Before you start assuming that 2K buttered everyone up at their annual community event for good reviews, take a moment to check out developer Scott O’Gallagher’s blog about the gameplay changes and adjustments made for NBA 2K18. It’s a pretty long read, but I’d suggest you get it out the way and educate yourself before making any assumptions.

With the prelude being about a week away, there’s only so much that can be told about gameplay that hasn’t already revealed. Your chance to play the game and see for yourself is right around the corner. All the developers at 2K made a concerted effort to stress how much they’ve revamped the foundation of everything from shooting to artificial intelligence to the triggering of animations. All of it is done for the sake of a better basketball experience. In my opinion, getting trapped in unstoppable animations, shooting consistency and momentum are some of the key things that hurt 2K last year. And so far, for NBA 2K18, the one word that could describe the gameplay would be fun.

No, I’m not being paid to write this.

Yeah, I’m sure.

For real, for real.

If it helps your opinion at all, here were my first impressions of the game that stood out during my time at the community event:

Freeflowing

One thing you’ll immediately notice when first playing the game is the pace. The game itself will just “feel different” to a lot of you at first. You probably won’t be able to explain why or how. I personally think it’s due to the smoother pace and how the players and game flows. It’s no longer as cut and dry as bringing the ball up the court and avoiding all the anticipated animations that may happen (ex: being bumped/pushed off all the way up to halfcourt to get a backcourt violation). Everything that happens in the game is now done in the moment instead of a bunch of pre-packaged animations that you can see happening before they do.

 

More Life, More Fouls

Remember that infamous thing known as the “little man syndrome” where anyone under 6 feet would be trash in the game? That is, unless 2K just gave their animations all the sauce like Nate Archibald. Or maybe when you felt a momentum run coming in 2K17 and no matter how badly you got hammered on the drive, there was no call and your opponent got a dunk within the next 5 seconds? I think you’ll feel a difference on those fronts because of foul consistency now (when driving to the rim, anyway). Charge calls on the sideline are still a little give or take; however, there’s not much of a reason to feel as scared going to the rim anymore. If contact is triggered by the opposing player, you’ll likely get the foul. And with the addition of these new “jelly” layups, YOU have the power to control the finish. Also, (per Mike Wang), bad timing on layups will no longer penalize (lower your chances) of finishing. However, good timing on layups will increase the chances of finishing. In other words, if you’re trash then you’re kinda getting babied in a sense. Although, if you’re good, a finishing MyPlayer might be the move for you.

 

Red Quality, Green Release

As a disclaimer, this was something that was noticed with the game on Superstar difficulty. Before I tell you what happened, I gotta say that the shooting this year feels more fair than last year and just being fair is a huge improvement. At most points last year, if a shot wasn’t a perfect release, I’d just hold my breath and pray. This year, the shot quality feedback gives you a better idea of what are good and bad shots; you’d be surprised which are which. Now, the shot feedback tells you more specifically how contested the shot taken was (ex: wide open, open, slightly contested and very contested). If the shooting consistency remains bearable throughout the year, that’s actually a small but incredibly helpful tool to utilize.

So I was watching a friendly slap bet game between TroydanGaming (Rockets) vs. Mike Korzemba (Thunder). One point game, Mike’s ball and he comes downcourt with GOATbrook, but because he’s already got 30 with him, Troydan forces him to go to someone else. Mike gives the ball to PG and calls for a screen at the top of the key. Coming off the screen, PG pulls up for a pretty contested mid-range shot that results in “heavily contested” feedback (the most difficult level of shot to attempt) but gets a PERFECT RELEASE and the shot drops.

My brain didn’t even know how to process this black magic at first. Bad shots will go in on lower difficulties but this was one level below that eternal troll Hall Of Fame difficulty. Mind you, it was only one shot but it told me a fair bit: that shot quality and release quality are two separate things that contribute to shot success. Obviously, the former of the two will likely mean more, but it’s somewhat comforting to see that one factor isn’t the end all-be all. If you’re familiar with either of those guys you should probably check out the video version of that game when it drops because, someone does get slapped in the end.


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Andre2K
Sports gaming is like a thorned-rose; a beautiful simulation of a beautiful game, coiled with sharp prickles of pure rage. Being entertaining is more important than being the best – but my content is where both of those collide. Follow me on Twitter @TheSurrealAndre and subscribe to my YouTube.