It’s been over two months since NBA 2K20 was released, so I think it’s time to look back at one of my favorite game modes: MyLeague Online (MLO). MLO is the only game mode I play in NBA 2K20. I am generally intrigued by the thought of playing GM/coach versus other human owners. The art of trade negotiation, free agency plans and battling users has always been my preference rather than playing against the AI.
Looking back, MyLeague in 2K19 was a huge step, but it was held back by lack of server support. Beyond that, the history of online franchise in NBA 2K goes back to the NBA 2K9 days where the mode was simply ahead of its time. Back then, 2K had a website supporting leagues, and you could even scoreboard watch live games. Roughly a couple years later the developers attempted an Online Association that made multiple-year leagues a possibility. The Online Association had its issues but was still ahead of its time as well.
Then next generation happened and MLO took a backseat to MyCareer, The Park, MyTeam and basically any game mode that required VC. The beginning of online leagues on the next-generation consoles was a disaster, to say the least. There were a ton of negative reactions and it left the 2K online community confused about the future. Last year, 2K19 introduced MyLeague Online and promised contracts, real-life free agency, rookies, etc. The thing they did not promise was server support, which left the community asking for stability. This year they promised more stability and a better mode in general.
So how did they do?
The servers have held up for the most part during the offseasons. This was one of the biggest issues last year because leagues would freeze and there was no support or fix to stop it from happening. Last year, my league did six seasons and we only were able to get through one offseason. We had to re-create the league five times out of six! A lot of time was spent fixing contracts, doing progression, fixing rosters, etc.
With NBA 2K20, my league just went through its first offseason, and I am happy to say we were able to get to the next season without any issues. The promise to keep the servers stable and possibly add more support has paid off. The menus are quick and responsive, and the league doesn’t feel like it’s in quicksand.
Overall, the mode seems to run well compared to last year’s, and it has really taken some positive steps in the right direction. There is not that same fear of crashing or freezing a league like we had last year. The admins have powers that work and can be used to the benefit of their leagues. It feels like the mode is on the right path to being a complete mode.
2K has also done a great job of providing users with content in the league. The ability to see advanced stats and per 36 stats has given each league more life, and added another dimension to the scouting of opponents and trade targets. The scouting system for upcoming rookies actually works this year and helps make the draft more interesting. The contracts also do a good job of replicating the current NBA collective bargaining agreement in terms of salary cap and the luxury tax.
The virtual league does a good job of using the social network voices to provide league news updates. This is where the game mode excels in terms of functionality and presentation. Another cool feature is the ability to re-brand and re-design your court, logo and/or jerseys. The game does a great job of providing mock drafts and power rankings. It also provides three different mock drafts to give users a different feel of the draft. This is just another example of 2K bringing realism to the league.
There are several minor issues in MLO that take away from the experience. Currently, you cannot see the jersey selection screen before the game begins. The option is there to change jerseys and accessories, but you cannot see what jersey you have on. This presents a problem as teams can end up playing with the same colors, which obviously makes it really hard to determine who is on what team. The way around this is to memorize the selections before the game, and then hope you and your opponent don’t have the same colored jerseys.
Another issue is the fact that contracts seem to act differently as the league advances from season to season. I’ve noticed in season three that team options start to disappear, leaving free agency needing to be manipulated by the users. It can be quite frustrating that the league works 90 percent of the time and runs into other small issues the remaining 10 percent. It would also be nice if we were able to trade during the rookie draft.
MLO provides the league with sliders that seem to do a good job of customizing the gameplay experience. However, the injury slider doesn’t seem to work at all during games. I have no problem seeing injuries from sims, but injuries during games are very rare. I have tried to turn the sliders to the worst possible conditions and I am still not receiving any injuries. This creates a problem because teams have no fear of playing guys heavy minutes. The injuries need to be fixed in order to have a true simulation of the NBA. Speaking of sliders not really having an impact on the game, the free throw slider doesn’t seem to have any impact on the FT percentages. It is too easy to “green” a free throw even if the slider is at 0.
Another issue is the defensive game planning doesn’t seem to work anymore. Every league member in my league gets a blue screen error on the PS4 when doing a defensive game plan before the game starts. We’ve had to resort to doing them after the tipoff. It can be a little frustrating but it’s not the end of the world. It would also obviously be nice if teams could do an offensive game plan before the game to match the defensive game plan.
A couple of other small issues in MLO are the controller settings and coach settings not saving. This creates a small issue where people can’t rely on settings being the same from game to game. 2K has normally had these issues but it’s frustrating that you can’t rely on changes being saved on your profile.
2K has really delivered a solid My League Online experience. There are a couple of smaller issues, but it seems like stability was a focus this year. Last year they introduced a brand new mode, but I don’t think they were prepared on the back end (servers). This year the servers are a lot more stable. There is not much of a worry during the offseason that the league will freeze. Last year just navigating through the menus within the league was a drag, and you could tell the strain being put on the servers. This year the menus flow smoothly, and you can transition easily into different aspects of the game mode.
In the future, I would love to see 2K bring some more of the modes from the offline MyLeague to MLO. I would love to see an updated home screen that amplifies the league news section. It would be cool if we could do a live look in on current games going on within the league. Maybe this could be something similar to the website from the past leagues, only now it’s something within the league on the console. I hope to see better in-game presentation when playing online that is comparable to offline presentation as well.
I want to see 2K continue to push the envelope regarding online leagues. This community has been waiting for it, and it seems like 2K has delivered on its promise this year. Now let’s keep that momentum going as we wrap up this generation and move into the next gen.