NBA 2K21 REVIEW: New features elevate series to next level

The newest NBA 2K entry has arrived! We go over the good and the bad of the game on current-gen.

by Brandon Ridgely
NBA 2K21 Review

We’ve finally gotten the chance to play NBA 2K21, and that means it’s time to give our review!

So is NBA 2K21 amazing, or a miss?

GET MAMBA EDITION NBA 2K21 HERE!

The Good

First we’ll go over the positives in this NBA 2K21 review, and break down what you can look forward to from the series this year on current-gen consoles PS4 and Xbox One.

New Shooting System

NBA 2K21 has a fully reworked shooting system which includes the return of the Pro Stick from NBA 2K17.

NBA 2K21 New Shot Meter Pro Stick Feature 1
PLACEMENT: The new shooting system requires some extra attention to detail

While this new shooting system is a challenge to learn, it’s a wonderful addition to the series that adds depth.

nba 2k21 shooting animation cover athlete lillard
CLUTCH: Mastering the new shooting system in NBA 2K21 is massively rewarding

The system involves properly timing your shot to control not just the accuracy, but the right angle for your shot to center it. This applies to all jumpshots and layups as well.

READ MORE: NBA 2K21 Countdown: Download Now! – Features, Price, Editions & more

For the Pro Stick, your shot will start much closer to the sweet spot you’re looking to hit, but you’ll have to correct when bringing the thumbstick back up to the right angle (aiming for the center of the spot).

READ MORE: 5 Reasons to Buy NBA 2K21: New Gameplay Features, MyTEAM, MyCAREER & more

There are certainly some minor flaws to the new system, like the visuals not being as big as players would expect, but 2K have fixed this with a recent shooting hotfix to allow players to more easily make shots in most game modes and difficulties.

MyCAREER

MyCAREER picked up some big additions this year, and has an awesome story that really shows how far ahead the NBA 2K series is here over other sports titles, and we also got the return of NCAA college basketball with 10 universities to pick from!

NBA 2K21 MyCAREER 1
THE GRIND: Start your MyCAREER as a high-school recruit, push through the NCAA, and you’ll make it to the NBA

NBA 2K21 MyCAREER includes some great new celebrity cameos like Michael K. Williams and Djimon Hounsou as feature characters in the new story.

The new story covers the transition of the son of a local basketball legend from being a football prospect to picking up basketball in his father’s shadow.

READ MORE: NBA 2K21 Buyer’s Guide: Breaking Down Each Edition

Along the way we see the relationship your player and his father had and how it differs from his father’s actions on the court and with his teammates.

Once you hit the NCAA, you get all the excitement of college basketball, something that hasn’t been represented well in video games for a long time (and hasn’t been in the NBA 2K series for a couple additions now).

READ MORE: NBA 2K21 PS5: Features, Specs, Price, Release Date & more

And all of this great content comes before even taking your first steps into the NBA.

MyTEAM

in NBA 2K21, MyTEAM got some new game modes and a new seasonal structure that will reshape how players approach it.

NBA 2K21 MyTEAM Limited 1 1
BUILD YOUR SQUAD: MyTEAM Limited forces players to think more about lineups

Limited will introduce some power-control that will shake up gameplay and challenge players to be team-builders rather than collectors.

Unlimited 2.0 will include nine leagues players will have to win their way through, with different requirements for each tier. If players fail to meet a minimum threshold, they will also fall right back down the ladder.

READ MORE: NBA 2K21 Pre-Order: Bonuses, Editions, Price & more

Seasons will structure MyTEAM content and give players rewards to look for throughout the lifespan of NBA 2K21.

Soundtrack

It’s not often you see a game’s soundtrack make it into the mentions as one of its most positive aspects. But for NBA 2K21, the soundtrack is filled with excellent choices, and there’s really not a miss on the list!

It provides a great mix of popular hits with lesser known artists and songs, and each perfectly fit the game. This leaves NBA 2K21 with one of the best soundtracks of the series!

The Bad

We’ve now looked at the positives, now it’s time to go over what could improve in our NBA 2K21 review.

Ratings

We didn’t get any insight in NBA 2K21 ratings before release, but now that we have them, there are some big misses.

NBA 2K21 Ratings Dallas Mavericks
EVALUATION: NBA 2K21 already have some player ratings to adjust

This includes overrated players like Paul George at 90 OVR, underrated players like Trae Young at 88 OVR, and some poor balancing of classic and all-time teams.

The good news for this is that ratings will undoubtedly shift around over NBA 2K21’s lifespan, which adjusts ratings to NBA play as it comes.

READ MORE: NBA 2K21 Ratings: Best Point Guards (PG) in MyLEAGUE – Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving & more

The bad news is that this could mean some overcorrections according to NBA Playoff play, something made possible due to NBA season delays around COVID-19.

Next-Gen Progression

The current-gen version of NBA 2K21 has come with some nice upgrades and new features, but we’ve been promised much bigger things for next-gen.

READ MORE: NBA 2K21 Editions: Mamba Forever, Current-Gen Standard, Next-Gen, Rewards & more

Unfortunately 2K Games haven’t specified what’s coming with next-gen, and with only MyTEAM progress carrying over to next-gen, this is a pretty frustrating problem for players looking to grind up progress now that means something later.

Park Matchmaking

The Park is one of the most innovative game modes in sports gaming, but it could use some improvement.

NBA 2K21 The Park 1
SHOW YOUR SKILLS: The Park is where only the best survive

While The Park is still an excellent time, one frustrating aspect is difficulty finding games due to lobby sizes and its connection with The Neighborhood.

Because of players simply exploring The Neighborhood, Park lobbies are often only filled partly with players looking to play Park games, which limits the number of available games.

READ MORE: NBA 2K21: How to fix The Park – Matchmaking, Lobbies, Game Types & more

On top of this, Park lobbies aren’t very well sectioned off by player rating or rep. This means new players can still be slaughtered by pre-made teams with much higher overalls and more experience.

GET MAMBA EDITION NBA 2K21 HERE!

Verdict

Now that we’ve had time to fully explore NBA 2K21, and play the game after the recent shooting hotfix, our final verdict is in.

NBA 2K21 levels up on the previous year massively.

It delivers a new gameplay experience, and improves many different areas which will have players coming back time and time again outside of their favorite game mode.

With so many high quality upgrades, we can’t wait to see what’s to come on Xbox Series X and PS5, where new next-gen features are set to debut!

RealSport Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

READ MORE: NBA 2K21 Price: Editions, Next-Gen, VC & more

Brandon Ridgely

US Editor - Covering all things sports with a bit of everything else. Current favorite games: NBA 2K21, Madden 21, and Football Manager 2020.

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