There are some sports that simply lend themselves better to the VR experience than others, and there’s perhaps no better fit for the immersive format than golf. With its solitary and repetitive nature relying solely on swinging clubs in a variety of ways, it’s a fairly simple and straightforward activity to be able to capture via the PSVR’s motion-tracking camera. Thankfully, Everybody’s Golf VR does not disappoint in bringing all of the fun and challenge of the sport into your home, as you’ll quickly learn that playing this game can be just as rewarding, frustrating and serenely picturesque as getting out on a real course.
What I Like
While striking the ball in Everybody’s Golf VR may not work entirely the same as in real life, the feeling is remarkably similar. It’s pretty much as simple as selecting your club, lining up your shot, maybe having a couple of practice swings and then letting it rip. The speed with which you bring your club through the ball determines how far your ball will go, while the angle of your club as you hit the ball will influence whether your shot goes straight, or if it’s sliced or hooked one way or another. It’s quite an amazing feeling when you’re able to strike the ball true and get to watch your beautiful drive fly high and straight down the fairway, or when an approach shot caroms beautifully onto the green and nestles close to the hole.
But that’s not to say that finding your shot doesn’t take a little bit of time and effort. In fact, it’s entirely likely that everyone will find a slightly different way to hit the ball that works best for them. For instance, I play golf in real life left-handed and yet I find it more comfortable to hold the virtual club in my right hand for the most part in this game. It’s also possible to get pretty good results by holding the Move controller with both hands, like you would naturally with a real club, and swinging that way. One thing that doesn’t seem to work that well though is using a large backswing to generate more power; it will often instead lead to you missing the ball entirely, and possibly even lead to you hurting yourself as you continue to hack away fruitlessly at a ball when there are far more efficient ways to get that ball aloft.
Tee shots can be a little tricky to keep straight, as it can be easy to strike the ball at an unfortunate angle that sends it extremely right or left into the rough or a dreaded bunker, but they also feel the most satisfying as you hear that lovely ping sound of your wood making contact with the ball. Approach shots easily provide the most frustration, especially when the ball is in a bad lie, and you can often find yourself swinging and whiffing on the ball over and over again. It’s especially maddening when the ability to practice your shot beforehand indicates that you would have hit the ball well enough, but then every time you go to “address” the ball you end up getting nothing but air with your cut. But it does seem like the the more you play and get comfortable with how to hit the ball, the less of a problem this becomes.
This game’s at its absolute best when it comes to the putting greens. In fact, I’d almost go so far as to say that the game is nearly worth it for the putting alone. It just feels so authentic that I’d have to imagine even professional golfers could improve their putting at least a little bit by spending some time playing this game. You’ll have to worry about leaving your putt short or hitting it a little too hard and watching it roll well past the hole, just as you’ll need to spend some time reading the break of the green and compensating for any slopes and inclines before making your putt. Be prepared to scream in agony when a five-footer barely lips out, or cry out for joy when you play a break perfectly and drop in a 30-footer from the fringe.
For anyone struggling with any element of the game, there’s an extensive practice area where you can spend some time on whatever is lacking. Whether you just want to hit the driving range and maybe release some anger by launching balls into the sky as hard as you can, or you’re trying to tune the distances of your approach shots to get them consistently closer to the pin, you can take as long as you want transforming your weaknesses into strengths here. Once again, the best part of the practice area has to be the putting area, where it’s incredibly easy to waste an hour without even realizing it as you try to sink putts of varying difficulties. It’s also great that the game allows you to just point at a different spot on the green if you want to switch up your location to make your putt shorter, longer or more difficult.
While there may not be all that many courses to play in Everybody’s Golf VR, it’s a textbook example of quality over quantity. There are only three courses, although some variations are provided through longer tees, tornado cups that make putting easier, and the ability to mirror each of the courses so they play a little differently. The Forest course is a pretty standard one that allows you to learn the game without too many challenges, while the Seaside course transports you to a sunny beach locale while adding some more difficult distances and hazards. But the real standout is without a doubt the Dinosaur course, which has you playing a round of challenging holes alongside some prehistoric creatures. There’s nothing quite like hitting a tee shot that settles right next to a water hazard from which a gigantic brontosaurus happens to be drinking. And if you thought contending with water hazards was a problem, it’s probably best to avoid the flowing lava that can be found on some holes.
Replays And Hole Overviews
There are some important little things that we’ve come to expect from a golf game in 2019. One is the ability to repeatedly view a great shot that we’ve made, and Everybody’s Golf VR’s replays are just a little different thanks to the VR factor. For one thing, it can sometimes be just as confusing as to where your shot ended up as in real golf because you only get a first-person perspective after you’ve struck the ball. So firing up the replay can be a helpful way of solving the mystery of how your ball ended up where it did. Aside from that, the presentation of the replay provides you a great vantage point that almost makes it seem as if your own shot is coming right at you at times.
Another great feature that’s more necessary because of the VR is the ability to see an overview of the hole from a higher angle. Because there are times when where you’re situated on the course will only allow for an obstructed view of your target, you’ll need to utilize the hole overview feature to really get a lay of the land. Raising you up high in the air so you have a better chance to analyze every aspect of the hole, you’ll get a great view from way up there, on top of providing you with a better understanding of how to hit your next shot.
Working Up A Sweat
Along with the uncanny sensation of actually being out on a course that VR golf allows, it also comes with the unavoidable accompanying physical activity. You can’t really expect to swing anything of any weight over and over again without starting to feel the effects of that at least a little bit, and that’s exactly what happens with this game over time. If you’re going to set out to play 18 holes, you had better be prepared to start perspiring a little bit by the end of those. Maybe keep a towel handy. To be clear, it’s not as if the game is going to give you the kind of workout you’d get from a proper trip to the gym or anything, but it’s still enough to remind you that you that the days of video gaming being considered a purely sedentary activity are clearly a thing of the past now.
What I Don’t Like
Caddies And Caddie Events
At their best, the caddies in Everybody’s Golf VR may dole out a helpful hint every now and again to help you with your game, but at their worst they can be kind of annoying and, even more concerning, represent a rather antiquated notion of women. If that sounds like I’m perhaps reading too much about gender politics into a silly little golf video game, what else are you supposed to make of the inclusion of female caddies that seem to exist purely to serve you and mindlessly cheer you on, and also frequently induce cringes with how they have been designed to be a tad bit too flirty and eager to please.
It doesn’t help either that your rounds will randomly be interrupted by caddie events that are designed to further showcase the VR technology, but too often provide few thrills and are more of an unnecessary interlude. For example, one of these events sees your caddie suggesting a shortcut to the next hole, only to have you end up standing on a precarious suspension bridge that can seem a little scary when you look down to the water below. It may provide you with a slight jolt of excitement the first time around, but by the third or fourth time? Not so much.
Lack Of Multiplayer, Online Or Tournament Modes
Golf may not lend itself as well to multiplayer options as some other sports, but it still feels like there are some missed opportunities here that could have turned Everybody’s Golf VR into a real stellar party or online game. As it stands now, the only real option in the game is to play a round all by your lonesome. Of course, your best score will compete against others on worldwide leaderboards for each course, which does provide an outlet for those who are looking to establish themselves as the best players in the game, but without the ability to play locally or online against anyone, you can really feel the lack of any head-to-head mode to help fuel rivalries.
This would not really be quite as much of a problem if there were at least some sort of single-player career mode where you could compete against CPU opponents to win events or tournaments over multiple rounds or something, but alas, there’s none of that to be found in the game either. So obviously, you’re inherently limited in how you can play the game, relegated to only trying to best your own or your friends’ scores in round after round rather than be pitted against anyone else. It makes it hard to ever feel like you’ve accomplished anything if there’s no real winner or loser when you arrive back at the clubhouse.
As far as re-creating the experience of being out on a golf course, it’s impossible to rate Everybody’s Golf VR as anything other than a smashing success. What it lacks in extensive modes or multiplayer options, it more than makes up for with its immersive gameplay and superlative execution. It’s just as easy to start smacking the ball around in the game as it is to swing a club in real life (thankfully, it’s even easier to hit the ball well) and the responsiveness of the controls create resulting shots that feel as if they’ve actually been influenced by your input. If you’re looking to play some golf but can’t afford the exorbitant cost of a set of clubs or the green fees, Everybody’s Golf VR is a fantastic alternative.