There are those who have become so disillusioned with the prevalence of microtransactions within the NBA 2K series that to suggest borrowing anything from NBA 2K‘s existing MyCareer mode for any other games would surely make some heads spin. But the strange thing about the partnership between HB Studios and 2K in releasing PGA Tour 2K21 is that the game is curiously short on the kind of progression and rewards that keep you coming back for more. While no one wants to see the kind of slow improvement in skills or attributes that leads many in NBA 2K to have to purchase VC with real money, there are at least some elements from NBA 2K‘s MyCareer mode that would help PGA Tour 2K21 become more addictive and satisfying.
Here are some of the specific aspects from the NBA 2K series that would translate well to PGA Tour 2K, and what they would add to the experience of taking control of your own golfer over the course of a career.
For those of us who play PGA Tour 2K21 nearly every day, it’s annoying to be reminded after every round that you’ve already reached the max level of 100. This means you’ve not only long ago unlocked all of the rewards that you can possibly unlock, but you’ve also made zero progress towards anything. It’s true that they have introduced a few Clubhouse Passes since the game’s release that allowed you to slowly unlock rewards and then unlock even more of them for a small price. These were only around for a limited time, however, and there are long periods (like right now) where there’s a sense that your round is not counting towards a larger goal, which is a strange feeling these days for any sports title.
Love it or hate it, the grind to improve and update your player in NBA 2K is nothing if not endless. The game is forever dangling the proverbial carrot in front of your face, asking that you play just a little bit longer in order to reach the next level or earn some more VC to either upgrade some attributes or buy some shoes. It’s not exactly ideal in the way it takes a ludicrous amount of time to make a meaningful amount of progress, but surely there’s a way to at least have the same kind of concept carried over to PGA Tour 2K to keep you coming back to the game without the process having to feel like a marathon.
In the world of PGA Tour 2K21, all golfers may be created equal, with no one boasting any pronounced strengths or being bogged down by any glaring weaknesses in their game thanks to the game relying entirely on user input rather than attributes, but we all know that’s not how it works in real life. Some golfers might excel at launching bombs from the tee or navigating the greens, while others might be held back by their chipping or inability to escape from the sand. This kind of individuality results from people grasping specific skills required of the sport better than others as they develop or, in certain cases, can be more of a matter of genetics by having a body type that’s better suited to do certain things well.
The number of builds in NBA 2K has only increased with each new release, enabling you to create a huge variety of players, each with his/her own assets and limitations depending on your own preferred style of play. This sort of foundation could function just as well in PGA Tour 2K if you were presented with a wide array of archetypes to represent the gamut that you would find on the PGA Tour — before then requiring you to select one that you like the best.
Those who can hit the longest drives would likely have to sacrifice some accuracy by having the margin for error shrunk down with the game’s swing mechanic. Conversely, if you want to have a golfer who displays precision in hitting fairways and greens, it would be easier to hit it straight but be prepared for the ball to not travel quite so far.
You’re familiar with The City in NBA 2K22? Now take a trip to The Clubhouse in PGA Tour 2K. An integral part of every golf experience, The Clubhouse could potentially serve as the game’s online hub where you can meet up with friends and challenge others to rounds.
All you need to do is imagine the kind of palatial structure standing next to the 18th hole that you would find on only the fanciest of courses, and you’ll begin to understand what’s possible with this concept. You can visit the Pro Shop to customize your attire and the clubs you want to carry in your bag, hit the practice greens to work on your putting, or maybe even sit down an enjoy a beverage before you decide to enter a match.
It doesn’t need to be anything on quite the kind of grand scale of The City, which would be especially hard to accomplish considering that fewer people clearly play PGA Tour 2K21 than NBA 2K22, but there’s a simple way to implement this that would make for a significant upgrade on the current online framework. Instead of only navigating through some static menus, this would make for a more dynamic way of connecting to others and increase the level of immersion by making the game feel as if you are actually escaping to a real golf course.
The career mode in PGA Tour 2K21 may provide the thrill of competing alongside and against other pros in events on the PGA Tour, but it also has plenty of room for improvement if it wants to make you feel like you’re actually trying to make a living as a professional golfer.
As it stands now, there’s nothing in the way of a real storyline other than perhaps a few stray highlights of other golfers making or missing shots in the same event — something that’s hardly all that innovative or exciting. How much can you really expect from a narrative standpoint when the game doesn’t even seek to resolve any ties that happen in an event and thereby sidesteps all of the inherent drama of one or multiple playoff holes?
We’ve seen a number of variations on the same old story of a basketball prospect’s slow ascension to the NBA for years now in the NBA 2K series, but it would be interesting to see a similar tale from the perspective of a young golfer trying to establish himself on the PGA Tour. This could involve some mentorship from other pros (Phil Mickelson could be a good candidate), and an expansion on the the way rivalries with other golfers happen in PGA Tour 2K21‘s career mode that shows some genuinely contentious interactions with fellow tour members (Bryson DeChambeau might be good casting for this role for obvious reasons).
2K’s experience with spinning a yarn within a career mode should really help in putting a fresh spin on the familiar rise-to-the-top story arc. At best, hopefully they could turn this whole endeavor into something that rivals golf classics like Tin Cup or Happy Gilmore.
When you hit a big shot in NBA 2K22 or maybe want to make any sort of statement on the court, the game has you covered with a huge collection of emotes you can choose from to express whatever you like. PGA Tour 2K would greatly benefit from something similar that allowed you to put a punctuation mark on an impressive shot with your own personalized gestures.
Think it feels good to read a green perfectly and sink a putt? Try doing it and then being able to give a big Tiger Woods fist pump, or if you want to get a little sillier about it, maybe rip off a cartwheel to amuse the fans. On the other side of things, it would help ease the pain of wildly shanking a ball into a bunker if you could then launch your club into a nearby water hazard. That might provide the kind of cathartic release that would be worth spending a fair share of virtual currency on to procure.
Create Your Own Swing
If NBA 2K22 can offer a robust system for creating your own unique jump shot (and free throw shot), then there’s no reason why PGA Tour 2K can’t give you the chance to mold your golfer’s swing from scratch. This would be a prime chance to have people showcase their individual flair rather than continuing to have every single golfer possess the exact same swing — as is the case in PGA Tour 2K21.
This seems like such a no-brainer as far as customization goes that it’s almost embarrassing that 2K would be associated with a game with no such options when they have so many different players’ shots programmed into NBA 2K22. The reality is that no two golfers have the exact same swing, so this can’t help but be a letdown from a simulation standpoint.
There are bound to be some who will want to equip their golfer with the ugliest swing imaginable (if they can somehow mo-cap Charles Barkley’s swing it would probably the most popular in the game), but this can be an entirely cosmetic alteration as well. It would be paramount that the game’s swing mechanic not be impacted in any way by those who want make their swing as wacky as they like, ensuring that there’s still an even playing field no matter the style. This seems like such an inevitable addition whenever the next PGA Tour 2K game is released that it will likely only be a question of just how many different swings will be available.