First Impressions on Winning Putt

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TBD Overall Score

Nice graphics, feature packed, simple to pick up, solid game

Potential pay to win with Platinum premium currency only items, the golf mechanics at their core aren’t massively original

By: David Puig 

We got the chance to check out the open beta of Namco-Bandai’s new golf game Winning Putt (developed by Webzen OnNet), a free to play MMO meets golf simulator that has been developed with the CryEngine for some pretty decent graphics. As the game has just become available we spent some hours trying it out to see what it had to offer and whether it was a clear shot down the fairway or a bad slice into the rough.

Heading into the game we were navigated through a series of tutorials which not only explains to players the rules of golf and how the game works, but also the mechanics for Winning Putt with a series of skill based tasks to drive the ball, get out of sand bunkers, learn how to put and more. The mechanics for the most part are pretty much the same as every golf game that exists, this isn’t a complaint, there’s only so much you can do with a golf game and the extra features in the game are what separate it from them.

When stepping up to take a shot you hit Tab to see where the ball is going to land if you do a perfect shot (not accounting for wind), changing your club will increase or reduce the range, the ball won’t go as far if you are hitting it out of the rough (deep grass) or sand traps. The mechanics of taking the shot, once more, are the same as most games where you hit space or left mouse to start an arrow traveling along a power gauge, then stopping it at max power before it reaches the end of the bar and overshoots. Then it travels back down the gauge towards a mark and you need to stop it as close to the centre as possible or you will pull the shot to the left or right with a push/pull, hook it depending on the power, or slice it if you wildly miss your “sweet spot”. Having played enough golf games over the years the tutorial absolutely wasn’t a requirement for us as the game, at its core, isn’t particularly new.


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So what is different? Well the MMO aspect sees you in the game with thousands of other players at any one time, loading into the square you are at an open plaza that acts as a public chat area with lots of players and NPCs that give access to various features: General Goods, Apparel, Academy Trainer (for tutorials) and then the different game modes such as Driving Range for practicing, a few Head to Head Friendly games, Guild matches, Challenge Rounds, etc. Most features are level locked giving that tiered level based progression that we’d also expect of an MMO, we earned XP through competing in matches and mostly through completing quests. The quests acted more like Achievements where we didn’t really have to actively pursue them, they were things that generally triggered and completed themselves (though only when the quest was active), such as push/pulling the ball 10 times, or landing on the green within 10yards of the hole 10 times. Other quests put you on gold courses and you had to complete so many holes in a certain number of shots, we can only imagine that the quests get more difficult as you level up and your skill improves.

One of the areas we’re not as comfortable with is the pay to win advantages, again in MMO fashion there’s various items that players can consume in a match that gives them a boost in their power, or accuracy, or other aspects that can potentially improve their game. Whilst something such as a power boost gives an advantage as to how far you can hit the ball, it does at least come at the expense of making it harder to be as accurate (the gauge arrow moves a lot quicker). Similarly players can purchase various “Chrono” clubs, from irons, woods, wedges, drivers and even full sets of clubs, when purchased players get a random chance of them being a White, Green or Blue quality (improving their rarity and stats), though we’re not sure how this compares to the other gear available in the game which can be upgraded.


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The problem we have is that some of these boosts and all of the Chrono clubs are purchased with Platinum, the games premium currency, which can be earned in some small measure through playing, but players can spend around $60 for the full level 30 Chrono set… and some people will. As we don’t know how Premium the clubs are we can’t comment too much, other than to say we generally dislike being able to buy top quality gear with Premium only currency. The boosts however give a clear advantage, at highest levels with evenly matched skill, the boosts WILL give a player the edge and this means that to be competitive then buying them and using them consistently in matches will require payment... the pay to win is real and if you want to keep yourself on an even playing field then you will need to pay as well… and we really don’t like that.

Players do earn clubs through gameplay, they can even “Enchant” them (yes, the NPC is called an Enchanter… which is so out of place for a Golf game and seems more like a fantasy RPG) which gives them better stats. Another thing we don’t like is the inclusion of damage on your clubs after using them, requiring players to spend their earned cash on repairs, which honestly is just a money sink that we think is once more out of place for a golf game.

Overall we enjoyed the game, it’s a pretty solid golf game from our experience and most of the features add to the game to make it a well-rounded MMO, there were some teething problems with the game during our playthrough, with the Devs making constant announcements of what bugs they were trying to fix. How Winning Putt will scale at high end play with the inclusion of Premium consumables and gear we’re not sure, but we still think players will get a lot out of the game and the inclusion of Guild play is something we’re happy to see.


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By: David Puig