The Everybody's Golf series, or Hot Shots Golf as it used to be called in America, has offered some of the most accessible and entertaining golf games out there, so we weren't alone in hoping that Clap Hanz and Japan Studio would be able to take things to another level when heading into virtual reality. Everybody's Golf VR nails some of these expectations, but there are a few bogeys to tell you about as well.
Let's start with the aspect we pretty much knew would be great, the actual act of playing golf. These developers have always known how to make smashing a ball several hundred yards up the fairway or chipping a ball into the hole from the rough feel extremely satisfying, and Everybody's Golf VR's move away from the timing-based system the series is known for over to a somewhat realistic version that tracks how the Move or DualShock 4 controller moves doesn't change that. A few accessibility options and a helpful training area will make sure that even those of you who first thought the goal was to hit the flag can evolve your skills from hitting a few nasty bogeys to at least making par.
Those of you who struggle can sacrifice power by using clubs that make it easier to hit the ball straight, while the more seasoned players can go for more realistic clubs after getting enough experience points. Only having access to the very simple clubs, one course, and one caddy might not be especially fun for the most experienced golfers out there at first, but we found it very helpful as it made it a lot easier to get used to the new controls. With everything depending on how you're handling the controller and the precise movements of your wrists, it was nice to get the basics down by going to the new training area. Sure, it might not be the most advanced one you've ever seen, but it does a great job of explaining what you need to keep in mind. Having a nice practice shot function that shows the ball's initial trajectory before making the actual shot also helps alleviate some iffy tracking.
Hitting the ball just the way you want it is easier said than done, especially if you're using a DualShock 4. We're not talking about anything game-breaking here, but it's safe to say that it's a lot harder to be precise with a controller that doesn't feel like a real golf club. Don't expect to be great at the game if you're an actual golfer either, as you'll never get to follow through or use the same force as you would when playing the real deal. Even the tiniest movement in your wrist will have an exaggerated effect on screen, so even the slightest change could have severe consequences. Not exactly a great thing when the tracking seems wonky at times. These horrible shots could obviously have been our own fault, but you know something is wrong when you have to face in strange directions to line up your shot.
So why have we kept going back day after day in the last few weeks? Because Everybody's Golf VR is a lot of fun when that's not happening. We enjoyed the small vibrations in the controller and the thump you hear just before you see the ball go towards the hole while fighting the wind or uneven ground. It obviously helps that the environments are diverse and beautiful as well; you'll start in traditional forest areas where birds are tweeting and leaves are flying in the wind before you end up among dinosaurs and volcanos. Each of the three courses seems suited for different states of mind. Well, at least if you look past the extremely exuberant caddies, and they're more than happy to yell "great shot!" just as your ball hits a tree. Yeah, thanks.
They also love taking us to "special events" between holes. We've eaten candy, balanced over a ravine, shrunk down to the size of a bug as our caddy looks for us, and a few other things that can't be skipped the first time you experience them. By all means, trying to give us more variety and diversity is a nice idea, but this isn't exactly what we're looking for in a golf game. Especially as the caddies must be part-timing as hostesses or something based on just how personal they get. Our few laughs and smiles during these were mostly caused by how absurd and out of nowhere they came. They just feel unnecessary and adds to the already high number of loading screens that dampen the flow and interrupt our immersion. It's also not possible to go to another course or restart a round without going back to the main menu, and you always have to visit the caddy before starting a new one. Not exactly super fun when you just want to enjoy a nice round of golf or let off some steam after a long day. These aren't as intrusive later on in the game, as you earn access to new courses, get the option to skip past special events and more, but they are still annoying.
Some of you will probably also think that three courses, a handful of modes, and a few customisation options aren't enough for a full game, but we think it's fair considering the reasonably low price. We're willing to live with some annoying caddies, all those loading screens and some tracking issues because the rest of Everybody's Golf VR is so much fun. The visual, audible and physical feedback you get when nailing your shots might even make you feel like you're the next Tiger Woods or Annika Sörenstam. Most of all, being able to experience the things we love about Everybody's Golf in virtual reality is a lot of fun. To put it simply: if you can look past a few quirks you should definitely consider taking a few swings in Everybody's Golf VR.