NBA Live: New features to revitalize the game

EA's basketball sim is not dead. What do EA have to include to pick the game back up?



EA Sports’ basketball sim, NBA Live, is in dire need of some TLC. The franchise has struggled to produce consistent, competitive games to NBA 2K, and the delay of NBA Live 20 after two good NBA Live titles is the latest black mark in the game’s history.

However, the game is not lost, it can still be salvaged. How? Here are some features we think will vastly improve the franchise.

READ MORE: How can EA learn from NBA 2K to save the franchise?

Add Draft Champions to Live Ultimate Team

Ultimate Team has been one of EA’s best concepts, ever. On FIFA, Madden and NHL it is many gamers’ favorite mode. Partly for the fantasy element, partly for the competition and bragging rights element, but largely because it offers so much.

Within Ultimate Team there are several online and offline game modes, one of the most recent additions, and best additions, is Draft Champions.

Initially in Madden, it makes the player to go through a draft, creating an entire starting lineup, before playing online to win a championship. This means teams are equal, but have the identity of the player based on who they drafted at what point. The competition is fierce and rewarding.

NBA Live’s The One is fantastic and gets close to MyCareer on NBA 2K. But 2K is superior in almost every department. Ultimate Team would give Live something 2K can’t get close to.

Adding Draft Champions, or something similar, to Live Ultimate Team would present a huge shift in the game. It would undoubtedly draw a lot of fans to the game, too.

READ MORE: Is there any hope for EA’s struggling basketball title?

Expand on the WNBA

NBA Live was first to add the WNBA to its game, and that was a great move. It is as important as ever to be more inclusive and give gamers as much ability as possible to feel in the game. Honestly it was a move that should have been made earlier.

Furthermore, the inclusion of women and WNBA players in The One is fantastic and adds a great element to the blacktop modes within that game mode.

The next step is to make the WNBA an even more playable area of the game. EA have to look at making the WNBA playable in The One, and having the same experience but for female players looking to become professionals.

They also need to add the WNBA to franchise mode. There are enough issues with NBA Live’s franchise mode, but making it playable with the WNBA would be a huge step for the game, and all sports games in the future.

These changes don’t all have to come at once, they can come over several editions, but they have to start coming from NBA Live to make them the innovators in the basketball sim arena.

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Adaptive A.I.

One of the biggest criticisms of NBA Live comes from its gameplay. It is unbalanced towards offense and the A.I. is not intelligent enough. As a result the game feels more like an arcade game, geared towards scoring and offensive highlights rather than a true basketball experience, and can get stale from a lack of true challenge.

That isn’t an issue NBA 2K has. The A.I. learns how you play and adapts to make it more challenging, just like a team would in real life.

If NBA Live want to truly rival 2K as a basketball sim they have to be able to produce similar realism, and an adaptive A.I. would do the trick.

Introduce a ‘pro’ mode

As I mentioned in the previous section, NBA Live doesn’t feel as realistic as 2K, and it suffers as a result.

NBA 2K’s gameplay is balanced between offense and defense, you can make plays at both ends and the you don’t feel overpowered at either as a result of the game.

In NBA Live it is weighted towards offense. This style, more arcade-like, is great for people new to basketball games. It being easier to score it feels easier to play, settle in to, and be competitive in. It does, however, leave hardcore gamers seeking a realistic experience wanting more, and inevitably gravitating towards 2K.

If EA were to add a ‘pro’ setting which balanced the game out, made the game feel more realistic by taking away some of the offense’s power, they could retain those looking to get into a basketball game while also attracting those they lose to 2K. It would make it a true basketball sim.

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