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New Territory For EA Sports' Golf Franchise

EA Sports didn't put out a golf game this year and Tiger Woods is no longer affiliated with the franchise – now called PGA Tour – but the substantive reason for the change is the new generation of systems. Series developer EA Tiburon says their vision wasn't possible with the old systems, which hopefully means the wait will be worth it when the franchise returns next spring. We talked to the game's executive producer, Brent Nielsen, about the move to the new systems and what that means for the title.

Using DICE's Frostbite 3 Engine And Not Ignite
EA Sports' other next-gen games use the Ignite engine, but golf is not like those other sports. Nielsen says the team looked at both engines and chose Frostbite. "Frostbite 3 as an engine is a great environment-rendering engine – that's what it does really well. We kind of evaluated both, and specifically for golf – it actually made a lot of sense to use Frostbite." He says that the engine confers advantages like being able to cut down on load times and have more of the courses playable. For instance, in previous years some shots in the rough would automatically be counted as out of bounds. With Frostbite, however, they're able to make more of the entire course playable. This also lets them put in different paths to the green in the fantasy courses. "It was important that we were able to provide a different gameplay experience for our fans, make it kind of a little more like a sandbox in that people can explore and take different paths to the hole."

On The Number Of Fantasy Courses And Their Locations
Nielsen said it's too early to get into specifics on those questions, but he did say that the game also contains real-life courses like in previous golf games, and these make up the majority of the total number of courses. The fantasy courses will be self-contained in their own mode, and Nielsen specifically mentioned the Predator fantasy course from previous Tiger games as being popular with fans. He did not actually confirm it for the game, however.

Do players trigger events like the battleship from the Battlefield 4 Paracel Storm map crashing onto the course?
No. You don't do something that triggers the battleship, per se. But you can bounce your ball off it instead of going around it. Nielsen says that the team plans to include some events in the fantasy courses that span more than one hole as well as courses that have multiple interactive elements.

How about fantasy characters from the series' past?
Developer EA Tiburon is not talking about any specifics on characters/players, licensed or fantasy.

Will the game support Kinect motion controls?
"Our intention is to still support [motion contols] – whether it be the Move for Sony or the Kinect for Microsoft. That will be a way that you can play the game." Nielsen also told us that the game will have multiple control schemes from complete control over your swing to simpler options. "We had a lot of critical and community praise on the Total Swing Control that we introduced in [Tiger] 13. Some form of that with a little more options will definitely be one of the ways you can play the game."

Is The Masters returning?
Nielsen says that the team isn't talking about the career mode or any of the game's other features at this time. We specifically asked about a course creator like The Golf Club, but he wasn't biting.

Did you guys consider putting out a golf game in 2014 and not skipping a year?
"It was definitely talked about, but for the game we wanted to build and even ultimately for what we us ourselves expected from a gen-four golf game, it became quickly apparent that we were going to need the extra time to do it. If we had only had a one year cycle, there's no way we would have been able to do this."

With the ability to make areas of the course playable thanks to Frostbite 3, perhaps wildlife will come into play.

PGA Golf comes out for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One next spring.

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