I’m standing on the green and tilt my head up, taking in the rays of the sun that extend over Everybody’s Golf VR’s Forest course. Driver, or rather PlayStation Move in hand, I adjust my grip and club to account for the wind. I take a breath and give it my all as I swing my club and off goes the golfball. Where does it land? Oh, a sand trap.. That’s the long and short of my experience with Clap Hanz’s Everybody’s Golf VR. Not being a competent golf player in the real world, I had a pretty low expectation with my performance in the virtual space.
Everbody’s Golf VR is a standalone title that acts as a spin-off to 2017’s Everbody’s Golf on PlayStation 4. Rather than releasing a bite-sized VR “experience”, Clap Hanz developed a more fleshed out golfing venture made for PSVR. Instead of the third-person perspective, Everybody’s Golf players are used to, you are lining up the shot and holding the clubs in first-person.
Everbody’s Golf VR features three separate courses, all of which hold the traditional 18-holes to play through. Along with the three courses, you can return to the practice course if you feel the need to test out new club sets or work on your backswing. Each of the courses feels alive as if you are standing out on the green. Whether it’s a passing bird flying above your head, or the sounds of waves, Everybody’s Golf never feels stagnant. The sounds create a calming atmosphere and help build the world around you. The same can be said about the visuals. Each course is ripe with trees, small hazards filling up the course, and of course, your caddy. Although, when returning to the reception after each game is slightly offputting as it is always barren with the exception of the receptionist.
Clap Hanz has been developing the series for over 20 years. As PlayStation’s long-running golf series, I have to commend Clap Hanz for not veering too far off the path when transitioning to VR. Everybody’s Golf VR could have very well have become an arcadey counterpart to the series in VR. Thankfully, Clap Hanz kept the most crucial aspects of keeping Everybody’s Golf what it is and did their best to cement the mechanics in reality.
The power of your swing is all determined by how fast and hard you swing the Move controller. For the most part, the Move controller is very responsive. When teeing off, you’ll have to put your back into it to make groundwork on the 300+ yard distance. When approaching the putting green, you’ll have to adapt to tapping the ball gently. Unfortunately, the Move controller’s depth analysis comes short when hitting the ball on occasion. I have experience many flubbed swings on flat terrain due to the club not reaching far enough to the ground.
Each of the three courses offers small changes to the environments that will alter your experience. Forest, for example, is your fairly straightforward traditional course. Seaside adds more sand traps and water hazards to avoid. Terrain and wind conditions also factor into this. Depending on the elevation, your ball may veer left or right and your swing will have to compensate for that. Same goes for the direction and strength of the winds. You’ll have to calibrate your hand position in order to gain a straight trajectory. Although with enough practise, you can learn to use the wind to your advantage. Taking a swing during a gust of wind could help blow the ball towards your destination if everything aligns properly. Obviously, realism isn’t 1:1 when compared to being on an actual golf course, but as far as golf in your living room goes, the mechanics are fairly exceptional.
Everybody’s Golf is light on additional features and hooks. You do have the ability to play through each course in a series of three, nine, or the full 18 holes, but you’ll begin to feel it becomes rather repetitive after a time. Thankfully, you will always have your caddie nearby to offer some words of encouragement. Riko, the overzealous caddie will give tips on each course, and does her best to help out––even if it means I return the favour by angrily shaking my club at her after a botched swing.
On occasion, your caddy will offer to take you away from the green and explore. This was a rather jarring moment as in one instance, Riko took me for a “shortcut” that may have to lead me to my death. There’s not much to do during these events, however, it does add another layer to the game.
Everybody’s Golf VR does have a wide range of customization and accessibility options. You can unlock new clubs, and select your dominant hand. If you are a novice golfer, you have the option to turn on “vacuum” holes which will suck your ball in if close enough. You’ve also got the option to play the game while sitting down or use the DualShock 4 controller if you prefer. These little touches, while not adding to the longevity of the game are welcoming options for every player.
Everybody’s Golf VR is a well-rounded golfing title that anyone can jump into. Despite not being the most seasoned golf player, there were enough options and tutorials to make the experience a smooth ride. While the stickiness of Everybody’s Golf VR may be hindered due to the lack of story, or additional modes, the time spent unlocking courses and clubs was time well spent. Now that Clap Hanz has dipped their toes into the VR space, perhaps the studio will one day return with a follow up that refines those small, rough edges.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]