Japan Studio of Astrobot fame and Clap Hanz Games creators of Everybody’s Golf have joined forces to release a VR analog to the popular “Everybody’s Golf” series.
It’s about time a golf sim found its way onto Sony’s VR platform, and Everybody’s Golf, being proprietary, seemed an obvious choice. So naturally, I was interested to see how a game that relies on tracking distance, not PSVR’s strong suit, would translate to VR.
The transition to VR has seen a number of cosmetic changes, most notably leaning away from the big-head cartoony treatment of former entries and toward a more realistically proportioned look. The fact that you’re going to be spending a lot of time staring at the face of your caddy or down the shaft of your club meant that things had to be reworked.
But it works, and it’s good fun.
Instantly you find yourself on the driving range running through tutorials to set up your controls and calibrate your stance, height, gender etc. Here you get to work on settling into the controls before putting your newly acquired skills into full swing.
The controls are surprisingly responsive. Since the move controllers emulate the grip of a club quite well, it feels suitably natural in stance – albeit without the weight. So to any who has been on a golf course or driving range before, this feels immediately intuitive.
It’s important to note that the reactions to a hit are designed to be forgiving, and therefore have a more arcade than simulation feel. It’s almost impossible to flub a drive by clipping the top of the ball and have it wobble into the rough a few feet in front of you. You either hit the ball as hard as you swing, or you don’t. The skill comes into the pitch of the club as you connect with the ball, whether you slice or hook it, and some control over distance. This might disappoint some people who want full sim support, but this doesn’t hamper the enjoyment, and still feels pretty satisfying when you place that perfect drive down the center of the fairway.
One complaint though, if size and delivery of your meal is important, is content, and how you access and unlock it.
The main menu is at the reception desk of the clubhouse. It’s here you’re greeted by the cheerful receptionist each time you return. There is not much content here, and most of it is initially locked behind progress markers set mostly through play time. You start with one course, which randomly selects 3 of the available 18 holes to play before spitting you back to the menu. This eventually opens up to front 9, then back 9, then eventually all 18. It’s an unnecessary way of rewarding progress by arbitrary limiting access to a single full course.
Furthermore, there is no competitive mode, league or leaderboard. You play against yourself and yourself only making everything feel like practice. However, the sport of golf is one of few that can be played solo, so I never felt too let down by this. It’s possible that a patch may be released later to expand on these modes.
The other thing I felt was a little awkward was the handling of the caddies. Other than the receptionist, the game is devoid of other human life, so your caddy is your only companion. The game makes a point of reminding you of this. Repetitive unnatural small talk and in-your-face banter gets a bit annoying off the course, but your caddy is definitely helpful with tips and suggestions as you play, responding sometimes with hilarious optimism or euphemism to tragic shots or scores.
It feels like a golf-based dating sim at times – with longer games broken up by having to watch your caddy provocatively eat chocolates in front of you, or suddenly sharing a view on a balcony or beach before getting back to the game. Odd.
Other unlockables include 2 other courses, several other club sets and caddies to choose from, and new outfits for unlocked caddies.
The graphics are nice. The 3 courses have been well designed and have their own distinct flavours and detail. Even though there are a few jaggies here and there, the development team have done well to keep everything clear and viewable. There is a noticeable halo or vignette effect around the edge of your peripheral vision where detail and resolution drops but this isn’t intrusive.
Even small touches like wasps, or pigeons or blowing leaves and dust help create an environment you feel like you’re truly inhabiting.
The sound is equally impressive, with birds chirping, waves ebbing and flowing, planes overhead. It’s great how much care has been put into feeling like you’re out in nature – a large component of enjoyment of golf.
Your club will “swoosh” at a certain speed, and thwacking a ball sounds appropriate to the velocity hit. Similarly, scuffing the ground or sand will make the right impact sound depending on surface type. It really does add to the immersion.
So, Everybody’s Golf VR doesn’t have a huge amount of content, but what it does have is incredibly fun, addicting, and can be played on repeat to beat personal bests and overall scores. If you’re into golf, or even if you aren’t and just want to add something different to your VR library, you can’t go wrong here.
Released: May 2019
Platforms: PSVR, PlayStation 4
Genre: Virtual Reality, Sports
Developer: Clap Hanz Games