We were granted exclusive access to NBA 2K20 ahead of its release a week today. From the WNBA to a whole revamp of the neighbourhood, heres five key takings from today’s event.
Senior Producer Erick Boenisch described the game as “easily the most ambitious title that we have produced to date” and boy was he right.
MyCAREER has always been a standout feature of NBA 2K. In fact, for many it was the difference between 2K and Live back when the two were competing for that top spot. But this year hits a whole new level.
The partnership with Springhill Entertainment, the production company founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, has turned the game into easily the best career mode feature we’ve ever seen.
Whilst the gameplay is as incredible as always, it’s the cut-scenes and storyline which has thrown the mode way ahead of any competing title.
The whole thing feels like a movie. Each character has its own specific traits and quirks which stick with them throughout, there’s a whole load of serious scenes, mixed in with the odd witty joke. The team at 2KSports have produced it to absolute perfection.
You are still in complete control of your narrative too. Whilst we only played the opening half an hour of the mode, we still had key decisions to make.
With a star-studded cast including the likes of Idris Elba and LeBron James, MyCAREER really feels like a Hollywood movie.
Another thing which the team at 2K have got bang on is the WNBA.
Whilst it may feel like this is a long-overdue addition, FIFA added international women’s sides to their title way back in 2016, the producers of the game wanted to make sure they got it right. They did exactly that.
Boenisch told us: “We didn’t just want to put females into the court, it would look wrong, it would feel wrong and ultimately, it would play wrong.”
So instead they went and completely revamped the game specifically for these women’s teams. All 12 teams are in the game with over 120 player faces scanned.
Between three and five thousand animations specific to the WNBA have also been added to replicate the sport perfectly.
You can really tell that when you play with the league, the gameplay looks crisp; the plays run smoothly and there is still that gulf in class between the best players in the league and those mid-tier players you get when you play with the men’s sides.
One area in which there is a notable improvement is in off-ball defence and offense.
Whilst the AI’s off-ball defence has ultimately improved, so has offense. Boenisch revealed that 2K’s metrics show that roughly 1% of fans call plays when they play the game, with players preferring to advance up court and look for the open man and shoot.
So 2K have taken that into consideration and made it so your players are more proactive when they don’t have the ball. They look to get open, set a pick, pick and roll etc.
We noticed when playing with the Boston Celtics that whilst we advanced up the court with Kemba Walker, there was a movement from all our men, with Gordon Hayward even setting up a screen by himself.
Boenisch stated that they did this to make the game more user friendly:
“Calling plays can be intimidating right? You have to be really really into the sport to know what the name of a play is, what it means, where the ball goes. This year it’s just very organic and very simple.”
Now we weren’t able to access gameplay of the Neighbourhood on the version of the game available to us, but Boenisch confirmed a couple of those rumours circulating following the trailers release earlier this week.
The first feature confirmed was that for the first time, the Neighbourhood will have seasons which coincide with real life.
“The look and the feel of the Neighbourhood isn’t stagnant like it was in recent years, it’s going to change as our real world does and really immerse you into the environment.
“This is one aspect of the Neighbourhood that personally I thought was lacking in previous years, it didn’t touch base with my life on a day-to-day basis.”
Boenisch also spoke of all the new different modes which can be seen in the trailer.
“There’s the Big Head mode, the Clown mode, the Halloween mode, the F1 racing mode, there’s over 20 new events which are going to happen this year. More than once a week players are going to have new experiences to play all season long inside the Neighbourhood.”
NBA’s 2K league has been a big success, launched in 2018 it has ran for the past two editions of the game and is set to return for 2K20.
Players qualify for the 2K League through the Pro-Am, which has traditionally been a 5v5 contest in the Neighbourhood. However, on this year’s game that is set to change again, with 2K introducing the 3v3 Pro-AM.
Boenisch believes this will improve the game as players should now find it easier to find games:
“Last year it was difficult because you needed four players to play, this year all you need is two friends and you’re good to go for the whole night, you’re having a great night and I think a lot of people are going to jump on that.”
So if competitive gaming is your thing, then there is plenty of opportunities to get stuck in on 2K20!
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