NBA 2K22 Review: Next Gen (and only Next Gen) takes The City to new heights

NBA 2K22 has carried the longstanding franchise forward once again, and Next Gen truly thrives with The City this year.

With some extra perspective now that the title has been out for three months, our NBA 2K22 review breaks down the highs and lows with MyCAREER, MyTEAM, and more.

Three Months Later: How has NBA 2K22 held up?

It's been three months since NBA 2K22 was released and we delivered an official rating in this review, and that means three more months of seeing what this game has to offer.

Since launch, we've continued to see themed events and new content land in MyTEAM and The City, and one defining thread has seemed to ring louder than anything else.

NBA 2K22 is a huge step forward for the franchise that players can get a lot out of, but only if you're playing it on next gen with a PS5 or Xbox Series X|S.

We've seen minor attempts by 2K since launch to trickle some content into Current Gen, but the reality is that NBA 2K22 is a far inferior game on all other platforms.

The City, easily the biggest highlight of NBA 2K22 and the one getting the most post-launch love by 2K, remains exclusive to the Next Gen versions of this year's game.

Our NBA 2K22 review from launch continues to ring true in the highs and lows highlighted here, but keep in mind that you're getting one hollowed out husk of a game if you're not playing it on PS5 or Xbox Series X|S.

NBA 2K22 Review: Next Gen Gameplay

With the official release time arriving, players across the world have already been diving into NBA 2K22 and getting to try some of the many new features included this year.

We got the opportunity to hop into the action a little before things were released, and as such have gotten a great feel for the various modes we'll go over in this NBA 2K22 review.

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MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: The core gameplay delivers on the court

Just from the start, the gameplay feels like a big step forward, and even veteran players who miss the old ways should appreciate the upgrades once they've settled into the new style.

New players will face a bit of an uphill battle, as the tutorial options are decent but imperfect, with certain tutorial sections seemingly not responding as intended or not properly explaining certain actions.

That said, players should find their skill continuously improving, and there are plenty of offline play options if any user isn't quite ready to challenge others online or prefers to play on a lower difficulty.

The MyPLAYER builder is among the best in sports gaming

Having reviewed Madden 22 on next gen and experienced MLB The Show 21 on next gen, that served as an unavoidable comparison point when it came to MyPLAYER customization.

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THE DETAILS: You can even alter the shape of your player's skull

Starting with the sheer aesthetic options like appearance, facial details, hair and facial hair, nothing even comes close to the variety and nuance of the NBA 2K22 MyPLAYER builder.

When it comes down to crafting stats and choosing your exact MyPLAYER build, you've got plenty of different options, and the fact that they show you exactly how changes in height, weight, and wingspan affect ratings is a huge bonus.

MyCAREER with The City is a revelation

With such a big focus on The City in next gen versions of the game, our NBA 2K22 review experience started by creating a new MyPLAYER and diving right in.

The City has drawn plenty of GTA comparisons ahead of launch, and the general feel of walking around and interacting has definitely got that kind of vibe.

The downfall to that feeling is that your movement ends up feeling a hair restricted, as the inability to jump over obstacles means you need to find the paths the game will actually let you travel through.

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DECISIONS: You'll have to make some big ones early on

Transportation options like the skateboard you start with and others such as the bike you can unlock later make a huge quality of life difference as you navigate a large area, and that process feels rewarding with little quests linked to the distance traveled on various types of transportation.

Even with a few imperfect calls, like the "MP" nickname your character is given, early impressions are that MyCAREER feels truly special due to The City.

There's freedom to simply go out and play games, or you can target quests while progressing the story of your MyCAREER.

MyNBA is the perfect Franchise Mode

If you're looking for ultimate customization with teams, rosters, league rules, and how much the CPU does for you, MyNBA marries all of that together for a great Franchise Mode experience.

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YOUR LEAGUE: Craft the NBA you want to experience

Right from the go, first impressions indicated huge wins with customization options for a unique expansion team or the ability to remove whole teams from the league.

With custom logos, community uploaded options, and a plethora of settings to adjust your level of control, MyNBA feels like a Franchise Mode lover's dream.

The W and MyWNBA feel like a step forward, but more is needed

There was major progress made this year with the inclusion of the WNBA, and that started with Candace Parker getting her own cover for NBA 2K22.

That progress continued with The W and MyWNBA this year, but both modes feel like they are just getting started.

MyWNBA is immediately hampered by the fact that you aren't allowed to add an expansion team, leaving you with the only league customization being the swapping of who is in which conference.

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LESSER THAN: Even the builder is simplified for The W

As for The W, the progress made with The City and MyCAREER makes the single player experience in The W feel extremely inferior, and the difference in care taken between the two shows.

Both of these modes are decent, and they're moving in the right direction, but NBA 2K22 still feels a good distance from true equality when it comes to WNBA inclusion and integration with the game.

MyTEAM is exactly the Ultimate Team mode you expect, for better or worse

MyTEAM is easily going to be the most polarizing piece of NBA 2K22, and that's not necessarily because there's anything wrong with it.

The Ultimate Team styled game mode will follow the same formula it has in the past, and that will ultimately incentivize those who choose to drop extra real-world money to buy more packs in-game.

OL RELIABLE: Love it or hate it, this still feels like MyTEAM
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OL RELIABLE: Love it or hate it, this still feels like MyTEAM

As far as the execution and operation of the mode, it's fairly quick and the UI has been very intuitive. Lineup customization is also easy to use.

In the end, whether you like or dislike MyTEAM will come down to your opinion of Ultimate Team, the link a mode like this has to microtransactions, and whether you have the time or patience to dedicate towards building out your collection of cards.

The Verdict

After getting to spend more time in The City and really feel out the way the gameplay translates across various modes in NBA 2K22, it's clear that the next gen version is a huge step forward.

While there are still areas that could be improved, our NBA 2K22 review has outlined the biggest wins which game with MyCAREER, The City, and MyNBA.

Aside from a tutorial that could use some improvement, the flaws in next gen NBA 2K22 rest almost entirely with The W and MyWNBA, which do little to incentivize players to try them out, and the sad fact is most will completely ignore both modes.

Whether you're looking to bury hours into the online RPG styled MyCAREER in The City, dedicate your time to MyNBA, or start grinding for the ultimate squad in MyTEAM, most players will get many hours of enjoyment and challenge out of NBA 2K22 on next gen platforms.

RealSport Rating: 4.5 out of 5

This review is based on the Xbox Series S version of NBA 2K22.

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