The NBA 2K demo allows you the opportunity to create a unique player through the MyPlayer feature. You can pick the skills your player possesses like shooting, play-making, finishing and more. From there you decide on their physical abilities like strength, speed and acceleration. This level of detail allowed me to vary the type of player I was creating. Deciding on his height, weight and wingspan also impacts your player’s speed and agility. The game visually looks great and the players models are impressive.
On the gameplay side, floor spacing is well done and players who have a quick first step are able to beat you off the dribble. What I did notice was the increased rate of fatigue on your player. When tired it was much more difficult to defend, beat the defense off the dribble and stay consistent with the jump shot. The more fatigue your player experiences throughout the game, the less total “turbo” you will have available. Therefore, you may not be able to beat your defender down the court at the end of the game like you did in the beginning. MyPlayer did have a generic aspect in the commentary as they referred to your player as “My Player” instead of the name you gave him. If this is changed for the release of the game, it will add a more personal experience.
I’m disappointed in the NBA 2K20 demo. Why? Because it seems like the 2K team banked on everyone being sold on wanting to live within the MyPlayer Builder, so they gave us that and 2KU but no quick game option. I would have liked a “play now” option where we could do the Raptors against the Warriors as well as a couple WNBA teams to let the ladies get some run too. My other issue with the demo is what fellow OS writer Matt Llewellyn will touch on below in relation to the ability to only test six builds within the MyPlayer Builder. Anything past six and the game will allow you to make your player but not test them in-game.
Besides the two previously mentioned things, NBA 2K20 looks like it’s going to be quite a game. I’m going to stop short of saying that early indications and feel has me believing that this is one of better playing iterations in years; I’ll wait for a few days with the final product to make that assessment. Gameplay has been improved and it’s noticeable in short order. Transition defense has been rewritten and improved and it shows. You’ll have to play defense yourself this year; the AI won’t bail you out.
If you can’t stay in front of your assignment, you will be blown by time and again. The ACE system has also been improved and adjustments on the floor by your team are executed well. In scrimmage in 2KU, anytime Draymond Green had the ball at the 3-point line Pascal Siakam would sag off knowing that Draymond’s 3-point shot wasn’t good enough that he had to play up on him. On offense, the new dribbling system works very well and allows both dribble gods and simpler players to execute their offensive styles accordingly. Turbo this year and fatigue are more realistic and you’ll really have to gauge when it’s best to use it. The associated turbo button is more of a boost than a full-on sprint. Off-ball movement feels improved this year, which is good because there’s more emphasis on off-ball movement; AI counterparts will cut, come off double screens and try to get themselves open for easy shots.
Player models and faces definitely looked touched up and quite solid. It appears that individual player detail was brought to the forefront and each player looks crisp.
The MyPlayer Builder is a quality addition and will really allow players to build up their character to match their style of play. I feel like the advertised “many” amounts of archetypes that are claimed to be possible are actually still limited based on your initial choices on the pie charts for finishing, shooting, playmaking and defense/rebounding. I could be completely wrong, but it just seems like the freedom we’ve been told we have in terms of archetypes really falls more to distribution of our potential ratings and being able to choose our Takeover instead of also being able to choose where exactly we’d like to have our player’s skills be focused. If I want to be able to shoot the lights out and dribble like Kyrie or Allen Iverson while completely sacrificing defensive capabilities and being a liability there, I should have that choice. Let us adjust the skill pie accordingly to do so. Through various builds I’ve done and seen so far it looks like a “Slashing Playmaker” is the meta right now as they can dribble like Kyrie, have decent shooting attributes to knock down jumpers after making space, can finish at the rim and can still be serviceable on defense. This archetype looks best for point guards, shooting guards and small forwards, being most effective for small forwards. Of course, this will depend on the height and wingspan you decide to go with as these can greatly impact your overall cap.
While I also would have liked to see a little more of NBA 2K20 in the demo, I do think it does just enough to whet your appetite and that’s probably the most you can really hope for from a demo.
We get a taste of the MyPlayer Builder, which seems like an interesting way to allow for more variety in the types of players you can create. Getting the opportunity to try out six different builds gives you a pretty good sense of how constructing archetypes works this year. This system that involves setting your potential across a number of attributes and deciding on your strengths (and weaknesses) is a little more nuanced than the one from last year, and though not quite perfect, at least should make online play more balanced in theory.
On the court, the most notable difference initially appears to be in player movement and interaction. Players seem to have more weight to them, further separating the smaller and quicker ball handlers from the plodding big men who have stone hands and get tired quicker. Defending has gotten a little trickier, but that might have more to do with it being Steph Curry who was consistently making ridiculous shots with my hand in his face and there’s not a lot you can do to stop that sometimes.
The fact that you can play 5-on-5 scrimmage, in addition to the test games with the six builds, should keep people coming back to the demo until the game’s released next month. I would have really welcomed the chance to take some of these player builds online and to see how they fare against others, like NHL 20 did with their demo, but that’s probably expecting too much.
NBA 2K20‘s demo is an exercise in heightened expectations leading to some disappointment. To start off, the game plays very differently this year. Dribbling is completely overhauled and seems deeper than ever. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t without frustration as the learning curve is steep. It’ll take a lot of time to figure out how to balance the dribbling with stamina that drains faster.
Unlike last year’s Prelude, the 2K20 demo allows for up to six builds to be tested in a scrimmage game against the Warriors. This is a decent amount but still seemed to go too fast.
Bringing it all together is a brand new MyPlayer Builder that LD2K introduces as being capable of creating thousands of different builds. Unfortunately, this is not true and brings me to my main issue with the builder: the pie chart. By requiring us to choose from a number of preset pie charts that divide attributes between shooting, playmaking, slashing and defense/rebounding, NBA 2K20 limits the possibilities of builds. You’re not allowed to lower an attribute cap from say, close shooting, to supplement your 3-point cap and that’s disappointing.
On the bright side, you can choose to equip and upgrade your badges as you see fit. That does allow for a more tailored approach to MyPlayer building. There are numerous badges in each category and are based off of your attribute distribution. Fortunately, 2K includes a description of each badge so you know what you’re equipping. As a side note, it has been confirmed on Twitter by Mike Wang that the quick draw badge is now how players can adjust the speed of their jump shot release. After years of manually creating our own shots and release speeds, this seems like an unfortunate choice as it will cause multiple badge upgrade points to get the fastest releases.
Overall, there is more positive than negative in the 2K20 demo. The gameplay has changed seemingly for the better, visuals have been refined as per usual, and despite some head scratching missteps, the MyPlayer Builder has potential. I remain excited for the full release on September 6.