After a year on the sidelines, July 14th marks the triumphant return of the EA Sports PGA Tour franchise. Rory McIlroy is the new cover athlete, taking over for Tiger Woods. The game lets you play on eight of the world’s top-rated courses, and features a completely rebuilt game engine and more flexible approach to its control system.
However, reviews thus far on the game have been mixed. Popular gaming website IGN went so far as to call the game “deeply disappointing.”
“Stacked up against the two-year-old Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, the new game has roughly half the number of courses to play on, about a quarter of the licensed players to choose from (with both the Legends and the female LPGA players gone entirely), and a create-a-player tool that ditches the customary eyebrow shaping and body sculpting of the older game in favor of a handful of set templates that are almost guaranteed to look absolutely nothing like you.”
Of course, before you get too down on the game before you actually buy it and play it yourself, here’s a few helpful tips to navigate the new gameplay, courtesy of an exceptional write-up on Mashable by Adam Rosenberg.
1. Find A Swing That Works For You
There are three different swing mechanics in Rory McIlroy’s PGA Tour, and it’s important to find the one that suits you best.
Classic: the three click format is the most familiar for longtime virtual golfers. You press the button once to set a little marker into motion on a meter. Then you press the button again when the marker reaches the small, white “power target” box. Finally, you press the button a third time when the marker swings back to reach the “accuracy target” box.
Arcade: turns your left analog stick into a stand-in for a physical club. To swing, you pull the stick back and wait for a small, round meter at the bottom of the screen to fill. Once it’s filled, you press the stick forward.
Tour: works just like Arcade, for the most part. You still pull the stick back then push it forward to swing the club. You just have more control. A shorter backswing — literally, the amount of time you pull back on the left stick — equates to less distance for your shot, as does a slower foreswing.
2. Shot Shaping
After you’ve mastered how to hit the ball, the next step is learning where to hit it.
“Make contact with the ball at a higher point to give it more lift, minimizing the bounce and forward momentum when it reaches the ground. Strike the ball lower to minimize loft, reducing the air time but increasing the roll distance. You can also hit the ball on the left or right, which changes its in-air arc; this is useful for sailing the ball around obstacles, such as trees.
To shape your shot, move the right stick to adjust a set of crosshairs on the ball icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen. In Classic and Arcade, your selection is automatically applied once your hit the ball. In Tour, moving the crosshairs around on the ball tweaks the visual aid on the aim indicator in the bottom-left corner of the screen; your push-and-pull on the left stick needs to mirror that indicator to pull off shot shaping.”
3. Watch Your Practice Swings
This feature is pretty clutch, especially for beginners. When gamers press X or pull back on the left stick prematurely, the swing animation starts. But unlike previous incarnations of PGA Tour, this is now fixable.
If you accidentally start the swing animation, just let go of/stop pressing everything, and your virtual golfer automatically aborts the shot. By all accounts this game is already hard enough, so this feature can be a lifesaver, especially if you’re in the throws of a fierce competition with your buddies.
4. Play Your Own Game
Adam writes that you’ll get bonus XP for “advanced shots” in career mode, that is any shot that isn’t the default set up. This is important because PGA Tour automatically lines up what it thinks is the best club and aiming target for your next shot. According to Adam, the game does a terrible job. The auto-aim doesn’t apply any shot shaping and it is frequently wrong, especially when you’re lining up an approach to the green.
Don’t be afraid to much around and pick your own shot. Lofted balls, for example, are very effective when you’re pitching a shot into the green. You want minimal bounce/roll to keep the ball as close to the pin as possible. Switch up your club to get the distance right, shape the shot… use all of the tools that are available.
Be sure to read the topography of the landscape when you’re placing a shot; if there’s a steep slope to the left of the pin, try to place the ball on the right so you avoid a bad bounce or roll.
These are just a few of the tips from Rosenberg’s Mashable article. The best way to get good at Rory McIlroy PGA Tour? Go out and buy it and start playing it yourself. You’ll get good, eventually.