THE PHYSICALITY OF BASKETBALL
NBA Basketball is a slugfest at times and that’s something we wanted to incorporate better into our game.
The post game received a huge makeover this year, and while back to basket post players might be a dying breed in today’s league, we’re happy how strong post play is in NBA 2K17. Post movement was completely redone and looks more organic than ever, while also improving in responsiveness. We now have much more lifelike backdowns, moves and cutoffs while banging down in the paint. We’re also introducing the shimmy hook this year along with the rest of the arsenal of post shots that you had before. So get ready to get your Dream Shake on.
One of my favorite upgrades in this year’s title has to be the play around the rim. We’ve added hundreds of new animations including ground and mid-air collision rebounds, tipped balls, new boxouts, swims, pulling the chair, putbacks, and the list goes on. Gone are the days when every rebound was caught clean off the rim. This year you’ll see guys knocking the ball out of each other’s hands, players coming down and wrestling the ball away, back taps, uncontrolled catch attempts and much more. NBA play around the rim is messy and that’s the feeling we wanted to bring with this year’s game.
The logic for putbacks and the new dunk and layup tip ins that we’ve added make rebounding exciting as well. There’s nothing cooler than seeing a player jump up, attempt a putback layup, and then immediately pogo jump back up again to tip in his own putback miss. It makes for some of the coolest, and most natural, looking sequences our game has ever had and it feels really good to be able to tip the ball back in from just about any angle.
Another new feature we’re bringing to the table this year is our new offball collision system. In real life, making a cross court cut, walking your check down to the low block and flaring out to get open is not something that comes easy. There’s a lot of pushing and grabbing that makes moving around the court a lot of work. Whether you’re on offense or defense, high post or perimeter, you can now dictate offball play with our new offball collsions. Bigs walking their defender down into the low block will feel the struggle as they fight for position. Shooters working to get open as they run their baseline cuts can get bumped and chucked off course making it that much tougher to get a clean look on the perimeter. Offball post was overhauled with over 500 new animations to show the physicality that you see in the paint as bigs fight for position on the block. We think the new offball collisions will add a new dimension to MyCAREER as well as other player locked modes like MyPARK and Pro AM. Get ready to work for those buckets, guys.
We also spent a great deal of time working on collisions between the ball handler and the onball defender. Body ups and rides have much more natural interactions and do a better job at respecting the momentum and skills of the players involved. We really wanted to avoid “snatching” players into multi-actor animations that didn’t make sense and let the natural physics of the collisions play out as they would in real life. In fact, most of the time you see a ball handler reacting to contact in NBA 2K17, he’s not in a 2 player animation at all. And defensively, it was paramount that onball defensive movement was tight in order to not give the offense an unfair advantage in 1-on-1 situations. We’re very happy with where the meta game netted out this year as it feels really good to be able to read the ball handler and lock him up properly when you anticipate well. We’ve also provided a Body-Up Sensitivity slider for those who want to tweak how sticky or slippery the onball defender is when collisions occur. And one word of advice about the new body ups, don’t try barreling toward the basket in a straight line through the defense. It’s almost guaranteed to be a charge, lost ball, or picked up dribble. You have to take proper driving angles when going 1-on-1 in NBA 2K17.
Last note on physicality, we decided to re-design our fatigue and injury models to better replicate the rigors of playing in the NBA. This year, we’ve added a new short-term fatigue system that represents being winded when doing things that require a lot of physical exertion. Both the short term and long term fatigue levels are represented in the meter on the top side of the player indicator. A number of events will cause the meter to “jump” down or drain more quickly, such as: blocks, taking heavy contact, sprinting, dunking, etc. When your energy bottoms out, your long term fatigue starts to drain at a higher rate, you take a significant hit to several attributes and you lose the ability to sprint at full speed. Long term fatigue also works as a ceiling for short term fatigue, so the lower your long term fatigue level is, the less short term fatigue you have to work with. Additionally, the likelihood of injury increases if you consistently wear your player down so it’s important this year to pace yourself and not overwork your guys. As for the injury system itself, it’s been upgraded to support more body parts (23 in total) and more injury types (115 in all). A new Wear and Tear system has also been added to accurately replicate a player’s physical progression through a game or season. Body parts accumulate wear based on actual events taking place on the court – hard fouls, contact layups, out of control landings, etc. It’s a very deep injury model that definitely brings a new level of realism to the virtual hardwood.
MAKING THE GAME SMARTER
Artificial Intelligence is continually getting smarter with each new iteration of our game. Last year was the first year of the new Adaptive Coaching Engine (ACE) which we know all of you guys at #Simnation drooled over. In year two, ACE is smarter, stronger and sexier. On the offensive side, ACE now measures what is successful and uses that information to form its plan of attack. And with our industry leading freelance offensive system and authentic team-specific plays, the AI’s offensive attack is deadlier than ever. NBA 2K17 ships with over 30 unique freelance offenses so you’ll see each team running their real life sets and playbooks. ACE also features more game to game adjustments, specific to whether you’re within a season or in the midst of a playoff run.
The transition game has been rebuilt from scratch and now features players properly running their lanes, better spacing logic and intelligent transition 3’s. Speaking of 3’s, another aspect of the AI attack that’s greatly improved is the AI’s ability to hunt for the 3 ball. In past games, the AI would only fire long balls when they were given obvious opportunities, but now, you’ll have virtual Steph and Durant picking your defense apart as they probe the perimeter and attack with a shoot first mentality. It’s definitely something you’ll need to gameplan for when you play against the AI.
And speaking of game planning, the defensive side of the Adaptive Coaching Engine saw many improvements as well. Brand new team schemes, scoring patterns and formation recognition bring a new level of authenticity to NBA 2K17. And as the offensive transition AI has improved, so has the defense. AI defenders now intelligently identify the most dangerous threats and move to their assignments accordingly.
The playcalling mechanics have been upgraded for this year too. All plays now live on L1 or LB to make strategizing more consistent. When you initially press the button, you’ll immediately be presented with our new Smart Play wheel. From here you can select Quick Iso, Quick Post, 2K Smart Play (which chooses an appropriate play from the team’s playbook for the given lineup/context), and two new dynamic smart plays chosen by ACE. Quickly flicking the right stick will fire off one of those actions. If you want to drill deeper into the Simnation playbooks, you can press the action button of the player you want to run something for and select a quick play for that particular player or tab over to his normal play options. Playcalling is deeper than ever and is sure to satisfy even the stingiest X’s and O’s gurus out there.
During timeouts, ACE now features a new clipboard-esque interactive flow, the ability to construct your own gameplans and an enhanced coaching analysis that will drive much more intelligent decision making from your coaching staff. We’ve also recorded hundreds of audio lines for your assistant coach as he dynamically evaluates what’s working and what’s not working throughout the course of the game and rallies the troops in the timeout huddles.
On the defensive side, one more thing I want to call out is the ability to switch matchups on the fly. If you’re not happy with the matchups that the game automatically generates for you, you can quickly swap them around without going into the pause menu to make sure you have your best defenders checking the biggest threats. This is available in both Play Now against the AI as well as the online modes. Pro AM crowd, this one’s for you! Gotta keep that Teammate Grade up!