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OnlookerDelay 07-27-2018 08:00 AM

The Golf Club 2019 Featuring PGA TOUR
 
I've been waiting for the right moment to post the message about TGC 2019, and that moment came late last week when the Producer of the game indicated that the XBox One X version of the game would get 4K support. On the downside, it will be locked at 30 FPS for 4K res. However, nothing was said about intermediate Quality/Performance options, as we are starting to see more and more of with XBox One Enhanced games. I'd like to think we would have at least one other option for performance, like maybe 1440p @ 50 FPS, or just a high quality graphics detail 1080p @ 60 FPS option... or both? Anyway, on to the game and what I know and can share about it:

HB Studios has signed a license agreement with the PGA TOUR for their forthcoming golf game, now titled The Golf Club 2019 Featuring PGA TOUR. From all that I've read and seen, TGC 2019 was already shaping up to be a great golf game on its own, but this license might very well give the franchise more street cred and ups its ante in the marketplace.


I've owned the PC and both console versions of each of the prior releases of The Golf Club (The Golf Club and The Golf Club 2) and have enjoyed them both, although I can easily say that The Golf Club 2 has more enduring gameplay, thanks to its implementation of a swing tempo component in its thumbstick swing interface. It requires more feel and intuition from the gamer to manage the tempo and affords the opportunity for a greater shot dispersion. The tempo component is a bit simplified, as it calls for the player to match the backswing and downswing speed in a 1:1 ratio, with there being a game selected ideal for what that speed is to attain "Perfect/Perfect" tempo. Even at that, it's still refreshing to have another variable to manage with the stick input, as it does add another dimension to the feel of the game.

As for TGC 2019 Featuring PGA TOUR, HB Sports is planning to build on the tempo swing with one that can yield a higher array of shot outcomes, such as a pull/fade, or a push/draw. It looks pretty compelling based on the alpha version preview demo they showed on their official You Tube Channel. TGC 2019 will also implement SpeedTrees into the game for the first time, which will allow for GUI instancing, making the game run much more efficiently. HB Studios is looking into the possibility of offering a 4K/HDR version of the game for XBox One X and PS4 Pro, and I think SpeedTrees will be an asset that could make that become a reality.

One other new feature of TGC 2019 that I think will appeal to a lot of golf gamers is their inclusion of Online Matchmaking and Private Matchmaking. Which are described on the official website as follows:

Online Matchmaking brings a new streamlined experience to The Golf Club franchise for competitive play. Compete on any of the approved and official courses in a round of Head to Head Match Play, 2-4 player Stroke Play, Alt-shot or Fourball Team Play, or put your virtual currency on the line in wager matches featuring Skins. (PSPlus and Xbox Live are required for this feature)

Private Matches allow the player the full benefits of Matchmaking with the control over who is invited to play, the course played, round format used and additional conditions for each match. (PSPlus and Xbox Live are required for this feature)

The previous TGC titles did not utilize XBox Live and PSPlus and the gameplay actions of your opponents lagged anywhere from 2 to 7 seconds behind their actual occurence, making it feel awkward and out of sync. They also didn't have any online matchmaking capability or ability to invite players to a match until you were on the first tee. I think the new approach is going to feel a lot like Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010 through 2014's approach to online matchmaking and execution.

I was able to play a total of 108 holes of the pre-beta version of TGC 2019 Featuring PGA TOUR a few weeks back during the three day 'Stress Test' closed beta. HB Studios was primarily interested in testing the game's ability to cope with its new real time, online multiplayer interface, but they also asked for testers to provide bug reports and feedback on the new swing interface. Only two fictional, yet realistic courses were available for play and they were conversions of two TGC 2 courses: Faxon Park and Weymiss Bay Golf Links. We didn't get to see any of the six licensed PGA TOUR courses in the test, but we may get a at least a glimpse at them this week at the 2018 Electronic Entertainment Expo.

Overall, I was pleased with what I saw, even though the pre-beta was pretty bare bones in terms of tailoring your player and making club type choices, but again, the emphasis was on stress testing the servers for multiplayer play and connectivity. I only encountered one, very minor hint of network lag, in the from of camera pan lag, coming from one specific player in a live, alternate-shot match I played, but I had to be looking for it to really notice it was there. I tried both the online, ranked matchmaking, which for the test only had stroke play, in simultaneous... ie. not turn base play mode. It was smooth and reminded me of the online matchmaking in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 through 14.

I also got to try out the Private Matchmaking function, which did enable match play, skins, alt-shot, stroke, and fourball. Turn base play based upon the 'order of play' rules of golf is in effect in the non-stroke play there, and is an option in stroke play. This play option delivered smooth game play and I did see some hints in the help files that there will be a dedicated voice chat facility built into TGC 2019, although it wasn't enabled in this pre-beta version.

What impressed me the most about TGC 2019 was how much more realistic both the chipping game and playing shots out of the rough are now. I've seen nothing to compare to the realistic difficulty, feel, and execution each presents. Every chip shot I played (30+) in the demo portrayed a believable trajectory and roll-out. The execution of chip shots was not as easy to control, as the interface seemed to be more realistically scaled to push, pull, scuff or pop-up based on both your swing path and tempo. You can also take your real life golf mindset into the rough with you, as both the distance and the control affect are proportionally related to the density of the rough and the slope of your lie.

It's also worth noting that for the first time in controller based computer and video game golf gameplay, I actually executed swings that resulted in a push hook, and a few that resulted in a pull fade. The swing feedback meter gave me telemetry to illustrate why this happened, and to the credit of the raw interface itself, I could already feel some hint in my left thumb (you can opt for a left or right thumbstick swing control, but I've always preferred left). The tempo factor seems to be more varied and granular in TGC 2019, than TGC 2, but the severity for fast tempo errors doesn't seem to be as punitive at this point. I think some work is needed in the interface tuning there and fed that back to HBS, as did others.

Some really good gameplay video was released last week on You Tube. The first one shows an 18 hole matchplay match, featuring TGC 2019's new real time multiplayer support. I find it to be far more atmospheric now that they've tweaked the SpeedTrees to look so natural looking, and free of pop-in. I also really like the offset views of your playing companion from slightly behind them. It makes it feel like you are more independent of them, and not "in their huddle" as they play their shot. This video caps out at 1080p, but it still looks very spiffy, IMO.


If that wasn't enough, Sports Gamers Online released several holes of gameplay video from the PGA TOUR Career mode. This one can be viewed in 2160p, and it looks fantastic at that res!


OnlookerDelay 08-17-2018 12:48 PM

TGC 2019 will release 8/21/18 according to [email protected]... here's the link:

http://www.idatxbox.com/2018/08/17/r...-august-20-24/

EDIT: The blog has been revised again, removing any mention of TGC 2019:(

OnlookerDelay 08-17-2018 10:18 PM

Well, it looks like the hammer has been brought down on the [email protected] story, listing TGC 2019 as an 8/21/18 release. I just looked at the same coming week blog, and all mentions and images of TGC 2019 have been removed... please don't kill the messenger who brings bad news, but that's what's happened :(

Here's the link to the latest (revised without annotation) preview for next week:

http://www.idatxbox.com/2018/08/17/r...-august-20-24/

NOTE: It has been confirmed that HB Studios contacted [email protected], and asked them to remove the game from next week's listing.

OnlookerDelay 08-22-2018 10:15 PM

I had a feeling that [email protected] story had some basis. It was in the works for a release on the 21st, and then HB Studios decided to hold it off for this 'behind the scenes business deal' we've been hearing about. Apparently, Microsoft UK and Australia didn't get the word to hold the release, and actually sold and downloaded copies for 45 to 50 minutes before HB Studios got wind of it and made some emergency calls to lock it down.

I watched a UK Twitch streamer playing the game that night for hours on end. I think he wound up going about 11 1/2 hours straight. He was having to stream via XBox One's Twitch app, which is limited to 720p, and filled with compression artifacts. It was still educational, but all he could do was play in offline mode, with only official courses (none of the licensed PGA TOUR courses) because HB Studios hasn't turned on their servers for TGC 2019 yet.

As for microtransactions, it looks like they're going to be selling 'coin pack' DLC. You can earn coins in the game so it's not like you're getting something you couldn't earn through routine play. The coin purchases are cosmetic only, for equipment and apparel, which doesn't improve your player's ability. Apparently, the coins can be used in virtual betting on skins play and challenge matches.

I think something is going to be announced about the game tomorrow at the Northern Trust PGA TOUR event. HB Studios is there now showing the game off in the press area. I'll post it here once I find out something.

OnlookerDelay 08-23-2018 02:04 PM

How does "2K Sports presents: The Golf Club 2019 Featuring PGA TOUR" sound to you guys? I think that's the reason for all the drama over the last two weeks and especially today, with HBS shutting down the forum until Monday. Apparently, a trailer was leaked on YouTube (now pulled), showing 2K Sports as the publisher, along with a Luke Elvy narrated viewing of the 17th hole at Sawgrass... it looked great! It's a shame we now have to wait till Monday to get any more news.

EDIT: The 2K Sports affiliation hasn't officially been confirmed, so take it for what it's worth. It's just awful strange that the video was pulled as quickly as it was. The 2K Sports logo at the start looked legit to me, but I'm not by any means an expert.

lloyd401 08-24-2018 04:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OnlookerDelay (Post 56687090)
How does "2K Sports presents: The Golf Club 2019 Featuring PGA TOUR" sound to you guys? I think that's the reason for all the drama over the last two weeks and especially today, with HBS shutting down the forum until Monday. Apparently, a trailer was leaked on YouTube (now pulled), showing 2K Sports as the publisher, along with a Luke Elvy narrated viewing of the 17th hole at Sawgrass... it looked great! It's a shame we now have to wait till Monday to get any more news.

EDIT: The 2K Sports affiliation hasn't officially been confirmed, so take it for what it's worth. It's just awful strange that the video was pulled as quickly as it was. The 2K Sports logo at the start looked legit to me, but I'm not by any means an expert.

So any idea on a release date? Is this gonna push it out till later in the year?

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

OnlookerDelay 08-25-2018 12:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lloyd401 (Post 56692950)
So any idea on a release date? Is this gonna push it out till later in the year?

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

Apparently not... here's what happened late yesterday evening. Sony's official playstation blog published their list of games to be published next week, and The Golf Club 2019 was on that list for Tuesday, August 28th. HB Studios has said all the long that they were going to have a simultaneous release of the game across all three platforms, so by default, the Xbox One release would occur on the 28th also.

I think the reason that HB Studios is so reluctant to announce the release date themselves is they've got a major, corporate announcement to make on Monday, August 27th. In that announcement I expect them to disclose the fact that they are now in a publishing partnership with 2K Sports, and then "officially" set the release date as August 28th, along with the pricing. They'll probably announce more elements to the agreement such as: extra licensed PGA TOUR courses to be named, more equipment and apparel options, and perhaps even PGA TOUR player names to some degree. I know they'll announce the release date and price though.

Oh, I'm going to call that price as being $49.99, FWIW.

OnlookerDelay 08-27-2018 09:29 AM

The 2k Sports partnership has been offically confirmed by HB Studios this morning. The game will be available for purchase and download in your region, at least in North America, starting at midnight tonight. Price has been confirmed to be $49.99! I can't wait to get my mitts on this one :D

OnlookerDelay 08-28-2018 06:59 AM

I've now played 63 holes on my XBox One X, all with Master clubs. I'm really diggin' this game on the X! It looks and feels fantastic. I'm really shocked at just how good it looks in 4K. I had prepared myself to be really disappointed with the looks of the SpeedTrees from watching most of the 1080p streams and videos of the game being played on standard and S XBox Ones. They look like a different generation on the X at 4K, and they show very little pop-in, and it's really not "pop-in" it's more like phase-in as some trees appear in the extreme distance. Everything with 350 yards appears naturally looking as the trees are brought into the scene during scrolling.

What really got my attention was how good the "Full" camera setting looks and how it adds so much to the intimacy I feel with my on-screen surrogate now! (cool) I use the "Full" camera option from tee to green and as much as it makes me feel connected to pelting a drive off the tee, it draws me more into moment when putting... it just feels like I'm controlling my player, rather than a remote control golfer who is further removed from the swing camera in the default, "Wide" view.

I just played a Society tournament round at TPC Boston in the official "Open" society, and shot a 71, with six birdies. I put two balls in the water due to not getting my tempo right and losing distance... it felt totally natural and believable - I loved it! I am having considerably more trouble getting perfect/perfect tempo in TGC 2019. In fact, I say that so far it's probably only 15% of the time, whereas in TGC 2, it's like 80%, for me.

My two biggest disappointments so far is that there are no quality/performance options for the X. While the 30 FPS locked frame rate the game has at its 4K res on the X is smoother than I thought it would be, I can't help but wonder if my inability to manage the tempo any better than I am is because my senses can't adapt to the drop from the 40 to 45 FPS frame rates I was used to in TGC 2? I'll keep playing at it and see if this isn't something I adapt to over time.

The second major disappointment is that the spoiler leaderboards of TGC 2 haven't been fixed. When I played the Open Society tournament at Boston, I chose a ghost to play with. After we finished the first hole, which he'd bogeyed, the mini-score status in the upper left corner showed him at +1 through 1. The leaderboard then came up between holes and showed him at +2 after 2 holes. His score was reported throughout the round as one hole ahead of the hole we were actually playing through the finish :(
I just don't understand why the game can't recognize which ghosts I've selected to play with, and adjust their score reporting status on the leaderboard to the hole being played with me ???

Oh, and the new offset playing companion cameras are just awesome. It gives the multiplayer experience so much more personality and perspective realism. I wish they could be tweaked by the player a bit more to get a little more down to head level, but it's far cry better than watching them from their swing camera. It's cool to watch a long approach shot from the right rear of a right handed golfer when you can see the shot in its entirety from that angle. The ball trajectory looks so cool from that perspective!

I've played two TPC courses, Boston and Deere Run, and there's some special ambience about them. I think HBS has done a really good job with them as they've got a presence that feels like a TPC course.

Finally, I started playing Arctic Fury's The House on the Cliff after seeing it an a stream on the XBox One S, and being concerned over the barren look of the SpeedTrees. They look fabulous on the XBox One X, and better yet, their erratic 11 MPH wind behavior doesn't look quite as spastic in the 4K res, for some reason.

I need to play a round on a course in high wind where the trees are going to be casting shadows on the green, to see what sort of kaleidoscopic effect that has at 4K. I'll report back on that later. For right now though, I'm as tickled as I've been with a golf game since PGA Championship 2000 on the PC! I think there's a challenging learning curve ahead of me. This game produces a greater variety of shot results for a player of my average skill, and I can reconcile them all to this point.

I've also had a number of cases of one error offsetting the effects of another error. Like Gdog, I'm prone to go "perfect/fast" on my tempo, but I'm often spared by my fade swing path that negates it. That reflects reality pretty well, IMO. I'm relishing in the fact that not much feels regimented to me right now. That probably will not be the case with more skilled players, but all I can do is share my experience.

lloyd401 08-28-2018 01:49 PM

I looked on the Xbox store this morning and didn't see it, only the first 2 were on there. Is that where you got it?

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

OnlookerDelay 08-28-2018 04:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lloyd401 (Post 56712824)
I looked on the Xbox store this morning and didn't see it, only the first 2 were on there. Is that where you got it?

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

Yeah, I got it 30 seconds after midnight, but I had to use the "Search" function to find it (great way to market a new product, eh?"). It showed up in the middle of the second row of the "New Games" later on in the morning. It's worth the trouble it takes to buy it though because I can now safely say it's the best playing video/computer golf game I've ever played in my life... and that goes back to "Pro Golf" on the Mattel Intellivision:D Oh, it's $49.99 and worth every penny!

Grumpy gopher 10-19-2019 02:55 PM

Why not playing a real game?


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