There's a lot to digest here, so let's look at the key factors.
Pro Stick - Shooting
The Pro Stick and shooting mechanics have been some of the most interesting, and controversial, changes 2K has made in a while.
Well with next-gen they are taking things to all-new heights!
Shot Arc control
For next-gen, the stick speed will now also control the arc of your jump shot.
Slow stick flicks will give you an extra high arc, while fast flicks will give you a flat shot. It's an added level of personalisation and control to your shot.
PERFECT: There will be more control over your shot than ever before on next-gen
Are you going to chuck up rainbow three-pointers or snipe a flat shot into the basket?
You also get a small bonus for shooting with an ideal shot arc, so it’s important to be mindful of the tempo of your initial stick throw to make sure you give yourself the best chance at making the shot.
Bank Shot control
Fast flicks (or slightly aiming in the direction of the backboard) will also allow you to control bank shots.
This works for layups too. It may seem like a tiny detail but being able to control whether you drop a layup directly into the hoop vs. put it off the window is a very cool addition.
The shot meter will have a new look for next-gen, and play a bigger role in your successful or missed shots.
The new look should make the meter more readable for everyone, and won't scale with your camera. There will be an arrowhead on the aiming and timing marker that makes it easier to hit the sweet-spot too.
The make window will now be blue, and will grow or shrink depending on the skill of the shooter, the degree of difficulty in the shot, and how well it's being defended.
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If you miss the window complete in next-gen, you'll miss the shot. There will be a black notch in the middle of the window indicating the ideal timing/aiming point.
To get that all-important green release you'll need to nail that notch, so get some practice in!
In the controller settings menu you can customize which visual effect plays, or turn it off if you want a clear screen.
Touch Around the Rim
On next-gen the layup timing on the shot button will be disabled by default. This means you can just focus on getting the ball to the right player and driving to the rim.
However, 2K has also completely redesigned the layup timing and aiming meters for those that want to feel like a god on the low block.
If you enable the timing and aiming for layups and have the stick skills to master it you'll have a big advantage in finishing tough contact/contested layups over those that don't use it.
Of course the risk is that if you miss the make window you'll blow it and miss all together.
Layups themselves have also seen several upgrades. Layup selection is smarter, detecting defensive threats and choosing the most open spot to layup when under the hoop.
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If you do take full control you can now finish exactly where you want with the Pro Stick, which is a great tool for bigs.
There will also be fewer "canned" finishes and contact animations that take you to the wrong side of the hoop. The CPU will do a better job of recognizing the right spot to finish, so your defense will need to improve!
There has been a complete re-vamp for the off-dribble jumpers and new signature packages for key players like LeBron James and Luka Doncic.
These new packages are great weapons for shot creators. Pull-ups have been separated into controlled and high-momentum categories.
Controlled pull-ups set your feet better and are more balanced, while high-momentum ones (triggered by holding sprint) create more separation but are tougher to knock down.
Thanks to next-gen hardware and the added power the inverse kinematics and foot planting tech has been upgraded. What does this mean? Well jump shot gathers feel more grounded and there is much improved 3pt line recognition.
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Now your feet placement is adjusted in real time when near the three to make sure those frustrating long twos or bad animations don't happen.
Pro Stick - Dribbling
But wait, there's more! It's not all about shooting. Ball handlers and dribbling gods should be very excited.
Everything you've worked on with current-gen will be available on next-gen, but to an even greater degree.
Size-up Speed control
Thanks to next-gens amazing power, the ability to control the speed of your size-up moves has now been added, all on the Pro Stick.
The speed of your flicks will see your ball-handler change through the gears and give defenders fits.
a slow rock of the stick can be chained with a rapid move to catch them off guard!
With new signature size-ups (hold RS up) and new signature escape moves, dribblers have a huge arsenal of combos to pull of in next-gen games.
There’s a whole lot of new signature dribble move content for next-gen.LeBron gets the suspended dribble that works oddly well in real life and James Harden gets a quicker between-legs sequence, among others.
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If you check out the Stepback signature moves, you can now equip signature quick stops (performed by tapping L2/LT) as well as several new lateral stepbacks.
Park dribble moves, now pulled off by clicking L3, are now tied to the Hall of Fame Tight Handles badge.
So if you find yourself accidentally rolling on the floor while breaking down the defense in the park, try dropping Tight Handles down a tier.
NBA 2K21’s triple threat game got some serious upgrades for next-gen. There’s a host of new moves and first step launches at your disposal. Hesitations, escapes, stepbacks, hard go’s and crosses… if you’ve seen it pulled off in the NBA, chances are you can pull it off in the game.
Just like the size-ups, Pro Stick speed control works in the triple threat too. So you have full control of both the direction and speed of your rocker steps and jab fakes based on the speed of your flicks.
Passing is getting a series of great improvements too.
Ball physics has been reworked to improve bounce passes. The bounce location looks more accurate and the ball will respect spin and friction more realistically.
You can also now get bounce alley-oops just like the Curry-Giannis one in the All-Star game!
Alley-oops off the glass have also had a big improvement, and there is now bounce touch passing.
There is a slightly different lead pass mechanic for playmakers now.
Simply tapping Triangle/Y will lead a teammate to the hoop or around the perimeter. It will allow you to quickly feed a teammate that flashes to the hoop for a quick dunk.
Holding the lead pass button works like the regular pass button now. Perfect for long outlet passes.
Accuracy and transition into passes and catches are much smoother, and catch reliability is greatly improved. There's also a new catch launch system for better response time and a smoother look.