After leaving their fans on edge over the last month, NBA 2K and its devs have now given us most of the information and views on the game that we’ve been looking for. NBA 2K18 initially released last year with overall good reviews, including a highly touted review from me. Within a few weeks, some glaring issues were brought out and the game’s shine faded as more fans became frustrated with gameplay cheese, VC issues and other problems that NBA 2K18 came to be known for. After attending the hands-on gameplay event in Los Angeles last month and the pre-launch party in New York a short time ago, I’ve got enough information to breakdown what I think is going to have 2K fans rejoicing this year, as well as a few of the things I think people will still be perturbed by. Let’s get into it!
Refined Gameplay, Retooled AI
I’ve been talking about this since last month, and it has now been cemented for me. The gameplay in NBA 2K19 is fantastic at this juncture. Dribbling has been revised, reworked and is smooth — just so dang smooth. The dribble moves, the way you can chain them together and how they feel on the sticks when doing them, are silky and responsive. For NBA 2K18 I raved about how good the game felt and played after launch but that changed over time. With that in mind, there isn’t anything that could prove that won’t be the case yet again this year, but from what I’ve seen and played there weren’t any glaring complaints about gameplay so far. In its second year now, it’s quite clear the Motion Engine that was introduced last year has been fine tuned and 2K has learned from issues that were presented by this new movement system. In talking to Mike Wang, this was something that he also mentioned to me.
The AI in the game will pick you apart if you make mistakes on either side of the ball. On the defensive side, the AI has improved dramatically from NBA 2K18. You can no longer just drive down the middle of the lane without help defense trying to stop you; instead you’re driving into a sea of bodies as the defense collapses to close lanes on you. Errant passes through passing lanes where a defender is standing will get picked off quite often. Ankle breakers and nasty dribble moves to lose a defender still work, but you’ve got to work a lot harder this year to break a defender down. This all leads to a beautifully played game of basketball that both hardcore and casual fans should enjoy.
Skill Gap Is King
One of the repeated narratives we’ve been hearing about NBA 2K19 is about a given player and their skills on the stick. Skill gap ties in and heavily plays into what you’ll end up seeing on the court so far. This is something that the 2K community has been asking for and it looks like the full force of this request has been delivered. Running down the court, passing the ball around and throwing up shots doesn’t look like it’s going to be an effective method if you’re trying to get wins this year. You’re really going to want to have some knowledge of the game and incorporate strategy into how you play. Yes, freelance play will work but you’re not going to be able to get away with the cheese that was rampant last year. Now, we just will have to see if/when the new cheese strikes, and how it does so.
I think it’s safe to say that the last few MyCareer stories haven’t had the best reception from fans. NBA 2K19‘s story looks to change the approach for this mode and give the fans something they haven’t seen yet, and from the initial trailer and what we’ve heard of the mode, I’m all for it. This year’s iteration of MyCareer has you going undrafted in the NBA Draft, which then sees your player head over to China in an inconceivable road back to the NBA. From the trailer, your player also makes a stint in the G-League as well. This, to me, is the kind of story arc that I think fans will appreciate more, and I feel like this same premise was taken from players around the league who had to work their tails off just to get a chance to grace the court of an NBA team. I think that the story will play out better than most think in comparison to what we’ve seen over the last few years. One other thing to mention about the story this year is the added ability to skip cutscenes! This was a heavily complained about issue for last year’s story, and it has been added in this year if you’re going to be making a secondary build/player.
The Neighborhood is making a return, and it looks like the 2K team has put in work to revamp and make the this element more enjoyable for players. It looks like the Neighborhood will be a little larger with various areas to explore and new games to play. It’s also been mentioned that there are going to be more ways to earn VC so that’s something that most fans will definitely look forward to. The Jordan Rec Center makes a return, which is very exciting news for fans that have missed it (like me). A new mini-game that we saw in the trailer was dodgeball, or some varied form of it. It’ll be very interesting to see how it’ll be incorporated into the game from a VC and social aspect.
Return Of Microtransactions And Their Issues
I’m including this in here mainly because of a pointed out issue with the Prelude. It’s without question that microtransactions in NBA 2K are here to stay. NBA 2K19 sees the price of purchasing VC staying at the same amounts they were set at last year, which is a welcomed sight as VC increased in price year over year until now. In order to reach the initial cap for your player at an 85 overall, 195,011 VC will be needed. That’ll cost you $49.99 US to pull that off. We’re going to supposedly have more ways of earning VC this year, so hopefully that will help with the microtransaction problem.
When the Prelude was released, players had the ability to purchase VC on PS4 and Xbox One, but were receiving different messages that ended up with them sometimes seeing no VC being credited to a player’s account but still getting charged for the VC purchase. With the hype for NBA 2K19 at a high with days until launch, this is not a good look for NBA 2K at all. Take a look at iPodKingCarter‘s YouTube video below to see what a lot of players have experienced.
Besides the VC purchasing issue that has came up when Prelude was released, I really had a hard time trying to find major pre-release issues that can’t at least be discussed from multiple perspectives. When the game launches on Friday, September 7 we’ll have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t in all modes of the game, as well as what could be big issues for NBA 2K19. But as it stands now, the 2K team and fans should be excited for the year ahead that is NBA 2K19.