Golf fans may be feeling a little despondent right now. Usually, at this time of year, we have already witnessed trailers, screenshots and plenty of details for the year's annual instalment of the Tiger Woods franchise. This year, not only has Tiger Woods ended his association with EA's golfing games, but we've had very little news on the latest PGA Tour
title apart from a single screenshot. HB Studios has now stepped in to fill the void with a deluge of details and assets for their upcoming title, The Golf Club
HB Studios are hoping to create a visual and gameplay experience that hasn't been witnessed in the genre previously in the game that is heading for the Xbox One. The lack of loading times between holes means that the player is returned straight to the tee after sinking the ball on the previous hole. The developer also aims to cut loading times in between courses.
The swing mechanic has been fine-tuned so that it is "more about feeling and fluidity above the users’ accuracy of hitting a marker on a power bar". Those who have practiced and have a better feel for different golf shots will prosper on the leaderboards. Ball lie, weather and terrain conditions are also important factors to consider.
The feature that the developer is most proud of is the course generator. The game can generate a brand new course at the player's request with just four presses of a button. If the new course isn't to your liking, another button press will generate another course. If you want to add more customization and less randomization, the game will allow you to choose the number of holes, par distribution, fairway width, number of bunkers, green size, green slope and rough coverage (although this involves more button presses). The most creative players will completely create their own courses though. The in-depth editor allows players to either start with a blank canvas or edit something that was created by the random generator. This can alter the terrain, move tees, move greens, move holes, delete holes, add holes, bunkers, rivers, ponds, trees, foliage, buildings, animals and other objects. Each course can be tested at any time by playing the ball from any spot.
Of course, the game will ship with several courses too. All skill levels will be happy with the selection of courses, which can be played individually or as part of a tournament. Here is a preview of four of the courses:
Your course creations will not go to waste as they can be shared online with other players. If you get bored with the game's selection of courses and don't fancy creating your own, you can download the courses created by other players; each course can be rated by other players to sort out the good from the bad.
Every round that you play is saved online allowing players to compete against anybody. You can choose to take on a past round from your friends, top players or rivals, which are players whose skills closely match your own. If playing against a previously saved round, the ghost balls and scores will be displayed throughout the round, although these can be hidden if desired.
Players can also compete against each other live via drop-in, drop-out action. If players have to drop out of a match early, they can choose to return later to finish their round while viewing their opponent's ghost balls on each hole. The game's ball-trace system means that players can see how others are doing on the same course, even if they're on a different hole. Each course can support up to hundreds of players at any one time, although you may want to turn off the traces and echoes at this point to prevent the screen from becoming too cluttered.
If a single course doesn't offer enough gameplay for you, you can opt to take part in tours and tournaments that can be customised to include favourite courses. Time-constrained tournaments allow players to pick a start and end date with opponents being allowed just one entry to prove their worth. An Indefinite tournament will let players attempt the course(s) as many times as they like in between the start and end dates.
As social media is slowly taking over the world, it wouldn't be right for the game not to feature social feeds to keep everybody up-to-date. The social ticker bar and in-game message feed will inform you about your friends' achievements, invites, scores and course creations, those friends who are playing online, the moment that somebody breaks your course record, and "major achievements from all players within The Golf Club
Here's a quick preview of the game:
Tomorrow brings a more in-depth look at the course creator and the first preview of one of the courses to be shipped with the game. The Golf Club
is due to be released this spring.