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NBA 2K20 is Free for PlayStation Plus Users This Month: Is It Fun for Beginners?

nba 2k20 free on ps+

NBA 2K20

NBA 2K20 is Free for PlayStation Plus Users This Month: Is It Fun for Beginners?

NBA 2K20 is free for PlayStation Plus users until August 3. For PlayStation 4 owners, this is a noteworthy inclusion because Xbox owners were the only ones who got the chance to play the game for free last year. For 2K fans, this is the first time that an entry has been free for PS4 owners since it was a free game back in June 2016 for NBA 2K16.

I grew up with my beloved Houston Rockets seemingly always on in the background, but I personally have not purchased and dedicated time to a 2K basketball title since NBA 2K13. As the years went on and my passion grew for baseball, my NBA fandom became something barely a notch above casual. I know most of the players on the Rockets, most of the league’s stars and our “Moreyball” approach to games, but I am clueless when it comes to strategies, other teams’ roster depth and the general power balance of the NBA.

nba 2k20 for beginners

I would play 2K over the years with friends and family members, only to find myself down 30 points by halftime. They all ended with very thoughtful and respectful “we can play something else if you want” mercy rules. In other words, I am a “beginner” by every definition of the word.

For a long time, I looked at the 2K series as a dastardly steep uphill learning curve. That being said, over the course of the last year I’ve been paying more attention to strategies and taking the time to actually learn basketball concepts as opposed to passively watching.

So how is NBA 2K20 for beginners? Is it worth the time investment and roughly 60 GB of hard drive space?

The On-Court Learning Curve

For those who are familiar with the series but have simply just taken off a couple years, I think you will be able to adjust with relative ease. You will find familiar successes and frustrations alongside a smoother on-court game, and it should not take too long for you to rebuild your familiarity with the mechanics.

For newcomers, I strongly advise you play a few games and get a feel for how 2K20 feels on-court before setting up a franchise mode or giving up on the game entirely. If you are coming from NBA Live, Jam, Hangtime, Street, Ballers or even an earlier 2K title, try your favorite team out for multiple games to better understand the pacing, speed and movement. I did this in conjunction with the very helpful and occasionally overwhelming 2KU to address the biggest holes in my game.

nba 2k20 is free

I was able to pinpoint how exactly to set up the alley-oop on a fast break, all of my options for on-ball defense and how to trigger each specific shot while driving to the hoop — among other opportunities. In addition to per-move advanced tutorials (something that I wish EA’s NHL series would further implement), there is a single-player shootaround option, as well as a five-on-five scrimmage mode that is completely devoid of a shot clock. Starting at the beginning of 2KU’s training will provide unfamiliar players with a considerable toolset and is one of the best training modes in sports gaming.

After my training period, I came to the conclusion that the key to NBA 2K20 is patience. You need to be patient when picking out your shot, when you miss three shots in a row and see a comfortable lead dwindle, and when you jump into your first game and feel muscle memory kick in. Holding the sprint button and forcing opportunities will just lead to bad shots and turnovers. Putting a stop to these old habits and re-learning to play is crucial to maximizing the NBA 2K20 experience.

Incredible Presentation

2K sets the bar for sports titles when it comes to presentation. We have a digital Ernie Johnson digitally riffing with digital Shaq and digital Kenny Smith at halftime, folks. The loading screens have similar production value to the Inside The NBA broadcasts.

Videos auto-play and let players know about 2K20 community efforts, and during games NBA players’ avatars have digitized interviews that feel like real-life broadcast cutaways. NBA 2K20’s loading screens alone have more production value and create more of an environment than some other AAA sports titles do in their entire presentation package. Oh, and then the game throws you into the same camera angle used in local and national NBA broadcasts. For those who do not play the 2K series with any sort of regularity, it is an incredibly impressive ensemble.

nba-2k20-all-star-court

Real-life NBA announcers and reporters look and sound great, and somehow the dialogue has yet to get repetitive or sound too canned. Certain bits of commentary are also completely skippable, which is lovely to see when time is tight. Additionally, it can lead to a hysterical combination of David Aldridge being cut-off mid-word, the arena buzzer sounding, and then Kevin Harlan’s “thanks, David!” feeling like he just dismissed what Aldridge had to say.

Presentation can keep players immersed in their environment, but few things in gaming are worse than unskippable presentation scenes. Thankfully, NBA 2K20 does an excellent job in keeping these optional and preserving the flow of the game.

World-Class Franchise Mode

MyLeague is an absolute triumph and a hallmark for franchise modes. The levels of customization are really remarkable, especially considering the abundance of legends in the game. Over 60 legendary teams over the course of the NBA’s history are playable from the start, but franchise teams can be edited to feature whatever teams you want. So if you want to drop your current favorite team into a mosh pit of classic NBA teams (such as the ’00-’01 Los Angeles Lakers, ’85-’86 Boston Celtics, or the ’97-’98 Chicago Bulls) you can. If you want a league of every franchise’s All-Time teams (comprised of rosters past and present from the team’s entire history), you can build that out as well.

nba 2k20 is free on ps+

With the “Start Today” option, you can jump into a franchise with the current day’s collection of rosters and standings. It will be interesting to see how this feature functions with the season resuming on July 30. They even have a standalone WNBA season mode for the game’s first-ever licensed WNBA players. Customizable GM tendencies, strong roster customization tools, and seemingly endless creativity really make the mode shine and give players of all skill levels a lot of tools with which to play.

MyCareer

Personally, I am not a big fan of the MyCareer/Road to the Show/Superstar mode single-player career modes, but 2K20 also features its trademark narrative-driven take. Fun celebrity cameos aside, the game has been brutalized in the press for its reliance on microtransactions in recent years. With that in mind, the best course of action is to go into it with caution and try it out because some end up loving MyCareer and doing nothing but that. However, it’s just not really for me.

MyTeam & Microtransactions

There is some fun to be had with MyTeam, but it will look very overwhelming at first. There’s a good amount of currently existing free content to give new players a head start: 22 or so free packs, player’s choice of an evolution legend card that can be upgraded over time (I picked Hakeem Olajuwon over Tracy McGrady), and some random packs handed out for exploring the menus.

myteam challenge embiid

When all was said and done, I had a starting five that included rookie Hakeem Olajuwon, Draymond Green and Ricky Rubio. Plenty of offline content and fun modes (such as Triple Threat) made MyTeam more enticing than I thought it would be when I jumped into it, and for a moment I braced myself for another card collecting mode obsession.

nba 2k20 myteam

However, once I learned about the contracts mechanism, I immediately lost interest in MyTeam. I play Diamond Dynasty in MLB The Show, and once you unlock a card, it is yours to use and play with to your heart’s content. Contracts in NBA 2K20 are separate cards that are required for your MyTeam players to play in a game. If you run out of contracts for a certain player, you cannot play with them until you get more contracts.

Considering the costs of some of these cards and the additional grind to farm for some of them, the idea that I could often find myself stuck without the opportunities to play my best players lead to me writing off MyTeam altogether. Maybe I will revisit it in the future, but MyLeague’s customization depth will be more than enough for me.

Should You Download NBA 2K20?

You don’t need to be a die-hard basketball fan to enjoy this game, so NBA 2K20 is worth checking out on PS Plus for stronger reasons than it just being free. It’s fun, engaging on-court gameplay is stretched out by remarkable customization over a ton of different modes that offer something for every level of player. Download it, play a few warm-up games, hop into 2KU to improve your skills, and then settle in to a long, engrossing season in MyLeague, MyTeam or MyCareer.

Its inclusion for PS Plus comes at an excellent time in quarantine as professional sports ramp up, especially considering that the NBA, NHL and MLB have tangible schedules that promise games in the coming weeks. If anything, NBA 2K20 is a brand-new, 100 percent free new hobby to take up at a time when quarantine still has many of us looking for that next distraction.

21 Comments

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  1. Edgar_Nunez
    so wait do we get to keep the game or is it free to play until August 3rd?

    As long as you DL it or put it in your library (and remain a PS Plus member) before August 3, you will be able to play 2K past the August 3 date.
    Against my better judgement I started a "My Team" squad just to see what it was all about. Ripped a couple free intro packs, chose my 80 overall Hakeem Olajuwon and auto generated the best lineup. Held my nose and looked for an online opponent. Being ruined by Maddens Ultimate Team matchmaking non-logic, I assumed I would be dumped into a game with a 99 overall team and thrust into a hopelessly  non-competitive situation only to rage quit halfway through the 2nd quarter....and I was pleasantly surprised, it actually matched me up with a team that equally as crummy as mine and we played an enjoyable, competitive game. And my first thought was why can't Madden do that? I can't be that hard. It was only one game, I'll try it again and maybe my experience will be different...but it was a good start IMO.
    misterkrabz2
    Against my better judgement I started a "My Team" squad just to see what it was all about. Ripped a couple free intro packs, chose my 80 overall Hakeem*Olajuwon and auto generated the best lineup. Held my nose and looked for an online opponent. Being ruined by Maddens Ultimate Team matchmaking non-logic, I assumed I would be dumped into a game with a 99 overall team and thrust into a hopelessly**non-competitive*situation*only to rage quit halfway through the 2nd quarter....and I was pleasantly*surprised, it actually matched me up with a team that equally as crummy as mine and we played an enjoyable, competitive*game. And my first thought was why can't Madden do that? I can't be that hard. It was only one game, I'll try*it again and maybe my experience will be different...but it was a good start IMO.

    I have not played that many MyTeam games as exactly what you feared happens all the time. I will get matched up to all 99 teams more often than not. Completely useless.
    Until when is 2k20 free on PS+? It completely ruins the online experience, at least for us PC users...We cannot finish one game if we start after 3 PM. Constantly lagging.
    Takes time to learn how to play the game for sure. The last time I owned an NBA2K was in the XBox360 days, and the last time before that....in the Dreamcast days. So yeah, there's no muscle memory to fall back on.
    I DL'd it for free on PS-plus. The first few games, I really just couldn't do anything and got blown out on "Pro" difficulty. After a week or so, I started figuring out the pacing and timing and how the game "works" so to speak, and it started to make more sense. A lot of it (for me) was getting used to how to use the canned animations and how long they last, as well as how important it is to actually call plays in order to get open shots. I never used to do that back in the Dreamcast days LOL.
    I still totally suck at the game, but at least I can win against the computer on Pro difficulty with regularity now (unless I am playing the Lakers...I swear the game is programmed to cheat them to victory no matter what :D ). Some things I really still haven't figured out, such as how to stop the computer from out-rebounding me all the time or really how to play effective defense at all. But all in all, I'd say the game is enjoyable now at least, whereas for the first week or so, I sorta thought I would put the game down and never pick it up again.
    I'd say my experience as a beginner is: give it time to learn how the game works - it's a game, and knowing about basketball IRL is honestly of limited value, similar to how knowing about football IRL doesn't really help all that much to be better at Madden. Once you figure out how the game works and what it does and doesn't reward, it gets better. But in all honesty, I'd rather be playing the Dreamcast version. ;)
    I boycotted NBA 2K20 after buying NBA 2K damn near every year since Dreamcast. And BOY if I purchased this game I would be PISSED. I only downloaded because heck its free right! When I tell you I felt like I had loaded the exact same game. I mean they changed the menu up a tad but the pre game intro was EXACTLY the same. It got drastically worse once the ball tipped off, especially the My Player my god!! The players are either stuck in mud or have so much momentum one direction or the other its disturbing. I played my first game with the Pelicans hoping to have fun with Zion and his first fast break he literally hop jumped slightly to the left before taking off on two feet for a dunk. I have honestly never seen such a messed up animation and for it to be the first one I saw was telling. I thought maybe I was playing an improved game because my first game on (All Star) my help defense was actually working. Defenders were finally staying in front of the offensive player. But soon I was up like 20 points so had to up it to Superstar. I immediately saw all of the same flukey stuff that happens in NBA 2K19 where on ball defense by the computer is god awful. Passes are intercepted and easy shots are missed. 
    I have campaigned for 2K to bring back NBA 2k18 servers because that was the last time playing in the Park or Pro Am was fluid. The player movement on 2K19 and now 20 is straight garbage. I can only be thankful I got this game for free but theres a reason its free its because it sucks. Even something as simple as adjusting sliders screen they messed that up. You used to be able to hit R2 to toggle between USER and CPU Settings but now when you do it the menu shoots back up to the top. That is just a stupid inconvenient change that literally serves no purpose except to make things harder not better. I have no hope for 2K until the next generation possible around 2K23 when they re do all the animations and reach towards their prime on a new generation. 2K19 was nothing but a hold over and 2K20 is a hold over part two they are just buying time for the new generation of systems. 
    2K changes the way the game plays just so people dont get bored I guess. But at the same time they give you the same tired pre game and half time show. Post game highlights have a camera disposition thats so low you cant even see the ball go in the rim and half of the actual highlights you performed in game dont even play when you hit triangle to see highlights for a player.  Rebounding is ridiculous its like you have to train yourself how to grab a basketball even when it seems like it is yours for the taking. 2K stop changing stuff for the worse just so you can say its new. WHY IN GODS NAME did you change how you call for a pick by ADDING AN ADDITIONAL BUTTON TO HIT!???  I mean this is dumb and when will the masses boycott this game. I am actually starting to think this free PS store thing is just to boost their "sales" because even when you download a game you get an email from Sony saying thank you for your purchase. So I think I just messed up my boycott efforts after all smh. I could literally go on for days and days about how piss poor the game play is on 2K20 and honestly 2K19 wasnt better than 18 its just better than 20. I am happily going to play with crappy facial animations of Ja Morant and Zion on NBA 2k19 and make my own damn new season. 
    jk31
    Until when is 2k20 free on PS+? It completely ruins the online experience, at least for us PC users...We cannot finish one game if we start after 3 PM. Constantly lagging.

    PS+ subscribers can download the game for free until August 3rd. However, they get to keep (and play) the game after that date for as long as they are still PS+ members. So it's not like all of these people will vanish from the servers when the game is no longer free.
    This game is not beginner-friendly. A huge amount of the game - strategy, controls, features, directions, etc. - is not documented anywhere, and either requires you to go through a lot of in-game tutorials or find the information yourself somewhere on the internet or YouTube. That strikes me as unhospitable at best, and outright hostile at worst to newcomers. They're basically saying "if you haven't been playing this game every year for the last 10 years, you're SOL".
    Also, the sheer number of commands one has to memorize (because, again: they're aren't written down anywhere in the instruction manual or elsewhere) is unreasonable. There are fighting games that require less memorization than this game. There are, what, 30-40 dribble command controls alone? It took me literally a half hour just to find out how to crossover dribble. I wish I were exaggerating that, but I'm not.
    The more I read / look into this game, the more I realize it's a lot more like a fighting game than a sports game. This is Tekken or Street Fighter on a basketball court.
    pietasterp
    This game is not beginner-friendly. A huge amount of the game - strategy, controls, features, directions, etc. - is not documented anywhere, and either requires you to go through a lot of in-game tutorials or find the information yourself somewhere on the internet or YouTube. That strikes me as unhospitable at best, and outright hostile at worst to newcomers. They're basically saying "if you haven't been playing this game every year for the last 10 years, you're SOL".
    Also, the sheer number of commands one has to memorize (because, again: they're aren't written down anywhere in the instruction manual or elsewhere) is unreasonable. There are fighting games that require less memorization than this game. There are, what, 30-40 dribble command controls alone? It took me literally a half hour just to find out how to crossover dribble. I wish I were exaggerating that, but I'm not.
    The more I read / look into this game, the more I realize it's a lot more like a fighting game than a sports game. This is Tekken or Street Fighter on a basketball court.

    I think that's fair on the whole, but I do think there is decent onboarding for general controls and such via 2KU. I think where the game lets down newbies is with the D-pad and playcalling, strategy, etc. I think the argument is if you care about that stuff enough you're already invested and will go looking for info elsewhere, but 2K could for sure do more in that area.
    And then when it comes to the "meta" of gameplay, I don't think any sports game is really going to tell you "do X to win" much like a fighting game won't. You sort of just have to fail and figure things out from there in those areas.
    He has a point though: There should be a Real Tutorial implemented. sth like we had back Few years ago, where you actually Were taught All the controls. they could even extend that to some Basketball basics to teach some game.
    ChaseB
    I think that's fair on the whole, but I do think there is decent onboarding for general controls and such via 2KU. I think where the game lets down newbies is with the D-pad and playcalling, strategy, etc. I think the argument is if you care about that stuff enough you're already invested and will go looking for info elsewhere, but 2K could for sure do more in that area.
    And then when it comes to the "meta" of gameplay, I don't think any sports game is really going to tell you "do X to win" much like a fighting game won't. You sort of just have to fail and figure things out from there in those areas.

    I agree that 2KU does a reasonable job at on-boarding newcomers to the basics. However, even basic functionality such as what the D-pad does (or the fact that it even does anything at all) is not written down anywhere, including in the actual NBA2K20 instruction manual. That seems absolutely insane to me: the actual instruction manual does not contain any documentation of what all the controls are.
    I respectfully but strongly disagree with the notion that "if you're invested enough, you will go looking for the information elsewhere" (paraphrasing, of course). How do I even know what I don't know about the game if it isn't written down anywhere? For example, I had no idea you could select which player you want to set a screen for the ball-handler (it's 3 button presses, by the way, which seems like a horrible control scheme to me) until I found out by accident when trying to figure out some other basic basketball 101 move that wasn't explained anywhere in the game or instruction manual. It's all so laborious and ridiculous that a significant chunk of the functionality of the game is not actually documented anywhere.
    Re: strategy, I certainly wouldn't expect there to be documentation of what to do to win a basketball game. I generally know what to do, but am significantly handicapped by the fact that I have no idea whether the game allows me to do it.
    jk31
    did you have a Look at the controls Ingame? i think There you can See what all Buttons do.

    I did. It is helpful, but it would be better if it were in the instruction manual since I don't want to have to pause the game and go into sub-menu's every time I want to look up how to hop-step. It's bad enough I have to play the game with the instruction manual by my side and my laptop open just to figure out how to do relatively basic basketball things.
    Don't want to belabor this point (any more than I already have). The game is fun once you learn how it works, it looks absolutely fantastic, and the presentation is miles beyond what Madden can only dream of (I guess that's a low bar, but still...). On the whole, I like the game, and like many good games, it takes a while to learn how to play it - it's not particularly intuitive.
    My general opinion is that the game is not at all beginner-friendly, and it requires you to invest a significant amount of time and energy outside of the actual game in order to learn about the full functionality. There is a pick-up-and-play option via the 'street' mode (or whatever they call it), and presumably you can get the regular game to play like the 'street' mode via sliders or options. I have been interested enough to invest the time and energy to learn more about the game and have mostly enjoyed it, but I think there is a definite barrier to new-comers if you haven't played a 2K hoops game before (or at least, for a while).
    I just downloaded it and I'm trying to put alltime College rosters together.
    I downloaded some really good alltime and classic NBA rosters with 60+ new teams and with lots of college alumni I'd like to use. But when I load up that roster and then exit out to import their DNA in create a player, it puts me right back into default rosters.
    Many of these guys aren't available as individuals in player DNA and it's MUCH easier to import them from these historic rosters. Is there a way to do it without switching back to default 2020 rosters?
    I downloaded the game a few days ago, and have been playing and mostly enjoying it so far. Mainly, I've been playing through the MyCareer version of the game. I have been playing the 2K series since the very first one on Dreamcast up until 2K16 on PS4. So I was able to pick right up and play - winning my first game of NBA 2K in years.
    I took a break from the NBA 2K games for a few years, because it felt like they were getting progressively worse in certain areas. To me, this one has decent gameplay, and it's fun at times, but there are still some very dumb things and annoying aspects of the game in my view. For one, it seems like it is much harder to create a decent MyPlayer character, and you are penalized too often for things that you can't control. This makes the game frustrating and it seems like something that they could have done in a different way.
    I'll probably keep playing and leveling up my character, but other modes, like the Park, I've never been a big fan of because of the cheesers and spammers there. It has some good moments within, but the match ups can be brutal and feel unfair quite often. Just my opinion so far as a long time player of the series.
    MrDubya
    I downloaded the game a few days ago, and have been playing and mostly enjoying it so far. Mainly, I've been playing through the MyCareer version of the game. I have been playing the 2K series since the very first one on Dreamcast up until 2K16 on PS4. So I was able to pick right up and play - winning my first game of NBA 2K in years.
    I took a break from the NBA 2K games for a few years, because it felt like they were getting progressively worse in certain areas. To me, this one has decent gameplay, and it's fun at times, but there are still some very dumb things and annoying aspects of the game in my view. For one, it seems like it is much harder to create a decent MyPlayer character, and you are penalized too often for things that you can't control. This makes the game frustrating and it seems like something that they could have done in a different way.
    I'll probably keep playing and leveling up my character, but other modes, like the Park, I've never been a big fan of because of the cheesers and spammers there. It has some good moments within, but the match ups can be brutal and feel unfair quite often. Just my opinion so far as a long time player of the series.

    if u play park my advice is find 4-6 guys u like playing park with and just play with them because unless u are all-star lever or up 2 things will happen
    1 some 90+ player will use u to rep up their character
    2 if u do win make sure u dont have a mic or some players will scream f-bombs in your ear
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