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The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Improve 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 ways that The Neighborhood could be improved in NBA 2K19 and beyond.

Through articles, episodes of the NLSC Podcast, and posts in the Forum, I’ve made my opinion of The Neighborhood quite clear. In short, I like it about as much as I do MyCAREER stories, which is to say, not very much at all. To me, it’s amounted to a lot of wasted time running around the same mini suburb, going back and forth and enduring long loading screens. Whether it’s changing my animations, joining my friends in 2K Pro-Am or The Playground, or picking up my endorsement money, it’s basically impossible to have a streamlined experience.

However, while I certainly have my criticisms of The Neighborhood, I’d prefer them to be constructive. Even though I’m not a fan of the concept, there are ways that The Neighborhood could be more appealing and user-friendly, not to mention fairer in terms of grinding and potential microtransactions. My guess is that the developers aren’t going to give up on the concept after just one game, and if certain changes were made, I for one would probably find it at least a little more tolerable. With that said, here are five ways that the 2K team could improve on the whole experience of The Neighborhood in future games.

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Monday Tip-Off: Getting Back to Basics with NBA 2K19

2002 Kings Clones in NBA 2K18

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 a few thoughts on how getting back to basics with NBA 2K19 would be a great move after the controversy and dissatisfaction that surrounded NBA 2K18.

For years, NBA 2K has been the dominant brand in basketball gaming. It started with EA Sports’ misfire when NBA Live 06 was released on Xbox 360, devoid of Dynasty Mode and generally being a rough transition to the next generation. As NBA Live continued to struggle, NBA 2K stayed the course and went from strength to strength, garnering higher ratings from reviewers and eventually becoming the top-selling NBA game when NBA 2K9 outsold NBA Live 09. The series has continued to innovate and receive praise from gamers and gaming publications alike, setting sales records and expanding its brand with its own weekly TV show, and now an eSports league.

And yet, despite all its success, the brand doesn’t feel as untouchable as it once did. NBA 2K18 received an unprecedented amount of backlash over its greedy and anti-consumer approach to microtransactions, which greatly affected some of its most popular modes. Beyond that controversy, a lot of gamers felt that the game had simply taken a few steps backwards with a new motion system that didn’t seem quite ready, AI that didn’t feel as smart or realistic, and rosters that were riddled with problems. While 2K’s strategies for “recurrent revenue” obviously won’t be going anywhere, I’d suggest that NBA 2K19 could otherwise really benefit from going back to basics.

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The Friday Five: 5 Improvements Both NBA Live 19 & NBA 2K19 Need

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 improvements that are needed in both NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19.

The NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 Wishlists that we’ve submitted, in my opinion, comprehensively cover the most important suggestions for fixes, enhancements, and additions for both games. Each game has its own list of improvements that we’re hoping to see added in the next release; for NBA Live 19, I would suggest that it comes down to further polish to gameplay and more depth to modes. NBA 2K19, on the other hand, needs a slight course correction after some missteps in NBA 2K18. With that being said, while the games have their own issues, there are currently some that are common to both series, and areas in which they can both improve.

Please note that I’m not suggesting that these are necessarily the most important issues that must be addressed in both NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19. As I said, our Wishlists demonstrate that both games have a long laundry list of things that can be added or enhanced, and several are specific to one series or the other. Indeed, I’ve already discussed some of the specific things that NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 need to have in previous Friday Five columns. These are just areas where both games have some common problems and room for improvements, though the respective solutions may differ slightly. With that being said, let’s get to the first item on the list.

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Monday Tip-Off: Has Traditional Basketball Gaming Come to an End?

Taking on Kyrie Irving in MyCAREER (NBA 2K18)

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 a few thoughts on the way basketball gaming has changed in recent years, and whether the traditional approach has become outmoded.

Basketball video games have obviously been around for a long time, bringing great enjoyment to people who love both the sport and gaming. Compared to other sports, basketball has proven to be a little harder to accurately represent in a video game, with so many variables affecting the level of realism. While arcade-oriented games often still hold up thanks to their casual approach, sim-oriented titles tend to show their age. Whether it’s the shot distribution, scores that are too high or too low, a lack of realistic strategy, or a shallow season mode experience, a lot of classic games do leave something to be desired, as much fun as we had with them when they were new.

Fortunately, basketball gaming has improved in leaps and bounds over the years. From deep and engaging modes to smarter AI and more realistic gameplay, we’ve been able to enjoy experiences on the virtual hardwood we could only dream of all those years ago. However, it feels as though basketball games have set a new course in recent years, shifting away from the experience that we’ve traditionally wanted. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s important that the games keep up with changing trends and demographics, but as we discussed in Episode #236 of the NLSC Podcast, it sometimes feels like traditional basketball gaming is coming to an end.

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Monday Tip-Off: A Stop Sign on the Road to 99

Road to 99: 99 Overall

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 a few thoughts on losing interest in MyCAREER, and the long grind on the Road to 99 in NBA 2K18.

As I mentioned yesterday in my first attempt at hosting the NLSC Podcast solo – don’t worry, I’m not intending on making that a regular occurrence! – I’ve lost my interest in MyCAREER and its connected modes. This is in stark contrast to last year in NBA 2K17, where I reached the second season. I even played twelve minute quarters and abstained from simulating, except for a few minutes of garbage time in a handful of games towards the end of my rookie year. Although we briefly took a break from the mode, the NLSC’s official 2K Pro-Am squad was also active throughout the year. In short, I had a lot of fun with MyCAREER and the connected online experience.

That hasn’t been the case this year. I’ve spoken before about the lack of goodwill, and the ridiculous in-universe value of Virtual Currency. On the Podcast, we’ve discussed our frustration with the lack of balance and proper matchmaking in online gameplay, as well as some of the gameplay quirks that bother us the most. Admirably, Arcane is already through to his second season, and currently sits at 92 Overall. I did intend to grind my way to at least 90 Overall – I’m presently at 89 – but right now, I can’t see it happening. Forget about 2K Pro-Am; at this point, I’m not interested in playing the single player experience of MyCAREER. I’ve reached a stop sign on the Road to 99.

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Monday Tip-Off: The Value of Virtual Currency in The Neighborhood

2K Pro-Am Player of the Game (NBA 2K18)

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 a breakdown of the in-universe value of Virtual Currency in The Neighborhood in NBA 2K18.

Yes, I’m writing about Virtual Currency and NBA 2K18 again. I guess I’m a hater, a biased NBA Live fanboy looking to bash 2K at every turn. According to at least one disgruntled former reader, that’s exactly what I am. Or maybe, just maybe, I’m simply a dissatisfied consumer who believes that all of us who play NBA 2K18 deserve to be treated more fairly. Whether it’s NBA 2K, NBA Live, NBA Playgrounds, or any other game that we play, we do ourselves a disservice by not speaking up when there are issues. There’s no guarantee that we’ll get the result we want, but if we don’t speak up, we can pretty much guarantee that we won’t see the changes we desire.

Frankly, I’m still talking about Virtual Currency because it’s an on-going issue. After dropping the prices of hairstyles, facial hair, and hair colours in an early patch, Visual Concepts haven’t made further adjustments to VC earnings and in-game prices. Well, that’s not entirely true. They’ve reduced the reward for Player of the Half and Player of the Game in 2K Pro-Am. What they haven’t done is increase the VC rewards, bring back the difficulty multiplier, or reduce the prices of clothing and consumables. This is particularly infuriating when you consider the actual in-universe value of Virtual Currency. Thanks to our MyPLAYER card, that’s something we can easily figure out.

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Monday Tip-Off: Goodwill, Greed, and NBA 2K18

The Neighborhood in NBA 2K18

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 thoughts on the current controversies surrounding NBA 2K18, and the goodwill that Visual Concepts has lost.

I’ll admit that there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to write this column. I’ve already discussed the matter in Episode #223 of the NLSC Podcast and in the NLSC Forum, and I’d rather not sound like a broken record. Furthermore, it’s all too easy to come across like a hater, gleefully indulging in some opportunistic bashing simply because there’s a controversial issue that’s a hot topic at the moment. However, it is a big deal, and it’s something that we basketball gamers shouldn’t let slide. I am of course referring to the aggressive implementation of Virtual Currency in NBA 2K18.

By now, if you haven’t played NBA 2K18 and felt the sting of VC gouging, you’ve no doubt heard other basketball gamers expressing their outrage. Perhaps you’ve even read about 2K reaching out to a site that published a negative review, asking them to reconsider their score. These are disturbing and disheartening practices for a company that is the brand leader, with a vast majority of the market share. As a game, NBA 2K has gone from strength to strength in many aspects, stepping up to deliver great experiences on the virtual hardwood as the NBA Live series has faltered. That’s earned them the adoration of gamers, but right now, that goodwill lies in ruins.

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NLSC Podcast – Episode #222

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #222 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Arcane, Kenny, and myself as we offer up our initial impressions of NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18, and look ahead to the 2018 season of basketball gaming.

On this week’s show…

  • After spending quite a bit of time with the demo, we finally have our hands on the full version of NBA Live 18. Pleasingly, the game is feeling like a significant step forward.
  • Interestingly, WNBA Play Now has been a lot of fun, changing up the experience. It definitely feels like something to build upon.
  • Ultimate Team could stand to be deeper, but there are a couple of nice features with the starter packs, based on your favourite team.
  • Franchise needs some work, but may be worth checking out as well. All in all, NBA Live 18 is shaping up to be a good comeback for the series.
  • Our initial impression of NBA 2K18 is that the NBA gameplay is a bit more fun than MyCAREER on the sticks, but it’s mostly some of the concepts that bug us. Starting from scratch again has us a little shook (sorry).
  • The biggest gripes with NBA 2K18 so far? The VC gouging, and a bewildering change to free throw shooting for MyPLAYERs.
  • Despite our complaints, there are some noticeable improvements to the gameplay, and other modes are looking good as well.
  • There’s still a lot to sink our teeth into, but on the whole, we are looking forward to the next year of basketball gaming, in both NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18.

Click Play to listen to the show!

Have some thoughts on the latest episode? Sound off in the comments below, or here in the Forum. Also, if there’s a topic you’d like us to discuss on the next episode of the NLSC Podcast, feel free to hit us up in this thread.

Details on MyCAREER Story & The Neighborhood in NBA 2K18

NBA 2K18: The Neighborhood

It’s been a big week for NBA 2K18 news to say the least. Before we wrap up the weekend, there are a few more details to report in regards to this year’s MyCAREER story, and the new Neighborhood experience.

Matt Bertz has posted a preview over on Game Informer discussing The Neighborhood and the MyCAREER story in NBA 2K18. Although there will be a narrative again this year, it will be a less linear experience. The basic plot is that your player, DJ, is a former blue chip prospect who abandoned his hoop dreams to pursue a career in music. Now eager to return to the hardwood, your character is trying to make the big time by participating in The Proving Ground, an amateur streetball event. The story begins with The Prelude, which will be released September 8th.

The article also provides a breakdown of The Neighborhood, which as previously noted, encompasses the NBA through MyCAREER, 2K Pro-Am, and The Playground (the new version of MyPARK). Park affiliations have also been done away with, as all players will be hanging around in the same Neighborhood. Matt also confirms that the old upgrade system is back, and talks about the new MyPLAYER Archetypes. As you can see from this chart, the primary and secondary archetypes that you select will determine which Badges you can upgrade. Thanks to Dommy73 for the heads up on the chart.

2K Sports has also Tweeted out a Guide to The Neighborhood. Locations include The Playground (as noted above, the new MyPARK), 2K Zone (mini-games and meet-ups), The Venue (live events), The Downtown Court (jumpshot game), Foot Locker Store (for shoes, obviously), and King of the Court (1-on-1 challenges). It also shows off some of the Road to 99 rewards, and the new phone messaging system.

With The Prelude dropping this week, and the Early Tip-Off Weekend for NBA 2K18 beginning in less than two weeks, I’m sure there’ll be more news and previews right around the corner. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on the latest details in the comments section below, as well as join in the discussion in our NBA 2K18 Forum.

NLSC Podcast – Episode #220

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #220 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Arcane and I have plenty to talk about following a big week of NBA 2K18 news, as well as the release of a new patch for the NBA Live 18 demo. The question is, as always, now that the show has been recorded, will any further news break over the weekend?

On this week’s show…

  • Patch 1.05 has been pushed through for the NBA Live 18 demo, and this time, we have a few patch notes. Once again, we take the opportunity to offer some further impressions of the demo, and encourage everyone to keep the feedback coming.
  • Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett will be joining NBA 2K18’s broadcasting team as special guest commentators. Unfortunately for KG, the game is only rated E10+.
  • The latest NBA 2K18 developer blogs by Scott O’Gallagher and Da_Czar have delivered a lot of promising news about improvements to AI, playcalling, and gameplay in general.
  • NBA 2K18 will see the debut of The Neighborhood, a new online open world experience that encompasses MyCAREER, 2K Pro-Am, and MyPARK (now called The Playground). It’s very cool, but we do have a few questions and concerns.
  • There will be 189 MyPLAYER Archetypes this year, with primary and secondary archetypes and hybrid styles. Excellent news, in our opinion.
  • A list of Achievements for The Prelude has been leaked, hinting at this year’s story. Mild spoiler warning!
  • We wrap up Episode #220 of the NLSC Podcast with Our Week in Basketball Gaming, which included a couple of really fun sessions of 2K Pro-Am as our season in NBA 2K17 continues to draw to a close.

Click Play to listen to the show!

Have some thoughts on the latest episode? Sound off in the comments below, or here in the Forum. Also, if there’s a topic you’d like us to discuss on the next episode of the NLSC Podcast, feel free to hit us up in this thread.

Details on The Neighborhood in NBA 2K18

NBA 2K18: Run The Neighborhood Event Poster

As previously announced, 2K held a live stream event for NBA 2K18 titled Run The Neighborhood. As it turns out, The Neighborhood is the name of a new experience in this year’s game that combines MyCAREER, MyPARK, and 2K Pro-Am. The three popular modes are now connected in an open world setting, where MyPLAYERs live in the titular Neighborhood. There will be several locations to visit, including stores and The Playground. Some of the key points include:

  • Players will be able to level up no matter which mode they play, whereas in previous games this was primarily achieved through grinding in MyCAREER.
  • There is an over-arching meta game called Road to 99, which rewards players for improving their Overall Rating. A unified Badge system across MyCAREER, Park, and 2K Pro-Am has also been implemented.
  • There are primary and secondary MyPLAYER Archetypes, including pure and hybrid styles. There are 189 Archetypes in all, each of which have their own assortment of attainable Bronze, Silver, and Gold Badges.
  • While the traditional MyPARK experience is gone, it’s still available in the form of pickup games that you can find in the open world of The Neighborhood.

Check out the trailer for Run The Neighborhood below, or catch it here on YouTube if you can’t see the embedded video.

We’ll be able to get a preview of NBA 2K18 via The Prelude, which will be released on September 8th. The MyNBA2K18 companion app with face scanning functionality will be released a day earlier on September 7th. What are your thoughts on the new open world career mode? Have your say in the comments section below, and join in the discussion taking place here in the NBA 2K18 section of the NLSC Forum!