The last 20 years have seen more games released than we could possibly count, but one sports franchise has stood out above all the rest. We're writing about it now, so you already know where we're going with this: Everybody's Golf (formerly known as Hot Shots Golf outside of Japan) arrives this year to celebrate the anniversary milestone, and it's not a moment to soon for devoted fans. It's been six years since Hot Shots has graced a PlayStation console, but this year's entry is not only the best looking, it's also been revamped from the ground up to be even more accessible to newcomers than ever before.

First, Everybody's Golf brings with it the tried and true gameplay of past entries, though with a few new flourishes. The three-click swing meter returns, but it's also now used for putting, which may be a bit of a surprise the first time you hit the greens. It doesn't drastically alter the putting game much, but if you do miss the third click by a significant margin, you will definitely push your putt. The good news is Everybody's Golf still has the best green reading system of any golf game, and it's as easy as ever to learn and master no matter what your skill level.

Now that's important because you will be directly impacting your character's skill sets. Unlike every other entry in the series, you don't have a set roster of unlockable golfers to choose from. Instead, you create your in-game persona, and start from the bottom to become one of the most skilled golfers in the world. Getting accurate shots off, landing them in the fairway or on the green in regulation, and making spectacular chips and putts all earns you experience in one of four different skill sets. Power, Control, Backspin and Backdoor (a skill that helps rim-riding putts find a home) are where you'll be improving with every shot you take.

Sony

In our brief time with the game, we leveled up the demo character's Power and Control from zero to level one in just five holes. We were playing on easy in an easy tournament, but it's easy to see how your play impacts your character almost immediately. Though the default clubs didn't give us any bonuses at E3, there will still be clubs and balls to earn through play that will also give you statistical bonuses as there were in past iterations. Everybody's Golf hasn't steered too far from the path, but from what we've seen so far, it's done it in smart ways that make the game feel more personal and social than ever before.

As this is the first true PlayStation 4 entry in the series, there are a significant number of improvements longtime fans will notice immediately. Newcomers may be confused as to why there are such cartoonish characters playing golf in such a wonderfully realized world, but that's all part of the Everybody's Golf charm. It's not a serious simulation, though the game's courses won't be without their difficult elements, and the more animated avatars are a sign that this sports game is one anyone can pick up and enjoy with little effort. The courses themselves are brilliant. We played on the Eagle City Golf Club's back nine, and saw a lot of great detail and shading in the landscape. It's far above anything we've seen from the series in the past.

Additionally, Everybody's Golf no longer only shows off one hole at a time as the PlayStation 4 doesn't have the graphical limitations of previous platforms. You can see the front nine and back nine at a given time depending where you are on the course, and your errant shots can certainly find their ways to the wrong fairway. There are still boundaries on the courses overall, but you won't find yourself smacking the ball into the ether as much as was possible in earlier versions of Everybody's Golf.

The PlayStation 4 also offers a robust set of online options and more social interaction, but that wasn't on display for us to see at E3 this week. There's only 11 weeks to go until Everybody's Golf arrives, so we won't have long to wait to join up with friends on the links or racing golf carts around course. That might seem like a long time, until you realize it's been so long since this series has put out an entry. Everybody's Golf is a sports title that's not just easy to learn and fun to master, but it's one players of all skill levels and ages can enjoy. Trust us when we say your PlayStation 4 library won't be complete without it.

Everybody's Golf will be out exclusively on the PlayStation 4 on August 29.

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