PGA Tour 2K23 Review

PGA Tour 2K23 Tiger Woods Header

It’s been a long while since Tiger Woods has graced the cover of any golf game, so you’d like to think that his return on the front cover of PGA Tour 2K23 would herald a return to form for golf games. You’d be mostly correct.

A two year break has done well for 2K and developer HB studios, letting them keep the better parts of PGA Tour 2K21 and improve on the weaker bits to craft a more refined golfing experience.

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One massive game changer is the introduction of the 3-Click swing system, which for me came as a welcome relief because I was never good at the analogue swing system, often sending the ball to parts unknown because I just couldn’t seem to swing straight.

The 3-Click system works by initially setting the power by holding the button down, releasing it and then hitting the button again when the pendulum hits target areas, setting the swing path and angle depending on accuracy and timing. It’s beautifully simple and very effective. On higher difficulties, the speed of the system is increased if you fancy challenging yourself.

Of course, the analogue swing is still there for fans of previous games, faithfully recreating the feeling of swinging and hitting a ball off the tee. It has a high skill ceiling, rewarding your time and effort with satisfying shots, but the 3-Click system will help the game appeal to a slightly wider audience.

PGA Tour 2K23 MyCareer

The main place you’ll be testing your skills is in MyCareer, humbly starting off in Q-School and working your way up to the PGA Tour itself. 2K23’s career feels a lot better this time around, but it’s still not an all timer. The player development is very much a strong point and was enough to carry my engagement, but the actual content of the career mode is a little lacking in some areas.

One of the biggest disappointments is in the form of Rivals. At the start of the PGA Tour, it tells you that you can Rival against one of three players for that tournament. After selecting a Rival, all you have to do is score higher than them by the end to beat them, and in doing so you don’t really get anything. So what is the point? I was expecting some major fanfare, bonus cash or something,  but you just get a little pat on the back. In my first major, I came first and even beat Tiger Woods! I should have received a medal!

It’s also worth mentioning that two of golfing’s most prestigious tournaments, the Masters and the Open Championship are missing from the game. Instead, you have the FedEx Cup, which is widely met with a lack of interest in the golfing community.

When compared to other sports games, it’s the stuff in between that really drives tension in the career – you only have to look at EA’s polished FIFA series to see what potential there is. You could have backstage interviews, press conferences or even practice drills but in 2K23, it’s just on to the next game. Sure, getting a medal or trophy at the end is nice and all, but it just feels a little flat.

PGA Tour 2K23 East Lake

That said, actually improving your golfer is nice, using skill points to give your golfer buffs when you either hit or miss certain triggers. For example, Trailblazer level 3 activates when you miss two fairways in regulation, giving you a swing path boost off the tee. Later in the skill tree, the Take the Wheel skill is always active and gives you a transition, swing path or timing boost off the tee. The ability to specialise is another nice touch, with my golfer, for instance, specialising as a Powerhouse, being able to crush the ball off the tee, but with the drawback of being less accurate.

Career mode aside, 2K23 lets you take control of some of the biggest names in golf, from cover man Tiger Woods, to other pros such as Harold Varner III and Bubba Watson. There’s even some celebrity golfers thrown in the mix like Michael Jordan and Steph Curry, if you fancy that.

The likenesses are spot on, with HB Studio pulling out all the stops to make the pros look realistic. It’s not just the pros, either, but visuals overall that are stunning, making 2K23 the best looking game in the series so far. Lakes glisten in the sunlight and foliage looks realistically dense, while smaller things like golf clubs looking particularly shiny under certain lights. My only complaint in the looks department is the character creation – place your character next to the real players and they kind of look out of place. I personally would have liked more options in the creation process.

PGA Tour 2K23 TopGolf

Naturally, you have other modes to test your mettle, the highlight being Topgolf, a fun mode where you try to fire shots at giant dartboard-style targets. It makes for a nice change of pace, but could start to get repetitive as there isn’t much variety in itself. That could be alleviated by playing with friends, but you can say that about almost any game. At least you can earn XP for your golfer so that’s a plus.

Other modes such as Societies and Casual haven’t changed since the last game, which is a shame but at least it’s consistent and provides more to do if you get bored of the other modes.

Finally, you can create your own course, which is always a nice feature that’s persisted from HB’s The Golf Club games. I made a horrendous Par 5 littered with tons of water hazards to really frustrate some people out there. Yes, I am that evil.

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Summary
PGA Tour 2K23 is a good improvement over its last iteration, making things more accessible with the 3-Click system and the Topgolf mode. There's still areas for improvement, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.
Good
  • Better character development for your character
  • Topgolf is a fun diversion
  • Generally looks great
  • Couch play is always good to see
Bad
  • Career still feels a little lacklustre
  • Topgolf's novelty can wear off quickly
  • No crossplay
7
Written by
Consummate professional, lover of video games and all-round hero that can be found doing a podcast, writing about games and also making videos. Oh, I have saved the world 87 times and once hugged Danny Trejo. You're welcome.