Find your happy place
After a few more days spent wrapping up Everybody’s Golf following my review in progress, I’m not sick of the game yet. Quite the opposite! I’m even more in tune with Clap Hanz’ vision. I want more people to get in on this fun and hop online, because even though there’s a lengthy, satisfying-enough single-player component, the free-roaming multiplayer courses are where it’s at long-term.
If you’ve been waiting for a lighthearted, intuitive, rewarding golf game, here’s your chance.
Everybody’s Golf (PS4)
Developer: Clap Hanz, Japan Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Released: August 29, 2017 (NA), August 30, 2017 (EU)
Whether you’re playing online or offline, one thing Everybody’s Golf nails is a sense of community. You’ll never feel alone, even if you’re just running through tournaments with the AI.
There are hundreds of characters spread across the game’s various ranks, and if you outperform them, they’ll join your gallery of onlookers — that even goes for Sony’s own Shuhei Yoshida! The optional collect-’em-all vibe speaks to me, as does the ability to level up your clubs by nailing swings, landing on the green, chipping in, and making far-off putts. Play well, and you’ll gain a bit of XP, bolstering your gear so that it hits harder and has less sway. It’s the best feeling in the world.
The golfing mechanics are just where they need to be for most players. Everybody’s Golf is in line with prior games in the series (previously known as Hot Shots Golf in North America). You’ll simply time three separate button presses as a meter rises and falls. Miss your mark a bit on the third click, and the ball might veer off to one side and into trouble. Swinging and putting is quick and accessible. But, crucially, there’s much more nuance lurking under the surface when you’re ready for it, whether it’s adding crazy spins, learning to read slopes (which I find easier than just about any other golf series; study those moving lines!), or determining how much the terrain is likely to impact your swing. Various club sets and custom, limited-use ball types eventually enter the picture, too.
My feelings haven’t changed much when it comes to the single-player. It’s very much a grind, and that’s disappointing for anyone eager to unlock all five 18-hole courses in Everybody’s Golf. That said, in retrospect, I’ve warmed to the padded length. Somewhat. The end result was that I felt challenged in every head-to-head round against VS opponents but was rarely frustrated. I was ready for them by the time they showed up. Now, there was surely a more efficient way to structure this stuff, but as is, it’s tolerable. Some of you might even dig the grind if you aren’t in a rush.
You’ll definitely dig the character creator, that’s for sure. It’s extensive, even before you unlock more clothing and design items, and it’s also refreshingly chill with non-human or otherwise questionable creations. You’ll see some wild folks out there. The game’s all the better for it.
While I was down on the course count before, now that I’ve earned them all (and also sprung for two more as DLC), I have a better appreciation for what’s here. I genuinely do enjoy the look, feel, and atmosphere of every main level — they all stand apart from each another. They’re fun in their own way, and challenging in others. They’re meant to be played over and over again. I’m fine with that fate.
There are a few more odds and ends to cover. Fishing is a tad too button mashy, but I like how detailed the critters are (and that there’s so many of them). Turf War mode isn’t my thing either, I’ve come to realize. It’s two teams of players running across a course, playing and re-playing several holes in an attempt to “claim” them within a time limit. Own more holes than the other team, and you win. It’s part strategy, part chaos, and more frustrating than it’s worth, in my experience.
I’m also not sure I want to mess with custom clubs. You’ll unlock them after clearing the single-player, and you can level up and repair them (they’re degradable) with gems found online or earned through play. (This also ties into the game’s microtransaction convenience item, Special Tickets. You don’t need them, of course, but their presence alone isn’t a great look.) That’ll be another thing for serious players to worry about down the road, but hopefully not me. I’d like to keep this as my go-to game for unwinding and not get caught up in the hustle to have “perfect” gear.
Not every single aspect of Everybody’s Golf hits the mark, but so, so much of it does. It gets the most important parts right, and I’m hopeful we’ll see some quality-of-life updates and advanced control options before long to help close the gap. Clap Hanz has dreamed up a wonderfully warmhearted game, one I encourage every would-be golfer to consider picking up.
[This review in progress is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]