RealOpinions: NBA 2K20’s ambition will bear fruit in 2K21 & for years to come

2K developers bit off more than they could chew this year, but have set themselves up for success.


A quick search on Google, Youtube or Reddit would reveal video after video of criticism aimed at 2K20 – most of which are directed at the series of patches that have been released over the past month.

Many loyal fans have mistaken the abundance of patches for 2K’s developers trying to cover up their mistakes, but this is not the entire truth.

Yes, these patches were released in order to combat petty bug fixes and issues that the servers have faced since the game launch, but the rough-around-the-edges nature of this year’s game tells a story of ambition, initiative and drive within 2K’s development department.

The patches were needed

DOWN BUT NOT OUT: NBA 2K20 has come in for more criticism than it deserves

Since 2K20’s release on the September 82019, 2K developers have already released a long series of patches in an attempt to combat early criticisms of the flagship basketball game.

Patches 1.01 and 1.02 were implemented within the first few days, and saw “multiplayer improvements”, “fixed crashing issues” and “stuttering and lag issues” being addressed, which is exactly what the 2K community was crying out for.

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Patch 1.03 dropped on the September 13, and 1.04 on the 20th of September, focusing on gameplay improvements and fixes, combatting ‘hang time’ at pivotal moments in ‘Play Now’ online games, and addressing an exploit that allowed users to play players out of position in MyTeam.

The last of these patches (1.05) was implemented on September 30, bringing the total to five fixes in 22 days; this breaks down to a patch every fourto five days, which is a LOT of system storage wasted on petty bug fixes and gameplay improvements that should have never really existed.

Gameplay Improvements

2K developers should be praised for listening to the fans and utilising their critiques, but they have been called out by their loyal following for putting an unfinished product on shop shelves.

Motion engine upgrade

STEP BY STEP: The new motion engine is the best we’ve seen

In NBA 2K18 a new motion engine was introduced, and although it looked nice, it was prone to errors and bugs. Developers went some way to address this in 2K19, but movement this time was too rigid and lacked fluidity. 

This year, momentum modelling and motion styles were incorporated, and sprinting was redesigned. Though these improvements have been overshadowed by the mechanics feeling less reactive than usual, software technicians have attempted to create a path for future editions to follow, with new technology as the standard.

Defense

HANDS OFF: The new defense mechanics separate the pros from the noobs

The addition of ‘gather resolutions’ is a bold move by 2K developers, considering the number of ‘collision detection issues’ that plagued the gameplay of 2K19. 

Hundreds of mid-air collisions have been captured in this year’s game, with 2K developers placing emphasis on the shot block timing mechanism.

READ MORE:NBA 2K20 5 tips to defend like a pro

Players will need to be ready to contest every possession, rather than just trusting the AI of CPU defenders.

Improvements made to defensive situations have certainly added to the complexity of the game – something that the more talented players were crying out for. The developers’ decision to make defending more manual will gradually rely the strong defenders from those who rely on pre-scripted sequences.

Offense

SLAM DUNK: The 1.05 Patch looks to have enhanced the new signature dribbles

The 2K community had a lot to say about the dribbler’s lack of contextual and situational awareness in 2K19. However, a new ‘size up’ mechanic and new signature dribbles have been implemented, making it much easier to differentiate between players with distinct styles.

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There was also an initial problem relating to ‘full white’ releases not landing as often as they should, but Patch 1.05 (the ‘Fall’ patch) went a long way to solve this issue, as well as widening the speed gap to reduce the speed of low-rated bigs.

What we’d like to see

REACHING FOR THE NET: NBA 2K21 could be extraordinary

Mo Money Mo Problems

With the cheapest edition of NBA 2K20 costing just under £50 this year (not to mention the ‘Legendary’ edition costing £75), most players aren’t willing to pump more money into their squad, but still want to enjoy the benefits of playing MyTeam and MyCareer.

Though 2K have tried to reduce the gap between those willing to pay to win and those who aren’t, it’s still a deeply predatory game mode. Long-term success is only really attainable by pulling out your credit card, or by indulging in a long, unrewarding grind. 

READ MORE: Who are the best passers in the game?

The irony of the Casino trailer that was released just before the game’s launch, is that MyTeam has been calibrated to satisfy gambling addictions, rather than providing a fully immersive, competitive gaming experience.

MyTeam progression can move slowly if you don’t purchase anything, which is the main criticism I’d shoot at MyTeam, but that’s an issue I’ve had with the series (and other similar sports titles) for some time.

The problem could be combatted by introducing more lucrative daily and weekly challenges, as well as more substantial games winnings, and bigger daily log-in bonuses.

Auction House

UNSOLD: The lack of clarity on the MyTeam Auction House needs improvement

One of the most frustrating problems I have faced is with an overlooked feature of MyTeam – the Auction House. 

After initially buying the game and playing hard for the first couple of days, I finally gained access to the Auction House.

Searching for a SF to bolster my squad, I found that the list of players would refresh so often that I was unable to even read a full listing before a new one would appear in its place.

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My issue with this is that there isn’t an option on the menu screen for you to find out if you have been outbid; imagine playing around for 30 minutes in other game modes to pass time, fully expecting your purchase to materialise, only to return and realise that you were outbid pretty much as soon as you left.

The future is looking bright

MAKING STRIDES: NBA 2K21 and beyond, on new consoles, is exactly what we need

Compared to the improvements that we have seen made between previous editions of the game, gameplay developers burdened themselves this year by attempting to improve numerous aspects of the game, implementing new mechanics, technologies and servers to make the game more up to date than ever before. 

The result of this exploration was a little rough around the edges, which meant that the game has lost some of the small details that really sell it’s authenticity.

This explains the abundance of patches released over the past month.

2K’s Developers were bold to do this, as they have implemented changes that will benefit the future of the video game, even though they can’t take any credit for it.

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The shame is that with a little more time, 2K20 really could have been the best edition yet, which would have aligned with one of the most exciting post-seasons we have seen in recent years.

There have been a lot positive changes made to the game, my favourite being the new position-locking system that cuts down the unrealistic lineups we were seeing in 2K19’s MyTeam.

Find it in yourself to forgive 2K – they may have been slightly complacent to release such an unfinished version on their game, but the past must eventually make way for the future.

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Julian Sims

A 22-year-old History graduate and a life-long gamer.

I started at RealSport covering football and basketball content, though my passion for esports has compelled me to expand my knowledge and explore the diversity of the gaming community.

I currently lead the site's new category RealFeatures - a collection of pieces focusing on special events, noteworthy games and important figures within the world of esports.

 

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