A new NBA 2K game is on the horizon, courtesy of 2K Games and Visual Concepts. And while the series’ penchant for excessive monetization will remain, several new features and improvements are worth detailing. Let’s take a look at 16 things you should know before picking up NBA 2K23, which releases on September 9th for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
This year’s iteration boasts not one, not two, but four cover athletes. Six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan graces the Championship Edition along with his very own Michael Jordan Edition. The Standard Edition and Digital Deluxe Editions have three-time NBA All-Star Devin Booker. Finally, there’s the WNBA Edition with Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, though it’s only exclusive to GameStop in the US and Canada.
Jordan Challenges Return
With Michael Jordan’s return as a cover athlete, The Jordan Challenges from NBA 2K11 return. All 10 original challenges, which cover legendary moments from his time in college, Team USA and the NBA, have been rebuilt and five new challenges added. More details are still to come but various teammates and rivals will also provide commentary and appear in special vignettes to reflect on Jordan’s career.
MyCareer – The City and Cruise return
Another mode that requires more details is MyCareer. Long story short, The City returns for Xbox Series X/S and PS5 versions, providing a brand-new city to explore with new arenas and courts. You can also choose a crew and compete against MyPlayers for supremacy. Previous-gen versions (and PC, unfortunately) will receive The Cruise yet again, competing on a cruise liner’s courts and reaping rewards while also embarking on shore excursions. It’s described as a “swashbuckling basketball journey” which implies pirates, but it’s better to wait for more information before getting your hopes up.
New Pro Stick Combos
For as much controversy as the NBA 2K series has received for its micro-transactions, the gameplay has usually been very solid. This year looks to revamp things significantly, starting with new Pro Stick combos. Flicking the stick allows for double throws and switchbacks along with new commands for metered skill dunks. Current-gen players also benefit from physics-based rim hangs, letting you control when and how long a player hangs from the rim following a dunk.
Another new feature is Adrenaline Boost, presented as three bars under a player’s stamina meter. When going for an explosive sprint, a boost is consumed, and a player’s speed and acceleration go down when they’re all used. Only three boosts are available for each player per possession so knowing the right time to use them is important.
Along with double the number of shot animations from previous games, NBA 2K23 also adds new Shooting Attributes. These include Shot Speed (how quickly a shot reaches the release point), Release Height (a shot’s height when released), Defensive Immunity (how well a shot performs in contests against defenders) and Timing Impact (where shot windows are adjusted, providing a bigger penalty for badly timed shots but greater rewards for good timing). Each signature jump has unique shooting stats, adding more strategy to shooting situations.
New Shot Meters
Last year’s revamped Shot Meter received some mixed reactions from fans. As a result, NBA 2K23 offers five Shot Meters with 15 more unlockable in post-launch Seasons over the coming year. Visual Concepts notes, “Each meter fills to the end, which is your ideal release point, then empties on the late side a la 2K17–2K20.” Shot arcs are also used for indicating when a player is too early, too late or on point with their timing. There’s also Shot Feedback which, when enabled, delays the “timing/coverage overlay and green release animations from coming up until the ball hits the basket” as per the developer, which is meant to encourage playing through possessions.
The AI has also been improved this year, from a better understanding of defender positions to mixing up drive attempts. There’s also a new signature AI attack system where every star has a package of four signature attack combinations, whether it’s four single move sets or two combo move sets. If that weren’t enough, AI coaches are also smarter, now tracking efficiency across many metrics, doing pre-game match-up evaluations, and more. They may even take out a top scorer who isn’t doing so well and rotate other options in.
Revamped Team Takeover
Team Takeovers have been overhauled, now functioning as a cooperative effort among all team members. When each player performs well, they contribute to the Team Takeover meter, which will automatically activate for everyone when filled. Primary and second Takeovers remain unchanged but Team Takeovers now feel more like a team effort as opposed to arbitrarily filling up each Takeover meter.
Offensive and Defensive Improvements
Overall, there are tons of new options for both offensive and defensive plays, whether it’s new quick scoop layups for slashers and contact layups for the bigger players or the new defensive shading mechanic which provides an indicator for guarding. Accurately predicting which zone the ball handler attacks now allows for cutting them off or causing a fumble.
A staple of the past many titles, MyTeam returns in NBA 2K23 and features a larger set of customization tools for creating one’s ideal squad. This time around, one can recruit across any era, adding some legendary players to the roster (including Devin Booker and Michael Jordan, of course).
Player Builder Improvements
This year’s Player Builder is touted as offering “complete control” for one to create any type of player and ensure that every single one is “fun and balanced” (with current-gen players no longer restricted to the pie chart system). Along with a 5v5 environment for testing builds, you can now go with a 3v3 environment. A welcome change is the animations purchased now apply to your entire account instead of a save file. So if a build meets the requirements, then they can equip that animation without any issues.
New Badge System
Current-gen players can also use an overhauled Badge system. Each attribute category now has 16 Badges with Tier 1 having eight and Tiers 2 and 3 having four each. Higher tier Badges cost more Badge Points but are much more impactful; conversely, Tier 1 Badges are the least strong but are also very cheap. Each attribute category also gets a Core Badge which won’t count towards the Badge Point total. You’ll need to meet challenge requirements for each Badge but if successful, it can be used in the Core Badge slot. Badges have also seen several changes from Slithery now making it easier to avoid collisions and gather in traffic to the removal of some like Limitless Spot-Up, Hook Specialist and more.
4K/60 FPS and HDR on Current-Gen
According to its official Xbox page, NBA 2K23 supports 4K Ultra HD resolution and 60 frames per second on the Xbox Series X along with HDR. You can expect these same settings on the PS5 as well. The resolution and frame rate for the Xbox One and PS4 versions are unknown but they shouldn’t be too different from last year’s edition.
PC players will need an Intel Core i3-2100 @ 3.10 GHz or an AMD FX-4100 @ 3.60 GHz or better, 4 GB of RAM and either a GeForce 1GB Radeon HD 7770 1 GB or better at the minimum. Recommended requirements include a Core i5-4430 @ 3 GHz or an AMD FX-8370 @ 3.4 GHz or better, 8 GB of RAM and either a GTX 770 2GB or Radeon R9 270 2GB or better. So in both cases, the requirements are pretty forgiving – it even supports Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 64-bit. However, a whopping 110 GB of space is needed for installation and you can bet that size will increase with future updates.
Championship Edition and Michael Jordan Edition Details
Of course, for all of the gameplay improvements, it’s all about the MyTeam Points, Virtual Currency and what have you. The Michael Jordan Edition costs $99.99 and includes the game along with 100,000 Virtual Currency, 10,000 MyTeam Points, 10 MyTeam Tokens, MyTeam Cards for a Sapphire Devin Booker and Ruby Michael Jordan, and 23 MyTeam Promo Packs with 10 available at launch along with an Amethyst topper pack and two doled out each week for six weeks. You also get a Free Agent Option MyTeam Pack, a Ruby Coach Card MyTeam Pack, a Diamond Jordan Shoe MyTeam card, a bunch of MyPlayer cosmetics, 10 Boosts for each Skill Boost type in MyCareer, and a two-hour double XP coin.
The Digital Championship Edition costs a whopping $149.99 and includes many of the same benefits as the Michael Jordan Edition. However, it also includes a 12-month subscription to NBA League Pass, a Michael Jordan-themed go-kart and a 10 percent boost to XP earned in MyTeam and MyCareer.