Like action games with pistols akimbo and lightsaber rhythm games, golf was one of the obvious directions for VR to take. Regular golf games are all fine and dandy, just like this game’s non-VR version, but they’re missing that one important aspect that has made golf reasonably boring on a 2D playing field. Immersion. Having silly looking power bars that you just have to time right and aim correctly is fine in terms of function and fun, but it just does not feel like you’re standing on the grass and then ruining that grass by missing the ball five times in a row with your caddy mocking you on the side.
It was about time for the PSVR to get its first proper golf game and Everybody’s Golf VR rose to the challenge and aims to be your go-to VR golf experience. There are many challenges involved with getting the look and feel of a real golf experience right and this game comes dangerously close to perfection. It’s also a dating simulator.
The game begins with a gruelling tutorial that is pretty necessary if you want to play this game and not just wildly flail your club around. You primarily use the Move controller as your club and it’s recommended, but you can still use your standard PS4 controller since it has a light on the back. You can even play the game sitting down, but I’d also highly recommend getting up and standing in a very clear space and make sure any kids or cats aren’t within two metres of you.
The long tutorial takes you through all the setup and then it teaches you the ropes. The speed at which you hit the ball determines how far it travels and while I know that sounds like physics 101, getting the right amount of hit strength is quite a tricky thing. Also, the angle depends entirely on how you swing the club. You can change your direction in game so that you just need to hit straight, but for the most part, you determine your ball’s curve and which way it flies.
Getting this all right is extremely tricky. At first I didn’t respect the game and started wildly flailing at the balls and thinking it’s not going to be super realistic so I don’t even have to try that hard. Turns out, the complete opposite is true since my flailing only managed to make me look like an idiot. Once I let go of my primal rage and calmed down, things started to happen. I took the right position, held my Move controller like a real club with both hands, lined up the shot and hit it with the correct method and follow through. That’s when the game started getting fun.
Happy learned to putt
Once Everybody’s Golf VR clicks, it clicks hard. The game’s mechanics are so polished and work so well that everything just feels like butter. This isn’t an arcade golfing experience either, it’s the real deal. Driving, chipping and putting are all beautifully realised and challenging. Putting, in particular, is a very fickle beast and you need to be incredibly precise to nail it since the curvature of the green and everything else needs to be taken into account. Missing a putt in this game is as devastating as it is in real life and more than a few times when the ball missed the cup by a couple of centimetres I wanted to throw my Move controller on the floor.
The game is also ingenious in how it handles beginners. You can get beginner clubs that make it that you just worry about the power of your shot since the ball will always fly straight to where you’re aiming at, making the game almost trivial. With the standard clubs, your angle and everything about your shot gets taken into account and it’s a real challenge like the game intended. You can also set up the hole to be a tornado so your ball gets sucked into it when it gets close, stripping a lot of the rage you would regularly feel while putting. If you want to show this game to grandma and not have it be a frustrating experience, there are tools available.
The VR aspect is where things get special. When you’re strapped in the headset and on a course, it really feels like you’re there. That seems like such an obvious thing to say, but the immersion you get from being on what feels like a real course is so good that it embarrasses many other VR games out there. The distances feel huge and when you drive a ball you can see it fly off into the far distance which never ceases to be satisfying.
The only issue with the gameplay experience is something that they could not help. There is no weight to your clubs at all which makes determining the force you need to hit a ball pretty tricky. Putting is very weird without any weight to it and it takes quite a bit to get used to how hard or soft you need to hit the ball. However, part of the enjoyment from this game comes from you slowly practising and mastering the various ways to hit the ball. I won’t dock points from the game for this as it is literally impossible to rectify it without affecting gravity.
Look at all these birdies
Everyone’s Golf VR is a Japanese game and you can tell pretty quickly. The receptionist you meet and who will be your guide is this infuriatingly nice Asian lady behind a counter that will obey your every whim. The receptionist is cool, but the caddies are where things get… spicy. You can probably guess that the caddies in this game won’t be unemployed dirty 20-year-olds that smoke more grass than there is on the course. They’re beautiful, petite Asian women. And they really lean into it.
The caddies are of the infuriatingly nice variety and they serve as your guide through any given course, giving commentary and tips. After playing a couple of holes with my caddie Riku, an event popped up where we’re walking around looking at the scenery. I played some more and then we were riding around in a golf cart. I then started to think. Is this … a dating simulator?
All these girls are so friendly and it feels like their only goal in life is to spend time with you. Besides that being entirely unrealistic, it also comes across a little weird. But it’s also hilarious and sort of comforting. Whenever Riku started patronising me, I was chirping her back and we built this wonderful virtual relationship full of chemistry and an underlying sadness for how lonely I am.
Is this … a dating simulator?
Regardless of what I thought and secretly hoped, this isn’t a dating simulator. They’re just very friendly caddie girls and I should honestly respect their career path and the professional determination it takes to look at me missing a hole about 10 times and then going “Good job!”. It’s a weird experience at times, but it’s so full of personality that I just had to love it for what it is.
In terms of features and modes, the game is pretty barebones in its offering within reason. There are just three courses available, but each course is an 18 hole monstrosity that takes about an hour to get through if you play the whole thing. However, you can also just play 3 random holes or 9 holes at a time if you’re short on time. You can also mirror the courses if you want a somewhat new feeling experience.
You gain ranks and unlock stuff pretty simply by just playing the game. The more score you get, the faster you rank up. Each rank is just an unlock for multiple things including the courses and there isn’t really any RPG mechanics or stats that you need to worry about.
The holes on offer are pretty great. You have your standard regulation golf course, a course where you’re on a seaside resort and one full of dinosaurs. I know, consistency wasn’t a big priority, but let’s roll with it. They’re all wonderfully designed with nice little environment effects and landmarks scattering the course. The dinosaur one, in particular, has the most inspired decor with volcanos, lava and giant craters surrounded by T-Rexes. It’s even a little terrifying when you’re standing in front of a giant gulch in the landscape.
I am not ashamed to say that Everybody’s Golf VR is the definitive golfing experience on PSVR.
In terms of visuals, the game tries its best. My girlfriend and the receptionist look great, but the general environments look a tad bare bones. But given the scale that they’re working with, I can easily forgive some lack of detail. It’s still an extremely immersive experience.
I do wish there was some more content, maybe in the form of competitions or some type of career mode. All you have is the three courses and that’s it. No championships, no rivalries, just you and the green. In terms of being a pure golfing experience, it absolutely nails it, but it doesn’t go much past that.
Hole in one
I am not ashamed to say that Everybody’s Golf VR is the definitive golfing experience on PSVR. It’s so well crafted, its mechanics so ingenious that I just have to love it. I played a full 18-hole course and not once during the whole hour-long affair was I bored, which is quite a feat for anything involving golf. It’s easy to learn, tough to master and if you don’t have time to master it, you can just play for fun using beginner clubs. It gets a little weird with the caddies, but it makes the game so full of personality that I didn’t mind it one bit.
The features leave a little to be desired and some more content would have been extremely welcome, but what we received is enough to have an incredibly solid VR golfing experience. It’s also pointless for me to describe how it feels to play this game since you just have to do it yourself. But trust me, it’s worth a shot.