EA Sports shocked the sports gaming world Monday, revealing at their E3 press conference that PGA Tour not only features fantasy courses, but the courses would even include levels from other popular EA games, complete with a Battlefield course and crashing ships.
That’s right, if Tiger Woods thought clicking cameras were a distraction in real life, how about the sounds of explosions in the background as you try to tap in that putt for birdie?
Extra Mustard caught up with Brent Nielsen, the game’s executive producer, to find out just what the hell is going on with his game.
Extra Mustard: It’s rare that a sports game surprises me anymore, but when you guys announced PGA Tour, I never expected to see a battleship crash on the course.
Brent Nielsen: It all stems back from the decision we made as we tried to figure out what we wanted a Gen-4 golf game to be. There’s a great fourth generation engine for sports with Ignite, but when we looked at it, golf is a bit on an island when it comes to environments. Hockey and basketball are in a fixed arena environment, football and soccer are in fixed stadiums, but golf is all about the environment and that dynamic and the changing conditions. We started looking at the type of game we wanted to build, and the Frostbite 3 engine is an environment-driven engine, so it made a lot of sense for us to be able to stream the environments. In past golf games, you had to wait 20-35 seconds between every hole, so the ability to not have any load times shaves 20 minutes off a round of golf. These are all things that were really appealing and just made a lot of sense for a golf title.
Can gamers expect to hear gunfire on the golf course?
It’s too early to say. [laughs] Obviously, we have great partners at the PGA Tour, and we’ll have to see if gunfire is something they’re OK with. Explosions are perfectly acceptable, but we’ll have to see how things transpire before we figure out exactly everything that will be happening in those fantasy environments.
In terms of the actual gameplay, what are some things that the power of the new systems and Frostbite 3 will add to PGA Tour?
The biggest thing for us is streaming the environments, cutting load times, and being able to play the ball absolutely anywhere. Those are fundamentally going to change the way you play the game. You remember with the load times, you would have to wait about 30 seconds for every hole to load up. So right off the bat, we’re shaving all that time off of a round of golf. And the ability to hit the ball from anywhere on the course is also huge. In the past, we were only able to load up one hole, and we were able to render surrounding areas, but if you hit the ball off the path, whether it was considered out of bounds or not in real life, we would have to treat it as such. Now, maybe the better path to the hole is from another fairway, so you can actually hit the ball over the trees and onto another fairway in order to find a better angle to the hole. This is something we could never do on the last generation of consoles. Frostbite 3 enables us to open up the game in a way we could never open it up before, and it fundamentally changes the way gamers play.
Sounds like there will be a lot of Bubba Watson shots around the trees.
Exactly. That’s actually something we talked about building this game. Shots like Bubba’s to win the Masters is something you wouldn’t have been able to experience in our game in the past. Now if you hit the ball into the trees, you can hit this crazy shot of your own, creating these memorable moments that you just weren’t able to do in the past.
I know the game is early (scheduled for Spring 2015 release), but any hints about other fantasy courses we should expect?
I’ll leave you with this: Not necessarily is the straight on the beaten path to the hole, the best way to get to the hole. The ability to explore the course and find different routes to take to the hole is going to make for a lot of sandbox play and exploring.
I'd love to see what you could do with a Mirror’s Edge course.
[laughs] That’s one of the things that’s been fun to see once people realize we’re using Frostbite. Everyone’s like, “I wonder what other environments they’re going to put in there.” I think people are going to have a lot of fun with it.