There is no doubt that NBA 2K23 it is the most inspired work of the series, or any other of all sports video games. The real question is how much of its amazing depth most players will see.
It only took about 20 minutes, none of it spent on a game, to surprise me. All I did was go into MyNBA Eras, which is the new franchise sim/history mode hybrid that allows players to rewrite history in ways I didn’t anticipate. All I wanted to do was see what happened when I kept the Kings in Kansas City (they went to Sacramento in 1985). Obviously, he knew he could prevent franchises from relocating; 2K Sports took it upon themselves to mention that crowd-pleasing fact in a series of trailers earlier this summer.
What I didn’t expect was everything else that happened in the offseason league meetings, mainly because I haven’t played MyNBA that much since the mode was overhauled two years ago. I overrode the property vetoes of a 45-second shot clock and a seven-team tournament to determine the draft order (neither of these were proposed in real life) and watched them every year thereafter. Rewriting history could be as profound as taking the 1984 MVP from Larry Bird and giving it to Moses Malone.
This is in addition to all the standard stuff I could have done as Kings GM, but I chose to just automate to see what the non-Sacramento Kings looked like in 1986. Somehow I ended up with NBA Hall-of-Farmers. John Stockton and Patrick Ewing – that’s what a draft tournament can do for you! — in front of Ralph Sampson and Michael Jordan of the Houston Rockets on opening day.
Even Jordan’s childhood idol, NC State legend David Thompson, was still in the league, with Golden State ranked 83rd. MyNBA Eras allows you to start a franchise today (the 2022-23 season) or three historical points (2002-03, 1991-92 or 1983-84). Thompson missed most of the 1983-84 season because he was recovering from an addiction and left professional basketball at age 29. In MyNBA Eras, that tragedy never happens.
This is a level of historical overhaul you’d expect to find in a PC management simulation, not a console game, and certainly not one that also includes the Jordan Challenge museum masterpiece and a full WNBA career mode, now in its third year, for both individual players and clubs. Ever since Jordan Challenge last appeared in 2010, the NBA 2K series has been what I call a “desert island” game, in that, with it and a console (and power), you could endure isolation for a year. NBA 2K23 is a mission game to Mars. And on return
And yet all that value, which you get in the base game, feels threatened by the huge MyCareer and MyTeam audiences, and the game’s relentless calls to spend extra money in both modes. Don’t get me wrong; I play them along with millions of others, and I especially enjoy the immersive lifestyle elements of MyCareer. I have also spent a shameful amount of money in the progression and costumes of my created characters. MyCareer and MyTeam offer quick achievements, given their tighter gameplay experiences and immediate rewards, compared to the old-school slow-burn of career modes. And while I’ve managed to resist the siren’s call to top up my virtual currency so far, the review copy 2K Sports provided me with is the $99.99 Michael Jordan Edition, which starts players off with 100,000 VC.
The city, which is the hub world where your MyCareer player lives and plays street hoops, seems to be a sign that Visual Concepts realizes that much of its population can’t watch the rest of the game without being taken from the table. hand. There’s a great waypoint where players are told about the Jordan Challenge (and can even launch it directly from MyCareer), for example, and there are plenty of rewards in the world if you can complete 40 of the 45 objectives in the mode.
For those who want a little taste of immersion within MyNBA Eras, the Jordan Challenge fits the bill. The showcase, which we’ve already previewed in great detail, is a perfect introduction to the era of 15 games in their career, complete with a TV look that includes old-school chyrons, CRTs and scan line filters. , and even commentary from one of the actual broadcasters who followed most of Jordan’s career, NBC’s Mike Fratello. He will also get all these features for his games in MyNBA Eras. What you won’t get are the impressive, I mean virtuoso, cutscene reproductions of Jordan’s highlights when you get three stars in a game.
But you’ll get a sense of the game tuning that Visual Concepts applied to each of the four Eras, almost as if the studio was creating four separate games. Case in point: Playing the 1989 Bad Boys Detroit Pistons with Jordan, I got to the baseline against my defender in a series I can finish in my sleep with my MyCareer player, let alone someone like His Airness from him. But 6-10 Rick Mahorn stepped up and absolutely wrapped me in a tangle of arms and legs that he hadn’t seen before. The NBA was a much more physical league in those days, and NBA 2K23 It really made me feel the bullseye that Jordan had on his back, which made me appreciate all of his exploits, despite the physicality, even more.
In the main (and current) game, there are tweaks to shooting, defense, and off-ball player behavior that I can see the developers approaching on a never-ending quest for authenticity. Still, I don’t feel like I really “got” them, so judging their effectiveness is hard. From what I’ve heard on social media and read from others, there’s a broad consensus that shooting is harder this year, even as the game gives players new menu options to give them a wider window on their launch point.
It’s hard to explain, but shooting with the shot meter in previous editions (rather than just using a player’s ratings and a background dice roll) seemed inscrutably difficult or overpowered (particularly in the hands of savvy online users). 2K Sports seems to want people to focus more on seeing their player animation, rather than a meter, and release the shot stick or X/Square button when they see him on top of his jumper. There are four new options, ranging from very early release to very late release.
However, I still haven’t figured out which ones really are for me. Some days I think I’m an early guy, then I’m bouncing my shot meter back into late territory, so I switch to that. Then the pull feedback readout says I have an early or slightly early release on a midrange bridge which should nail easily. Sometimes I can’t tell if my grades are taking over (my MyCareer player, where I have the most trouble, has a 76 overall) or if I’m not focusing on my technique correctly. In the absence of a more informed tutorial than the ones provided so far, I can go back to shooting percentages and skipping the meter.
On the other hand, there is an off-the-ball player behavior that caused my created center to dish out three assists in his first game for the Charlotte Hornets; for reference, i went half a season before i got as many in a game in NBA 2K22. It was a breath of fresh air standing 15 feet near the baseline with my back to the basket, and as the shot clock hit 5 I saw an AI teammate blink behind me for a pass. easy from behind and two points. Unless I was calling a pick-and-roll last year, my teammates followed the designed play or stood in place waiting for me to do something.
However, there is a new “opening” pass that I need to spend more time in the game’s practice mode learning to fly. It resembles the “lead pass to the basket”, introduced in NBA 2K21, but that I forgot to use. All the passes I’ve completed previously were AI initiated, which is great, but “player opens” requires holding B/Circle, waiting for the AI player to acknowledge the call (indicated by a basketball icon below him), and then pressing A/X at the right time. I had a few situations where teammates didn’t seem to get the open command. This is probably because it can be counter-intuitive to move the left stick towards the type you want to open an instant before you hold down the button.
Lastly, defense gets a big boost thanks to a new shader mechanism used for on-ball defense, though it can be hard to figure out at first. Pressing the left stick button will snap the defender to the area where they have the best cover against the ball-handling player. If an opponent moves in that direction (and the defender follows), he’ll be much less effective, whether it’s getting to the basket or shooting. It’s a lot to understand at the moment, and it’s hard to understand how I can use shading to force turnovers, instead of just reacting to someone’s movement and attempting a steal. It feels like a more visual call from last year’s system, where correctly guessing a ball handler’s step would put them at greater risk of stealing or dribbling. But combined with a reduction in power in blocks and direct steals, NBA 2K23 It more appropriately emphasizes fundamental defense with the ball over dramatic moves intended to stop a score.
There is much to evaluate nba 2k23, and much of that evaluation has yet to come from your restless community, various influencers, and people like myself. But NBA 2K23‘s appeal and grit, for once in a long while, far outweighs his crude and constant calls to spend money, and the guilt and disgusting feelings it brings. As I said in August, at least no one can complain that Visual Concepts did nothing for their franchise mode. So if microtransactions really bother you that much, you can always head over to MyNBA Eras and rewrite 40 years of history at no extra cost.
NBA 2K23 released on September 9 at Playstation 5 Y xbox series x; Versions lacking many of the features in this revision were also released for nintendo switch, Playstation 4, windows personal computer and xbox one. The game was reviewed on Xbox Series X using a pre-release download code provided by 2K Sports. Vox Media has affiliate associations. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links. You can find additional information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.