Tiger Woods is no more. The golfer is alive and well, but EA's flagship golf franchise has dropped its name. Skipping 2014 altogether has allowed the team to focus on a pure next generation version. Renamed simply PGA Tour, the game is due to ship in Spring of 2015. There will be no PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 version of the title, so fans wanting a golf game will have to hop on the new generation bandwagon. The biggest change to the game will revolve around the incorporation of the Frostbite 3 engine, the graphics engine that powers the Battlefield series. This allows for huge changes and will change the dynamics of this golf game for the new generation of consoles.
Rather than porting and updating an engine from the previous generation, Executive Producer Brent Nielsen pondered on what they could do to change the game. Hockey and basketball have a fixed arena environment, and football and soccer have a fixed stadium environment. Nielsen realizes that golf is more of an open world, since it's not closed off to the world. The biggest thing that Frostbite 3 will bring to the table is the ability to stream the environment. Basically, this eliminates load times, and allows you, literally, to hit and play the ball anywhere you want to. In the past, it was considered 'out of bounds'. Load times could take up to a minute in the past. With the inclusion of a streamed environment, playing 18 holes of golf can shave off 15-20 minutes. To Nielsen, this was a gamechanger.
Much like Bubba Watson did at the Masters with his legendary shot in the playoff hole, the new streaming world can allow you to hit a shot you may not have previously been able to. Hit it into the trees and see a good clearing? You will be able to hit the ball from that gap, rather than being forced to take a shot that is meant to hit a tree directly. You will be able to take any angle as the plan is not to limit your shots. In Nielsen's eyes, this gives a huge advantage and this is one of the big things that they are able to do with the power of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
To Nielsen, the environment is everything. It's the crowd, the hazards, and everything involved with a real golf course. The game looked really great on the PS3 and Xbox 360, but there will be leaps in detail and in the crowd in PGA Tour. The E3 trailer showcased TPC Sawgrass and the announced fantasy course from Battlefield. The Battlefield map will have dynamic interruptions such as a ship crashing into the island. This can actually be played off of. Nielsen believed this would be the coolest setting to play off, with it being a tropical island and all.
Particle effects and details will be the name of the game in PGA Tour. Little things such as blades of grass changing, sand flying, clumps of dirt on deep shots, bugs, and even deer will be a part of the environment. The new lighting engine really makes the courses standout and brings them to life. As you can see in the trailer, foliage, water, everything about the environment is much improved thanks to the Frostbite 3 engine.
Expect more news in the future involving PGA Tour. There are plenty of features to be announced for the game down the road. Check out the screenshots on this page, along with the trailer from E3 to get an idea of what to expect in the game. PGA Tour will release on the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 in Spring 2015. Stay tuned for more news involving PGA Tour