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PGA Tour 2K21 gameplay: 7 things you need to know

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PGA Tour 2K21 is the new name for the series previously known as The Golf Club, developed by HB Studios and published by 2K Sports – home of the NBA 2K series and, until it was cancelled, WWE 2K21. The rebrand delivers myriad improvements and new features, including MyPlayer, licensed pros, and more accessibility for new players and veterans. Ahead of the PGA Tour 2K21 release date of 21 August, GR took a swing for itself – and these are the seven things we learned…

You can play against pros for the first time

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Whilst The Golf Club 2019 featured licensed courses, it didn’t include any professional golfers. PGA Tour 2K21 offers the opportunity to play against 12 licensed pros from the PGA Tour scene. Although none of the pros are playable, they act as challenges to overcome throughout your career in the form of rivalries. By beating the likes of Jim Furyk, Bryson DeChambeau, and Patrick Cantlay, your player earns exclusive apparel and gear. Rivalries finish once you reach a specific points total, earned through outperforming your adversary.

MyPlayer arrives on the golf scene

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In 2K Sports titles such as NBA 2K21, MyPlayer plays a huge role in everything you do, and in PGA Tour 2K21 this is no different. You pick everything from your name, gender, weight, and height, as well as what you wear and what club sets you have. You can select up to five outfits that act as pre-sets, and throughout your career, new apparel and clubs are unlocked. It provides more control over your created character than The Golf Club, and a better sense of achievement: your MyPlayer can be used throughout all of the different modes, whether you’re taking part in career, local multiplayer with friends, or a leisurely 18 holes on your lonesome.

Gameplay is more accessible

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While generally strong, The Golf Club could often feel a little po-faced. Returning dev HB Studios has therefore put a lot of effort into making sure the gameplay experience is as versatile as it can be. New players should be able to get stuck in as easily as TGC veterans, with a tidy balance for people of all skill levels.

Back Swing Tempo has been removed, so there is less to focus on when making your shot. There are six difficulty levels that range from beginner to legendary, and they can be customised to give you as much or as little help as you want. PGA Tour 2K21 offers assists in the form of Partial Swing, Dynamic Shot-Shaping, and Yardage Book.

If you want the HUD to give you guidance about how much power to put into a shot, the option is there, but if you’d prefer to rely on haptic feedback, the display can be turned off to give you a more realistic experience. You can adjust how much support you have when it comes to shaping your shot and how much spin you need to put on the ball. The Yardage Book is perhaps the best tool at your disposal when it comes to understanding each course. It enables you to take an overhead view of all the obstacles and challenges certain courses may have, providing detailed information and improving your course management skills. 

 "There's a much clearer path for beginners," says creative director Josh Muise – but legendary difficulty is "crushingly authentic".

Career mode has been overhauled

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In PGA Tour 2K21, career mode features 30 events across 15 licensed courses – the most in the series – and delivers the opportunity to build rivalries with one of the 12 licensed pros. Along with these rivalries, career mode enables you to pick a sponsorship from more companies than before, such as Bridgestone, Malbon, and Adidas. By building a good relationship with your sponsor and completing certain objectives, you earn more exclusive rewards for your player.

"There's a focus on the avatar, with more of a storytelling element than just start the season and end the season," says Muise.

Virtual currency doesn’t seem to play a vital role

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Virtual Currency, or VC, can be earned through the career by reaching certain golfer levels and completing challenges, and then be spent on new clothing or clubs. However, senior producer Shaun West insists that despite being able to buy items of clothing and clubs with VC, you will still unlock items simply by progressing naturally and completing challenges set out by your sponsors. That should pacify those who felt VC dominated recent WWE and NBA games. There was no mention of using VC to improve the stats of your character.

Help is always at hand

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With plenty of difficulty options, anyone can pick up the basics quickly. A suitable amount of options help you assess each shot you make before you swing, and provide advice on the course and affecting factors such as weather and obstacles. Pro Vision is a mechanic that highlights elevation changes and wind impact, as well as a direct line to where the ball will land. Shot Feedback UI breaks down your shots, and you can also take advantage of Shot Selection in case you are unsure about where to play the ball to next. The training system is also a fantastic tool that intends to provide “on-course” reactive tips, giving you plenty of guidance if you are struggling.

Course building is a croc of… good

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A significant point of emphasis is giving players the option to build their own courses. Not only can you create your perfect hole in course designer, but you can download thousands of courses to play alone or with friends. The development tools on offer are the same ones used to create the game, making the course designer as intricate or as simple as you like. There are different locations such as tropical, countryside, desert, or the Swiss Alps, and from there you have free rein on which obstacles feature. Fancy having an alligator wandering around the desert mid-round? The croc is your oyster.  

PGA Tour 2K21 is released on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on 21 August.