Visual Concepts and 2K Sports’ basketball sim franchise returns yet again.
It’s that time of the year again, when big publishers churn out the yearly releases in their sports simulation franchises. For years, the big name in basketball has been 2K’s NBA franchise, and so it shall be this year again. But what are the changes that they’re making to their tried and tested formula? What are they improvements they’re making to the things that have drawn criticism in recent years? How are they refining the aspects of their game that continue to touch new heights every year? As NBA 2K20’s launch draws closer, in this feature, we’ll be taking a look at fifteen things you should know about the game. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.
MyGM was a huge deal with in NBA 2K a few years ago, but has tapered off in popularity of late, mostly due to the fact that it has, by and large, remained quite stagnant in terms of what sort of an experience it offers. With NBA 2K20, developers Visual Concepts are changing things up quite a bit. The introduction of Action Points means you will have a finite number of things you will be able to do every day, making the day-to-day more dependant on planning out what you want to do.
OTHER MyGM IMPROVEMENTS
Of course, there’s more being added to MyGM than just the Action Points- though that is a pretty big new addition. On top of that, there’s other new elements like a brand new skill tree, an enhanced levelling system, a new task system, changes to things like relationships, sponsorships, and branding, and a great deal more. Additionally, it also looks like Visual Concepts are putting a great deal of emphasis on accessibility with MyGM this year, for both new and returning fans- so it should be interesting to see how they balance with an authentic simulation experience.
The PARK affiliations system from NBA 2K15 is something that fans have been demanding to see in the series again for a long time now, but sadly, it doesn’t seem like NBA 2K20 will be the game where that makes its return. We don’t know too much yet about how many improvements are being made to the neighbourhood, but at least as far as PARK affiliations are concerned, don’t hold out hope.
NBA 2K is taking a big step this year by adding the Women’s NBA to this year’s game. Yep, WNBA and teams and players falling under it will be in NBA 2K20, and playable in Play Now and Season modes. Notably, animations and play styles have also been built for WNBA players individually using mocap.
Sprint is going to be a much more tactical choice in NBA 2K20 than something that you would just do… whenever you felt like it, essentially. Implementing new animations and things such as foot planting, while also adding an element that sees energy levels dropping as you sprint to a noticeable extent (as per the developers, at the very least), differences between faster and more lumbering players should be more visible, and sprinting itself should be something that actually helps make a difference.
NO MORE PUSHING
Pushing was something that had the NBA 2K community going nuts not too long ago, with a weird design choice in the game allowing players to push or tackle other players even when they didn’t have the ball. Visual Concepts patched it out of NBA 2K19, and in NBA 2K20, they’ve made sure to not have it from the get-go. You know, as they should- and which is something that a lot of fans will be elated to hear.
Visual Concepts have also added loads of new variations to further fine tune animations, to make signature dribbling styles more distinguishable and accurate. Depending on players’ physical attributes and their playing style, their dribbling animations will now have much greater variety. There are now, in fact, 27 total different sprint animations.
NBA 2K20’s upgraded motion engine is also bringing about some improvements to on-ball defense, to make 1v1s more authentic, and to prevent players from spamming the steal button all the time. Additionally, when guarding a player, that player will also have a small arrow underneath them showing where they will go next, and the better the player you’re defending with is, the longer that arrow will show.
Off-ball play is also seeing some important improvements. This includes new movement options, as well as moves such as stutters, spins, and fake first steps that can all be chained together. Meanwhile, off-ball defense is also being improved, with Visual Concepts looking to take advantage of the game;s improved body-up system to let you try and cut off other players’ runs.
SCREENS AND QUICK SCREENS
Screening also sees some smaller but significant adjustments, making both on- and off-ball screens much more authentic in terms of interactions between players. There’s also a new quick screen feature, which can be used to slow down opposing defenders and create openings for your teammates. It’s a high risk/high reward system though, so use it smartly.
NBA 2K20 is also injecting some new elements into layups, with the developers hoping to give players more control over what happens in such situations- and that happens through a new gather feature. Here’s how gameplay director Mike Wang describes it: “The new gather feature allows you to kick off an advanced gather on the floor, read the defense, and select how you want to finish that gather by re-deflecting the Pro Stick as you takeoff. For example, if you started a euro gather but saw the defense close in, you could re-deflect the Pro Stick down to branch to a floater finish to avoid contact. This also allowed us to introduce the concept of gather resolutions. Forcing a gather into heavy traffic or directly into a defender will lead to jam ups, but choosing the correct gathers in open spaces will let you knife right through traffic.”
DYNAMIC FREELANCE ENGINE
Accessibility is something that NBA 2K20 is putting a lot of its chips on, and one of the few ways it’s doing that is through is new dynamic freelance engine, which, in a nutshell, makes running offenses much more organic. This system is centered around your teammates’ AIs and their best attributes, and allows them to create off-ball plays without you even having to call a play.
Visual Concepts claim they’ve reworked the badges system for NBA 2K20 significantly. How so? There are ow 80 badges in the game, and the developers say they have spent a considerable amount of time making sure that they’re all worth grinding for, and that they differ from each other in meaningful ways. Hopefully, this should allow for more flexible and expressive personalization using badges.
Microtransactions have been a real, real concern in NBA 2K games in recent years. After a lot of criticism regarding the same, NBA 2K19 made some minor improvements in this regard, so the hope remains that the same will also be true for 2K20– maybe even to a greater extent. What we do know for sure is that Virtual Currency is returning- and though we hope that aggressive monetization won’t be as much of a problem as it has been in the past, there’s just going to be no way of knowing for sure until we actually get our hands on the game.
XBOX ONE X AND PS4 PRO ENHANCEMENTS
For the last couple of years, the NBA 2K games have featured enhancements for both the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X, and that much isn’t going to change this year. On the Xbox One X, the game will support HDR and a 4K resolution. There’s no concrete info yet on how it will run on a PS4 Pro, but it’s likely that we can expect similar enhancements there as well.