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EA Sports PGA Tour Interview with Development Team - It's All About Gameplay

EA Sports PGA Tour Courses and Pro Golfers


EA Sports PGA Tour Interview with Development Team - It's All About Gameplay

Recently, we had the privilege of conducting an interview with Craig Penner, the gameplay designer of EA Sports PGA Tour, David Baker, the lead producer, and Ben Ramsour, the producer. The majority of the questions asked during the interview were related to gameplay and were submitted by members of our community. Our goal is to have several more interviews in the future as more information about the game becomes available leading up to its release.

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Operation Sports: Which previous EA golf game does the putting experience come closest to?

Craig Penner, Gameplay Designer (CP): Both putting and regular swing mechanics should feel familiar to players who have played previous EA SPORTS golf titles. However, the improvements you’ll notice are the new swing and putt meter visuals, which are now tightly integrated with the golfer’s swing animation.

This allows you to feel and time your input according to the animation of your golfer’s swing instead of solely by watching a meter fill up in the UI.

OS: How many camera angles are available and are there any options for customizing them?

CP: There are 4 options for camera height when addressing the ball with the ability to set your default preference for normal swings and putting independently. There are 3 different camera packages for tracking the ball while it’s in flight. “Follow” is the default camera which closely tracks the ball while allowing you to rotate it with the analog stick, “Pro” is an immersive camera that holds behind the golfer until the ball lands, and “Broadcast” is a camera package that closely resembles a TV-style golf broadcast.

Additionally, there is also a pre-shot “Zoom” camera that allows you to preview the landing area of your upcoming shot. You have complete freedom to control the zoom camera’s rotation and depth along with 3 options for its height.

ea sports pga tour

OS: Will this game have advanced shot shaping as an option for more challenging gameplay? For example, if I want to draw or fade the ball, will there be a requirement to move the analog stick on a diagonal axis for these shots?

CP: Yes, there are two options for shot shaping input. “Off” always requires straight down/up input regardless of intended shot shape, while “On” requires the backswing input to be directed down on an angle left or right depending on the amount of desired shot shape. The improvement we’ve made in this area is to always require the forward swing input finish in the top middle of the analog stick. We found that this movement is not only easier to execute, but also makes more sense conceptually for the forward swing to always finish at a common location that represents the club-ball contact point.

Although the “On” shot shaping setting is more challenging than “Off”, our intention is strictly to provide a more immersive and authentic swing mechanic, introducing additional challenge is just a byproduct of this. As a simulation of professional golf, one of our goals is to encourage players to utilize shot shaping, since it is a fundamental part of professional play.

Closely related to this, is a new feature around shot shape preference. Every golfer now has a preferred shot shape, either a “draw” or “fade”. Hitting shots with preferred shot shape provides an accuracy bonus making it easier to execute the shot. Our hope is that improvements like these encourage more players to use shot shaping and ultimately play more like a pro.

OS: Are there any sliders included in the game to make the game more difficult? For example, can the putting meter for distance control be turned off?

CP: Yes, “Putting Aim Point” can be set to either “Assisted Aim” or “At Cup”, which is a gameplay setting that we’ve carried forward from previous EA SPORTS golf titles. For a complete list of our gameplay settings and their mappings to each of the four gameplay styles, check out our gameplay deep dive blog post.

gameplay adjustments

OS: Can we play rounds with all aspects of the tournament atmosphere disabled if we wanted to?

CP: Yes, there is a setting for “Crowds” that can be toggled off which disables not only crowd members, but also tournament structures on the course.

OS: Is there a database of various swings to choose from for your created player? If so, how many?

CP: Yes, players have 12 different swing animations to choose from, 7 male and 5 female.

OS: In career mode, if you are tied for first place at the end of a tournament, will there be a playoff to participate in?

David Baker, Lead Producer (DB): Yes we have play-offs if the user is tied at the end of the round in Career Mode.

OS: Will commentary have any progression with regards to how a season/career is playing out?

Ben Ramsour, Producer (BR): Yes, we’ve recorded a bunch of content that highlights the performance of the user and the competition in the tournament the user is currently playing, how the user did the prior week, a look ahead at the upcoming schedule, and more.

In general, we’ve recorded hundreds of hours of commentary and added on-course reporters to tell stories of the strategy and history of each course, describe shots and putts with immense detail, and ultimately enhance the immersive experience as if a user was watching a live golf broadcast.

OS: Is progressive lighting included? What about various types of weather conditions that affect course conditions?

DB: We have 3 times of day for each course to be played. Morning, Mid-Day and Late Afternoon. Weather conditions are not a part of launch. So it will not affect gameplay.

OS: This question relates to the aim marker and what effect it has on the swing mechanics. In previous EA golf games, it has been far too easy to dial in distances because the adjustment of the aim marker has always shortened the backswing length automatically to suit the new yardage. Any chance of leaving it up to the player to make the judgment on when to start the transition from backswing to downswing, rather than it being capped by the markers adjusted position? What design choice have you chosen for EA SPORTS PGA Tour?

CP: Good question! Requiring distance be controlled through partial shots is something we considered and prototyped during the game’s development. However, one of the things we discovered through this experimentation is that it made distance control on short game shots like chips disproportionately difficult when compared to the rest of gameplay.

Ultimately, we decided that allowing the aim marker to set the length of the swing, more closely aligns with how professional golfers are able to feel and judge distance on their short game shots. What we’re doing instead of this, is limiting the movement of the aim marker depending on the shot type. For example, if you’re trying to hit an approach shot that’s in-between clubs, you won’t be able to pull back the aim marker to the perfect distance.

Instead, you’ll now need to either learn how to use shot shaping or use other shot types like Knock Down or Finesse to fill that gap in your bag.

OS: As we understand it, consoles will be capped at 30FPS. Will the PC version be uncapped or allow 60FPS?

CP: That’s correct regarding consoles at 30 FPS. And YES… PC has options for 30FPS, 60FPS, and unlocked framerate.

OS: Preordering the Deluxe version gives you 3 days early access, including Exclusive Early Access to Augusta National. Does that mean Standard Edition users will need to wait for Augusta to be released at a later date (post-release) or are we reading too much into it?

CP: Both Standard and Deluxe Editions include our complete roster of 30 world class courses, including Augusta National and the Road to the Masters content at launch. The Deluxe Edition includes 3 days exclusive early access to the entire game along with additional benefits and content that will only be live during that 3 day window.

OS: We have heard the 3-click swing option will be patched at a later date. Do you have a rough estimate on when that would be?

CP: 3-Click is really important for the players, so an early Title update is the planned release.

OS: We appreciate your time for the interview. Is there anything else gameplay related you would like to add?

CP: I could probably fill a couple more interviews just talking about gameplay, but if I had to pick one thing I’m most excited about, it’s the 20 shot types that we’re introducing in this game.

Yes, shot types are not a new concept to golf games, but with 20 we’re crossing a threshold where now you have a decision to make every time you step to the ball. For example, instead of just grabbing your driver when you’re on the tee, you now have to decide whether to hit a standard “Drive”, or a “Power Drive” if you want to trade accuracy for distance, or a “Stinger” if you need to keep the ball out of the wind and get it on the ground running.

I’m really looking forward to everyone getting to know these shot types, learning more about the game of golf, and ultimately having fun feeling like a professional golfer.


EA Sports PGA Tour releases for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and PC for $69.99 on March 24. Anyone that pre-orders will receive the following:

  • THE PLAYERS Championship Gear
  • The Grand Slam Gear Bundle (Gear items celebrating The Majors)
  • Scotty Cameron Putter

Fans that pre-order the Deluxe Edition, which costs $84.99, will receive the game three days earlier on March 21. The Deluxe Edition includes the following:

  • Exclusive Early Access to Augusta National
  • THE PLAYERS Championship Gear
  • The Grand Slam Gear Bundle (Gear items celebrating The Majors)
  • Scotty Cameron Putter
  • 1500 Premium PGA TOUR POINTS
  • PGA TOUR XP Bundle
  • Augusta National Amen Corner Gear

The EA Sports PGA Tour trial also arrives on March 21 for EA Play subscribers. EA Play Pro subscribers will get access to the full game that same day.

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