The Friday Five: 5 Things To Do With A New Basketball Game

Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James in NBA 2K14

It’s Friday and the weekend is looming, so I’ve got another edition of The Friday Five coming your way. If you haven’t checked out The Friday Five before and you’re wondering what it’s all about, 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.

We’re in the final countdown to the release of the current gen version of NBA 2K14, which will be available in stores on October 1st (and barring any delays, via digital distribution as well). As soon as we get our hands on the game, we’ll be checking out the new features and hoping to see all of the improvements that have been talked about, while also hoping that we don’t come across any gamebreaking issues. What’s the best way to start playing a new basketball video game? That’s what I’m investigating in this week’s Friday Five, with five suggestions for you to consider.

1. Check out the new moves and controls in Practice Mode

Training Camp in NBA 2K13

This is where I like to begin when I get a new basketball game. It’s particularly helpful when a game introduces new or slightly altered controls, allowing you to get a handle on the basics before putting them to use in an actual game. Some gamers may prefer to learn on the fly and get straight into five-on-five gameplay, but that can be a frustrating experience if you’re still trying to master the controls while at the same time finding a way to win.

I’ve enjoyed the Training Camp feature in NBA 2K12 and NBA 2K13, as I’ve found it to be an effective way of getting used to the controls before playing a proper game. I usually have to mess around a bit in free practice or go through the drills a couple of times before I can remember and get a handle on the more advanced moves, but it’s a good way of getting the basics down and that gives you something to work with. If you at least know the basic moves and a couple of advanced ones to get you by, you can always master the rest as you play. Hopefully, they’ve kept that feature in NBA 2K14.

2. Dive into an offline exhibition game

LeBron James in NBA 2K14

Once you’ve got a feel for the controls, it’s time to get to some actual gameplay. The teams that you choose for that first game ultimately come down to personal preference, but I’d always recommend picking a couple of teams that are fairly evenly matched. That way, the learning curve isn’t steeper than it needs to be; when you’re getting used to a new game, the experience may not be so great and your impressions may be unjustly tainted if you’re prematurely challenging yourself to take down the defending champions with a lottery team.

As you continue to play through some exhibition games, you’ll likely notice a few things here and there that you’ll want to tweak in the sliders. It’s also a good opportunity to discover which difficulty setting will provide you with a suitable challenge, without being completely unfair. It’s important to find this out by playing a few exhibition games first, as getting these settings to your liking will lead to an optimal experience when you start playing the various game modes.

3. Play an online game

Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James in NBA 2K14

If you’re primarily an online gamer, or at least split your time fairly evenly between online and offline play, you’ll no doubt be getting into this part of the game sooner rather than later. After all, you’ll want to find out the best teams to play with and start building up your online record. If you’re still primarily an offline gamer as I am, you’ll probably want to head online for at least a game or two to check out the stability of the servers and see whether or not the experience is more enticing this year.

While offline game modes are far more appealing to me than online play, I am hoping that NBA 2K14 offers more stability and continues to show improvement in terms of the online experience. It’s something that I may want to try out from time to time and a lot of other people do want to play online, so it’s important that everything is up to scratch. For anyone looking to start an Online Association, I’d recommend waiting until the first couple of official roster updates are pushed through, so that at least a few missing players can be added to the game.

4. Simulate a season

Association Mode in NBA 2K13

After you’ve spent some time finding out how a new game plays, you’ll usually want to head to the game modes to find out what’s new and whether or not anything has been improved. Just as playing a few exhibition games will give you a feel for the gameplay and some experience before you start playing games that matter, checking out modes like Association and MyCAREER gives you an idea of what you’re doing and how best to approach them when you’re ready to start a proper game. Having said that, my NBA 2K13 MyCAREER is in fact the same one I started when I first got the game, simply because I got hooked.

In addition to checking out any new and improved features, this is also a good way to get a heads up on any bugs and other issues. Simulating through a season will demonstrate any improvements to elements such as simulated stats, trading/free agency AI and award selection logic…or lack thereof. It gives you an idea of what to expect and if there are any glaring issues, the sooner they are found, the sooner they can be reported to the development team in the hopes that an official patch can resolve them. It’s always worth simulating a season or two when you get a new game.

5. Start modding

JaoSming's Midnight Ballers for NBA 2K13 PC

Come on, of course I’m going to make that suggestion with the talented modding community that we have here at the NLSC! The modding season started very early for NBA 2K13 after we discovered that the art files were largely unchanged from NBA 2K12, which meant that we had updates available for the game the day it came out. If we can make another early start with NBA 2K14, then it should be another great year of modding.

Of course, I do recommend spending a little time actually playing the game first. As fun as modding can be, these games are meant to be played, so by all means enjoy yourself before you start creating updates. Besides, that’s when you’ll notice the elements of the game that need to be updated most urgently. To reiterate a point I made in last week’s Friday Five, if you are going to create updates for NBA 2K14, be sure to make use of the upload facilities in our Downloads section. We don’t want great mods getting lost over time!

That’ll do it for this week. Hopefully you’re looking forward to the release of NBA 2K14 current gen next week and the game will live up to our expectations. If you’re picking up the game, what are some of the first things you’ll do with it? 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.

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