After NBA 2K’s long anticipated “Run The Neighborhood” reveal event, it’s safe to say that they’re winning at this point. However, there are still some elements of NBA Live 18‘s career mode that 2K could take notes from.
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The biggest things that stood out to me while playing the NBA Live demo were the level progression and tree system your character goes through along the way. You feel a bit more like you earned your player. Being able personalize their play style through skill points makes them feel a bit more unique than everyone else. I even got a chance to sit down and speak to Chris Manning about this very topic. He agreed that MyCareer in 2K17 felt like one big grind. You sell some organs you don’t need to buy virtual currency. Then, you max your player’s appropriate stats. Afterwards, you sit through hours of completing challenges to earn your badges. In the end, nothing about the mode felt truly fun or exciting and this reveal was 2K’s way of renewing that feeling for their fans.
If you haven’t seen the NBA 2K’s #RunTheNeighborhood trailer or my thoughts on NBA Live’s The One yet, I suggest you do yourself a favor now so you know what is going on.
— NBA 2K (@NBA2K) August 31, 2017
Being that 2K and Rockstar are both owned by Take-Two Interactive, it didn’t particularly shock me to see this type of expansion to the mode. Once a mode like The Park became a sensation, the only thing that could be done from there was to expand how large that “park” was. What else would there be to do and where else could the players play? I cannot go into detail but I can say that this was something 2K had planned further back than you may think. And now that the foundation is laid, there’s nowhere to build but up.
“We’ve elevated the NBA 2K experience to new heights by putting players at the center of a fully-immersive basketball environment to explore, socialize, and most importantly compete,” said Greg Thomas, President of Visual Concepts. We can’t wait to see what this means for the future of the brand, and for fans to get their hands on NBA 2K18 starting September 15th.”
The Neighborhood is unlike anything ever seen in NBA 2K or any other sports career mode before. MyPLAYERs live in a neighborhood environment with several locations in the city blocks to visit. Here, there are other MyPLAYERS and characters with whom to interact. Experiences and ratings revolve around player actions, whether it’s running into Kyrie Irving while getting a shave at the barbershop, competing on the courts in The Playground, getting inked at the tattoo parlor, listening to the latest beats or showing off the latest gear to friends while strolling the block. A user’s experience is entirely shaped by how they compete. This allows them to reap the rewards of playing NBA 2K18 the way they enjoy it most.
NBA 2K18 is also introducing the Road to 99, the overarching meta-game that rewards users for improving their MyPLAYER’s overall rating, regardless of which modes they choose to play. Featuring a unified badge system across Pro-Am, Park and their NBA journey in MyCAREER, their attributes, animations and badges all combine to define their play style on your road to a 99 overall rating.
– Per NBA 2K’s PR statement following the event*
Just as exciting as the new sandbox-type world that your player can now traverse, is the new “dual archetype” system that 2K has implemented for MyPlayers. I personally appreciate it because I felt like archetypes before were too restricting and you could only make your player so good at a few things. If you chose to be a slasher, you couldn’t even think about taking a corner three unless you were wide open, memorized your release last week, had corner specialist, catch & shoot, and NO LAG WHATSOEVER. Although your maximum skill caps will now be slightly lower than someone who is a pure version of that archetype, you’ll now at least have more freedom to be good at a different combination of skills. And I’m pretty sure my and many other people’s first MyPlayers, this year, will have a hybrid archetype for that exact reason.
All that combined with the idea of a semi-open world to explore and get your name up in the community? It’s hard to imagine too many people will be spending more of their time on NBA Live after September 15th.
Now, while at the event, we didn’t get to see much of what the story of MyCareer itself will look like this year. However, I think that may have been on purpose. Last year, so much emphasis was put on the Michael B. Jordan feature and we all remember the infamous Spike Lee Joint. This year, it seems like it’s all about Running The Neighborhood for real. Nothing cheesy or excessive to take away from the game itself, just straight up make a name for yourself.
What I find so impressive and also mildy funny is we haven’t even seen what Pro-Am and the 2K E-League progression will look like this year. This one reveal has started so much chatter and casts such a large shadow, we’ve almost forgotten everything else 2K has going on from All-Time Teams to MyTeam and Pro-Am.
NBA 2K18, flat out, should have your attention more than any other sports game on the market right now. And that’s not to say NBA Live hasn’t made their strides this year either.
Think of it like Floyd and Connor, but Floyd isn’t retiring this year. EA should build on the strong foundations they’ve laid this year and expand on their modes just as headstrong as 2K has.