With PGA Tour 2K23, HB Studios and 2K return to the digital greens after a two year absence. We tested the PS5 version of the game, which is also available for last-gen PlayStation/Xbox consoles and PC.
We were very curious to see how PGA Tour 2K23 would turn out for two reasons – wondering what a 2 year hiatus would do for the franchise and seeing how it would stack up against EA’s return to the sport of golf. We’ll have to see how the latter will turn out until that releases, but 2K23 largely delivers on advancing the series further than previous annual updates did.
What still shines through is the development team’s love for golf – something that stood out in their pre 2K-days and persists to this day in the core gameplay’s satisfying emphasis on timing and accuracy, which hasn’t changed too much from their Golf Club days. The licensing power of having 2K as a publisher means there’s a quality selection of courses too, with a few familiar locations like Boston as well as new additions like The Renaissance Club and St. George’s.
This year, you also see some of that licensing in the included player roster, which is headlined by Tiger Woods but also features a few surprising new faces like Steph Curry and Michael Jordan. It might not mean much for those with little interest in the NBA, but we thought the crossover was a nice touch for us as fans of 2K’s other big sports franchise.
A lot of the polish applied since 2K21 can be seen in the quality of the courses, though the character models could use some more polish. The actual golfers (including the cameo stars) definitely look the part, but the spectators look a couple of years behind what we see in the likes of FIFA in terms of realism. And while that’s something you can sort of ignore, your caddy also looks like a generic humanoid that you’ll wish looked better every time you see him on-screen.
The soundscape for PGA Tour 2K23 is impressive though, with lovely ambient sounds when you’re casually playing a round and dramatic flair coming from the crowds when you’re playing competitively. They’ll roar for a great comeback shot, and gasp when you miss a seemingly easy or crucial shot.
The two year hiatus didn’t change much in the way of how the career mode works though, unless you care about cosmetic upgrades. I personally don’t, but there seem to be quite a few of them to choose from. I spent more time in the character creation tool, which works quite well with lots of options to create a unique-looking golfer.
And while it’s not uncommon for sports game ‘reboots’ to feel a little bare bones after a hiatus, we were surprised to see so many rough edges in PGA Tour 2K23, with a few visual glitches as some ill-fitting commentary – things you’d think would be noticed during playtesting but still made it into the release build. It’s a credit to how well the game plays that we’re willing to overlook these things, but this reboot of PGA Tour 2K does come with room for improvement.