We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some ideas on how to fix MyREP in future NBA 2K games, if not in a patch for NBA 2K20.
I’ve outlined some of the problems with the new MyREP system in a previous article, so this week I thought that I’d offer up some more specific solutions. Thanks to my week spent playing The Rec, I’ve been able to level up and unlock some of the rewards, though admittedly MyCAREER is a mode that’s gone on the backburner for me this year. All the same, I’d like MyCAREER and its connected modes to be as good as they possibly can be for my fellow gamers who still want to sink most of their time into those experiences.
As a replacement for the Road to 99, MyREP has its benefits and drawbacks. Among the positives, all of the rewards need to be earned by playing the game and gaining rep; there are no shortcuts through microtransactions. It’s also drawn some attention away from Overall Ratings, a mechanic that often carries an overinflated sense of importance. On the downside, it locks offline gamers out of NBA-related rewards, doesn’t adequately reward online gamers grinding for MyREP, contributes to elitism, and could stand to distribute its rewards far more logically. With that in mind, here’s how I’d fix the MyREP system in NBA 2K.
First of all, I’d completely detach MyREP from the ability to reach 99 Overall. I know 2K wants hitting 99 Overall to be a big achievement, attainable only by gamers who put in the grind, but it’s more elitist gatekeeping. It was a terrible idea in NBA 2K17, and it’s one of the last things from a previous game that needed to come back. I also see it as being rather pointless to have both the highest level of MyREP and the 99 Overall Rating as the end goal, with the latter fluctuating according to performance. It just doubles down on encouraging elitism in a community that has already become extremely toxic and unwelcoming towards new and casual online gamers alike.
Even if the game retains the approach of 96-99 Overall being a performance-based goal, however, we can fix the MyREP system and its rewards. The first and most crucial step is to separate online and offline rewards. Gamers who prefer to simply play MyCAREER rather than the online modes shouldn’t have to play online and grind up their rep to unlock NBA animations, MyCOURT customisation and new MyCOURT locations, clothing items, hair colour options, and the like. It’s also time to stop spreading MyCOURT customisation options out over multiple levels, be it Overall Ratings or MyREP. They should be grouped together as a standard feature.
That’s a big problem with the rewards aimed at both offline and online players. Many of the rewards are recycled year after year, and aren’t worthy of the level at which they’re unlocked. MyCOURT customisation, a feature that’s been in the game since NBA 2K16, shouldn’t require hitting All-Star Level 3 to unlock every option. Being able to get a neck tattoo isn’t really a great reward for hitting Superstar Level 1. It’s silly having to level up just to dye your hair, or wear a hat or accessories in The Neighborhood. Unlocking vehicles isn’t much of a reward when you have to pay an extortionate amount of VC for them. Higher level rewards should be more appealing.
It’s vital that MyREP rewards are unlocked in a logical order. Vehicles shouldn’t be unlocked before basic customisation features. Special Badges that provide a boost for games in The Neighborhood shouldn’t come before getting a Beats machine, which itself isn’t really a worthwhile reward to begin with. It should be viable to only play online or offline, and not miss out on basic rewards and customisation features. If it’s been in MyCAREER since 2015, it should probably be a standard feature and not an unlockable. If you’re hitting the top tier or a high Overall Rating, any rewards that you earn should be well worth the grind. Right now, everyone’s getting short-changed.
My solution would be to make all player customisation options unlocked right away. Apart from haircuts and colours, they all cost VC anyway, and you shouldn’t have to play online to unlock them. I’d also have all MyCOURT customisation options – from the scoreboard to the wall murals – available as soon as you start MyCAREER. I’d be in favour of making all NBA animations immediately available as well, but if they are to be unlockable, have them rely on Overall Ratings instead, and allow everything to be unlocked by 75 Overall. Indeed, all NBA/single player rewards should be based on Overall Ratings, playing a certain number of games, or performing set in-game tasks.
Levelling up MyREP – especially if MyREP can’t be earned in MyCAREER games, as is the case in NBA 2K20 – should earn online exclusive rewards. Keep all those online-specific Badges, but make sure that they’re properly balanced. Have the fancy Park dunks and passes unlockable if you must, but keep them on the lower tiers; it’s not like they’re that advantageous, and they need to be purchased with VC anyway. For that matter, automatically unlock some rare animations that can’t be acquired any other way. Spread rewards like going shirtless, having priority at Got Next, vehicles, and custom player panels more evenly across all of the MyREP tiers.
Flipping through the current tiers and looking at the rewards, many of them should be easily unlockable offline, if not immediately available. Ideally, MyREP should be put to use as part of a deeper matchmaking system that ensures gamers are being matched up with teammates and opponents of a similar skill level. That would be far more useful than unlocking custom t-shirt creation, or the ability to purchase a skateboard. By all means give away copies of the next NBA 2K game and invite gamers to make an appearance on 2KTV at the Legend tier, because that’s rewarding their skill and patience to grind. New Neighborhood emotes, on the other hand, are far less exciting.
In fact, I’d be in favour of bringing back the Road to 99 as a rewards system – albeit with the rewards properly distributed and worthwhile at every level – and making MyREP all about matchmaking. After all, the combination of your success, as well as your average teammate grade and willingness to play out games rather than quit on your squad, should determine your reputation as an online player, and subsequently who you get teamed up with and matched up against. Maintaining a positive online reputation should be the goal, rather than a fluctuating Overall Rating above 95. It would be fair, competitive, and combat some of the toxicity of the online scene.
Separation of offline rewards and online ranking systems is key, but there’s so much more that MyREP could be doing rather than locking gamers out of familiar features, and to that end, offering up rewards that we’ve earned many times over in previous games. Exclusive cosmetic rewards that don’t need to be purchased, more Badges and boosts, Neighborhood store discounts and freebies…above all, content that we haven’t seen before, ideally tailored towards online gamers. Anyone sticking to the NBA side of MyCAREER would have their own rewards to unlock, and anyone who wants to play a bit of everything would have a shot at all the rewards if they put in the work.
Unfortunately, I don’t see anything changing in NBA 2K20. It would be great if it did, similar to the way that the tasks for unlocking the Auction House were made fairer in a patch for NBA 2K19, but it seems highly unlikely. I also have my doubts that much will change in NBA 2K21, but the ideal scenario moving forward would be to allow gamers to stick with the experience they want. That means being able to skip the story and NBA side of things if you’re just interested in online play, and not having to touch online modes if you’re not into that scene. Fixing the MyREP system means fixing the game’s overall philosophy, and doing so should improve the experience for everyone.