Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.
As you may have heard in our chat with NBA Live 14 Gameplay Designer Scott O’Gallagher, the NBA Live development team at EA Tiburon is eager to get our feedback on the current game and the official patch, as well as our ideas and suggestions for NBA Live 15. As such, we’ll be compiling our NBA Live 15 Wishlist very soon.
I’ll be going into more detail when I create our official NBA Live 15 Wishlist thread in the NLSC Forum, but since Scott and the rest of the developers are interested in hearing each of our top five to ten suggestions for the game, I thought I’d use this week’s Friday Five to get the ball rolling and briefly talk about some improvements for the next NBA Live. Without any further ado, here are five things I want to see in NBA Live 15.
1. Better animations and responsiveness
I imagine that this one will be on everyone’s list and it’s certainly very important for NBA Live’s gameplay moving forward. As with EA Sports’ other titles on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, NBA Live 14 utilises the IGNITE engine, brand new tech that will continue to be developed throughout this generation. We haven’t seen it used to its full potential of course, especially as NBA Live 14 makes use of some assets from the cancelled NBA Live 13.
It’s imperative that NBA Live 15 demonstrates an improvement in animation quality, so that the game looks smooth and realistic, while taking full advantage of the power of the new consoles. It’s also important that the animation quality goes hand in hand with responsiveness and fluidity, as NBA Live 14’s controls do feel a little stiff at times. With Bouncetek and CourtQ, the IGNITE engine does seem to have some good technology to build upon. NBA Live needs more polish however, in the form of new animations, controls that are a little more responsive and a true “next gen” look.
2. Full roster management features
The roster updates for NBA Live 14 have left something to be desired, as they haven’t been as frequent or accurate as most of us were expecting, especially given EA’s good track record with the daily updates for NBA Live 09 and NBA Live 10. That’s something that I hope is improved in NBA Live 15, but it’s also important that we have the ability to create our own custom rosters and save them locally, as well as share them with other users.
In terms of the official updates, giving us roster management functions allows us to make changes ourselves if there’s an issue with the latest roster from EA, such as an outdated lineup, incorrect jersey number or missing transaction. Create-a-Player allows us to add missing players ourselves if there’s an issue adding them in the official updates, and it’s also a staple of sports video games that caters to users who want to create themselves and their friends.
While I think it’s great that the game aims to provide an up to date official roster on a daily basis and strives for objectivity in the ratings, things don’t always go to plan and there are always users who want to tinker and create fantasy rosters. As such, we need roster management tools in the game: Create-a-Player, Edit Player, Edit Rotations, Create-a-Team…all that good stuff.
3. Continued expansion of game modes
JaoSming discussed this in his Tuesday Triple and we talked about it again in Episode #67 of the NLSC Podcast. While I personally have a more positive view of Dynasty and the other modes in NBA Live 14, there is certainly room for improvement and more that can (and should) be done with them. Fortunately, I feel that what we see in NBA Live 14 is a solid foundation.
Dynasty Mode has the basics down, but I’d like to see expanded training facilities and the ability to run scrimmages with your team at any time, so that you can get a feel for your players in a low pressure situation. Basically, anything that increases the depth and the feeling of immersion in Dynasty Mode would be welcome; I’ll certainly go into more detail when we compile our Wishlist, as well as in future Friday Five articles. The same goes for Rising Star, which should look to add the kind of depth we’ve enjoyed in NBA 2K’s MyCAREER…just not the linear approach that the next gen version has taken.
I’d also like to see the Shootaround mode expanded. It was nice to see the developers add the mode to NBA Live 14 via the official patch but we definitely need the ability to practice more elements of the game including post moves, playcalling and free throw shooting. We also need to be able to change the camera angle and swap players without exiting the mode. Finally, a few tutorials will no doubt help users who are struggling to pick up some of the more advanced controls.
4. Gameplay Sliders
Ideally, NBA Live 15 should play a good game of NBA basketball out of the box, with Synergy updates further enhancing the experience. In my view, NBA Live 14 is actually a little underrated in that regard, most likely due to the aforementioned complaints about control responsiveness and the game’s visuals. However, even with the improvement that NBA Live 14 has shown since launch, it’s still hurt by the lack of gameplay sliders.
Simply put, it’s important that users be able to tweak and fine tune the gameplay to their liking. If the field goal percentages are a bit too high, if there are too many blocks on the perimeter, if the pace feels a little off or something else just doesn’t seem right, then it’s crucial that we’re able to adjust those elements through gameplay sliders. For some users, a few slider tweaks can be the difference between loving and hating the gameplay experience.
Gameplay sliders are also handy for users who want to make adjustments to the difficulty, independent of the game’s difficulty settings. In short, we need them and I hope to see them in NBA Live 15.
5. A few additions to the controls
I really like the controls in NBA Live 14, as they’re reminiscent of the control schemes that I liked so much in previous NBA Live games. I feel they’re intuitive, easy enough to pick up and comprehensive without being contrived. However, there are a couple of couple of additions and minor changes that could improve the controls in NBA Live 15.
First, I’d like to see the return of expanded offensive rebounding controls, similar to Freestyle Air. In a nutshell, using different face buttons would allow you to jump for a rebound, attempt a tip-in or try for a putback dunk. Second, while I don’t mind using the D-Pad for playcalling, it can be a little difficult to call plays while moving since you need to take your thumb off the left stick. If there’s a way that a few controls could be shuffled around to make that a little easier, it would be handy.
Apart from that though, I wouldn’t want to see too many drastic changes to the controls. As I said, I do really like what’s on offer in NBA Live 14 and I don’t think it benefits the game if the controls are changing too much from year to year. A couple of minor changes and additions could make them even better, though.
As I said, I’ll be going into more detail once we start compiling the NBA Live 15 Wishlist, and I’m sure that I’ll have more to say in future Friday Fives as well. In the meantime, what are some of the things that you want to see in NBA Live 15? Let me know in the comments below and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum. Thanks for checking in this week, please join me again next Friday for another Five.