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NBA 2K21 Next Gen Gameplay Blog #3 Talks MyPLAYER & AI

NBA 2K21 Next Gen Gameplay Blog #3

The third NBA 2K21 Next Gen gameplay blog has been posted. With the first blog covering fundamentals and the second blog covering movement and contact, the third and final gameplay blog discusses MyPLAYER builds and AI.

Some of the key points spotlighted in the blog include the new MyPLAYER Builder, which has done away with pie charts. There are also new Badges including a Mamba Mentality Badge, and 24 Takeover abilities. Several updates have also been made to the AI in the Next Gen version of NBA 2K21. The version of the blog posted on the official PlayStation website also mentions another PlayStation 5 exclusive, this time concerning MyTEAM.

As with the previous insights, I recommend reading the third NBA 2K21 Next Gen gameplay blog for the full scoop. However, you can check out my summary of the key points below. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, and join in the discussion taking place here in the Forum!

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Monday Tip-Off: Virtual Hooping With Non-Fans

Monday Tip-Off: Virtual Hooping With Non-Fans

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 virtual hooping with and against people who aren’t big fans of basketball.

As our community is obviously made up of people who are big fans of both real and virtual basketball, we don’t really look at hoops gaming from the point of view of people who aren’t into the sport. After all, basketball and sports games in general are – to some extent – aimed at a very specific crowd. Sim titles in particular are intended for the avid fans that are more likely to want a realistic depiction of the sport. That’s not to say they can’t be for everyone – I’m not a fan of gatekeeping – but their focus on authenticity and minute details generally appeals to the more hardcore hoop-heads.

That means despite their success and popularity, basketball games and other sports titles are still somewhat niche. To put it another way, many of us basketball gamers will also play games like Fallout, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Mario, Zelda, Mass Effect, and so on, but a majority of the gamers who play those titles aren’t necessarily interested in virtual hooping, or fans of real basketball for that matter. If anything, they’re more likely to enjoy an arcade title like NBA Jam as it’s easier to pick up and play, and has a broader appeal. Some non-fans will dabble with the sim titles as well though, and virtual hooping with them is often an interesting experience.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways I’ve Changed MyCAREER Habits

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 ways that I’ve changed my habits when it comes to MyCAREER.

Today’s my birthday, and for those who are interested, I’ve turned 36. Yes, I was just a couple of months shy of turning 17 when I took over the NLSC in August 2001; time sure has flown! In that time, I’d like to think I’ve grown, matured, and gained a new perspective. Of course, there are some people who might say that running a site dedicated to video games at the age of 36 isn’t a sign of maturity, but hey, let’s leave the cynicism to Next Gen! I say that as long as you keep things in perspective and take care of your responsibilities, video games are a perfectly acceptable adult hobby.

Of course, as I’ve grown older and basketball games have evolved, so too have my tastes. As I’ve mentioned before, I always considered myself a franchise gamer, as I became a huge fan of those modes once they were introduced in the late 90s/early 2000s. Over the past decade however, I’ve spent more time with career modes and their connected online experiences. Mind you, the way I play MyCAREER has also changed from when I first got hooked on the mode back in NBA 2K13. Some habits have been influenced by the changes in recent titles, while others could probably be attributed to me getting older, grumpier, and less patient. Here are five examples!

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NBA 2K21 Patch 1.04 Released; Halloween in The Neighborhood

NBA 2K21 Patch 1.04

Patch 1.04 has been released for NBA 2K21 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. As always, the update will come through automatically as long as you’re online. If it doesn’t, try restarting your console or Steam client, or checking for updates manually.

The new update brings Halloween to The Neighborhood in MyCAREER. It also includes new faces for over 60 NBA and WNBA players, updates the default Quick Play matchup to Lakers vs. Heat, and prepares the game for upcoming 2K Beach events, Season 2 in MyTEAM, and the $250K MyTEAM Unlimited tournament.

Other fixes include adjustments to set screen movement, and changes to shot aiming to combat modded controller exploits. Park dribble moves now also require the Hall of Fame Tight Handles Badge, and some technical issues have been resolved. Please see below for the full notes for NBA 2K21 Patch 1.04; you can also find a complete update history for the game here in our Wiki.

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Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on Skill-Based Matchmaking

Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on Skill-Based Matchmaking

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 skill-based matchmaking.

Did you know that the concept of skill-based matchmaking, commonly abbreviated to SBMM, is controversial? I’ll admit that I was surprised at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense; especially given my experiences playing NBA 2K online. As the name implies, skill-based matchmaking is a system for matching both teammates and opponents in online play according to their abilities. The criteria and algorithms for this vary from game to game, but are generally based on winning percentage, ranking or reputation systems, and other statistics relevant to the genre.

Sounds like a good idea, right; the kind of proper matchmaking that we’d expect to see in a basketball game like NBA 2K, with all of its connected experiences? Well, you would think so, but not everyone is a fan of skill-based matchmaking. This disdain stretches beyond NBA 2K and the basketball gaming community, but the basic reasoning behind gamers’ objections to the concept remains the same. Frankly, this is unfortunate. SBMM is indeed a good idea, and would undoubtedly clean up the online scene in NBA 2K by reducing the toxicity and sense of gatekeeping. I’d like to explore why it’s necessary, and also examine the controversy surrounding SBMM.

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The Friday Five: 5 Community Issues NBA 2K21 Has Spotlighted

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 look at five issues within the basketball gaming community that NBA 2K21 has spotlighted.

NBA 2K21 Current Gen has been out for about a month, and following its release, gamers have had a lot to say about it. The game has had a mixed reception to say the least, and some of the new concepts haven’t resonated as positively as the developers no doubt hoped they would. A big patch came through on September 14th, which does seem to have allayed some concerns with the game. No release is ever perfect though, and not all issues can be caught before the game is in our hands, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting developers with several obstacles.

Gamers have been noting the issues with NBA 2K21 and sharing feedback with the developers accordingly, but I’ve noticed something else in the wake of the game being released. It seems as though NBA 2K21 has also spotlighted some issues within the community itself, both in the way we approach the games and how we interact with each other. These community issues aren’t necessarily new, and in some cases they’re the result of toxicity that’s compounded over the years. At the same time, I do feel as though certain aspects of NBA 2K21 have shone a light on some of these community issues, and I honestly feel that we could (and should) be doing better in these areas.

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NBA 2K21 Patch 1.03 Released; Combined Patch on PC

NBA 2K21 Patch 1.03

Patch 1.03 is now available for NBA 2K21 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. As always, it should come through automatically as long as your PC or console is connected to the Internet. If you run into any issues, try restarting your Steam client or console, or checking for updates manually.

The PC patch is a combined update, as the previous patch hadn’t yet come through. Checking the patch notes for both title updates, the PC version definitely includes all of them. This obviously comes as great news, as it means the PC version isn’t a patch behind. Hopefully there won’t be too many similar delays moving forward.

In addition to the usual technical fixes across various game modes, NBA 2K21 Patch 1.03 lowers the ballhandling requirement for Pro level dribble moves, assigns Park dribbles to a click of the left stick (L3), increases the size of the shot meter, boosts ankle breakers, improves defensive movement, and addresses a Pro Stick exploit (but not the modded controller issue). It also adds a new page to player cards in MyTEAM indicating upgradeable Badges, improves Ball Drop physics, and updates the brackets in Playoffs mode.

Please see below for the full notes for NBA 2K21 Patch 1.03. Feel free to share your impressions in the comments, as well as join in the discussion here in the Forum. You can also find a complete update history for NBA 2K21 here in our Wiki.

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Monday Tip-Off: Is NBA 2K Pay-To-Win or Not?

Monday Tip-Off: Is NBA 2K Pay-To-Win or Not?

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 by pondering the question of whether or not NBA 2K can fairly be called pay-to-win.

Yes, discussing VC, microtransactions, and recurrent revenue mechanics in NBA 2K might seem like I’m beating a dead horse. However, it remains a persistent issue as of NBA 2K21, one that threatens the overall quality of the game. That might seem like I’m stating the obvious and preaching to the choir, but there are gamers who will still defend grindy mechanics and microtransactions. In all fairness, they admittedly aren’t mandatory, and the savvy NBA 2K gamer can find ways of enjoying the game’s most popular modes without buying VC, or even opting for the special edition.

Based on some remarks I’ve seen on basketball gaming Twitter though, I fear that we’ve grown somewhat complacent and dismissive of the problems that recurrent revenue mechanics cause. People, including prominent content creators, have declared that modes like MyTEAM and MyCAREER are no longer pay-to-win, owing to the amount of content that can be earned even if you staunchly refuse to buy VC. I do see their point of course, but I also believe that it’s missing the forest for the trees. There’s nuance and other problems that are being overlooked. First things first, though. Let’s address the question: is it fair to call NBA 2K, in its current state, pay-to-win?

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NBA 2K21 Patch 1.02 Address Pro Stick Aiming, Tuning Fixes

NBA 2K21 Patch 1.02

Patch 1.02 has been released for NBA 2K21. It is currently available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and will be available for PC and other platforms soon. As with previous official patches, it will come through automatically as long as you’re online. If you encounter any problems, try restarting your console or Steam client.

The patch adds a first boot option for Pro Stick Aiming/Shot Timing, which is also available under settings if you wish to change it later. Shot Aiming can now also be used when the Shot Meter is off, and the speed at which the Pro Stick is deflected now determines the Ideal Shot Aiming (left for a slow flick, right for a fast flick). Standing dunks using the Pro Stick have also been tuned for increased reliability, Park dribbles have been re-mapped to “holds” on the Pro Stick, and a few animations have been cleaned up, among other gameplay adjustments.

Other enhancements in Patch 1.02 for NBA 2K21 include a face update for Andrew Wiggins, as well as fixes for hangs and other issues in MyCAREER and MyTEAM. 2K Share has also now been enabled. Check out the full patch notes below, as well as here in the Forum. A complete update history for NBA 2K21 will also be maintained here in our Wiki.

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Monday Tip-Off: Do We Need Those Stinking Badges?

Monday Tip-Off: Do We Need Those Stinking Badges?

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 whether NBA 2K’s MyCAREER and its connected modes are too reliant on Badges, and their general implementation.

Sim games have long sought to properly differentiate between players, beginning with detailed ratings. Those base attributes alone haven’t always been sufficient though, and so developers have experimented with mechanics such as Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live, and Signature Skills in NBA 2K. Signature Skills have given way to Badges, which like their predecessors, grant boosts and represent special abilities that the standard ratings can’t account for. As with Signature Skills, or the similar Traits system in NBA Live, they’re available to real players and career mode avatars alike.

These days, Badges are probably more important than ratings/attributes. You can max out a player’s ratings in a certain area, but it takes the effects of a Badge to ensure that they’re sufficiently levelled up. On one hand, this does make the exceptionally skilled stand out from the very good, much as Freestyle Superstars in NBA Live once aimed to achieve. On the other hand, it also means that high ratings – which are theoretically only given to the best real players, and take a long time to grind for our MyPLAYERs – are far less powerful than they should be, if they aren’t paired with the various boosts afforded by Badges. Given these issues, do we need those stinking Badges?

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Monday Tip-Off: Imperfections Don’t Need Imperfect Solutions

Monday Tip-Off: Imperfections Don't Need Imperfect Solutions

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 simple but important message: imperfections in basketball games don’t need imperfect solutions.

There’s a running gag when it comes to Bethesda’s Fallout games: “it just works”. This sarcastic jab at bugs and other imperfections in the series is a reference to Executive Producer Todd Howard’s declaration that Fallout 4’s “dynamic game engine” would ensure that everything about it “just works”. And, to be fair, while I didn’t enjoy Fallout 4 as much as I did Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas, the game does indeed work. Does everything work as well as it should? Not exactly, and that’s why Todd Howard’s utterance of those words has become a meme.

In all fairness to Todd Howard and Bethesda though, they’re not alone in that regard. To be completely fair to the Triple-A gaming industry at large, achieving perfection is easier said than done, and the scope of their products is going to result in issues such as bugs and oversights. As gamers, consumers, whatever we want to call ourselves, we do understand that. However, some things are just poorly planned, designed, and implemented. Although we do criticise these issues and suggest solutions, I’ve also seen many gamers defend these imperfections. Not because of the difficulty of game design, mind you, but the notion that imperfect solutions cancel out valid complaints.

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NLSC Podcast #337: Playing Your Cards Right

NLSC Podcast Logo

Episode #337 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Derek (aka Dee4Three) and I are your hosts for this week’s show.

As the NBA 2K21 demo looms, we’ve received an insight into MyTEAM with the latest developer blog. Much of this week’s show is spent providing a comprehensive breakdown of the blog, which delivered some promising news. We also offer up some final speculation ahead of the demo’s release, though we’re keeping our expectations low as far as its scope is concerned. With the launch of NBA 2K21 Next Gen happening a couple of months into the Current Gen version’s life cycle, we also talk about our plans for the latter. Other topics include Ante-Up, MyTEAM pack odds, the positives and negatives of regulation in the Auction House, and the oldest releases that we could feasibly play regularly again.

What’s your take on this week’s conversation? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. The show also comes out on our YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe for future episodes and other video content.

The Friday Five: 5 Ways NBA 2K Online Is A Mess

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 outlines five reasons that the online scene in NBA 2K is a mess.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve discussed problems with the online experience in NBA 2K, and while I’d prefer not to harp on issues or be repetitive in my content, it’s also important to point out problems. This is particularly important when certain issues remain unresolved for several years running, leading to increased frustration for everyone, and an aspect of basketball gaming that isn’t nearly as good as it could and should be. Having spent more time playing NBA 2K online recent years, I’ve grown dismayed and disenchanted with the experience due to several recurring problems.

Frankly, NBA 2K online is a mess. It’s kind of bewildering, actually. With the launch of the NBA 2K League, the online scene is obviously being pushed as a big part of the game, and yet it’s never been weaker or less inviting. That’s not to say that it can’t be any fun at all. I won’t pretend that I haven’t had enjoyable sessions here and there, or that NBA 2K online doesn’t have anything to offer; at least on paper. The good news is that there are solutions that would clean up the mess that is online play in NBA 2K. The bad news is that many of the problems are persistent legacy issues, so it remains to be seen if they’ll ever be properly addressed in future games.

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NBA 2K21 Gameplay Blog & Demo Release Date (Current Gen)

NBA 2K21 Gameplay Blog

The NBA 2K21 gameplay blog for the Current Gen version has been posted, outlining what we can expect from this year’s release. A breakdown of the key points is as follows:

  • Beluba reiterated the focus on striking a good balance between realism and fun, once again referring to turnovers on long passes as an example of what they want to avoid.
  • Cover player Damian Lillard had several suggestions, including raising the maximum height for point guards in MyCAREER. It’s now 6’8″.
  • The Pro Stick controls have changed: Hold down for a jumpshot, hold left or right for escape dribbles, hold up for signature size-ups, tap for quick 1-to-1 dribble moves, tap while holding Sprint for quick momentum dribbles.
  • New signature size-ups have been added (for a total of 14 Street and 36 NBA animations), and moves are now more responsive and “chain-able”. Street moves are performed with a tap of the left trigger.
  • When shooting with the Pro Stick, the Shot Meter is replaced by target aiming inspired by NBA 2K17’s mechanics. Instead of timing the release, you can use the whole animation to hit the target window. The same mechanics apply to layups, but this can be disabled. There are also new shot types, and over 40 new shot landings for Park.
  • Block targeting has been improved, and some of the overpowered paint moves have been toned down. There are also signature defensive styles, and player movement has been refined for more responsiveness.
  • The Badge system is basically the same as last year, though it’s been refined based on telemetry data from popular builds. Shot speed has been moved back to the Jump Shot Creator, with the Quick Draw Badge being removed entirely.

Check out the NBA 2K21 gameplay blog for the full scoop! A demo will be dropping on August 24th, though no further details are available as yet. What are your thoughts on these changes and additions? Sound off in the comments below, and join in the discussion here the Forum!

Monday Tip-Off: The Decline of MyCAREER Offline

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 look at the decline of MyCAREER offline, and its effect on the career experience in NBA 2K.

MyCAREER has been my main mode of choice since I was drawn to it back in NBA 2K13. As I’ve mentioned on many occasions, I’ve felt a desire to return to my roots as a franchise gamer – especially given the depth currently on offer in MyLEAGUE – and have also spent time with MyTEAM, as well as Ultimate Team in NBA Live over the past generation. However, MyCAREER has been difficult to quit, particularly as I’ve grown to appreciate the online scene through 2K Pro-Am. The connected experience offers several benefits, but it’s also contributed to the decline of MyCAREER offline.

I was originally going to cover this in a Friday Five article which would’ve been titled “5 Ways Offline MyCAREER Is Worse”, but I decided that the list format wouldn’t do the issue justice. One of the major reasons for my change of heart and mind is that I stumbled across this Reddit post from about five months back, outlining the way that MyCAREER offline has been downgraded over the years. It was well-researched, and I must credit it here as a source of information for the specific changes I’ve noted. Its title was apt, too. It’s a matter that doesn’t receive nearly enough attention, and I’d like to rectify that by covering it today, while also considering some possible solutions.

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