NBA 2K remains one of the most popular, and best sporting video game franchises on the market. Next to FIFA, it boasts some of the most impressive modes, presentation and gameplay that can be seen in a sports video game. However, for all that it does right, there are still several things that fans would love to see going forward, especially as technology progresses.
2019: More freedom in MyCareer
MyCareer is still the most played game mode in the series, with good reason. Each year’s edition retains the same core elements seen since the mode’s introduction in NBA 2K10. You start out as a young rookie; slowly make your way up the rotation before emerging as your team’s star. Recent titles have seen more story elements featured, although the results have been mixed. The intention and idea is great, but too often the story feels forced, and it’s the same story seen in every sports movie. Young guy gets overlooked, signs as an undrafted rookie, impresses and becomes a star, all the while dealing with agents, sponsors and the media. If the developers really want to implement a story into MyCareer, allow it to be more like an RPG. Give you more freedom in the decisions you make, what you say and what you do, and let those actions have long lasting repercussions. If you elect to criticise the referees in a press conference, get slapped with a hefty. If you decide to ditch the team that drafted you for a rival, let the fans ridicule you and the opposing players talk trash and play dirty. Giving it the feel of an RPG will make each player’s experience unique, and take the mode to the next level.
2020: Modes centred on NBA history
For most fans, the best game in the series in generally considered to be NBA 2K11. What made it so great was that the game, in addition to everything else, was focused on Michael Jordan. Aside from him being on the cover, a host of modes were dedicated to the GOAT, with the standout being the challenge mode that allowed you to participate in legendary moments from his career and attempt to recreate his stats, such as when he dropped 63 on the Celtics in 1986. The game always features a host of legendary teams to play around with in the Play Now mode, but there’s no substance, they just feel tacked on. What adds further validity is that NBA 2K17 and 2K18 both had special editions featuring NBA legends on the cover, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal respectively. Imagine if 2K allowed you score 81 with Kobe against the Raptors, or manhandle the Indiana Pacers with Shaq. No doubt 2K will continue in this direction, focusing on legends of the game, so it’d be fitting to allow us to relive legendary moments from NBA history.
2021: Charles Barkley to finally appear
If 2K gets one thing right every year, it’s the presentation. Year by year the game feels more and more like the real thing, especially in regards to how it is presented. One of the standout features in the pre, half time and post game shows that feature the guys from NBA on TNT, Shaq, Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith. Unfortunately, in real life Charles Barkley, who notably has been missing from this lineup, also accompanies them. Charles Barkley came out and said the reason he isn’t in the game is because they won’t pay him, which sounds greedy but can be considered fair when factoring in that it is his likeness they want. You only need to watch Inside the NBA on TNT to see how integral Chuck is to the lineup, and it would make the moments with the crew so much better, if his comedic and blunt analysis featured.
2022: Less pre-determined animations
2K have done well with the gameplay looking almost exactly like a real game of basketball. Despite this, there are still issues with the animations in the game. Too often you as a player are forced into pre-determined animations, often not at your own fault. You could be attempting to block a shot, only to be locked into an animation that forces you to be dunked on, or foul the opposing player, even though you did everything you could to contest the shot effectively. Other instances include the animations for stealing the ball, which often feel random and not based on physics and actual, proper defence being played. The removal of these animations will give some control back to the players, allowing the games to feel more fluid, more lifelike and less scripted.
2023: No more microtransactions
Microtransactions have been a controversial topic in gaming over the past couple of years. They essentially form a pay-to-win system, usually found in mobile games, but they have been creeping their way into mainstream console games. Formerly in MyCareer, you would earn skill points to upgrade your player, which you would earn by playing games and performing well. However, with the introduction of Virtual Coins (VC) in 2K, it replaced skill points as the manner in which to upgrade your player. You do earn VC by playing games, but it is a very slow grind, one that many elect to bypass by simply purchasing a bunch of it of the store, shortcutting their way to having a highly rated player. It takes away the merit of actually earning your player’s abilities, and it becomes more of a battle of who is more willing to splash their real life money on a fake currency. This rings especially true if you want to play online in MyPark, where on the first day of release there were players already rated 90 overall, which tells you that they spent a lot of money on VC. Why should you lose a game just because someone spent more money than you? The developers did a great job in 2K18 with playing styles and attribute caps, making sure that you cannot create a player who is tall, fast, strong, athletic, has handles, plays lockdown defence and can shoot the three. Instead they made sure to try and balance things based on the play styles you choose and the position of your player, but all of this balance and sense of progression is thrown out the window, when before even playing one game you can upgrade your player all the way, simply by forking out some money towards the game. 2K have to get rid of these microtransactions, and really focus on a fair progression system, linking to the initial point about an RPG element in the game, making it about playing well and earning your skill points, not spending the most