The Everybody’s Golf series (or Hot Shots Golf to some) is one that I’ve had a lot of fun playing ever since its introduction on the original PlayStation back in 1997. Its more casual take on the sport just really appealed to me, as did its colourful presentation and charming features. Naturally then, I simply HAD to play the latest release in the series, Everybody’s Golf VR.
I went in with my expectations high to thanks to the series’ reputation for offering a solid golfing experience, whilst the fact that I’m a huge fan of PlayStation VR anyway just made it all the more exciting. Thankfully, it delivers just what I’d hoped for: a charming and fun golfing title that feels all the more special thanks to virtual reality.
I’m sure that just about everyone has played golf in some shape or form (I’m the unofficial king of Treetop Adventure Golf in Cardiff), so it should feel natural to play Everybody’s Golf VR. You can either use one Move controller or the DualShock, though I’d thoroughly recommend the former – whilst the DualShock is a viable control scheme, it feels nowhere near as immersive as using the Move controller.
The controls of the game are simple: you swing the controller like you’re using a golf club. Easy. Of course, there are things to take into consideration such as the power of your swing, the direction you’re hitting it, and any spin that’s applied by twisting the Move controller as you hit the ball, but the process itself is very straight forward. You can input your height into the game to ensure that the ball is always at the perfect distance for you too, whilst you can also choose to play either left or right-handed. Everything about the game is incredibly accessible, whilst the fact you can fine-tune your settings ensures that it remains comfortable too.
It’s just so satisfying to hit the ball, with your Caddy giving you the recommended club based upon your position whilst plenty of information is displayed in the UI to work out the best way to approach each shot. Of course, you can change clubs with a quick button press if you prefer – there were times where I was on the rough but fancied my chances at the hole with a putter for example (even if I did have mixed success). When in putting range the game clearly shows the gradient of the course too, so it’s easy to work out what direction you need to hit the ball to pull off that glorious last shot. It ensures that everything remains accessible for the player, which just makes it all the more satisfying to play.
Whilst you’ll start off only being able to play three random holes on the first course, it doesn’t take long for you to unlock extras. You’ll level up in the game, with each new rank unlocking new courses, clubs, game modes, Caddies, and more – levelling up also unlocks some basic functions too, such as being able to skip your shot animations if you want to rush through. One of the early things I unlocked that I appreciated was the Beginner’s Club Set, which made it easier to pull off straight shots. It might feel cheap to use, but it’s a good way to gauge how much power you need for certain holes early on.
Levelling up works as a good way for the player to be drip-fed new content, with the constant drop of new courses and ways to play ensuring you’re always doing something different. With three courses made up of eighteen holes available and the ability to play a mirrored version of each, you won’t run out of holes to play through anytime soon. Admittedly, other golf titles have offered more courses in the past, but there’re still plenty of options available in Everybody’s Golf VR to keep you playing for a long, long time. Series regulars will be glad to see the Tornado Cup makes a return too, making it easier to hit those putts giving that there’s a LITERAL tornado on the hole ready to suck the ball in. It’s silly, but a fun way to approach the game.
One interesting aspect of the game that I’d be remiss not to mention are the events, with your Caddy interacting with you after some holes in different ways. It’s typically just to admire the game’s beautiful scenery, but you’ll also get put into some interesting situations too. At one point I found myself trying to cross a narrow bridge that’s over a huge canyon, which isn’t something you typically expect to do in the middle of a game of golf. Admittedly, the random occurrence of events could be a bit annoying when you just want to sharpen your golf skills, but it is difficult not to find them charming – especially since they integrate virtual reality in clever little ways.
So there’s a whole lot to love about Everybody’s Golf VR, but I couldn’t help but to feel a little disappointed that there wasn’t a more fleshed out career mode of sorts with individual challenges for the player. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to do in the game and it was always satisfying to just play for fun, but it would’ve been nice to feel more of a competitive edge to proceedings and to see myself genuinely progress through some in-game rankings or tournaments.
Another disappointment was the lack of multiplayer. The series has been prolific for allowing you to have gripping encounters with friends in the past and it would have been something I could’ve easily lost hours with here, but instead you’re limited to just solo play. It’s a real shame because I’d have loved to have rubbed the ‘Nice Shots’ I pull off into the faces of my friends, whilst nailing those last-minute birdies to seal victory could’ve been all the more special. There are online leaderboards in place to see how you compare with other players around the world, but it’s just nowhere near as satisfying as actually competing against them.
Presentation-wise, Everybody’s Golf VR is a very pretty game: the courses are full to the brim with colour and personality (particularly the prehistoric-inspired one), the character models of the Caddies look great and make it feel like you’ve really got someone assisting you on the course, whilst everything manages to look sharp in the PlayStation VR headset too. Some virtual reality titles have been guilty of looking a little fuzzy as you scope out sights over a distance, but everything in Everybody’s Golf VR felt clean throughout. It’s always been a series that has looked good, but actually feeling like you’re there on the course just made it all the more charming.
Developer: Clap Hanz, SIE Japan Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform(s): PlayStation VR