New Hot Shots Golf Preview

Hot Shots Online. 

New Hot Shots Golf, as one of the few casual golf franchises remaining in the industry, didn't have too much of a presence at PlayStation Experience 2015, as it was tucked away near the back corner of the show floor. It's a bit surprising given that this is the first time we've seen the Hot Shots Golf series (called Minna no Golf in Japan and Everybody's Golf in Europe) since Hot Shots Golf World Invitational four years ago. And that it's a PS4 exclusive.

The core upgrade for the series with New Hot Shots Golf is that developer Clap Hanz has now made every course explorable, so that players are no longer bound to the few feet around the tee or wherever the ball lands. Before and after each hole, your character can run around the entire golf course (the Eagle City G.C. or the Alpine Forest G.C.), exploring landmarks, the stands, and the general terrain. In fact, you'll need to walk to the tee of next hold to start it, which isn't that bad since you can now select where you want to tee off. But in case you want to skip a hole and play another, you can spawn a golf cart and drive across all the fairways and bunkers to your destination.

However, this can lead to a bit of trolling behavior. In the session I played along with seven other players, we were rather respectful and didn't attempt to block each other's shots. But you can imagine that with strangers, there will be players whose purpose will be to interrupt shots, prance in front of other players' shot lines, and just make life difficult for everyone else. In the Capture the Flag mode, where teams battle to get the best score on a certain number of holes, this tactic can actually be useful (which could become a problem since it goes against the rather pleasant nature of the series).

While the leveling process wasn't fully detailed, it seemed as though you could create your character from scratch and select clothing and other customization options throughout play. As you continue to finish holes, you'll earn additional power by hitting long-distance power shots and gain experience toward more levels. I assume that you can equip clothing, golf clubs, and balls that will influence your stats as well.

Mingol Island (or whatever it will be called in the English version) will also feature other activities, if the trailer can be believed. It has characters fishing and even skydiving onto the courses, which will be fine diversions so long as the three-click swing golfing is refined enough. With the new MMO-like style for the series, new online events will include missions, competitive modes, and co-op features. I hope that custom courses will be available as well, since the Eagle City G.C. I played on only had big cups which makes putting much too easy. It looks from one of the screenshots that online play can feature up to 20 players.

New Hot Shots Golf is still a working title at the moment, but it's set for release in 2016 for PlayStation 4.