I don't play golf in real life. I need to get that out there right away as a disclaimer, but I love golf video games. From the simulator-like nature of Tiger Woods PGA Tour to the arcade-style of Everybody's Golf and the top down, story-like take on the genre with Golf Story, golf games are my jam. I've got fond memories of playing Everybody's Golf on the PS2 with my dad, and when I heard about Everybody's Golf VR, I was excited to play pretend golf in a virtual world and compete in tournaments against the AI characters.
Not exactly golf
But, after playing it, I have absolutely no idea who the audience is for Everybody's Golf VR. The most "realistic" way to play the game is stood up, with one PS Move controller acting as your golf club. This is fine; the actual golfing mechanics are as you'd expect and thankfully, you don't have to swing quite as hard as you would in real life to hit a 200+ yard ball down the fairway. After I played a few rounds though, I realised that this doesn't satiate my desire for a solid VR golf experience whatsoever.
One of my biggest initial gripes is that there's no sense of progression other than levelling up. While golf games don't tend to have particularly deep narratives - the golfing is the main draw after all - in Everybody's Golf VR, you can't even compete against any AI characters in tournaments. Completing rounds will slowly level you up, but with no way to even check how close you are to leveling up or what you'll unlock next, the only thing Everybody's Golf VR can offer is golf at its most barebones.
Right at the start, after configuring all of your settings on the driving range, you're teleported to the front desk of a huge, magnificent clubhouse with a young woman stood behind the desk ready to greet you. She's the first NPC you come across and all of a sudden I felt like I was playing some weird, knock-off, adult-only VR game with just how eerily cartoon-like but still realistic, the character model was.
I was hoping that was the only creepy non-player interaction I'd have to experience and I could get back to playing golf, but no. In typical golf fashion, you have to bring a caddy along with you every time you head out to the course. At the start you only have access to Riko, who is quite clearly a teenager. And she never, ever, ever shuts up. Even if you hit the ball off the tee and it slices wide to land in the rough, she'll still insist it was a nice shot. If you're trying to putt the ball and it brushes the edge of the hole but doesn't go in, she lets out an audible whimper in despair. We're meant to be playing golf, not some erotic visual novel.
When you've played a good few rounds and unlocked the ability to play nine holes in or out - yeah, that's not available at the start, you can only play three holes at a time - you'll experience the first "event". Don't be fooled, these aren't events like tournaments… they're bonding moments between you and your irritating caddy. In the first and only event I experienced - I stopped playing afterwards because it was just too much - Riko sat me down on a bench, started flirting with me, and pretended to feed me a chocolate ball. Who wants this from a golfing game?
Everybody's Golf VR is just weird. The actual golfing mechanics are completely fine - aside from only having three courses and no AI to compete against, despite it being called Everybody's Golf - but it feels like the rest of the game was designed for lonely men in basements who want to play something more socially acceptable than the 18+ content found in the depths of Steam. You can even unlock more outfits for your caddies, because that's far more important than rewarding players with something worthwhile. PSVR needs a golf experience badly, but this isn't it.