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NBA 2K21 Next Gen - Here's Everything That's Not in the Last-Gen Game

NBA 2K21

NBA 2K21 Next Gen - Here's Everything That's Not in the Last-Gen Game

Well, today is the day. Next gen has arrived.

It’s evident that the 2K development team has put in a substantial amount of work in hopes of putting out a genre-defining game once again. With pretty much all of the information about next gen out now — plus the game itself — we’re all going to go on this journey together. But is it justified to be excited for next gen? Let’s recap all the biggest pieces of news we’ve gotten the last two weeks to answer that question and get you all caught up if you’re taking the next-gen plunge today.

Revamp Of Shooting, Passing And Dribbling

In NBA 2K21 next gen, the dev team has taken the pro stick to the next level. In the first of three Courtside Reports, it’s evident that more control over pro stick shooting will see players have the ability to also control the arc of their shots, which has been tied in to the speed they pull down on the right stick. A slow flick will see a high arc on your shot, while a fast flick will see your shot come out flat with little to no arc. You’ll see a small shot bonus if you manage to get down the tempo on your shot and hit the ideal arc point. Fast flicks of the pro stick on a shot will see you shoot off the backboard. I’m not exactly sure how this will play out without seeing it, but being able to shoot off the backboard again is a welcomed return to shooting in NBA 2K.

nba 2k21 next gen

Dribbling in NBA 2K21 next gen will see a carryover of the current-gen dribbling system that most of us currently enjoy, but taken to another level. Size-ups can now be controlled and can be conducted at different speeds based on how fast or slowly you flick the pro stick. This would essentially mean that if you’re using a good ball handler, you can set up a defender with a slow rhythm dribble before quickly shifting into another gear and blowing by.

Passing gets a boost for next gen, with a rewrite of physics code allowing for a greater depth and flexibility in passing, especially on bounce passes. We’re going to be able to throw alley-oops off the bounce, as well as alley-oops off the backboard to teammates. Bounce touch passes will now be a thing, which is something that has never been done in a 2K basketball game before. Lead passing has been fine-tuned to lead teammates to the basket or around the 3-point line, dependent on where they are on the court and their movement, by tapping the Triangle/Y button.

Movement, Contact And The Impact Engine

One area of NBA 2K that we could harp on year in and out has always been movement and contact physics between players in the game. Things never quite added up when it came to these elements. In NBA 2K21 next gen, the jump in technology has allowed the 2K dev team to greatly improve the movement of players on both sides of the ball. I’m honestly most excited by the improvements we should be seeing here, especially on defense. Dribbling was completely scrapped and reprogrammed for next gen, except for signature dribble styles. This means we we should feel unparalleled control that we haven’t seen before.

Defense and off-ball movement received some love as well. We read about a few areas that stood out in part two of the Courtside Report that we will quote below:

    • Unique contextual motion assets for various basketball situations (Transition Stops, Leak Out, Guard Break, Anchor, Space Perimeter) bring an awareness to the look of the players on the floor and give them more life.
    • Improved pathing, cuts, and stops make defenders feel more grounded and fix a lot of the sliding from the previous generation.
    • Overall improvement to motion stability and response. In other words, we smoothed out the twitchiness and players can more accurately follow exactly what you’re doing on the sticks.
    • Updated player-size detection logic and greater emphasis on player differentiation. Bigs move like bigs, and guards move like guards. This includes a lot of new animation content to support signature motion styles.
    • Left stick taps allow you to play quick steps which are really helpful when you need to make subtle adjustments to your defensive position.

Foot planting, which is an essential part of a player’s footwork in almost all situations, is now a bigger focus in NBA 2K and it’s a huge relief to see. More realistic foot planting should mean we’ll see pinpoint player movement on the court.

Body ups is what the 2K dev team is naming battles between ball handler and defender. We’ve seen these battles in the last few iterations of 2K, but I always still found it too easy for the ball handler to get by the defender. Hip riding always resulted in the ball handler still managing to get their layup off. It looks like the introduction of next gen and the power it brings has hopefully allowed the dev team to balance out both sides of the ball and the interactions in body-up situations. I’m very excited to see how defense has been improved in next gen because I feel that it hasn’t kept up with the offensive changes made by 2K over the last few years.

nba 2k21 next-gen defensive ai

The Impact Engine has been developed to address in-air collisions and contact. Players should no longer see random chosen animations when defending the hoop, and can expect more control when making a play. This should hopefully also equate to players, both user and AI, making better decisions to protect the basket. On-court contact should also see improvement with better detection for charges and blocking fouls.

MyPlayer Builder, Badges, Takeover And Next-Gen AI Offense/Defense

In the final Courtside Report, Mike Wang dropped arguably the biggest news about NBA 2K21 next gen, confirming rumors about the new MyPlayer Builder, as well as badges and Takeovers. I covered the big news, which you can take a look at in my next gen MyPlayer deep dive. Chase also broke down the next-gen AI offensive and defensive improvements, which will potentially take the game to the next level. Take a look at the links to get detailed breakdowns on these areas.

The W: WNBA Next Gen

nba-2k21-wnba5

Not to be “that guy” but I’m doing it. This feature is two years late. That being said, the apparent depth that we’ll be getting for the WNBA MyPlayer experience in NBA 2K21 next gen should make up for the delay. The W allows you to create a WNBA MyPlayer and experience a career in the league, both on and off the court. Players will also have the capability of experiencing a fully customizable MyWNBA franchise mode, which will receive some of the upgrades that MyNBA will also receive (more on this later). Some customization options include:

    • Create a league of your own. From rules, to finances, CBA, draft, and everything in between. Use 2K presets for a different experience, or download shared settings from the community.
    • Skip the season altogether and get straight to the playoffs in Playoff mode.
    • Want to play with friends? Got you covered with Online Leagues.
    • Turn on role playing elements to experience the WNBA from a GM’s perspective.
    • For experienced players, up the difficulty and compete on the leaderboard.
    • Once you find yourself immersed in your sandbox, save and upload your custom configuration so you can share what you built with the community!

Players will also have a mode-exclusive W Online, which is 3-on-3 player experience. This addition to NBA 2K, as I mentioned above, is a late but very exciting addition to the franchise. As a father of two young girls that enjoy watching the Toronto Raptors, showing them that they’re represented in a video game and can flesh out their own careers is something I look forward to. For a more detailed breakdown of The W and the evolution of the WNBA in NBA 2K21 next gen, have a look at the Courtside Report presented by Felicia Steenhouse, senior producer of NBA 2K21.

The City – Affiliations Return

nba 2k21 next gen the city

With the amount of news that has dropped for next gen, the announcement of The City and MyNBA’s upgrade are arguably the two most hyped features for NBA 2K21 next gen. With The City, you can say goodbye to the Park and the Neighborhood, as we’ve now been introduced to the biggest evolution of the mode since its inception. This ambitious evolution also sees the return of Affiliations, which haven’t been in NBA 2K in several years. Add in RPG-like elements and we’re in store for something we’ve never seen in NBA 2K. Due to the sheer depth of information released regarding The City, take a look at the Courtside Report, detailed by Executive Producer Eric Boenisch.

Next-Gen MyNBA

nba-2k21-ng-mynba1

The upgrades to MyNBA, broken down by Senior Producer Dave Zdyrko, are deep. While there’s still some features that creators have been vying for that still haven’t been added, the decision to merge MyGM, MyLeague and MyLeague Online into one all-encompassing mode, and adding additional depth to these modes, is not only unexpected but welcomed. By reading through the Courtside Report, you’ll clearly see how much work the 2K dev team really put into the next-gen version of the game. If they can do this much year one, we can optimistically look forward to much more in the future.

Is All Of This Change Worth The Hype?

Since NBA 2K14, the step into the next generation at that time, NBA 2K saw incremental upgrades to the game that gave us a better product in some respects, but also issues year in and out. Being hyped for the new iteration of 2K started to become something where you had to be cautiously optimistic about the product you were about to receive. NBA 2K21 on current gen had the same optimistic hope behind it, but after small changes most (including myself) felt like they were playing NBA 2K20.5.

In seeing screenshots, videos, Courtside Reports and some pre-worldwide launch streams of NBA 2K21 next gen early this week, I can say that the hype feels warranted. The NBA 2K development team appears to have taken every possible step to ensure that its entrance into the next generation of gaming will leave its mark on the sports gaming genre once again. There’s no doubt the development team is looking to cement its status as the most innovative and ambitious company to deliver a sim product that’s as near to real life as possible. NBA 2K21 next gen might just be one of the most ambitious launch titles we’ve ever seen, not just in the sports genre, but any genre.

Now, it’s just time to see if it’s any good.

Are you going to be playing NBA 2K21 next gen on PS5 or Xbox Series X/S? What are you most looking forward to when you get your hands on the game? Leave us a comment below and let us know.

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  1. animations and gameplay are almost similar to current gen but there are some new animations i never seen on current gen before.. Halftime show is major disappointing : it is still same for 4 years in a row now. By the way, i still excited to play this on Thursday November 12 for PS5
    tcnumba10
    Gameplay and animations eerie looks similar to current gen though. I don’t believe this was “built from the ground up” as advertised at all

    It wasnt. Some ppl here have defended that language but I still think it was a (pretty big) oversell — unintentionally misleading at best, deceptive at worst.
    judging from what I've seen so far, I see a lot of connection with the old gen of the game. Especially in tendency; players who dribble too long and constantly attack the basket.
    After a rebound the player (CPU) that sprint every time.
    Globally seems to see the old game with overhauled graphics, where is the new AI of the player? New dribbling?
    tcnumba10
    Gameplay and animations eerie looks similar to current gen though. I don’t believe this was “built from the ground up” as advertised at all

    Unless they reinvented the sports of basketball the game is going to look familiar.
    coolcras7
    Unless they reinvented the sports of basketball the game is going to look familiar.

    I think the expectation / hope from that claim was that they were going to reinvent their way of virtually modeling the game of bball, not the game of bball itself. If theyd said “We’re gonna take our celebrated 2K engine — polished over many years to be the leading sim sports experience — to the next level on next gen, where we finally have the horsepower to make key improvements that really make the game pop” ...if theyd said that or something like it, it wouldve been a better representation of what we’d be getting. It sounds less sexy than “built from the ground up” though
    coolcras7
    Unless they reinvented the sports of basketball the game is going to look familiar.

    Disagree. The way the CPU plays is far from real basketball; ok we don't pretend the perfection, but since they claim a overhauled game from scratch we want to see the difference and this is not so evidence.
    The sell the game with a full price I remember also this
    michaelhawj
    animations and gameplay are almost similar to current gen but there are some new animations i never seen on current gen before.. Halftime show is major disappointing : it is still same for 4 years in a row now. By the way, i still excited to play this on Thursday November 12 for PS5

    I'll be skipping the half time show. It's the same exact show for several years now. Disappointed this part of the game wasn't upgraded. Give us some out of town highlights and replays, team standings, playoff races, player and team stats for the season as an example.
    mlp111
    The more I have seen, the more I ok with not purchasing next gen console. Will wait until next yr when pc get full port.

    I'll be holding off too. There just isn't enough there for me to for fork over $70. I bet the PC port will look just as good. Hopefully at a lower price too.
    I can vouch for the shooting. It is 100 times different then current gen. The arc is realistic and useful so far. You can now shoot effectively on the move, and punish people for going under screens. Side step and step back jumpers are now a weapon. I haven’t gotten any farther with the game yet.
    coolcras7
    Unless they reinvented the sports of basketball the game is going to look familiar.

    Thank you! It's clearly better than current generation. People saying its similar well it is basketball and a 2k game. Just curious. Why does the same names keep repeating over and over again that its similar to current? Like every thread discussing next generation.
    Lol its CLEARLY better but I respect yall opinion. You guys are just repeating it over and over. I played before work and its AWESOME. Crowd is better, movement, dribble, rebounding, AWESOME LOADING TIME, graphics, foot planting I can go on and on. Whoever is getting the game or plans on getting it believe me its miles ahead of current.
    We need a next generation impressions thread. These videos don't do the game justice. Playing it on a 4k tv with the controller in your hands is a different experience. When I first seen the videos I wasn't wowed but clearly seen it was better. When I played I was wowed. I also think 2k21 current is worse than 2k20. Seems more clunky. Especially the ball hitting the rim
    coolcras7
    Unless they reinvented the sports of basketball the game is going to look familiar.

    Anybody who genuinely believes this was "built from the ground up" is bonkers. The game is very clearly an iteration of the previous titles.
    Next year we'll have blogs before release talking about how they've had a year to harness their power of next-gen, building on the platform they built "from the ground up", and they're now delivering all those major improvements, but in reality it'll probably just be another iterative release with some upgrades and improvements. The way players still "glide" around the court makes me think they'd need a massive overhaul to make the game feel significantly different.
    haloofduty
    Thank you! It's clearly better than current generation. People saying its similar well it is basketball and a 2k game. Just curious. Why does the same names keep repeating over and over again that its similar to current? Like every thread discussing next generation.
    Lol its CLEARLY better but I respect yall opinion. You guys are just repeating it over and over. I played before work and its AWESOME. Crowd is better, movement, dribble, rebounding, AWESOME LOADING TIME, graphics, foot planting I can go on and on. Whoever is getting the game or plans on getting it believe me its miles ahead of current.
    We need a next generation impressions thread. These videos don't do the game justice. Playing it on a 4k tv with the controller in your hands is a different experience. When I first seen the videos I wasn't wowed but clearly seen it was better. When I played I was wowed. I also think 2k21 current is worse than 2k20. Seems more clunky. Especially the ball hitting the rim
    Unfortunately it's not enough for them to simply not feel the game and move along. They have to convince others that's it's the "same old, same old" too. 2K21 is clearly going to be the best 2K experience to date for me and it's not close. 1 more day!
    Sent from my SM-G950U using Operation Sports mobile app
    bransen
    I'll be holding off too. There just isn't enough there for me to for fork over $70. I bet the PC port will look just as good. Hopefully at a lower price too.

    Even though I wouldve preferred an actual “built from the ground up” 2k, the game still looks like a solid step up, and one silver lining of it being similar to current gen in overall design is that I doubt there will be much of a learning curve at all for PC modders. They wont miss a beat. As someone who was planning to transition to PC instead of a next gen console (since I need a new PC anyway), Im really looking fwd 2k22 on PC. No doubt in my mind that it will be glorious lol
    From what I'm seeing, 2k21 NG is far from a "built from the ground up" game imo. I believe this misleading statement was said to justify the price increase and not allowing for a next gen upgrade at current gen base price(free).
    The AI is in serious need of an upgrade to it's decision making/game planning because the more realistic the game looks the more the cpu's stupidity standout to me (still more smarter than most sport games which is sad in itself).
    Seeing the cpu drive the ball mindlessly into defenders and forcing up contested shots at the rim half the game is not only an eyesore but is also a oxymoron for a game that looks that realistic and prides itself on being a sport sim.
    I would love to see new tendencies for cradle layups,post pull chair, off ball post push, post fight for position,post walk down, off ball bumps, outlet passes and trying to draw fouls on pump fake bites but, I doubt any changes are going to be made when most of the current tendencies are needing fixing and goes untouched yearly.
    The year on year lack of innovation (gamplay wise) is starting to make the gameplay feel a bit stale and I fear 2k would remain complacent if sales/microtransactions continue to do well each year.
    EzMacK15
    I wish some of the people in the 2K community were Madden fans....Madden definitely needs the energy 2k gets about making improvements.*

    I don't think it's energy as much as it is being spoiled. There's a level of expectations this game is held to other sports games aren't held to.
    Junior Moe
    Unfortunately it's not enough for them to simply not feel the game and move along. They have to convince others that's it's the "same old, same old" too. 2K21 is clearly going to be the best 2K experience to date for me and it's not close. 1 more day!
    Sent from my SM-G950U using Operation Sports mobile app
    Happens every year. This is just a repeat of the last 8 years of 2k releases.
    Either people actually expect 2k to completely rebuild a game they sell 10 million copies of every single year, or they have such exceptionally high, out of touch level of expectations for 2k and the strides of AI CPU Basketball that they'll never be satisfied so they're always mad. It's one of the two.
    Or they're just trolling.
    2k21 on Next-Gen is far and away the best 2k in history, and quite possibly the most in-depth and realistic basketball game of all time. But that still isn't enough for people on the internet somehow.
    I wonder what it's like to go through life just hating everything. Must be exhausting.
    Royals Baseball: Catch the Thrill!
    EzMacK15
    I wish some of the people in the 2K community were Madden fans....Madden definitely needs the energy 2k gets about making improvements.*
    Funny you say that, because Madden fans complain just as much as 2k fans about literally everything and have for a decade. It's just that 2k actually tries to improve their product (especially offline) and EA just eats your money and throws all its resources into Ultimate Team and literally nothing else.
    Royals Baseball: Catch the Thrill!
    The AI definitely needs to improve, but some of those issues can be fixed with proper roster tendencies.
    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
    YungGun
    The AI definitely needs to improve, but some of those issues can be fixed with proper roster tendencies.
    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

    This is true.
    Every year it's a pain to fix but, well worth it in the end.
    I use a formula/spreadsheet that's a bit on the extreme side (some attributes staying as low as 25) to consistently get the desired animations to play out or to never trigger at all.
    I had a pretty good understanding of what animations would trigger from what badges and tweak the tendencies to undo some of the cpu's sloppiness.
    I'm not sure if any of my old roster formulas would work on next gen with all the new and different badges, guess I'll be find out tomorrow when my series x arrives.
    I don't hate 2k (I've been buying it every year since 06) I'm just super critical (and somewhat spoiled like dude said LOL) sometimes.
    Junior Moe
    Unfortunately it's not enough for them to simply not feel the game and move along. They have to convince others that's it's the "same old, same old" too. 2K21 is clearly going to be the best 2K experience to date for me and it's not close. 1 more day!
    Sent from my SM-G950U using Operation Sports mobile app
    Spamming the whole "built from the ground up" thing gets you pats on the back I guess, but those of us that have our hands on it know there are a lot of ground level improvements.
    For all the "quoting", Czar has said a LOT regarding the gutwork put in, and you can clearly see it.
    Personally, I can’t wait until Thursday (or Friday as the tracking info states).
    I think we get caught up with the terminology “built from the ground up”.
    From a programming perspective, do you really think they are going to write all new code from scratch? That makes absolutely no sense from a timing and budget perspective. Especially for NBA 2K and MLB the Show. Their gameplay foundation is solid so they just build upon that and if coded efficiently (big IF), they just need to tweak to communicate with new hardware.
    Now I am sure they modify many lines of code to take advantage of features of the new hardware and efficiencies within the software.
    That being said, a game like Madden needs a total rebuild because their foundation is horrible.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    I’ve played multiple games today. It may look similar gameplay wise, but it feels nothing like current gen. So much better. Players have weight. Animations are smoother.
    TheLu389
    I’ve played multiple games today. It may look similar gameplay wise, but it feels nothing like current gen. So much better. Players have weight. Animations are smoother.

    Very encouraging to hear
    Im very curious to see what ppl focus on when they start making slider sets
    The 24th Letter
    Spamming the whole "built from the ground up" thing gets you pats on the back I guess, but those of us that have our hands on it know there are a lot of ground level improvements.
    For all the "quoting", Czar has said a LOT regarding the gutwork put in, and you can clearly see it.

    I mean, I know you defend 2K to the death, but I don't think it's unreasonable for people to have maybe expected 2K to have developed or moved to a new engine over the course of two different console generations...
    EA did it with the move to Frostbite, and it does get a bit stale for those of us who keep seeing the exact same legacy animations something like 8 years in a row now.
    NoLeafClover
    I mean, I know you defend 2K to the death, but I don't think it's unreasonable for people to have maybe expected 2K to have developed or moved to a new engine over the course of two different console generations...
    EA did it with the move to Frostbite, and it does get a bit stale for those of us who keep seeing the exact same legacy animations something like 8 years in a row now.

    How's Frostbite working out for them?
    Are all the legacy issues gone from FIFA, Madden, Live? (when it exists). Why not? They have a new "engine"?. For all the "savvy" marketing talk you do, you fell for the most elementary version of it.
    Maybe 2K calling their changes something new would make you or others feel better, that's not for me though. I didn't say anything about expectations, they can vary...especially here...I'm talking about the reality of what was actually said. I'll let you get back to your company oppression dissertations though, don't let my "defending" slow you down.
    The 24th Letter
    Spamming the whole "built from the ground up" thing gets you pats on the back I guess, but those of us that have our hands on it know there are a lot of ground level improvements.
    For all the "quoting", Czar has said a LOT regarding the gutwork put in, and you can clearly see it.
    Czar has said that 2K doesn't have an "engine"; it's different systems working together. Passing is its own thing. Shooting is it's own thing. Motion is it's own thing. All the systems work together. It's clear that work has gone into the different systems. It's not perfect but it's better. It's still 2K at the end of the day and that isnt gonna change. I started playing with 2K2 and while the game has changed significantly since then, at its core, 2K21 still feels like 2K. It's how they program basketball games.
    Sent from my SM-G950U using Operation Sports mobile app
    The 24th Letter
    How's Frostbite working out for them?
    Are all the legacy issues gone from FIFA, Madden, Live? (when it exists). Why not? They have a new "engine"?. For all the "savvy" marketing talk you do, you fell for the most elementary version of it.
    Maybe 2K calling their changes something new would make you or others feel better, that's not for me though. I didn't say anything about expectations, they can vary...especially here...I'm talking about the reality of what was actually said. I'll let you get back to your company oppression dissertations though, don't let my "defending" slow you down.

    I didn't say moving to a new engine is a good or a bad thing, all I said was I don't think it's unreasonable for some people to have expected 2K might have been working on a new engine given the way they were wording things.
    The 2K series has given me some of the best gaming experiences of my life, doesn't mean I'm going to just sit here and ignore negative/lack of progress for the sake of "positive thoughts" or whatever principle you want to follow...
    I was hoping that for the next gen 2k would have "built from the ground up" or at least streamline the whole system of attributes and tendencies, but I guess I was too much naive.
    Maybe next year, or maybe never since the park/pro am community probably doesnt even know what tendencies are nor give a f* about them.
    Finally, the question I have been waiting to get answered...
    For anyone who has played 2K21 on both last gen and next gen, if I save my roster will it carry over to the new gen?
    I'm assuming not but still need to hear the correct answer 100%.

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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