled the regression timing setting. At some point, I must have gotten frustrated enough to give up on the challenge (and the boost associated with the rate at which you earn XP). I’d also like to be able to save scum, but that’s not an option: due to the VC integration, this is an always-on-line game by default, so it saves your progress with every hit, without allowing mulligans.

Seems to be my best bet – if I want to fully enjoy my time PGA Tour 2K23 – would have to turn off the regression timing. Either that, or it might be time to put this privilege on my personal “I don’t need this stress in my life” list, next to elden ring.

PGA Tour 2K23 It was released on October 14 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The game was reviewed on PS5 using a pre-release download code provided by 2K Sports. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. you can find Additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy is here.

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