We got our first unedited look at NBA 2K21 on next-gen consoles, so what are your next-gen NBA 2K21 reactions after seeing the footage?
Chase Becotte: As I’ve said previously, it’s worth seeking out the 4K footage on YouTube (or posted above) and really appreciating what’s going on here. 1080p will be fine to watch in future videos once we know what we’re getting, but for now, I think getting the 4K footage is a good way of actually seeing how big of a graphical jump there is here.
As for the video itself, 2K does look like it will be a next-gen showcase — much like it was when the PS4 and Xbox One launched. We’re still waiting for Madden and FIFA to show their in-game graphics off, but I feel confident saying 2K is going to look the best of the three (and be one of the best looking next-gen games overall).
But on the negative side of things, I do have some minor concerns about the defense. This is a video that’s supposed to showcase the offense, but watching Jrue get stuck on the screen around the 1:55 mark just didn’t look natural. There’s no suction going on (which is great!) but he half gets around the off-ball screen and then decides to just go back fully under it rather than keep battling through? This sequence in tandem with the earlier one where Derrick Favors steps way up out of the lane while Curry drives for a layup (around 1:28) just looked like peculiar pathing for AI players. Again, it’s on a low difficulty level so it’s sort of whatever, but it’s something to watch.
(I will say, it did seem like the player spacing was better overall during these sequences, which is great.)
Sort of staying in that same lane, I would love to see some non-rookie gameplay because I care deeply about what’s happening with contests. A big flaw for the 2K series right now is just the wildly inconsistent contest percentages.
Beyond that, seeing the added coaches behind the bench is great, and the sheer volume of crowd assets were impressive here, but there was not a lot of lively pep to the crowd or exuberance after Zion’s massive oop.
The only other “negative” I really want to spend time on here is more abstract in a sense. For all the work that’s clearly happening with foot planting and blending animations, I still get current-gen vibes for how the game looks as players move. It’s not a negative on its own, but since I know the issues with current-gen gameplay right now as it relates to dribbling, ball tangibility, defense etc. I wonder how many legacy issues the developers were able to vanquish. In other words, I see this isn’t a totally “new” engine or anything, so I’m just curious how much of the bad the developers were able to get away from here.
That being said, there are a lot of positives. On some level, I think it’s hard to see them at times without having footage from last gen with it, but I assure you the foot planting is a huge difference here. Beyond that, the contact animation on the Zion dunk was fantastic, and the pick-and-roll sequences (the bounce pass on the second, the lob on the first) are when next-gen NBA 2K21 hit its highest notes for me.
The Brandon Ingram reverse layup was clean and was a good sign for picking the right animation around the hoop. And the Steph Curry step-back 3-pointer was a good showcase of the new foot-planting tech for him getting his feet behind the line while looking smooth in the process.
Lastly, of course it was amazing to see instantaneous load times. I know this is going to be a thing in most next-gen games, but seeing 20-30 seconds knocked off the wait times before the start of a game is great and will remain great.
Kevin Groves: Despite the fact I rarely venture outside of the soccer forums these days, hoops will be always be my first love. I haven’t played an NBA 2K seriously in a couple years because of a few legacy issues, mainly foot planting. I’ve always found it to be a little counterproductive so it’s really refreshing to hear the devs talk about how they have focused on it as a real upgrade on next-gen consoles. The graphics obviously look great and the load times were insane but it’s the stadium atmosphere that immediately caught my attention. Maybe we’ve gotten a little used to the lack of crowds, but seeing all of the background detail is really impressive. Of course none of this matters if the AI, both on and off the court, is lacking but I’m looking to pick up 2K once I get my hands on the PS5.
Joel Smith: In watching the video, I feel like we got to see what a lot of the released next-gen images showed regarding the in-arena immersion. Seeing Allie Laforce doing the pregame David Aldridge bit was a nice change. Other than that, it’s really hard to gauge how the gameplay looks and will feel without having hands-on experience.
The game does look smooth, and the new rail cam brought on a heavy NBA bubble feel. However, I’ll still definitely be using my traditional 2K Cam.The foot planting and those animations look terrific. In one sequence, Steph Curry does a cross, step back and then drives to the basket. The delay after his step back so he can plant his feet before pushing off to explode to the hoop looked great.
One thing that I definitely noticed that irked me was how bland some of the players looked, as well as how the uniforms looked. In the pregame, Zion looks like he was adjusting his uniform and checking his socks, but the interaction between his hands, the uniform and what he was doing just wasn’t right. The uniform didn’t move at all despite the fact that he clearly looked like he was making sure his jersey was tucked right and then grabbed at his chest before the scene cut away. If we’re going to be talking about the next generation of graphics and processing power — and having devs tout how much more they can give us — to me it’s worth calling out the shortcomings here.
If some of the player faces and the like can be photo-realistic, I expect the uniforms and how they look and move to be top notch as well. This is supposed to be an all-encompassing package taking us into the future of NBA 2K games, so at this point I expect everything from graphics, sound, presentation and gameplay to be A1. If there are more videos like this to come from the devs, I hope we get either close to final product footage, or they show off some more of the “small” details. At this point with this new tech, the smallest details will definitely make the biggest difference.