Getting into my fourth day of NBA 2K18, I’d be lying if I said that I was heavily into The Neighborhood and MyCareer like the majority of probably all the other players on the 2K18 server right now. I’ve been heavily reluctant to get into the mode after seeing early that VC will be as heavily a contributor to the mode as actual grinding will be. After realizing that I’d be a fool to not try and see what “The Hood” was all about, I jumped in and spent a good chunk of the last day running around to see what exactly was being offered up to us. I’ll give an impression of each area of the Hood and the various locations that are applicable to them. Come take a stroll with me to see how the 2K team has tied together MyCareer, Pro-Am and the Park to give us The Neighborhood;
I’m going to say this right from the jump. I fully get where the 2K team was going with the MyCareer story based on the dramatic overhaul and potential game and industry changer that The Neighborhood is. Despite my understanding of the story direction, and maybe I’m being too Lavar Ball-esque here, my early impression of what I’ve seen is that the team didn’t put much, well, emphasis on a solid story line like they did in the last couple iterations of MyCareer.
You start off by choosing your favorite team, and then start the mode (as you would have probably seen in The Prelude) heading off to the Proving Ground tournament. The whole introductory “video” gives you an idea of how The Neighborhood looks as you fist bump and say hello to all the people around the hood that you know. When you reach The Playground, where the tournament is being held, you have to sign in; I felt that implementing this as the way that you create your player was a slick move, doing everything on the tablet to identify yourself was smart and lends to the feel of setting up to enter the tournament quite nicely.
At this point you indirectly meet ATM, who you end up playing with and against in the three games that you play during the Proving Grounds tournament. I’m curious to see if we’ll run into him again at some point later in the career mode. You also quickly find out the backstory behind your player, DJ; a former standout basketball player, you’ve left the sport to pursue your dream of being a world-renown music DJ. After a couple years away, you’ve realized your true love for basketball and are looking to make a return and show everyone you’ve still got what it takes to play at a high level. I thought that this premise was a little stale in comparison to the Freq and Prez story monikers from the last two years.
After running through the Proving Ground tournament and getting your feet wet in a few more scrimmages (no, I don’t want to talk about the story and ruin it), you’ll finally get to roam the neighborhood. In terms of the career portion of The Neighborhood, there has been some things that have stayed the same and there have also been some welcome additions. You’ll play career games the same as you did last year (by selecting them from the calendar), but there have been a few nice additions to season games. Before each game, you’ll have the ability to change some of your gear that you’ll wear in-game while sitting in the locker room. Once you’re ready to hit the court, you’ll run out from the locker room to the court and participate in the pre-game shootaround with your team. I was impressed that the 2K team added these two elements into the game as it adds to the realism of being an NBA player. Post game, as you walk back to the locker room, you’ll get an overlay of your game stats and will walk by a team usher that has no respect for you — as you’re a rookie on the team undeserved of getting props like everyone else.
G Training Facility – As you would assume by its name, this is where you come to pump up like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Everything you do here goes towards filling up your CAP Breaker meter. Some of the workouts here include leg press, squats, battle ropes and the treadmill to name a few. Battle ropes is a new addition to the game this year along with a few of the others. You can workout here as much as you like, but the CAP Breaker increases are small. The Gatorade Fuel Bar is also located in the back of the Training Facility; go here to spend VC on consumables that increase your Turbo.
Team Training Facility – We talking about practice!? Yes, practice folks. This year practice works a little different; last year you’d hit up team practices where the coach would run drills time to time to boost your attributes. This year, you hit up the Training Facility and can work on the badges of your choice that you’d like to attain and level up. Of course, the badges you have access to attain and level are solely based on your archetype. The drills you do based on the badge you choose will earn you points towards said badge based on your performance in the respective drill. Some drills are “Team Scrimmage” based and can earn you points for multiple badges. You’re limited to three drills per workout session, and it’s one session per day. After completion you can’t come back until you play your next career game. From time to time. the assistant coach will run a team drill that doesn’t count towards your three badge training sessions; you’ll also earn some XP towards badges during the team drill depending on what the drill is.
VC Sports Management – This is where your agent works out of. After you complete your first NBA game, he’ll start to get and offer you sponsorship deals. You’ll have to go see him here to speak about these deals when offered.
MyCourt – This is your home base where you can access your closet to change up your player gear that you’ve purchased. Like last year, there’s also a TV here that you can watch 2K TV on, and newly added this year, play NBA 2K18. Playing NBA 2K18 will take you into the game’s actual “Play Now” mode where you’ll get taken to and actually play an exhibition game. Very nice addition. Some changes made to MyCourt this year make it fun to have your friends over to your place to shoot some hoops with some mini-games such as Horse.
The Pro-Am circuit this year appears to have been tweaked in an effort to have it work seamlessly in integration with MyCareer and the Playground; it also, from what I’ve seen and played of it so far, is more stable than last year. There are still some latency issues and input is delayed by a second or two, but I have yet to notice any lag spikes. Gone are the waiting times sitting in the locker room in anticipation for a tenth player to join in to start a walk-on game. This time around after entering the Pro-Am walk-on building, players trot right out to the court and can shoot around while waiting for a game. This, again, is a fantastic play by 2K to distract us from potential load times. I managed to get three Pro-Am games in and waited a total of one minute to start an actual game out of the three. I don’t know if it was luck or an improvement in servers, but that was pretty impressive to me; it seems like the load times for Pro-Am this year are pretty quick. I can say that one of the games ended up being myself and another player against 5 AI players; our other three teammates were also AI players. For the sake of stats and actual team play that worked for me just fine. I didn’t get a chance to check Pro-Am in respect of having an actual Pro-Am team, so I’m unsure at this point if that portion of the mode has changed or if it is still the same. One thing I can say about Pro-Am walk-on is that if it doesn’t happen already (which it really seems like it has not), the 2K team needs to patch in a matchmaking system. A 6-foot-2 guard matched up against a 7-foot center is no fun to deal with, and demolishes your teammate grade.
Pro-Am Team Arena – This is the building you’ll go to when you want to start a Pro-Am team and play other user created Pro-Am teams.
Pro-Am Walk-On Arena – This building is where you go to play in Pro-Am walk-on games.
Pro Tip: It’s pretty well known by now that there is going to be a lot of grinding needed to reach 99 overall; if you’re either playing through building your guy up the long and steady way or you’ve got the VC to hit level 85 right away, you’ll notice that there are CAP Breakers that you can increase, totaling up to 20. I quickly realized after hitting the G Training Facility and doing a bunch of drills, playing a couple NBA games (riding the bench, actually) and playing at The Playground that easily the FASTEST way to build up your CAP Breaker meter to get the next Overall increase is to play Pro-Am walk-on games. I got my first CAP Breaker increase after playing just TWO walk-on games.
The mecca. This is where the hood comes out to play some streetball. This year, The Park has been ditched to make way for the The Playground. We essentially now have The Flyers, Sunset Beach and Rivet City all in one place, as their Threes courts have been migrated over to The Playground. Each respective faction has two 3v3 courts playable in three of four sections, with the Legendary court being a new addition, and the fourth court available in The Playground. The Legendary court is the 2v2 court. One thing you’ll quickly notice is that the 1v1 court is no longer part of The Playground; you can actually find this respective court by taking a run around the hood. Games I got into loaded quickly, and I’m tempted to say almost instantaneously. I’ve seen some people mention that they’ve experienced either some or pretty much fully non-playable lag, but I managed to play about five Playground games and experienced no lag whatsoever.
The Venue – All the high stakes and courts for wagering VC on Playground games are located in this building. If you’re feeling like a baller and want to put up money to test your skills, go here and show out.
Dunk Off Court – New this year, the Dunk Off Court is one of the mini-games around the Neighborhood where you can go and try to put up a high score for all others to envy. You’ve got 30 seconds to pull off as many Zion Williamson-like dunks that you can to try to amass the best high score of the day.
King of the Court – This is the 1v1 court, no longer located in The Playground itself.
DownTown – Another new mini game added this year, DownTown is essentially a 3-Point contest. Highest score of the day is displayed for all to see. There’s also a 4-Point shot which is deeper than 3 range.
2K Zone – Play some arcade games, play NBA trivia, and try to earn yourself some VC by guessing the outcome of real daily NBA games. The JBL headphone store is also located inside 2K Zone should you want to buy a new pair of headphones for your character. I noticed that there was a DJ booth in the back but couldn’t access it and had a “Recording Studio Access Needed” message show up when trying to get into the booth; I can only assume that the recording studio is a part of the MyCareer story.
Writer’s Note: Just before posting, I believe I found out how to access the DJ booth; see below in the Random Spots section.
Shopping In The Hood
The final element of The Neighborhood are the various shops and places you can go to customize your player. This is the where some people currently have issue with how 2K may be possibly taking advantage of players and the VC market.
T-Shirt Kiosk – This nifty little addition allows you to create custom short and long sleeve T-shirts that can be voted on by the community. You can also buy custom-made shirts from other community members here. You must be an 80 overall to buy and create custom tees.
Shameless Plug: I made a preeeeetty sweet tee that all of you 2K players on PS4 should go vote on, seen above; look for Eat Sleep Ball Repeat. Yeah, I made that myself. Yeah, my Photoshop game is proper.
NBA Store – The NBA Store has all the licensed gear for all the NBA teams, as well as Mitchell and Ness throwback gear.
Foot Locker – Foot Locker is where you’ll head over to fill your sneaker-head addiction and deck out your player in the flyest shoes the game has to offer. You can buy shoes from all the big brands for use in either career games, Pro-Am or The Playground.
Alley-Oops Tattoo – This is where you go to get your player inked up. All the tattoos cost VC, and it seems like there have been some new tattoos added in this year. Applying the tattoos has changed from last year in that you place your tattoo where you want before purchasing; I bought a couple tats for my character, but I feel like the option in how you apply tattoos has been pulled back in comparison to last year. It doesn’t look like you have full control over sizing and placement, and you can’t flip a tattoo like you could last year. A good bit of the tattoos you can’t get until you reach an overall of 70.
Swag’s – This is the shop where you can buy gear for your player that is for The Playground and anything off the court. You’ll find some licensed premium gear here too.
Doc’s – Go here to change up your hair and facial hair. All haircuts and facial hair costs VC to change to; changing the color of hair and facial hair also costs VC, and some color options are locked until you reach a higher overall level (80). One gripe I have about Doc’s is that you can’t preview a haircut or facial hair on your character like you can for clothing.
There are a few places that round out the Neighborhood that you may or may not have noticed. I hit them all up, but I’m not sure what they do for you beside the juice stand.
Main Street News – This newspaper stand sits in front of the Pro-Am walk-on building. I talked to the guy working but then it was instantly closed after. I assume that it’ll probably sell Gatorade consumables that you can get without having to go all the way back to the G Training Facility.
Fresh Squeezed – In homage to the Orange Juice duo we saw last year, this juice cart is located outside of the Team Training Facility to your right. You can go here to get an extra practice point, which is used to train an extra badge per day. I’m not sure if this applies after every team practice. Namaste.
JBL Recording Studio – I couldn’t get access but after some exploration I noticed this door to the recording studio in the alley to the right of Foot Locker. I believe that once you can access this, you will also be able to access the DJ booth inside of 2K Zone.
Subway Station – Thank the Barking Foot Gods, but all the Zoom Air Nikes you bought from Foot Locker can’t save your feet from all the running you do around The Neighborhood. Luckily there is a subway station handily placed by the G Training Facility that takes you right over to The Playground. Really and truly, the amount of time it takes to load from you going through the subway you could run over to The Playground, but adding this in was a nice touch by 2K.
As you can see, The Neighborhood brings a lot to the table this year, melding Pro-Am, MyCareer and The Park quite nicely. Despite the fact that I had to drop VC to do things, I actually really started to enjoy my time running around the hood. I even decided to make my player look like a boss and splashed out on some gear instead of wearing that terrible brown shirt. Man…I really hate those brown shirts. The mode is also slightly changing my view on the VC gripe; a good friend of mine, while watching me run around and listening to me complain about dropping 4,000 VC on a tattoo said “what are you complaining about? It’s similar to real life man. You want something, you gotta pay for it. You going to walk into Foot Locker and get a pair of Jordans for free? Nah.” It made me realize he might be right (but only a little). The one thing that does have me worried is the sustainability of The Neighborhood; once players start to have the amount of items that they’re satisfied with, will the shops still be worthwhile? Will the 2K Zone be enjoyable after your tenth visit? I can say with a little more confidence that right now The Neighborhood is starting to feel like it’s definitely worth the price of admission.