With the release of EA Sports PGA Tour back in early April, it meant that there was finally serious competition among golf simulation video games. While PGA Tour 2K23 and its predecessors had been dominating the space since all the way back to when the series was known as The Golf Club and 2K wasn’t even involved, the release of the EA game suddenly gave golf fans a choice again. Since both games were released in partnership with the PGA Tour, the two came complete with the kind of credentials to make it clear that realism would be a top priority. The companies involved in EA and 2K left little doubt that this was a heavyweight gaming bout too, the kind of head-to-head battle the companies haven’t had to wage with their other sports games since the days of NBA Live and NFL 2K.
EA Sports Vs 2K: Which PGA Tour Game Is Better?
The inevitable question then when considering the two current golf titles has to be: which game is better? As is so often the case though when considering the world’s biggest questions, the answer is complicated and not nearly as black and white as you’d hope. EA Sports PGA Tour is a newer and shinier toy, complete with better graphics than 2K’s golf game and a gorgeous rendering of the difficult Augusta course. The gameplay is also easier and therefore more accessible, but because of this comes with less of a skill gap that makes hitting the best of shots so rewarding in PGA Tour 2K23. The courses may look prettier in EA Sports PGA Tour, but there’s a limited number of them thanks to the lack of the kind of course creator boasted by PGA Tour 2K23, which continues to see stellar tracks regularly churned out by the course design community.
Now that we’ve looked at the overhead view of the two games, let’s go ahead and zoom in closer to get a better perspective of what each of the two games do well and where one might be lagging behind the other. If we aren’t able to fully declare one game to be the better of the two at the end of the comparison, then we should at least be able to help you to decide which golf game might be the best for your own personal preferences.
Player Creation And Customization
The creation suite for your golfer is a little more extensive and detailed in PGA Tour 2K23 than EA Sports PGA Tour, as you’re able to mold a few more specifics on the face to make it as unique as possible instead of choosing from a variety of presets. It’s disappointing though that when it comes to body type, neither game allows you to make someone in the mold of a John Daly with an impressive gut. Both games offer a nice selection of clothes, accessories, and equipment to make sure your golfer is looking good when you hit the course.
As for your golfer’s skills, the 2K title leans heavily on having you choose an archetype, each of which comes with its own particular strengths and weaknesses. As you play more and more rounds, you’ll be be able to unlock skills for your various club-sets that will provide boosts when you meet certain criteria on the course. This component is a little too arcade for my tastes, but it doesn’t tend to influence a round as much as your abilities with your controller. You can also customize your clubs from a cosmetic standpoint as well as use fittings that you unlock from playing rounds to improve the attributes of your clubs.
EA Sports PGA Tour has you upgrading your abilities on the course by using points that you gain by playing rounds to spend on whatever areas of your game you feel are most in need of attention. As you improve in these areas, you’ll also be able to unlock new types of shots that can make your life easier in situations, such as using a pick shot to stop the ball on a dime coming out of the bunker. Unfortunately, there’s an aspect of improving your clubs that relies somewhat on microtransactions, as you can purchase specs from the store to add power or precision.
It probably has to be declared a dead heat between the games with regards to player progression, as they both take slightly different approaches and are mostly successful albeit with a questionable decision or two that are vulnerable to criticism.
Graphics And Presentation
When it comes to a comparison of the graphics and presentation between the two games, it’s pretty easy to declare that EA Sports PGA Tour performs better in almost every way. That starts with your golfer, who appears larger and moves more fluidly than any of the rigid swing animations you’ll find in PGA Tour 2K23. The courses in the EA game are more vibrant as well, popping off the screen with the location’s atmosphere in a way that won’t be seen in 2K’s title. The visuals to set the scene during rounds are just a notch better from EA throughout rounds, including fly-overs prior to each hole that not only showcase the game’s graphic capabilities with every blade of grass but also provide insight into the best way to play the hole. Perhaps the only aspect of PGA Tour 2K23 that is superior is the sound and that’s mostly just because the smack of the club hitting the ball in the EA game sounds so far off from the real thing.
Perhaps the most important aspect of both games, the question of which of the two options plays better when you’re out on the course is also likely to be the most divisive. Although they each have difficulty settings to make hitting the ball where you want it to go as challenging as you like, the EA title is the more accessible option. While dialing in the proper distance for your shots can be a tad tricky, finding the right tempo to keep the ball traveling straight doesn’t require all that much effort. This makes it incredibly rare to see shots, especially those off the tee, that veer extremely off-target in any one direction. Even with an amount of RNG involved on your shots, there won’t be a lot of deviation from your target if the attributes of your player are decent. You’d also expect to see more punishment on shots from the rough or the sand, but these surprisingly won’t cost you much in the way of either distance or accuracy.
PGA Tour 2K23 requires more precision on the sticks (or buttons if you prefer 3-click) if you want to avoid the rough and those pesky bogeys, especially on higher difficulties like master. It’s increasingly rare on those higher difficulties that you’ll be able to achieve perfect tempo, and you’ll often be content to have slightly slow or fast feedback so your ball ends up at least close to where you were aiming. If you’re not careful and consistent though, it’s likely that you’ll have shots where your tempo is very slow or very fast. These will invariably lead to errant strikes that are short or long on distance and head wildly in a direction that you were not planning. Because you’ll suffer so severely for the slightest of issues in your swing (and be severely hampered on any shots from the rough and sand), it makes it feel more like real golf than the EA game and is more satisfying when you’re able to pull off amazing shot.
The career modes in the two games are relatively similar in that they both see you climbing the ranks by competing in events to win prize money and points on the leaderboard. Some vital differences exist within the customization offered in 2K’s game that won’t be found, at least at the time of this writing, in the EA title. Perhaps the most significant one of these is the ability change the number of rounds for events in the 2K game all the way down to a single round if you like while events in the EA game can’t be reduced down from the full 4 that real pros play. To be fair, you are able to play quick rounds during events in the EA game that will have you making shots on key holes only during rounds, but this is a poor substitute for putting you in control of every shot in fewer rounds altogether. To allow even more flexibility, you can also swap out the courses for certain events in the 2K game, helping to keep things fresh every season.
The most succinct way to summarize a comparison between the available courses in the two golf games is to say that PGA Tour 2K23 has more courses, however the courses in EA Sports PGA Tour are better. The fact that both games boast some of the same courses makes it a little easier to look at a famous locale like Pebble Beach in the two titles and draw the conclusion that EA’s recreation has a level of detail that 2K can’t match. The area where EA’s game comes up lacking though is with the absence of a course creator. The course creator in 2K’s game has allowed the community to both recreate real courses in remote towns from across the world and invent some wildly imaginative ones that would be nearly impossible to build in real life.
If you’re wanting to play rounds with friends, then the 2K game is probably going to be a better bet, at least until a patch adds the kind of turn-based functionality to the EA game that’s being offered by 2K. As it stands now, you’re able to play a round alongside a friend but with no opportunity to stand and watch your friend play his shots like you would in real life (and in PGA Tour 2K23). The 2K game has a more elaborate ranked system when stacking your skills up against others too, plus it has the casual option of playing different types of matches like skins, alt shot, and scramble.
The EA game does have some neat ideas with challenges and online tournaments, the former of which has you trying to recreate the feats of real golfers in recent events while the latter has you posting scores against the community to earn rewards based on where you finish among the fierce competition. PGA Tour 2K23 has a similar good thing going with online societies that allows the community to create seasons of events that can be customized to your own specifications in terms of rounds, courses, and difficulty level.
The real truth is that both EA and 2K have created uniquely solid golf games, and if you’re trying to decide on only one of them to purchase, the choice will come down to what you personally want from a golf game. If you need the game to look as good as possible, then you’ll likely prefer the EA game. If you’re after more challenging and rewarding gameplay, you’ll probably want to opt for the 2K game. 2K’s course creator allows for its game to have an unlimited number of layouts to play, but the limited number (32) of recreations simply look and feel better in the EA game. The online realm is significantly better in 2K’s game at the moment, but there have been indications from EA that turn-based play (and more) is coming and that would go a long way towards improving their online offerings. If you’re a die-hard fan of golf though and you want the best of both worlds, there’s nothing wrong at all with picking up both games and enjoying the fact that competition between these companies has caused both EA and 2K to up their game.