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NBA 2K21 Next-Gen Movement Options and More!

Last week, Visual Concepts published their first of three Courtside Report blogs focused on next-generation NBA 2K21. In the first blog, NBA 2K Gameplay Director Mike Wang focused on fundamentals.

The blog took a close look at changes coming to next-gen shooting and dribbling. Today’s Courtside Report 2 zooms in on the changes to movement and contact coming next-gen to NBA 2K21.

Next-Gen Movement

Wang opens with a strong thesis statement on basketball games: “Movement is the foundation for a solid basketball game.” So, then, how will movement in next-gen NBA 2K21 build this foundation? For starters, Wang says dribble movement has been rebuilt from the ground up. Wang promises an experience that’s predictable and consistent. No awkward turns or unnatural animations as your player tries to dribble from Point A to Point B. The rebuilt system brings upgrades to protect and post movement as well.

Something small, but significant that next-gen hardware has let the NBA 2K team do is fix how players plant their feet. When players stop moving, they slide a bit. This is a problem Wang says has been hard to fix on current-gen hardware. Foot planting tech joins a growing chunk of NBA 2K21 tech that has been rewritten for next-gen hardware, and players will feel more like they’re planting their feet than sliding into first base.

The blog post outlines a number of movement changes away from the ball, and on defense. Visual Concepts has been addressing the way players slide around the court across the board, with changes to make defenders feel more grounded with improved pathing, cuts, and stops. Wang describes a smoother experience all around with overall improvements to motion stability and response. There are new, unique contextual movements added to bring more life to players. Next-gen NBA 2K21 will bring more attention to difference in size between players as well.

Next-Gen Bump and Grind

In both today’s and last week’s Courtside Reports, Wang talks a lot about replacing canned, or generic, movements with more unique and natural looking animations. This idea comes up again when Wang discusses changes to the physical interactions between the ball handler and a defender. The next-gen version of NBA 2K21 wants that one on one moment to feel as realistic as possible. The logic for how different scenarios can play out has received a major upgrade for next-gen, taking speed, direction, and other small details into account when deciding how impact plays out.

Those same improvements to the interactions between players are coming to off-ball screens as well. In previous NBA 2K games, screens have been compared to vacuums. No matter how a defender tries to move around a player setting a screen, the screen still succeeds at blocking their movement. When you run into a player setting a screen in next-gen versions of NBA 2K21, actual impact occurs. Players can avoid screens, or go over or under them in a way that doesn’t completely immobilize the defender. On the flip side, if you’re just a little guy trying to power thorough a big man setting a screen, you’re gonna have a rough time.

The Impact Engine

Visual Concepts has developed a new in-air contact system for next-gen NBA 2K21 called the Impact Engine. The Impact Engine’s goal is to resolve mid-air collisions on the fly. Wang says this will be huge for paint defenders, which the previous collision engine had to take control of just to force certain collision outcomes. An exciting addition thanks to the Impact Engine is contact ally-oops and putback dunks, which had not been in previous 2K games. On-ground contact has been overhauled as well. Getting set on defense will now cause more successful charging calls.

The blog post reveals how next-gen NBA 2K21 will utilize the new PlayStation 5 controller. The DualSense’s adaptive triggers will accentuate when your players feel fatigue. The more tired a player is, the more physically difficult the triggers will be to use. Honestly, it might be the coolest proposed use of adaptive triggers that I’ve seen so far.

You can find even more detail on today’s Courtside Report at the official blog post here. Next week’s third and final next-gen Courtside Report will cover player builds, badges, takeover, and AI improvements.

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