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.
1. Faster Loading Times
One of my biggest disappointments with this generation of gaming is the loading times. Granted, it’s certainly improved since the PlayStation 2/Xbox era – as I’m reminded whenever I dust off an old favourite on PS2 – but I still find myself getting frustrated at some of the loading times in NBA Live and NBA 2K. The amount of online content these days is part of the problem, and in NBA Live 18 in particular, it results in some of the menus being quite slow to load. It can be rather painful if you enter the wrong one accidentally, as you can’t immediately back out. With the checks for updates, NBA Live 18 is also a little slow getting to the main menu on boot up.
NBA 2K18’s main menu loads a little quicker after firing up the game, but it has some frustrating loading times as well. The addition of The Neighborhood hasn’t helped the situation; not only is the game a little slow to load into MyCAREER, but there’s even more loading as you enter and exit your MyCOURT and the training facility. It all adds up, and combined with the tedium of running around the streets in the first place, it feels like there’s a lot of wasted time. If there’s any way to achieve it, improvements to the loading times in NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 would greatly reduce frustration by letting us get to the action a lot sooner.
2. Better Ratings for Legends
Having created unofficial roster updates for years, I can certainly appreciate how hard it is to maintain player ratings. You’re never going to please everyone, and with some ratings being subjective, there will always be disagreements. I also know all too well that it’s easy enough to overlook certain players and ratings. With that being said, I’d like to see improvements to the way that Legends are rated in both NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19. In NBA 2K18, it felt like there was a lot of copying and pasting going on with the historical players. From puzzling ratings to missing Badges, to incorrect bio data and other inaccuracies, it just felt like they weren’t paid sufficient attention.
NBA Live’s usage of historical players is much more limited – indeed, I’d like to see that change in future titles – but they remain one of the best parts of Ultimate Team. Unfortunately, there have been problems with several Legends cards in NBA Live 18. Players like Hakeem Olajuwon and Yao Ming have low mid-range ratings, which do not reflect their real life abilities. Various players have had unsuitable dunk packages. Other inaccuracies have resulted in players being either more or less effective than they should be, especially compared to their peers. More attention to detail would go a long way in making the historical content in both games as good as it can be.
3. More Realistic Faces for Legends
I’m usually not a particularly harsh critic when it comes to visuals, as I feel that the improvements to the graphics in basketball video games have been fairly steady over the years. We are reaching a point where one aspect of the graphics in both NBA Live and NBA 2K is noticeably problematic though, that being the faces of the historical players. While some Legends in both games have really great-looking faces, there are quite a few that just don’t look right. In between, there are faces that do resemble the real player, but they’re distinctly lower in quality compared to the best Legend faces, as well as the faces of current NBA players.
In all fairness, the faces for current players are going to look a lot better, owing to the fact that they’re captured from the players themselves using multi-camera setups. The Legend faces are sculpted the old-fashioned way, since Legends can’t sit for a capture session. Well, they can, but they’re not going to look like their younger selves, and that’s the whole point, after all. There are some very talented artists at EA and 2K, as evident by the better Legends faces in each game, so I’m hoping we can see some improvements. I realise that replicating the current NBA is the priority – as it should be – but any improvements to the historical player faces would be most welcome.
4. Various Improvements to Stores/Items
When it comes to the in-game stores and the items that you can acquire for your avatars, I feel a combination of NBA Live and NBA 2K’s methods would be for the best. I like that NBA Live uses a separate currency solely for items, but I prefer NBA 2K’s approach of directly purchasing items rather than getting them in loot crates. The loot crate system is alright though, and with the way you rack up RP, you can unlock everything you want or need as long as you keep levelling up. I would prefer to buy basic items like generic NBA accessories though, rather than randomly drawing them. They should be readily available in a store, if not free to immediately equip.
With NBA 2K, it’s the opposite problem. We’re free to purchase items quite readily, but the prices are exorbitant. As I noted in a previous article, VC prices are even more ridiculous when you work out the in-universe value, and the fact you have to ration your VC between cosmetic items and player upgrades has become a blatant push towards microtransactions and “recurrent revenue”. I’d like to see prices decreased and/or VC rewards increased, since it seems unlikely that we’ll ever see a complete overhaul to the upgrade system. I’ll once again suggest that NBA accessories should be free as your team would provide them for you, but that’s likely expecting too much.
5. Substantial Content & Updates
Both games do receive a decent amount of post-release content and updates, but I’d suggest that there’s room for further improvements in that regard. Ultimate Team could be providing a lot more in the way of weekly, monthly, event-based, and even historical challenges, with more opportunities to earn permanent versions of the high tier cards without drawing them in packs. NBA Live’s roster updates could also stand to be more frequent and in-depth, though that’s admittedly less of an issue now that we can edit the rosters ourselves. We still need a way to distribute custom rosters though, so that’s definitely something that I want to see added in NBA Live 19.
Roster updates for NBA 2K have been a bit more consistent, though as with the ratings for historical players, it does seem that there’s less attention to detail these days. Improvements in that area would not go astray. Beyond that, NBA 2K could be making much better use of Locker Codes. It doesn’t seem like nearly as many codes are released as in years past, and with codes reaching their limit almost immediately, it seems pointless to even try punching them in. Timed codes that international gamers have a chance at redeeming, and a few more unlimited freebies as in years past, would allow 2K to demonstrate some much-need goodwill with NBA 2K19.
What are some other issues currently common to both NBA Live and NBA 2K that you’d like to see resolved in the upcoming releases? What are some improvements that need to be made in both series? Have your say in the comments section below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! That’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.