The simulation games from Wolverine Studios all follow a pretty similar format and because of that, they kind of suffer from a lot of the same issues at times when it comes to how they execute their vision. So the positive is that Wolverine provides text sims for sports like college football and college basketball, which allows you to get at least some small fix for your addiction. But most Wolverine games follow a similar template, so games like Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 2018 are an imperfect mixed bag at times.
With March Madness now officially here, here are my thoughts on Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 2018 and if this title is indeed worthy of being in your gaming rotation.
What I Like
- It’s A College Basketball Game – We don’t get many of these around these parts. So even if I’m just managing a team without having all the flair of polished 3-D environments — it’s still something. And that instantly makes the game more worthwhile because of that.
- Mods Are Easy To Find – Like all other games that would attempt to replicate college sports, Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 2018 is unlicensed. However, this game is super easy to mod and getting real team names, logos and even rosters is not difficult. So with that, you are instantly in a spot where you are dealing with familiar teams and names. The fictional league is merely okay — I didn’t do much within that world before getting a mod.
- The World Is Pretty Complete – You can do a lot of what you would expect to be able to do when it comes to managing a college basketball team. From recruiting, to cheating at recruiting, to stat tracking, managing practices, scheduling, and trying to be a Cinderella in the tournament. Everything you want in terms of managing a college basketball team is here and functional in good ways.
- The Tracking Of Ratings Progression Over Time – This new feature is a nice addition and allows you to track how players ascended from their freshman year to their senior year (or whenever they end up leaving). It’s a small touch but I liked it a lot.
- Coach Lineages – This is a really cool feature to build out the world within DDS: CBB. The long and short is the new way these are presented allow you to track every coach that’s ever coached at any school in the game, and then find out where they are now/what happened to them — in case you are ever curious what happened to your chief rival from 10 years ago.
- The AI Is Pretty Good – Granted I didn’t play more than a few seasons, but the AI overall does a good job of managing their teams (or your team if you so choose to automate some tasks). Recruiting is a challenge and game planning against AI coaches is something you’ll find yourself having to think through with some basic basketball knowledge. I played an Ivy League team who ran a slow-paced offense, and decided to try to get my team to push the tempo a bit — as one example — as they sat back in a zone and crashed the boards hard.
- The Coaching Carousel Is Well Done – I really found myself enjoying the coach poaching and looking to build out my staff. The search to find the right assistants to fit what I needed to complement my skill set is a well thought out process that really sets the pace for a program.
- End Game Management Features – In previous versions of the game, you could be driven mad by the lack of hustle towards the end of games. Now you see halfcourt heaves, increased pacing, and more that improves that aspect of the sim experience.
- Sim Engine – You get pretty realistic stats and it also sifts through games relatively quickly. You could easily shuffle through seasons at a rather rapid pace if that’s something you desired with little issue. There are sometimes some “what the heck” type of stats that it puts out, but I’ve seen enough sports to kind of say those are things that do happen from time to time. I don’t put complete statistical accuracy at as high of a bar as other sim players probably do though, as something within the wheelhouse of probability works just fine for me.
What I Didn’t Like
- I Really Don’t Like The Interface – The thing that’s becoming obvious with the Wolverine games is that the interface, which once was pretty workable, is just outdated. As features have been added, the UI has become rather clunky. There are multiple instances where some items that should only require a click or two become buried within menus that require several clicks. Obviously for a game that requires you work through these menus as a prerequisite for enjoying it, that can become a problem.
- Managing Lineups Just Doesn’t Make Sense – In the case of managing depth charts and lineups, the process is just not that intuitive. This is an example of how the game doesn’t really help you along, and kind of throws you to the wolves and forces you to do the work it should be doing. Instead of setting your rotation based upon a total allotment of available minutes, you have to do the math all in your head yourself and then submit your findings. Even then, you may get an imperfect solution and not something you expected.
- There’s A Lot Of Information And Some Of It Feels Disconnected – Again, this is something that comes down to the interface. Draft Day Sports: College Basketball offers you so much. You have to manage players grades, their attitudes and team chemistry. The problem is that you have to go so many places to put some pieces together that it ends up feeling like a chore after awhile to do things that should be under a single menu.
- The World Is Complete, But Needs Life – Another complaint I have is that the world built within the game is just not alive. As I said before, it’s all here, but it’s like the next level of then making all of the information come alive is just…missing.
I firmly believe everything is in place for Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 2018 to be a thrilling and exceptional simulation experience — but it just isn’t. The interface makes the entire experience disjointed and frustrating to manage. A modern and revamped menu system that simplifies and streamlines many of the most common commands and presents the most important information to you would go a long way. I can’t stress enough that the menus hold back what otherwise appears to be a pretty darned good game under the hood.
As it stands, if you love college basketball and the thought of managing programs throughout several seasons, this is still a game you will enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 2018 but not as much as I feel the game deserves. It’s an average title that sticks to the conventions of the genre and doesn’t do much more than that. If you are a college basketball fan in need of a new gaming fix, this is an option I do feel you’d enjoy.