Developed by Hugecalf Studios, Turbo Golf Racing is an arcade sports driving game where you bash into a giant ball with rocket-powered cars. Sound familiar?
Given Rocket League’s enormous popularity, it's surprising that it's taken so long for another developer to attempt a car sports game that rivals it. With Turbo Golf Racing launching on Steam Early Access and Xbox Game Preview, Rocket League finally has a serious contender.
It's hard not to compare Turbo Golf Racing with Rocket League. After all, both titles are car-based ball games with a focus on online play. Turbo Golf Racing’s visual style and futuristic car designs also invite comparisons with Rocket League. Even the hole explosions look like Rocket League’s goal explosions. But the similarities end there – Turbo Golf Racing has its own identity. This is a different league.
It's not rocket science
As the name implies, Turbo Golf Racing is a racing game combining cars with crazy golf. It's a key difference that separates Turbo Golf Racing from Rocket League. Up to eight players try to knock their ball into the final hole first in a frantic race to the finish while dodging obstacles and finding the optimal line.
The fastest to the hole wins and there are three holes in each round. It’s as simple as it sounds. Each round lasts around five minutes, making Turbo Golf Racing perfect to pick up and play for a quick session or multiple rounds lasting several hours.
Up to eight giant balls flying in the air at the same time can be distracting at first. Crucially, however, contact with other cars and balls is disabled to prevent matches from getting too chaotic.
Of course, online-focused games need an active player base to thrive. Fortunately, Turbo Golf Racing is off to a strong start in this regard. Finding a full match with eight players doesn’t take long and starting an online game is swift and easy. There were a few connection issues at launch, but these have since been resolved.
It certainly helps that Turbo Golf Racing is available on Game Pass at no extra cost, bringing the game to a large audience from day one. Establishing a solid player base is crucial at this early stage. Part of Rocket League’s success can be attributed to the fact it was free on PlayStation Plus at launch, and Turbo Golf Racing could find similar success on Game Pass if it can retain a loyal player base.
Online multiplayer is clearly the focus. Racing with other players to reach the final hole is fun and frantic, but Turbo Golf Racing also offers a solo campaign. It’s effectively a practice mode with 30 holes to complete awarding up to three stars depending on your time. Later levels require a certain number of stars to unlock, so there is an incentive to progress.
Trying to beat your best score and earn three stars for every level is addictive. However, there are no AI opponents to compete with, meaning you're always playing solo. As a result, the single-player campaign is barebones and underdeveloped – Turbo Golf Racing is at its best when played with others.
Adding AI bots would also enable players to practice with opponents before making the jump online and help populate servers with lower player numbers to keep lobbies full. Hopefully, Hugecalf Studios can flesh out the solo campaign in future updates.
The colourful courses are simple at first but get increasingly intricate and challenging as you progress with multiple paths, out-of-bounds areas to avoid, and sandbanks that slow you down.
Each course is well designed, with floating hoops that launch the ball further, boost pads that increase your speed, and a coloured path showing the fastest route. There is often something new to discover even after multiple playthroughs of the same level. While this adds plenty of variety to the layouts, the levels can get visually samey as there are currently only three environments.
The driving feels responsive if a tad too sensitive on default settings, which can sometimes cause you to miss the ball if you turn too sharply and misjudge a shot. You can also jump, flip, boost, and even glide, encouraging you to try different tactics when hitting the ball.
The ball physics are noticeably different to Rocket League and take time to practice. Hitting the ball at an angle adds spin - the further to the edge you hit the ball, the more spin you apply. The physics have a lot of depth, but despite this Turbo Golf Racing is accessible for beginners thanks to an intuitive ball prediction line that indicates the ball’s trajectory before you hit it.
Ball cam is also enabled by default, keeping the camera always locked onto the ball and the large holes aren’t difficult to miss. That said, the introductory tutorial is too brief. There are no tutorials for advanced techniques such as adding spin to the ball, using missiles, or dipping the front of your car to affect shot height.
Another aspect that makes Turbo Golf Racing stand out from Rocket League is the Power Cores that unlock special abilities. You can equip one Active and up to two Passive cores for each car. Passive cores are active all the time and can increase the size of the ball, make it bouncier, or add more spin among other upgrades.
Active cores, on the other hand, are manually activated and have a cool-down period. The Magnetise Core, for example, pulls the ball towards your car, while Shock creates a shockwave that pushes your ball away from your car.
While you can’t directly attack opponents with Power Cores you can pick up missiles to fire at other cars and shields to block attacks. Finding the best combinations is key, but time will tell if Hugecalf Studios can find the right balance.
With only three locations, a handful of cars, and one core game mode, Turbo Golf Racing is light on content at this early stage. But this is just the beginning. Turbo Golf Racing is currently out on Steam Early Access and Xbox Game Preview, which means it’s still early in development. There’s a solid foundation to build on here and more content is coming in future updates.
Hugecalf Studios estimates Turbo Golf Racing will remain in Early Access for around 12 months. During that time, the indie developer plans to support Turbo Golf Racing with new cars, levels, Power Cores, and game modes.
If it can retain a loyal player base in the long run, Turbo Golf Racing has a ton of potential to become a legitimate Rocket League rival. Fun, fast-paced, and surprisingly addictive, Turbo Golf Racing is well worth a putt - especially if you have Game Pass.