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Got a Fancy VR headset and need something good to play? HB Studios has got you covered. The creators of The Golf Club bring their popular golf game to VR. No need to even dress up to hit the links, the only weird looking thing you have to wear is your headset. Having played since early access, there have been plenty of improvements and optimizations prior to the launch. So let’s see how it’s all turned out.
Golf and VR are really a natural pairing. For quite some time golfers have paid rather large chunks of change to build their own “golf simulators”. These however required large screens, projectors, a pit to hit the ball in and most of all, the space to put it in. With VR however all this can be accomplished in a far smaller space, for far less money. Rain or shine, day or night you can play from the comfort of your own home.
The game starts with an extremely well done tutorial. Here a narrator will guide you through all the basics. I was rather impressed with how good the tutorial section is. I initially fumbled around slightly, but after only a minute or two I had the controls down. Besides the basics, the tutorial will acquaint new users with all the tools available, and there are quite a few. This is also the place to initially set the players skill level.
Having been away from golf for some time the Casual difficulty seemed like the way to go. Each different setting does offer boosts of a differing scale. There are 4 different settings to choose from, starting with Beginner and going all the way up to Pro. It really is a nice way to level the playing field for all involved. The options give everyone a chance to really enjoy the game, even if they’ve never played before, which is great.
Once the tutorial is complete and your practice is done get ready to hit the links. So just how many different courses are there? How does over 130,000, two kilometer² procedural and user-generated courses sound? The Golf Club VR has taken all that content from their original 2014 release and brought it along for the ride. So there is absolutely no worry about a lack of courses to play through. If that feels overwhelming, there are some easy ways to select a course. There are a selection of featured courses and user courses can be filtered through a variety of options.
So how does it play? Well I am happy to report that everything seems to be pretty realistic in that regard. My living room space is on the small side and filled with all the obstacles having 3 small children provide. With that in mind I was rather cautious moving about and swinging, but luckily the boosts available to the casual difficulty setting helped mitigate some of those circumstances. Part of those boosts are the hook/slice assist. I was rather thankful for this as I am slightly embarrassed to say, I have been known to clang a few shots off the dividers now and again at the driving range…ooops. Given that it probably isn’t too surprising that I would occasionally still slice a few, but unlike a real course I would at least still be close and not on a completely different fairway.
What about that all important short game? This is an area that took me quite some time to get use to. While I am unsure if my improvement was due to in game changes or just good old practice, it does seem much better than during early access. I started out 3 putting 15 footers and later even managed to sink a few 40 footers on the first try. While swinging with a Vive controller felt pretty good for most strokes the putting does seem a little less connected to muscle memory. There were plenty of extremely long or short putts to start, but once I was able to figure out what the game wanted everything seemed fine.
Now what about all those tools? Right, let me go through the list here. First and most helpful is the watch. Now this is no normal watch as, it gives info on wind speed, direction, distance to the pin and of course the time. The time is actual rather useful as it can be easy to lose hours on end while wearing a VR headset. It’s just a nice little feature that I know I have made use of for when I have a limited amount of time but have a hankerin’ for a quick round.
Along with the watch, there is a distance finder, which can be put up to ones eye like a spyglass to scope out how far obstacles are from your current position, or well to find the distance of anything, including that 10 pointer running across the cart path. If you need to check the hole lay-out, just reach for your back pocket. In there is a handy clipboard with all the lay-outs. Of course what golf game would be complete without having a golf cart to drive around in. It’s like two sims in one!
There had been plenty of community requests during early access for the golf carts. Initially I had avoided getting in one, but eventually for the sake of the review I got in. Here is my recommendation, keep a chair handy. My first attempt at driving one nearly ended in disaster. The cart took off and I felt myself moving along at a fast pace. Of course however I was standing and felt myself leaning forward. I managed to stop luckily before I fell flat on my face. So having something to sit down on handy is probably advised.
So what if you aren’t into golf? A valid question with a simple answer. This is probably the best VR game I’ve played to date. It creates a wonderful atmosphere. The course isn’t just a static place either. There is plenty of wildlife to be found, from foxes and deer, to ducks on a pond. Plus there are those carts to play with. I actually had my wife try the game out, she’s not into golf or video games for that matter. She loved it and really I couldn’t think of a better introduction to VR for her or anyone else out there.
That’s an aweful lot of pluses so far for The Golf Club VR, is there anything bad? Mostly no, as I said previously the putting does take some getting use to at first. The only other thing which I feel may be a bit of a never ending struggle is optimization. There are just so many golf courses in the game to play, all of the featured courses do seem to run flawlessly. I did however encounter some lag in the last place I wanted it on some of those other courses, the putting green. My easy eagle putt opportunity turned into a 5 stroke disaster. Although that was a rare occurrence, I would at least anticipate that any future patches will always include some sort of optimizations.
Overall The Golf Club VR is a great game. The pluses far outweigh the few and mostly minor negatives. This is truly a fantastic experience for golfers and/or VR enthusiasts alike. Heck even my wife really liked it and she doesn’t like anything. The list of must have VR games out there are rather slim, but this certainly belongs on that list.