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The Friday Five

The Friday Five: 5 Gimmicky Features That Turned Out Great

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five gimmicky features that turned out to be great additions to basketball video games.

If you’ve been playing basketball video games for some time and experienced more than a couple of preview seasons, it’s tough not to get cynical. Chances are you’ve bought into the hype and been disappointed at least once over the years, and have likely learned to take previews with a grain of salt. Many of us have a knee-jerk reaction to features that sound gimmicky, particularly if they’re given a name that makes for a good blurb on the back of the box, but doesn’t sound like it will address our concerns regarding the experience on the virtual hardwood.

Of course, names can be deceiving. Some of the best features don’t have fancy names, while other times it’s the features with gimmicky labels that have a positive impact. A feature needs a marketable name if it’s going to be a selling point, and as long as it’s something that enhances the game, it’s all for the best. Thankfully, there have been several such features throughout the years, some being very pleasant surprises after a gimmicky name initially led us to be dismissive of them. Most of us will undoubtedly remain somewhat sceptical whenever we encounter fancy names during the preview season, but here are five features that turned out great despite sounding gimmicky.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things That Ruin Presentation

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five things that ruin the presentation in basketball games.

Over the past decade or so, presentation in basketball games has gone from strength to strength. EA Sports’ licensing agreement with ESPN has brought in-depth recreations of the network’s NBA broadcasts to NBA Live, from the commentary team to all of the wipes and overlays. Although NBA 2K currently uses “NBA on 2K” branding, its presentation closely mimics that of the NBA on TNT. In the NBA’s Greatest mode in NBA 2K12, 2K achieved historically accurate presentation for each era represented in the challenges, via some very impressive audio and visual effects.

Unfortunately, for all of the great things that basketball games have done with their presentation, there are still a few nagging issues that can detract from the experience. These include annoying visual elements, distracting inaccuracies, moments that break the immersion, oversights, and persistent design flaws. It may sound melodramatic to say that these things completely ruin the presentation as they don’t render the games totally unenjoyable, but considering that some of them should be easy to address, they are nevertheless prominent annoyances. Call some of them nitpicks if you like, but I do believe that avoiding these pitfalls would improve the presentation in Live and 2K.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Improve Online Modes in NBA 2K20

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five ways to improve online modes in NBA 2K20.

For many years, there wasn’t much that I could personally say about online play. I was mostly an offline basketball gamer, and while I was only too eager to pass along any feedback on behalf of online gamers, it wasn’t an experience that I took a whole lot of interest in. That changed in NBA 2K16, when Arcane and I were encouraged to join Kenny, The X, and Valor for some 2K Pro-Am games. I had enjoyed playing a few games of Online Team Play in NBA Live 08 as it was new and interesting, and Pro-Am proved to be an enjoyable spin on the concept.

As much as I value the single player experiences in modern basketball games, there’s no denying the importance of online modes. Visual Concepts clearly has a lot invested in the online experience, not only through providing a variety of ways to play online in NBA 2K, but also through their partnership with the NBA for the NBA 2K League. Despite that focus, and the general popularity of online play in NBA 2K, there are some major drawbacks and troubling legacy issues that need to be addressed in future games. I’m hoping that NBA 2K20 does see some key improvements in the game’s online modes, and this is how I believe that can be achieved.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Improve MyCAREER in NBA 2K20

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five ways to improve MyCAREER in NBA 2K20.

MyCAREER remains the most popular mode in NBA 2K, both for the ability to live the life of an NBA player, and participate in online multiplayer gaming through the connected experiences of 2K Pro-Am and The Playground. It has achieved popularity through being a deep and robust mode, and innovations such as detailed stories. While its implementation of VC has at times been controversial due to the way it encourages microtransactions, it’s contributed greatly to the recurrent revenue model despite some vocal grumbling from gamers. Overall, it’s been a huge success for NBA 2K.

Nevertheless, both the offline and online aspects of MyCAREER still have room for improvement. I’ve enjoyed the experiences they offer despite traditionally being a franchise gamer, and found myself getting drawn back into MyCAREER in NBA 2K19 despite feeling that this may be the year to take a break. Having played the mode extensively over the past few years, I have a few thoughts on how it could provide an even better experience for basketball gamers. From the handling of the story and goodwill, to game balance and better functionality, here are five ways that NBA 2K20 could make an already great mode even better.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Improve Ultimate Team in NBA Live 20

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five ways to improve Ultimate Team in NBA Live 20.

Due to its extended hiatus, NBA Live was the last EA Sports title to implement an Ultimate Team mode. Along with Franchise and The One, its presence provides the game with the staple experiences of a franchise, career, and card collection/team building mode, and has proven to be a welcome addition. However, while Ultimate Team is a mode I’ve enjoyed since the reboot, it shares the same problem that other modes in NBA Live have suffered: it’s still too barebones. To that end, just as I have ideas on how to improve Franchise mode, I have suggestions for Ultimate Team.

After enjoying the mode so much in NBA Live 18, I felt disappointed by NBA Live 19’s Ultimate Team. Quite a few changes were made that I believe were done with the best of intentions, but the result was that an already thin mode became even thinner, despite making a couple of additions. It’s not too late to correct course however, as a lot of the building blocks are in place. LUT also made a great move in NBA Live 19 by removing contracts, something that NBA 2K’s MyTEAM should also implement. Generally speaking though, Ultimate Team should borrow ideas from MyTEAM, as well as bring back or expand upon concepts that it has featured in previous iterations.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Improve Franchise in NBA Live 20

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five ways to improve Franchise mode in NBA Live 20.

Our Wishlists for NBA Live 20 and NBA 2K20 have been submitted, but as we await another preview season, I feel like talking about my hopes for the upcoming titles. I’m beginning with NBA Live 20, as it needs to be a big year for the long-running hoops series from EA Sports. NBA Live 18 and NBA Live 19 have been EA’s best efforts in quite some time, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. A recurring complaint that I’ve seen is that there isn’t enough focus on the NBA in NBA Live, and that’s a sentiment that I share. One way to address that is to give more attention to Franchise.

The counterargument I’ve seen to that suggestion is that Franchise is old hat for old heads, and that no one cares about it. Considering the fact that us old heads do care about it, and that younger basketball gamers have also expressed their frustration with the lack of depth to Franchise, it’s ridiculous to suggest that no one cares, and that it’s unimportant. NBA Live must provide deep, engaging experiences across the board, and with The One and its connected modes already quite robust, it’s time that a few enhancements were made to Franchise. As a long-time franchise mode enthusiast, I believe that focusing on these five key aspects will help achieve that goal.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Improve NBA 2K’s Retro Teams

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five ways that retro teams could be improved and better utilised in future NBA 2K games.

I know I’ve talked about retro teams a lot over the past few weeks in The Friday Five, but there are just so many intriguing possibilities. I’m taking a break from suggesting specific squads that I’d like to see added, and instead taking a look at how retro teams could be put to even better use in future iterations of NBA 2K. The current approach is certainly satisfactory for the most part, and in terms of providing extra content, it’s a long way ahead of what NBA Live is offering. Nevertheless, there are ways in which the retro teams could be handled better.

Obviously, there are other priorities to consider when it comes to the quality of future NBA 2K titles. Refining player movement and physics is important. Achieving a good balance between online and offline play is an ongoing challenge. Addressing issues with the amount of grinding and fairness of recurrent revenue mechanics is something that absolutely needs to be sorted out. However, there is room to discuss ideas for the bonus content, and indeed, the prevalence of retro teams in NBA 2K has more or less established them as a key part of the experience, year in and year out. To that end, here are five ways to improve NBA 2K’s retro teams!

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The Friday Five: 5 Retro Teams I’d Like To See in NBA 2K (Part 11)

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is part eleven in a series of lists of retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K.

It’s just about time for me to be moving on to some other topics with the Friday Five, as I’ve been covering retro teams I’d like to see in future NBA 2K games for a month now. However, I do have another five teams that I thought of while planning these features, so I figured I’d wrap things up for now and come back with new lists later on down the road. After all, this may be the last list for now, but I’m sure more teams will occur to me. As I’ve said, when you look beyond former champions, their opponents, and other noteworthy teams, you can come up with some fun and unorthodox ideas.

There are certainly some teams in Part 11 that fit that description! With the current decade drawing to a close, I’ve also looked to include a couple more retro teams from the past ten years, as some of them are becoming nostalgic in their own right. If I can talk about NBA 2K17 in Wayback Wednesday, then I can surely include a few teams from the early 2010s on these lists! As with my previous features, I’m making these suggestions in addition to the teams I’ve already mentioned; I’d still like to see those teams in NBA 2K as well. I’m also assuming that enough of the necessary players will be licensed, if they’re not in the game already. With that said, let’s get to the list!

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The Friday Five: 5 Retro Teams I’d Like To See in NBA 2K (Part 10)

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is part ten in a series of lists of retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K.

With this list of retro teams, I’ve reached a total of fifty throwback squads that I feel would make fun additions to NBA 2K! Although I’ve already covered many of the obvious choices in previous lists, thinking back through over seventy years of NBA history offers up a continuous stream of possibilities. As I’ve noted in my previous articles, some of the recently added retro teams open the door for squads beyond former champions, their opponents, and other great teams of note. Just because a team didn’t achieve great success in real life doesn’t mean that they aren’t fun to play with.

To that end, here are five more retro teams that would be fun to have in NBA 2K by default! Once again, these squads don’t override my previous suggestions; they’re all teams that I’d be interested in seeing included in future games. These suggestions are also assuming that all of the key players (or at least most of them) can be licensed, if they’re not in the game already. After all, it would defeat the purpose of adding new retro teams if they can’t even field five real players, preferably their actual starting five (though NBA 2K does currently include retro teams that are missing one of their regular starters). With all that being said, let’s get to the list!

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The Friday Five: 5 Retro Teams I’d Like To See in NBA 2K (Part 9)

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is part nine in a series of lists of retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K.

While I was mulling over ideas for Part 8 of this series on retro teams I’d like to see in future NBA 2K games, I ended up with enough squads for Parts 9, 10, and 11 as well. Originally, I intended to space those articles out over the next few months so as not to run the topic into the ground, but since we’re on the heels of submitting our Wishlists for NBA 2K20 and NBA Live 20, I’m still in the mood to talk about content that I’d like to see. Besides, I had fun capturing the necessary screenshots and I’m eager to put them to use, so for this week at least, I’m going back to back with Part 9.

As with the previous lists, I’m exploring some unorthodox ideas for retro teams, as the squads that have been added in recent years go beyond the obvious choices of former champions, their opponents, and other teams with notable success. Once again, I must also emphasise that the latest list of suggestions doesn’t override or cancel out any of my previous suggestions; they’re just more teams that I’d like to see included in future games. As always, these suggestions are being made under the assumption that all of the necessary players, or at least an ample amount of them, will be licensed. Without any further ado, here are five more retro teams to consider!

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The Friday Five: 5 Retro Teams I’d Like To See in NBA 2K (Part 8)

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is part eight in a series of lists of retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K.

It’s been six months since my last five suggestions for retro teams that I’d like to see added in future NBA 2K games. I’ve covered a lot of obvious squads among the 35 mentioned so far, but new suggestions still spring to mind. As I noted in my previous articles, some of the retro teams that have been added in recent years have opened the door for more unorthodox choices. Past champions, their opponents, and other teams that had a significant amount of success are always candidates for inclusion, but there are also less distinguished squads that are interesting for other reasons.

Whatever it is that made them interesting and significant in their own right, they strike me as being fun teams to play with in NBA 2K. Once again, these suggestions do not override the squads I mentioned in previous parts of this series; they’re all retro teams that I believe would be great additions to NBA 2K’s roster of historical content. Also, these lists are based on the idea that the necessary players can be licensed, assuming of course that they aren’t in the game already. It would be rather pointless to add these teams if the major players aren’t represented, after all. With that being said, here are my latest suggestions for additional retro teams!

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The Friday Five: 5 Tips for Being a Good Online Teammate in NBA Live 19

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five features five tips for being a good online teammate in NBA Live 19’s LIVE Events and LIVE Run.

It’s a good time to play The One and its connected modes in NBA Live 19. The latest content update has doubled XP in celebration of the 2019 All-Star Weekend, offering an opportunity to make quicker progress on levelling up your One Player. Beyond that, the developers are keeping things fresh with new LIVE Events throughout All-Star Weekend, and the online team play experience of LIVE Run remains a fun way of hooping it up with your fellow virtual basketball enthusiasts. I’ve been taking part in a few LIVE Events myself this week, both solo and co-op.

I’ve generally had a good time playing the co-op LIVE Events in NBA Live 19, but the games have been frustrating at times. Some of my frustration can be attributed to inevitable lag or areas where NBA Live still has room for improvement, but on more than one occasion, I was left muttering and wondering what my online teammates were doing. That’s not to say that I never made a mistake, but I encountered quite a few of the common pitfalls of playing online with random teammates. Playing with randoms is never going to be quite the same as running with an organised squad, but here are five tips for functioning as a cohesive unit in NBA Live 19’s online modes.

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The Friday Five: 5 NBA Seasons I’m Oddly Nostalgic For

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five seasons that I’m oddly nostalgic for.

Way back in 2013, the first year of The Friday Five, I listed my top five favourite NBA seasons. That list is still accurate, putting aside the fact that I tried to restrict the number of Chicago Bulls championship years that I included. If I were to remove that restriction, my top five would be 1996, 1997, 1998, 1993, and 1992, with 1991 being an honourable mention. Back in 2017, I discussed five basketball video games that I’m oddly nostalgic for, given that they’re widely considered to be problematic, and don’t necessarily rank among my all-time favourites, either.

I mention those previous articles in part to promote the archives of my content, but also because this week, I’m combining the two concepts. Just as there are NBA video games that I’m nostalgic for despite their issues, there are NBA seasons that I feel nostalgic for even though by all accounts, they should be among my least favourite. Video games do play a part in that of course, and since I am mashing together the ideas of two previous articles, I will touch on them in this piece as well. It’s not just my experiences on the virtual hardwood that make me nostalgic for these seasons though, as the action in the real NBA was interesting in its own right.

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The Friday Five: 5 Cool Details in The Neighborhood

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five cool details that you may or may not have noticed in The Neighborhood.

Since its introduction in NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER, The Neighborhood has proven to be a divisive concept. Some basketball gamers love having a game world to explore, while others find it tedious and a waste of time. Whether or not you like the approach, it appears to be here to stay. As such, if you have any interest in playing MyCAREER or any of its connected experiences, you will be spending time in The Neighborhood. With all the running between shops, the practice facility, Pro-Am arenas, and courts in The Playground, the Marathon Man trophy/achievement can be gained quite easily.

Of course, if you are just running between Point A and Point B all the time, you may end up missing some of the cool details that have been put into The Neighborhood. Even if you’re not a huge fan of having a game world as the hub for MyCAREER and its connected modes, it’s possible to appreciate the amount of work that has gone into making it visually appealing and interesting. The Neighborhood certainly doesn’t offer as many secrets or places to explore compared to open world games such as Grand Theft Auto or Fallout, but there are some details that make it worth looking around. Here are five that have stood out to me in NBA 2K18 and NBA 2K19.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ideas NBA 2K Should Borrow from NBA Live

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five discusses five ideas that NBA 2K should borrow from NBA Live.

The time has come to compile and finalise our Wishlist for NBA 2K20, and send it off to the development team at Visual Concepts as soon as possible. While NBA 2K is currently a very deep and successful NBA sim, I would suggest that most basketball gamers would agree that there’s still room for improvement. This includes polishing up existing features and addressing some gameplay concerns, but as far as changing concepts and approaches, or implementing new features, I do believe that NBA Live has some ideas that NBA 2K could borrow.

A lot of people may scoff at that and dismiss the notion out of hand. After all, when you’re the premier product, you lead; you don’t follow. However, even though NBA 2K is undisputedly the brand leader and NBA Live continues to rebuild after many rough years, EA Sports’ long-running hoops title has featured some really good ideas, even as it’s struggled to make a dent in NBA 2K’s sales. Great as it is, there are some aspects of NBA 2K that feel dated or problematic, and some of the solutions may lie in NBA Live’s approach to those features. 2K has borrowed from NBA Live before – right stick dribbling being a prime example – and it could stand to do so again.

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