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PGA 2K23 Topgolf hands-on: Somehow mundane and extreme

It'll certainly be better with friends and some presentation elements.

PGA Tour 2K23 is about to grace PC and consoles; ahead of its October release, Stevivor was able to go hands-on with its Topgolf mode for a very condensed period of time.

Sadly, last-minute timings meant we missed out on an actual multiplayer session, but nevertheless we were still able to play Topgolf in a single-player fashion.

Let’s get this out of the way first: if, like me, you didn’t know what Topgolf is, don’t feel ashamed. It’s a relatively new concept akin to lazer bowling in which groups rock up to a ritzy driving range (there’s one in the Gold Coast) and eat and drink while playing golf-but-not. In the real world, each golf ball you hit is microchipped; with tracking enabled, your task is to hit the ball into one of several large targets placed on the range. Hit your mark? Then you get points.

Professional leagues are popping up just as quickly as Topgolf facilities themselves. PGA Tour 2K23 cover star Tiger Woods is even getting in on the idea, allied with a competitor named PopStroke. Whoops.

In PGA Tour 2K23, things are largely the same; play alone or using online multiplayer, arm yourself with ten balls and try to not only hit targets, but hit highlighted targets for target multipliers. The player with the most points at the end of ten balls walks away with bragging rights.

For the most part, gameplay is stripped right out of PGA Tour 2K21 which I frankly adored — though your actual shot is now performed in a different manner. Whereas you used to rock the mouse backwards and forwards to take your shot, or used a controller’s right thumbstick to simulate a shot like you would a kick in FIFA, a basket in NBA 2K or a slapshot in NHL, the PC version of Tour 2K23 has you first holding down a mouse button to determine your shot strength before clicking twice more to actually shoot. The first of those clicks is at the top of a circular meter, representing your backswing, while the second click at the bottom is meant to represent your swing forward.

Truthfully, this new method (at least on keyboard and mouse) is quite easy to pick up and get used to, and has the added bonus of making it easier to perfect your swing. In past, I had a real tendency to flick my wrist a bit to the left or right on a shot, using either mouse or controller, and it was hard to get out of the habit. While the old method is likely more realistic and representative of the way I actually play golf, I like to win. This new method can stay (though 2K and HB Studios have since confirmed other control schemes including the previous one I described are available as well).

Playing alone, I really used my Topgolf preview session as a chance to relearn how to play. It’s a good thing I had that primary objective, because I was feeling a little bored after four rounds (or 40 shots); playing by your lonesome makes you feel just that: lonesome. There’s no commentary, music stings or hardly any other presentation elements to speak of as you play, bar the points notification that you see when you’re successful, so things end up feeling rather barren.

While I found the commentary in PGA Tour 2K21 to be somewhat repetitive — and heavens knows Topgolf can be just that in solo mode — I did quite enjoy the chemistry between Aussie Luke Elvy and partner Rich Beem. I hope there’s some plans from HB Studios to bring the pair back for this mode, if nothing else than to break up the monotony that could be felt.

I also, and completely, understand that playing Topgolf with actual opponents will be a game-changer; when you’re playing by yourself, you’re automatically number one. Miss a shot, and it doesn’t matter; that certainly is not the case if there are four of you chasing the top spot. The mixture of what I experienced and the potential found within is something that’s a bit jarring; it’s decent enough, but I know it could be much better.

There’s a lot more to be found within the title beyond Topgolf, but we’re not able to speak of it just yet. Stay tuned for more on PGA Tour 2K23, including our eventual review, and in the meantime, check out some Topgolf gameplay below.

PGA Tour 2K23 heads to Windows PC via Steam, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, PS4 and PS5 on 14 October.

PGA Tour 2K23

14 October 2022
PC PS4 PS5 Xbox One Xbox Series S & X

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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist nearing twenty (TWENTY!?!) years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.