Visual Concepts’ basketball franchise continues with NBA 2K21. While it’s out on September 4th for Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch and Google Stadia, this year also marks the series’ debut on Xbox Series X and PS5. Those versions will be coming later but what should you know about NBA 2K21 before it releases? Let’s take a look at 10 things here.
$70 on PS5 and Xbox Series X
NBA 2K21 is historically relevant, in a sense because the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions will cost $70, making them the first mainstream video game releases in years with that price tag. Such was the shock that many questioned the legitimacy of the news. Not only did 2K Games confirm the same, claiming that it justified the price, but Take Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick echoed the sentiment. Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Zelnick pointed out the lack of a price increase in games despite how much it cost to make them. “We think with the value we offer consumers… and the kind of experience you can really only have on these next-generation consoles, and the price is justified.”
Of course, Zelnick would subsequently clarify in the company’s Q1 earnings call that $70 was not the default price for next-gen games and that pricing would be decided on a “title-by-title basis.” So while the jury is still out on future games, NBA 2K21 will require $70 up front.
Standard and Mamba Forever Edition
Who doesn’t love tables explaining the extensive differences between different versions of the same game? For NBA 2K21, there’s the Standard Edition on current and next gen and the Mamba Forever Edition for current and next gen. The main difference between the Standard Edition on current and next gen is the cover athlete – Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers adorns the former while Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans is in the latter.
Standard Edition owners for either version will receive 5,000 Virtual Currency, 5,000 MyTeam Points, 10 MyTeam Promo Packs (with one received per week), 9 MyCareer Skill Boosts and a Shoe Collection with five pairs of shoes. Depending on the generation, you’ll receive a MyTeam Free Agent Card and custom MyPlayer t-shirt for either Williamson or Lillard. Even more confusing is that current-gen players will receive a Tissot Chrono XL NBA Watch for MyPlayer while next-gen players get a MyPlayer Dunk Animation Package for Williams.
Got all that? Good because now it’s time to talk about the Mamba Forever Edition which costs $99.99. Kobe Bryant is the cover athlete for both current and next-gen and depending on the version, you’ll receive the Standard Edition for either the current or next-gen version (along with the digital collection from Lillard or Williamson). There’s also 100,000 Virtual Currency, 10,000 MyTeam Points, 60 My Career Skill Boosts, 30 Gatorade – boosts and the Kobe Bryant Digital Collection with its own assorted goodies. There’s obviously a lot more but we need to move on.
The good news is that regardless of which console version you buy, progression will carry over between generations. That includes MyTeam Points, Tokens and Cards. Virtual Currency is also shared between the respective consoles, meaning Xbox One and PS4 players can access their currency on Xbox Series X and PS5 respectively.
Current vs. Next Gen Differences
Though one would assume that the next-gen version just has a few extra bells and whistles (along with shorter loading times), Visual Concepts has been working to differentiate it from the current gen release. Development between both versions is split between Visual Concepts in Novato and Los Angeles, with the former dedicated to next-gen while the latter focuses on current-gen. Gameplay director Mike Wang also said that there’s much more content to be had in the next-gen version while the overall feel and movement are completely different.
Balance Between Fun and Realism
For this year’s entry, the developer wanted to make the game more enjoyable, hitting that balance between fun and realism. Which sounds weird but as gameplay director Mike Wang noted, what’s realistic may not necessarily be fun. To that end, stuff like throwing the ball away on cherry pick passes has noted as not fun and will be fixed. Wang also stated that despite current and next-gen versions sharing the same “DNA”, there are a number of gameplay differences. Those differences haven’t necessarily been outlined but they are apparently there so we’ll need to wait for more information.
MyTeam Unlimited Returns
If all the preorder bonuses didn’t tip you off, MyTeam Unlimited is making a return. The mode has always been about creating your NBA dream team from a set of cards and competing with them. These cards range in color from Bronze (the worst) to Pink Diamond (the best) and are obtained through card packs using MT Coins or Virtual Currency. There’s also the Auction House for buying and selling cards because of course there is. Not much was revealed about MyTeam Unlimited for NBA 2K21 but the developer has promised “new ways to compete.” Perhaps new game modes or rules? Again, more details are needed.
Another returning feature is Card Evolution. Evolution Cards are special MyTeam cards that can be upgraded by meeting certain requirements, and they allow for the color or skill rating. It should be interesting to see how they change in NBA 2K21, especially with there being more control on how cards can be evolved. It’s all very exciting and also somewhat frightening.
NBA 2K21 will see players competing for “Championship Rings” in-game. Again, very little was said beyond this but maybe it will allow for earning actual wearable rings when winning a championship? That would be an interesting addition, if nothing else.
202 Tracks on Next-Gen
NBA 2K21 will have 52 songs with its current-gen release. However, it’s the next-gen version that’s much crazier with 202 songs at launch and even more songs being added over time. Some of the artists include The Strokes, Roddy Ricch and Stormzy but if you’ve played an NBA 2K game, you can expect the usual range of pop, rock, R&B and hip-hop overall.
“Exciting News” for WNBA
Though more explicit details are lacking, yet again, Visual Concepts has promised “exciting news” for WNBA fans with NBA 2K21. Reports have been circulating about WNBA players and packs being added to MyTeam mode but official confirmation has yet to arrive. Regardless, if you typically lean towards the WNBA, then it might be worth keeping an eye on NBA 2K21.