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NBA 2K19 Early Gameplay Impressions

NBA 2K19

NBA 2K19 Early Gameplay Impressions

We’re about a week away from the month of August and there’s very little news released about NBA 2K19. Most fans are starting to get antsy as they wait to hear what changes have been brought to the table for this year’s game. Luckily, I was able to attend a 2K event where I had some hands-on time with the game, chopping it up with Mike Wang and Scott O’Gallagher. I got in about five full games, playing against YouTube personality Chris Smoove (@Chris_Smoove) and YouTube/Forbes writer Brian Mazique (@UniqueMazique).

Here’s a quick list of some of the changes, improvements and remaining nuances I noted while playing:

  • New and Added Animations, Better AI – in the games that were played, there were what looked like a lot of new animations in all aspects of the game. There were new and varied loose-ball animations where players would battle for the ball. This tied together well with the AI. There were instances where the ball got knocked loose and you saw Draymond Green get right on the floor and dive for the loose ball; in another loose ball battle, I saw JaVale McGee fight for the ball, but when it got to the point where he should have gotten on the ground, he didn’t. This speaks to the individual player’s hustle and willingness to get down and dirty.
  • Defense/Defensive AI Improved – the improvement on the defensive side of the ball was evident right off the bat. I felt there was a heavy responsibility on the player to stay in front of their man, which was beautiful. The blow-by animation(s) that plagued NBA 2K18 look to be reduced dramatically. Playing against LeBron James, I was able to stay in front of him to an extent with Kevin Durant, but you would see LeBron’s strength take over and he would get by Durant. I saw bumping when a dribbler would try to get by the defender but was locked down. The on-ball defense was great. This was also a welcomed sight; I really think that defense is that much better this year, and the balance it gives to the offensive/defensive battle makes both shutting down an offensive possession and scoring on offense feel rewarding on both sides.

  • Small Changes To Controls – I noticed a few small changes to some controls on both sides of the ball. Mike Wang pointed out a couple changes to us as well. One change that will either be a gift or a curse was the “stop” dribble; a quick tap of LB (we were using Xbox One dev systems for the build of the game we played) made your player do a stop-hesitation type dribble that could be chained in various different ways. This looks to be something that will give us some absolutely nasty dribble moves from players that can or do master the sticks. On the defensive side of the ball, it looked like there was a slight modification to shot contests, which was fully the responsibility of the player. This, to me, is awesome. Mike Wang voiced to us that this change was made to take away from a user running around in a contest stance, which is completely unrealistic. It’s now on you as a defender to reach up for a shot contest; it appeared that you had both a “straight up” contest, and then more of followed through contest where your player would kind of reach up for the contest — but it looked like they would get on their toes and almost mini-jump for the shot contest.
  • Dribbling Is Smooth, Defense Stealing Is Smooth – Dribbling in the build we played felt smooth. I didn’t really find an instance where I was put off by what the player was doing with the ball in relation to what I was doing on the sticks. This extended over to the defensive side of the ball where steals did pop up a few times; steals looked viable and had clean animations due to good timing by the defender. In one instance when I was playing a game against Chris Smoove, we were trying different things that were issues in NBA 2K18. I had the ball with Kevin Durant and was purposely over-dribbling. Durant’s handles, as should be expected, were silky smooth and looked good. Smoove timed his steal with his defender (I think it was Josh Hart) and reached in just as Durant was crossing the ball back and stole the ball cleanly, which lead to a fast break. Seeing this on both sides of the ball is promising and bodes well for the game.
  • Shot Meter Options – one thing Mike Wang pointed out to us was the change with the shot meter, where you could choose Hands, Feet, Both Hands and Feet, or Off. A lot of people have had gripes with the shooting in the past. I personally don’t have a problem with the shooting and layup meters in the game. I think that obviously there’s a dependability on trying to “green light” your shot or layup, obviously depending on the situation, but there’s also the reliance on form and animation. This is fine with me.
  • Dramatically Improved Player Clipping – This was obviously one of the biggest issues for NBA 2K18, as you’d see clipping all over the place. In this build, I don’t think any of us saw any major player clipping. We were told that there was a big emphasis on fixing this issue for NBA 2K19, which was more than welcomed. There’s always obviously going to be clipping in the game, but the improvement seen in what was played hopefully leads to a cleaner NBA 2K19 with much less clipping.

  • Less Cheese (For Now) – You cheesed, or hated people that cheesed in NBA 2K18. Bad news for the cheesers so far: It looks like you’ll have to find some new things to exploit, or just play the right way (the horror!). Chris Smoove and I wasted away a whole quarter with Mike Wang watching, trying to zig-zag dribble and do other cheese moves. We couldn’t pull them off. I managed to somehow pull off a step that would have led to zig-zag dribbling, but when I tried to switch back and take off it didn’t work. It looked like when you tried too quickly switch back, your player would actually do what looked like a crossover dribble back to their opposite hand, moving with their momentum. This took away that quick, drop of a dime cross that we saw last year. Chris and I both professed our elation with this as we had to use our skills to get by the defender instead of cheesing by.
  • Altered/New Badges – it looked like there were some new badges added to the game, as well as some changes to existing ones. In a game against Brian Mazique, he caught fire with LeBron James, and the “Fire” badge was an actual animated flaming circle around LeBron’s “main” badge. While playing against Chris Smoove, Mike Wang mentioned you could press LB on offense to see all the player badges on the floor that was part of the new “Takeover” system. It looks to be a neat new addition to the game in terms of giving you more visual cues.
  • Shot Coverage Readings Still Off – For the most part, shot feedback looked to be on par, but there were a couple instances where the Shot Coverage feedback was terrible. Mike Wang did take note of these, so hopefully it gets fixed.
  • Rebounding Still Needs Work – Rebounding still needs some work. I saw some very nice rebound battle animations from players trying to get position on the box out, namely Boogie Cousins and JaVale McGee fighting for position. The problem is we also saw a few rebounds where players had no business getting the ball as they weren’t in a position to get the ball. The play that really stuck out was one where I should have had an easy rebound with Jordan Bell, whose hands looked like they were about to grab the ball from the side of the net, but instead the rebound was grabbed by Lonzo Ball who was in the front of the basket. Ball jumped from just inside the half circle in the key, and in what appeared to be some sort of vacuum animation, Ball jumped up, grabbed the rebound from Jordan Bell, and both players floated to the left of the basket to the baseline. We showed this to Mike Wang who took note of this.

Here’s Chris Smoove’s footage and impressions from our gameplay from the 2K event:

These were a list of the things I noticed with my hands-on time with NBA 2K19. Is there anything you’re looking forward to for NBA 2K19? Anything you’ve read about that has you excited for the game? Drop a comment below to let us know!

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  1. Sounds okay so far, but from the videos i’ve seen it looks like there’s still a lot of warping and sliding which is very disappointing.
    Hopefully it’s not something we see a lot this year.
    that sound great to me.. that good to know Mike Wang took notes of issues from above for fix those issues on Day One Patch or fix them before release it on September 7 (whoever pre-order 20th anniversary edition)
    Any improvements to fast breaks over the last 2-3 years?  CPU AI always has incredible catch up speed, ruining the enjoyment of any 2-on-1 or 3-on-2 fast break. 
    inkcil
    Any improvements to fast breaks over the last 2-3 years?* CPU AI always has incredible catch up speed, ruining the enjoyment of any 2-on-1 or 3-on-2 fast break.*

    They improved lane running by the AI. AI only has a few seconds to figure out where it's going. If you move the point guard in a different direction. The CPU would change. This should be the best addition.
    Cant lie, so far the game seems very interesting....
    am not hearing anything yet on the post game...but am optimistic that some level of attention was given on it to improve it even further both from the offensive and defensive side of things....
    looking forward to the prelude
    inkcil
    Any improvements to fast breaks over the last 2-3 years?* CPU AI always has incredible catch up speed, ruining the enjoyment of any 2-on-1 or 3-on-2 fast break.*
    I swear I felt that freedom in the open floor the first month I owned 2K18. I'm pretty sure I even came on here and raved about how real it felt to orchestrate a break with Jason Kidd.
    As the months passed, a lot of that feeling went away. Now I mostly feel how you do. The defense seems to get back too easily, lanes clog, and passes are often too clunky, slow, and imprecise.
    I'd actually love if bounce passes could have some zip on them from time to time. As it stands, they mostly feel appropriate for post entry passing and little else.
    I like this sound of this takeover feature. 2K has never been able to replicate the way players get hot and go cold. I wanna see dudes get so cold they could shoot 3-16 then turn around and burn the house down a few games later (Klay Thompson or Curry).
    Let's just pray they don't over do it...
    NINJAK2
    How was the transition defense Joel? Did the a.i. do a better job of matching up quicker?
    From what I saw on transition D there were times where my team matched up properly, and there were other times where I felt my transition D was really slow and my guys weren't getting back. That being said, it was more good than bad for this
    Sent from my SM-N950W using Operation Sports mobile app
    They should add a get back tendency for future 2k's or if at all possible take it a step further add a complain to refs vs get back tendency for offline players only
    Hollywood & Horsehoes
    Welp, sounds promising as it always does in prerelease. Ill wait and see...
    And for the "Less cheese": Just because you fixed last years cheese moves doesnt mean cheesing has been erased from the game. Players will find new ways to cheese...
    respect to Mike Wang for addressing and admitting any game issues..I wish this year that Art Department do the same thing coz they are always MIA when the game releases and you have this thousand of pages for request and maybe 3 of them where answered.
    Good article, but does the video have to be called "Ghetto Gameplay ..."? We need to stop using this term to describe things that are lacking or less-than ideal. 
    kolanji
    Cant lie, so far the game seems very interesting....
    am not hearing anything yet on the post game...but am optimistic that some level of attention was given on it to improve it even further both from the offensive and defensive side of things....
    looking forward to the prelude

    Brian released his impression. he said post game is very decent
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianmazique/2018/07/23/nba-2k19-hands-on-impression-likes-and-dislikes-after-6-full-games-on-an-early-build/#5d8763624e37
    Yeah...THAT Guy
    Just to make sure I'm understanding it right:
    Tapping LB/L1 = the new dribble move, but pressing it = displaying the Takeover system stuff?

    The hard stop move is a tap of LT/L2.
    Tap LB/L1 for the Takeover heat check (we're basically just showing the archetype icons when you bring up playcalling/defensive strat overlays)
    Beluba
    The hard stop move is a tap of LT/L2.
    Tap LB/L1 for the Takeover heat check (we're basically just showing the archetype icons when you bring up playcalling/defensive strat overlays)

    Thanks for the response!
    Is posting up still done by holding LT/L2 then? So it'll be a tap for the new move and holding it to post up/back down?
    Beluba
    The hard stop move is a tap of LT/L2.
    Tap LB/L1 for the Takeover heat check (we're basically just showing the archetype icons when you bring up playcalling/defensive strat overlays)

    Good news! I didn’t like the sound of stopping being on LB and was thinking LT would be more intuitive and ideal for a move like that!
    Question about the loose ball animations. In 2k18 any deflection, tipped rebound, or "fighting" for the ball animation resulted in possession for the current offensive team over 90% of the time. Even when getting a blocked shot it always goes right back to the person who shot the ball, resulting in an easier shot than they had before the block. In pro am this was even easier to see because the offensive team could call timeouts even during "loose" balls which to me means the game doesn't know how to recognize the ball is actually loose. Has this been recognized or addressed?
    Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
    Yeah...THAT Guy
    Thanks for the response!
    Is posting up still done by holding LT/L2 then? So it'll be a tap for the new move and holding it to post up/back down?

    Correct. Holding LT/L2 will post you up when you're within range or put you in protect when you're further from the basket. I forgot to mention this at the event, but if you have a trailing defender, holding LT/L2 will also put you in "hold off," which is a Chris Paul like crab dribble that will allow you to seal the defender behind you for a bit... great for cutting defenders off and opening up a driving lane to the rim.
    Beluba
    Correct. Holding LT/L2 will post you up when you're within range or put you in protect when you're further from the basket. I forgot to mention this at the event, but if you have a trailing defender, holding LT/L2 will also put you in "hold off," which is a Chris Paul like crab dribble that will allow you to seal the defender behind you for a bit... great for cutting defenders off and opening up a driving lane to the rim.

    Wow! Thats BIG TIME! That was a big request... Thank you! Can’t wait to see this in action on PNR’s! Mike, what about heavily contested shots from defenders who are behind us? I’m thinking of the Chris Paul example coming off a pnr, pinning defender behind me and shooting a leaner, floater or jumper with defender behind me. Will that still be a heavily contested shot if no one is within distance in front of me?
    Beluba
    Correct. Holding LT/L2 will post you up when you're within range or put you in protect when you're further from the basket. I forgot to mention this at the event, but if you have a trailing defender, holding LT/L2 will also put you in "hold off," which is a Chris Paul like crab dribble that will allow you to seal the defender behind you for a bit... great for cutting defenders off and opening up a driving lane to the rim.

    Oh man this makes me so damn happy. I think this is exactly how I proposed this should work when we were all talking about gameplay tweaks a year or two ago. Thanks again for the response!
    Edit: Found my post!
    Yeah...THAT Guy
    I definitely hear you on that. Maybe it could be something similar to what FIFA does, where when you hold L2/LT, the ball-handler shields the ball from the defender regardless of what angle the defender is at. Like in FIFA, doing this might cause your player to turn 180 degrees to stick his butt into the defender, and if the defender tries to go around, your player will turn with the defender to continue shielding the ball. Maybe something like that could work in 2K rather than your player just getting into a back down position pretty much.
    vannwolfhawk
    Wow! Thats BIG TIME! That was a big request... Thank you! Can’t wait to see this in action on PNR’s! Mike, what about heavily contested shots from defenders who are behind us? I’m thinking of the Chris Paul example coming off a pnr, pinning defender behind me and shooting a leaner, floater or jumper with defender behind me. Will that still be a heavily contested shot if no one is within distance in front of me?

    I personally found this infuriating last year. This works as you would expect this year. Really opens up our pnr game. Especially against a team that drops that big, you can seal the pg if he comes over the top and pull-up.
    There are a few smaller improvements like this that were made this year that really enhance my enjoyment of certain aspects of basketball in 19.
    Da_Czar
    I personally found this infuriating last year. This works as you would expect this year. Really opens up our pnr game. Especially against a team that drops that big, you can seal the pg if he comes over the top and pull-up.
    There are a few smaller improvements like this that were made this year that really enhance my enjoyment of certain aspects of basketball in 19.

    Well, I didn’t want to use the word infuriating but I was right there with it! Lol! Awesome to hear though! Now the only question in the pnr game for me is how good is the pocket pass (bounce pass) or the ability to split the D on a hedge? It’s amazing how small additions like this go a long ways for immersion and make the game 1000x better. For me stuff like this I love more then some of these other “big” features that get added.
    vannwolfhawk
    Well, I didn’t want to use the word infuriating but I was right there with it! Lol! Awesome to hear though! Now the only question in the pnr game for me is how good is the pocket pass (bounce pass) or the ability to split the D on a hedge? It’s amazing how small additions like this go a long ways for immersion and make the game 1000x better. For me stuff like this I love more then some of these other “big” features that get added.

    Great addition. I hope its rating based. Dont want to see Korver with the crab dribble
    alabamarob
    Great addition. I hope its rating based. Dont want to see Korver with the crab dribble

    Lol! Well unless they tie it to strength or dribbling ratings I’m not sure how you separate it? If people are doing that with korver that’s cheese and you kick them out of league stat! Lol! But I agree great addition! And I thought of you with the on ball and live ball stuff. Fits your style.
    Smirkin Dirk
    I managed to accidentally pull this off once in 2K18. It was probably an accidental animation, but I spent the next 5 hours trying to recreate it.

    Funny because people were saying it was already in you just needed to know how to do it. Smh! Anomaly...
    vannwolfhawk
    Funny because people were saying it was already in you just needed to know how to do it. Smh! Anomaly...

    I think they're wrong. I worked every angle with every player against every defender. Couldnt replicate it.
    I started messing around with the crab dribble last year... it just didn't come together in time. But good to know somebody was able to pull that animation off, even if it was just the one time. :)
    Beluba
    I started messing around with the crab dribble last year... it just didn't come together in time. But good to know somebody was able to pull that animation off, even if it was just the one time. :)

    Cost me an entire night. I started trying it with different players, different parts of the court against different defenses with different overages.
    "I saw it but once, and felt it a lifetime" -Eurypides.
    Beluba
    I started messing around with the crab dribble last year... it just didn't come together in time. But good to know somebody was able to pull that animation off, even if it was just the one time. :)

    nice after a rookie year Kuzma finally got his Tattoo.
    and what happened to Cousins arms in this clip??
    When is the art dept going to show their video???like last year.
    mfdoom911e
    nice after a rookie year Kuzma finally got his Tattoo.
    and what happened to Cousins arms in this clip??
    When is the art dept going to show their video???like last year.
    Could be a model swap? Not sure of the technical term for it. It's a different model for the bench compared to the one on the court.
    Sent from my SM-G930T using Tapatalk
    Generally they use lower res and lower poly count models for the bench. I'd say that's what's up with Cousins. Although at this stage in technology, I question the need for lower quality bench players. The difference in FPS achieved can't be more than 2-3, FPS which in my eyes isn't worth the drop in graphical fidelity.
    The question I wanna ask is, why didn't 2k fix some things people had big problems with, blow by animation, defense in general, layups etc, things even devs admitted were bad and needed to be fixed. Why do we have to wait for the next game that these things get fixed, can't they do it during the cycle of that game? I mean pick and roll CPU defense was a game breaker for me, it's terrible, couldn't they improved it, tune it some way, just try to fix it. Same with other issues people were unhappy about.
    I mean is that the way it's going to be now, 2k is going to release a game with some issues, which of course I understand, every game has it's issues, and they are not going to fix it during the cycle of that game but instead they are going to present it as a series of improvements for the next game to attract people into buying it.
    I mean they obviously can fix it, they have already announced dramatically reduced clipping, better defense, layups etc.
    Yeah I know, patches can ruin the game, 2k series are the good example of it, but that shouldn't mean that game shouldn't be patched if there are some obvious problems.
    I must say, this was a well written article. Its great when you have an article written by guys who seem to know A. How to play the game and B. Use the previous iteration as a frame of reference. This actually excites me to play this years game.
    Johnnythelegend
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jx776hjAQlU
    1:40 Wide open Layup missed, it says that release was bad tho, interesting

    Yh...I mean I don't mind an open layup missing cuz it can happen irl obviously, but it should be a very rare occurrence. With the layups having this timing now like shots, looks like things may potentially become a bit to strict with them.
    Johnnythelegend
    The question I wanna ask is, why didn't 2k fix some things people had big problems with, blow by animation, defense in general, layups etc, things even devs admitted were bad and needed to be fixed. Why do we have to wait for the next game that these things get fixed, can't they do it during the cycle of that game? I mean pick and roll CPU defense was a game breaker for me, it's terrible, couldn't they improved it, tune it some way, just try to fix it. Same with other issues people were unhappy about.
    I mean is that the way it's going to be now, 2k is going to release a game with some issues, which of course I understand, every game has it's issues, and they are not going to fix it during the cycle of that game but instead they are going to present it as a series of improvements for the next game to attract people into buying it.
    I mean they obviously can fix it, they have already announced dramatically reduced clipping, better defense, layups etc.
    Yeah I know, patches can ruin the game, 2k series are the good example of it, but that shouldn't mean that game shouldn't be patched if there are some obvious problems.

    I've heard developers from many games say that certain fixes required changes to various systems that simply can not be integrated into a patch. So it's a matter of if one believes them or ascribes more manipulative motives to what they say and do.
    jfsolo
    I've heard developers from many games say that certain fixes required changes to various systems that simply can not be integrated into a patch. So it's a matter of if one believes them or ascribes more manipulative motives to what they say and do.

    Nope these things are true, and i've seen it with my own eyes.
    You can't tackle everything in 8 months, add new stuff, fix all exploits and bugs, and present an entirely new game every year.
    No one does that, especially with the amount of content 2k pushes out.
    jfsolo
    I've heard developers from many games say that certain fixes required changes to various systems that simply can not be integrated into a patch. So it's a matter of if one believes them or ascribes more manipulative motives to what they say and do.

    I think you might have misunderstood them. The only changes that *can't* be applied into a patch are those that render a version incompatible with previous versions. Stuff like certain save data structural changes.
    Everything else is just a matter of being limited in time and resources. Having worked on game projects large and small, I can tell you the average game development cycle can get pretty intense. Depending on how production and the company themselves are structured, the issues that arise vary from project to project.
    For Visual Concepts, they're under the gun to deliver features (a.k.a. back-of-the-box bullet points) year after year to justify an annual release. So those are always going to get the priority of the resources. Fixing the backlog of issues becomes secondary, because that is not what brings revenue in for the title. Polished product is nice to have but not necessary when the majority of sales are going to be day one, before anyone but a handful of reviewers has had any reasonable amount of time with the title. As long as that is the sales model of 2k and it remains successful, then shiny new game modes, unpolished features shoveled in, and legacy modes that age poorly are just the way it's going to be.
    Nba 2k haven't disappointed me yet. I have complete faith in this game come release date. A half complete 2k game  will be better than NBA LIVE anyday of the year.
    Smirkin Dirk
    I managed to accidentally pull this off once in 2K18. It was probably an accidental animation, but I spent the next 5 hours trying to recreate it.

    Love the putting the defender in jail animation. I just wish we set all of those leaning 1-foot layup animations ablaze. Big men perform them way too often just to have their shots blocked by smaller players. There is still work to do in the mechanics of shot blocking.
    SonicMage
    I think you might have misunderstood them. The only changes that *can't* be applied into a patch are those that render a version incompatible with previous versions. Stuff like certain save data structural changes.
    Everything else is just a matter of being limited in time and resources. Having worked on game projects large and small, I can tell you the average game development cycle can get pretty intense. Depending on how production and the company themselves are structured, the issues that arise vary from project to project.
    For Visual Concepts, they're under the gun to deliver features (a.k.a. back-of-the-box bullet points) year after year to justify an annual release. So those are always going to get the priority of the resources. Fixing the backlog of issues becomes secondary, because that is not what brings revenue in for the title. Polished product is nice to have but not necessary when the majority of sales are going to be day one, before anyone but a handful of reviewers has had any reasonable amount of time with the title. As long as that is the sales model of 2k and it remains successful, then shiny new game modes, unpolished features shoveled in, and legacy modes that age poorly are just the way it's going to be.

    I worded it poorly, but what you said is what I knew they meant whey they said, "can't".
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A father, dedicated sports fan and gamer. FIFA, Madden, NHL, NBA 2K are what I play majority of the time. Manchester United runs in my blood. Chicago Bulls and Denver Broncos drape the walls of my man cave. Play hard, or don't play at all.

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