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NBA Live 19 Preview: What's Hot, What's Not

NBA Live 19

NBA Live 19 Preview: What's Hot, What's Not

With another year under its belt, NBA Live 19 continues to march towards being truly competitive in the basketball market. While NBA Live 18 was a fun game and a welcome return for the snake-bitten franchise, it was not yet a great game. Player movement was stiff, there weren’t any differences in player release animations, and modes were either bare bones or lacking entirely.

One area where Live 18 shined was The One mode. Integrating the style of street ball with the substance of an NBA career, The One was a fun and engaging way to experience the game. As we march closer to NBA Live 19’s release in September, more news and more videos are being released showcasing EA’s upcoming basketball sim. Today we’re diving in to what looks good so far, and where the game may still have room for improvement.

What’s Hot

Female Create-A-Player: EA recently made the announcement for female create-a-player, and it’s been long overdue. For years, the WNBA has lacked representation in video games, and while the WNBA was present in NBA Live 18, there was no option to create a female avatar. Thankfully, that has now been rectified and just like on the male side, created female players can try their hand on the streets and in the gym for The One mode.

From the various videos on YouTube, it looks like all hair styles and player types will be available for the female avatars. There was even a sequence in the announcement trailer that showed a female throwing down a nasty dunk. Kudos to EA for taking care of an oversight that should’ve been corrected a long time ago.

Real Player Motion: Much like its sibling Madden NFL 19, NBA LIve 19 will include Real Player Motion for its players. With some hands on I got at EA Play, coupled with the recently released videos showcasing gameplay, it’s apparent Live 19’s players move in a much more realistic and fluid manner. Foot planting looks good and RPM has especially helped with the way dribbling looks.

One of the major complaints from last year’s game was how stiff and robotic the players moved, and a lot of that was due to how stilted the footwork was. Real Player Motion does a great job of minimizing wonky gathers and changes of direction.

Visuals: Let’s get this out of the way now: NBA Live 19 is a good looking game. In this year’s game, EA has added some of the coolest and most beautiful locations to play basketball we have ever seen in video games. From the Jordan Qual 54 in Paris to The Tenement in Manila, EA has painstakingly re-created iconic street courts for players to travel to and dominate.

Equipment is another area EA just gets right. Textures on the different arm sleeves, head bands and elbow pads all stand out from one another, and avoid that painted on look from the past. Shoes are another area that truly stand out. While the full list of shoes isn’t out yet, every screenshot and video showcases just how good the shoes look in game.

The One: What was, by far, the best part of NBA Live 18 is back and it looks to improve upon everything it did right. International street games, female characters and a new story are all a small part of what players can expect for NBA Live 19. It remains to be seen what the main storyline is, but last year’s story was very well done and I expect The One will continue to build on that past success.

The biggest area for improvement will be in the immersion on the NBA/WNBA side of things. Outside of cutscenes, there isn’t really anything differentiating an NBA game played in The One versus a game played in franchise. There needs to be more specific commentary-related nods to your player, specifically about his career outside of the singular game at hand.

No More Loot Crates: This is a big one. Now instead of having to buy a loot crate and hope to get the equipment you wanted, in NBA Live 19 you now buy the item you want. After last year’s Battlefield 2 uproar, it looks like EA has gotten the hint and done away with loot crates in their most gamble-heavy form.

What’s Not

Passing: I don’t know what it is about NBA Live, but passing remains one of the ugliest aspects of the game. The way the ball comes off the player’s hand just doesn’t look natural. The ball doesn’t sit in the hand properly, and as a result passes sometimes look like they’re being thrown off of the back of the hand or in the complete wrong direction for what would be bio-mechanically possible.

In addition, lob passes still look like the trajectory is far too low. Visually, the lob into the post more often than not looks as if it should be intercepted by a defender, only to magically end up where it’s supposed to be. On a positive note, bounce passes generally look good, though there are some odd clipping issues there at times. Hopefully, EA can tighten up the animations before release.

Defensive Spacing: Spacing on the defensive side of the ball is  another area that looks like it could use refinement. Far too often, you’ll see help defenders come in to the lane to meet the driving ball handler and then get stuck on each other when the ball gets kicked out to the wing or corner. Rotations are also a touch slow with defenders sometimes taking a step in the wrong direction before recovering and heading back towards their man.

The result is poor spacing in the middle, and I can see good users taking advantage of this versus the CPU. While I’m not saying it should look like the dreaded “five out” from 2K League fame, a bump in defensive awareness from the AI could eliminate some of the issues with the spacing.

Lack Of Franchise Info: So far, EA has not released any information about potential improvements to franchise mode in NBA Live 19. Franchise mode in Live is the one area where EA is still miles behind 2K, and the lack of news about it so far has me worried. Typically, game developers like to be out front with their biggest improvements, and the fact that we’ve heard nothing about franchise for NBA Live 19 tells me that the focus was on The One.

While The One is a great mode, not improving what was a bare experience last year may turn off a lot of potential consumers. Unfortunately, it seems like this is a trend with EA Sports in recent years. Here’s hoping the studio can add some substance to the mode in the future.

Analysis

NBA Live 19 already looks to be a significant step forward for the franchise. Gameplay looks to be significantly improved with the Real Player Motion technology, and the addition of female created players is a pioneering move in the genre. Taking The One overseas and building squads builds upon what was the best game mode from Live 18, and it will be the main way that players will experience the game. There are still areas where the game needs to be refined, but EA is showing great attention (and care) to the game and that bodes well for its future. The real question is if EA will eventually show that same attention and care to modes like franchise once the gameplay has been locked down.

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  1. I just don't understand EA, With all the money and resources they have, why can't they just put together a team that will focus on the franchise mode alone? The lack of information on this part of the game is very disappointing. I was looking forward to the game, but with no franchise mode improvements this game won't last too long in my library of games.
    Let’s not kid ourselves. The NBA licensing is just a bit of gloss. The game is pretty much a sim/street hybrid. EA have totally given up on any attempt to compete with NBA 2K’s impressive franchise mode. This is not to say this is a bad basketball game it’s just a different one. We need to take it for what it is. I’m a franchise guy & that’s why my money goes to 2K.
    Peter_OS
    I just don't understand EA, With all the money and resources they have, why can't they just put together a team that will focus on the franchise mode alone? The lack of information on this part of the game is very disappointing. I was looking forward to the game, but with no franchise mode improvements this game won't last too long in my library of games.

    Until the game starts hitting significant sales numbers, the decision-makers at EA aren't going to give them the budget for something like that.
    El_Poopador
    Until the game starts hitting significant sales numbers, the decision-makers at EA aren't going to give them the budget for something like that.

    But how are they gonna meet significant sales numbers if the product is lacking the basic essentials and isn't worth buying full price at its current state?
    There's no incentive for a person to pre-order or even pay $60+, or even $40+ for a game that's not even up to par with its only competition, who albeit has its own issues, still manages to nail down the basics and essentials at least decent enough to entice a dedicated sports gamer or even the non-sports gamer, which is the target audience at the moment.
    Dazraz
    Let’s not kid ourselves. The NBA licensing is just a bit of gloss. The game is pretty much a sim/street hybrid. EA have totally given up on any attempt to compete with NBA 2K’s impressive franchise mode. This is not to say this is a bad basketball game it’s just a different one. We need to take it for what it is. I’m a franchise guy & that’s why my money goes to 2K.

    That's one of the things that has me uninterested in the game so far. Graphics and gameplay look to be improved, perhaps significantly, but thus far the majority of marketing for the game has had nothing to do with the NBA side of things. Even the NBA gameplay videos we saw demonstrated players pulling off street like moves.
    We'll see what happens when more information is released and the demo drops. Maybe that will the change my mind and others' as well. But as of now IF I do decide to buy Live this year it'll likely be a Black Friday purchase.
    Dazraz
    Let’s not kid ourselves. The NBA licensing is just a bit of gloss. The game is pretty much a sim/street hybrid. EA have totally given up on any attempt to compete with NBA 2K’s impressive franchise mode. This is not to say this is a bad basketball game it’s just a different one. We need to take it for what it is. I’m a franchise guy & that’s why my money goes to 2K.

    To me it seems as if they've given up, and it reminds me of when COD took their boots of the ground and started doing the jumping off walls. Like we can't compete with battlefield in terms of simulation aspects. So let's just create are own lane and hope it sticks. This is one of the reasons why I'm not interested the game thus far, the graphics and gameplay seem to be improved to some degree, but outside of the one the game just doesn't have a lot to offer. The sad thing is everything has been about the courts and playing all over the world. You have people on Twitter eating this stuff up and that's fine and good if that's your thing. But overall it hurts the game cause now the devs think that's all they really care about is these streetball courts, playing online, and maybe the women.They have consumers pay as people that don't care about the core modes of live.
    Dazraz
    Let’s not kid ourselves. The NBA licensing is just a bit of gloss. The game is pretty much a sim/street hybrid. EA have totally given up on any attempt to compete with NBA 2K’s impressive franchise mode. This is not to say this is a bad basketball game it’s just a different one. We need to take it for what it is. I’m a franchise guy & that’s why my money goes to 2K.

    Its kinda like how Akklaim went about it with NFL Quarterback Club 2002, although it can serve as a simulation based football game with the NFL & NFLPA licenses, its big draw/gimmick is the QB-focused single or multi player QB Challenge mode.
    It was a very distinguishable brand of football (esp. between its many better competitors at the time like Madden, NFL Fever, NFL GameDay, NFL Primetime, etc.), but was able to cater both crowds, those who preferred a flashy, arcade-ish feature, and those who wanted to build a great player or team in its GM Mode or lead your team to the Super Bowl in Playoffs mode (side note: Kevin Harlan went from being one of the commentary figures in this game to eventually be the still current commentary lead in the NBA 2K games lol)
    Point is: Live has to find a balance and cater properly and accordingly in order to be well received by its fanbase categories and get back to its former high point.
    If this game does not have a decent franchise mode, other new concepts, and legacy issues tuned out then EA should have more options to have this game at a discount on release day just like Live 18 that sold the game at around 40 dollars plus. EA will only shoot themselves in the foot if they sell this game for 60 plus knowing its still lacking in this area. Their only purpose right now is to not only make this game marketable again, but also do anything they can too make this franchise respectable again. They are in no position to half step this project anymore because alot of gamers are still not respecting them or are highly skeptical of them because of there bad rep with this game.
    While I too would love news on franchise mode and the NBA side of things, we still know NOTHING
    For all we know, Live 19 does feature an improved franchise mode. It wouldn't take much to vastly improve what was offered in Live 18 which would make 19 even better.
    I'm realistic enough to understand that the lack of news at this point is a dab concerning. It could very well mean that we aren't getting any improvements and that franchise mode was all but forgotten about
    BUT...
    This isn't a guarantee and Live 19 may be much better overall on the NBA side of things as well. The One mode looks like they put a lot of work into it, so for all we know they put hard work into the game overall and we will like the outcome.
    My point is to not give up hope on something that we cannot know for sure. We know nothing which isn't the same as knowing something bad
    El_Poopador
    Until the game starts hitting significant sales numbers, the decision-makers at EA aren't going to give them the budget for something like that.

    Move it back to EA Canada Studios and watch the improvement start immediately. That studio focuses on Franchise Modes
    oldmanonsilvercreek
    Wondering if there will be a season mode for the WNBA this year? It was useless having the teams in without a season to even play them in.

    I agree that we definitely need the option to play a season or franchise with the WNBA teams. Honestly I would settle for editable WNBA rosters with the ability to add created players to the WNBA teams as well. Then I could run my own franchise by just keeping up with stats and doing my own trades and creating rooks etc
    However, I do really enjoy the WNBA teams even if it's just in play now mode. If I have a few mins to chill, I usually start up a WNBA match. Most of the time with Indiana of course, Go Fever!
    Starting to look like typical EA at this point. Instead of building off a solid effort last year with a stronger Franchise Mode and creating one for the WNBA, they are focusing purely on selling “the One” mode which is fine but it is neglecting the NBA aspect. All-Star Weekend, Play-Off Mode/Atmosphere, and other key areas are missing that highlight the grind of the NBA season. I am worried about the total lack of information and also the unwillingness of EA to answer almost any questions surrounding our concerns.
    Look at what happens when they have a license to themelsves (ie Madden)....the lack of growth is astounding and this makes me grateful for competition. I really hope EA delivers an amazing experience on and off the floor with NBA Live 19. I also hope they build the WNBA aspect up even more and if not let the other game do it justice because it is long overdue.
    I'm as annoyed as some of here regarding Franchise mode info but I'd like to point out that very early on into the Live 19 cycle, Executive producer Seann Graddy mentioned that a Spanish studio has joined EA Tiburon to help with NBA Live team. I think they're invested in the series and haven't 'given up'. Let's not be so pessimistic without knowing 100%
    https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2018-06-27-new-ea-sports-creates-24-jobs-with-new-division-in-madrid
    If I am going to like how the game plays in the demo I'll buy the game regardless of how deep the franchise mode is. Gameplay is the most important thing after all, and I'd rather play the game I enjoy playing the One, which is obviously Live's selling point, than playing the franchise mode in a game that I don't enjoy. That was the case with me with Live 18 and 2k18. And I am telling that as a myleague/franchise first type of player.
    Twigg4075
    If this game doesn't have online franchise or the ability to invite friends for H2H games online, I'm just going to laugh and laugh.*
    h2h with friends was already confirmed in a developer interview. We're still waiting in franchise, not holding my breath though.
    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
    Franchise Mode is my preferred mode as well but The One mode was good. It wasn't great but I feel like it was at least worth my time. Last year I used 2k for my MyLeague/Franchise and played Live for my Career Mode fix I get at times. I do wish they'd allocate some resources from the whole street aspect though. If it isn't some type of separate really arcadey game like the Street games I have little interest for playing on street courts.
    I know The One is their niche, I completely understand why it is their main focus.
    but I would just like to hear SOMETHING on the NBA side of the game. OH2H was essentially abandoned last year, the year long drops and gameplay wasnt really touched on that side. The obvious missing feature of being able to play a friend online.
    Stuff leaves a bad taste in your mouth. You would like to know they paid the NBA side at least some attention. TBH I played the NBA side of 16 longer than last year..
    Sent from my SM-G955U using Operation Sports mobile app
    The 24th Letter
    I know The One is their niche, I completely understand why it is their main focus.
    but I would just like to hear SOMETHING on the NBA side of the game. OH2H was essentially abandoned last year, the year long drops and gameplay wasnt really touched on that side. The obvious missing feature of being able to play a friend online.
    Stuff leaves a bad taste in your mouth. You would like to know they paid the NBA side at least some attention. TBH I played the NBA side of 16 longer than last year..
    Sent from my SM-G955U using Operation Sports mobile app

    Online H2H was very 2003. That wasn’t an exaggeration.....
    I’ve yet to get a win....lol.
    It’s either,
    A) my opponent is better and I lose.....
    B) I’m winning and my opponent dashboards and no win is recorded....
    It’s literally only one of the 2 outcomes. I can’t take this game seriously with performance and non depth like that.
    Franchise guys have their beefs. This is mine....
    The 24th Letter
    I know The One is their niche, I completely understand why it is their main focus.
    but I would just like to hear SOMETHING on the NBA side of the game. OH2H was essentially abandoned last year, the year long drops and gameplay wasnt really touched on that side. The obvious missing feature of being able to play a friend online.
    Stuff leaves a bad taste in your mouth. You would like to know they paid the NBA side at least some attention. TBH I played the NBA side of 16 longer than last year..
    Sent from my SM-G955U using Operation Sports mobile app

    I agree, a couple things that I would like to know is
    are penalties back in the game such as traveling, goaltending, over the back fouls. Also, have tendencies made a return back in the game. Will we be able to edit them and signature styles as well?
    What about the ability of roster sharing? These are things we still don't know nothing about. Hopefully EA will provide us some insight about the NBA portion sometime this week.
    But 2k has it's own streetball mode too, and it's just as popular(if not more popular) than it's already impressive franchise mode, so I'm not sure why the live team thinks just focusing on streetball when it's competitor offers so much more is a good strategy.
    EA's lack of feedback to the fans and not being honest and upfront by what's in their game, to me is a huge reason why they are so far behind, and why interest overall is much lower. This game is out in less than a month, yet this forum struggles to get 50 people to read the threads here.
    EA doesn't invest in  franchise cause they can't milk it for money.....same with madden....
    "Real Player Motion: Much like its sibling Madden NFL 19" lol idk if this is a good thing
    The passing really is awful, probably my biggest problem with last year's game and the clips I've seen of Live 19 don't give me any reassurance that it's been improved at all.  It's not just the ball trajectories, but also the passing animations not being in proper context.  I'm constantly seeing overhead passes being thrown to a player who is just a few feet away, whereas other times a flick of the wrist throws a pass 50 feet.  I also haven't seen anything that would lead me to believe they've improved the pick and roll controls at all.  If you still don't have the ability to choose your screener, which side he sets the pick on, etc., that would be unacceptable in my eyes.
    Fist Of Kings
    But 2k has it's own streetball mode too, and it's just as popular(if not more popular) than it's already impressive franchise mode, so I'm not sure why the live team thinks just focusing on streetball when it's competitor offers so much more is a good strategy.
    EA's lack of feedback to the fans and not being honest and upfront by what's in their game, to me is a huge reason why they are so far behind, and why interest overall is much lower. This game is out in less than a month, yet this forum struggles to get 50 people to read the threads here.

    You know it's funny. People complain about 2K being tight lipped and being slow with information but we know even less about NBA Live, especially on the NBA side of things. Live came out early with some videos and info but they've been very quiet since then. People have made the argument that 2K should be coming out guns blazing because 2k18 was disappointing (debatable) but when the competition isnt putting on any pressure it's hard to argue with 2Ks marketing strategy.
    I'm looking for Live to give me a reason to be excited, and maybe the demo will do that, but besides being a good looking game there's just nothing to look forward to at this point.
    After last year’s Battlefield 2 uproar, it looks like EA has gotten the hint and done away with loot crates in their most gamble-heavy form.

    Article fix needed:
    The uproar was over 'Star Wars: Battlefront 2', not the Battlefield franchise. Two different games. Battlefield 2 came out in 2005.
    I had no issue with the loot crates in Live last year, you knew you would be getting 1 of x amount of items and once you unlocked one you wouldn't unlock the same thing. It was very much earned on play as well not just luck of the draw.  You couldn't spend real money on them either so it wasn't a pay to win or pay to look good situation either. 
    Justonepost
    Good read other than the passing analysis.
    Passing is great in Live and doesn’t feel floaty and ‘wrong’ like the other game.

    We are talking about NBA Live, right?
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