The first glimpse of EA Sports PGA Tour — and yes, that’s the final title — is here at last, and it’s a brief but impressive look at EA Sports’ next simulation golf game.
A teaser trailer released Tuesday — which happens to be the same day that 2K Sports’ competing game, PGA Tour 2K23, debuted in early release — offers clips of what EA refers to as “actual gameplay footage” from Augusta National Golf Club. That’s the home of the Masters Tournament, which will be featured exclusively in EA Sports PGA Tour, returning to the world of video games for the first time in a decade. It will be accompanied in the game by the three other major championships in men’s professional golf, as well as the Amundi Evian Championship, one of five majors on the women’s pro tour.
It’s perhaps premature to compare the two games; after all, this is a teaser with less than 30 seconds of footage from a work in progress. As for a release date, EA did not provide an updated launch window on Tuesday beyond the previously announced yearlong delay to “spring 2023.” However, the publisher did finally confirm the platforms on which EA Sports PGA Tour will be available: PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X. PC is a surprise; EA hasn’t released a golf title on PC since 2011. The publisher may be returning to the platform to compete directly with PGA Tour 2K23, which has been available on PC since that franchise debuted as The Golf Club in 2014.
EA might also be inviting a comparison to PGA Tour 2K23 because the publisher believes it’s a favorable one. I’ve spent the past few days playing a review copy of the latter game, and while it’s no slouch in the graphics department, this peek at EA’s upcoming effort appears to be a cut above 2K Sports’ latest — there’s a level of richness and polish here that immediately caught my eye. For instance, the clubhouse at Augusta National has a heft that makes it look like a proper building; the structures on many of the courses in PGA Tour 2K23 look like cardboard cutouts by comparison.
Having said that, buildings on golf courses are ultimately just window dressing. In the end, EA Sports PGA Tour will be judged on how it feels to line up shots and swing a club; how many modes of play and courses it offers; and the degree to which players can customize their created golfer. Its predecessor, 2015’s Rory McIlroy PGA Tour, came up far short in pretty much every one of those areas except gameplay — at least at launch. As of now, EA has announced 11 courses for EA Sports PGA Tour, and said Tuesday that its roster of playable golfers will include Jordan Spieth, winner of the 2015 Masters Tournament, who appears in the teaser trailer.