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 options that would be handy to have in NBA Live and NBA 2K.
When we’re compiling our Wishlists and sending feedback to EA Sports and Visual Concepts, it’s important that we prioritise. For example, a major gameplay flaw is far more important to address than a largely inconsequential cosmetic feature. Likewise, the functionality and user-friendliness of the menus is more important than the colour (though legibility and presentation obviously counts for something). Nevertheless, it’s also a good idea to point out features and options that aren’t necessarily vital, but in their own way, add something to the overall experience.
After all, sometimes it’s the little things that really make a game enjoyable. Some options are essential, such as difficulty settings, gameplay sliders, and controller configurations, but features such as atmosphere settings, an accelerated clock, stats normalisation, and other such options can really enhance the experience. We can still enjoy the games without them, and in the grand scheme of things, they probably don’t have a huge effect on Metacritic scores and general reception, but they’d nevertheless be welcome additions. Future versions of NBA Live and NBA 2K could be enhanced with the addition of handy options such as these.
1. Ability to Set Default Teams in Play Now
Something that I really liked in the early PC versions of NBA Live was the ability to alter the default teams in Exhibition mode (known these days as Play Now). There wasn’t any option for it as such, but the game saved the last two teams that you chose to use in an Exhibition game. Not only did it change things up in your own game, but it could also be put to use in roster updates. Sharing the appropriate data file along with the rosters would change the default teams for other users as well. Saving your previous choices would be a handy feature, but it would be even better if the options were expanded to allow us to set the default teams of our choice in Play Now.
Currently, NBA 2K’s default Play Now teams are the defending champions and your nominated favourite team, while NBA Live defaults to your favourite team and one of their most noteworthy rivals. Both are sensible approaches, but they’re not always ideal starting points for cycling through the teams, especially with the amount of retro squads that are in NBA 2K these days. Options to either save the last two teams that you picked as the new default, or manually set the two teams that are selected every time on boot-up, would be a nice touch. I realise it’s a minor issue and a low priority to say the least, but again, these are options that I would consider handy, not vital.
2. Edit Default Playoffs Brackets
First of all, let me emphasise my desire to see a standalone Playoffs mode back in NBA Live. As I mentioned in a previous Friday Five, I would consider it one of the essential staples of a sim-oriented basketball title. With that being said, while there isn’t a lot that can or should be added to Playoffs mode, there are a few customisation options that wouldn’t go astray. One that springs immediately to mind would be the ability to edit the default Playoff tree that is presented upon starting a new game. Sure, the option to customise the brackets has always been one of the options, but it has to be done every time, so this could potentially be a time-saver.
Whether it’s updating the brackets for the current season and saving them as the new default, or creating brackets of your own choosing, it could be a nifty little option. I’d go a step further and suggest the ability to save multiple custom brackets that you could then load as desired, which would be great for retro season rosters and fantasy Playoffs alike. This is something we’ve been able to do through editing the databases in certain versions of NBA Live on PC, so it would be nice to finally have that kind of functionality as part of the in-game options. It’d be a little something extra for a mode that’s kind of difficult to innovate with, too.
3. Additional Presentation Options
Although not essential, or at least not the highest priority, this is probably the closest to being a necessary addition on this list of potentially handy options. The addition of different presentation settings was one of the best new features in NBA Live 10, and I’m glad to see it return in recent NBA Live games. It’s an option that I’d like to see in NBA 2K, too. However, there are more options that could be added to those settings. The atmosphere settings in NBA Live 18 are currently limited to Regular Season and Postseason, with the Postseason setting becoming Eastern Conference Finals, Western Conference Finals, or NBA Finals, depending on the chosen teams.
While that’s certainly adequate, it would be great to have further options. In terms of the Postseason options, it’d be nice to be able to select first round and second round in addition to the Conference Finals. The options could also include pre-season, rivalry, and even Summer League. There’s even room for more creative options, such as early and late regular season, or overseas pre-season and regular season games, where both teams are getting cheered because it’s a special event with both of them on the road. Not only would these options be fun for gamers in general, but they’d also be handy for YouTubers, particularly those who like to make mixes and fan trailers.
4. Roster Exporting
We haven’t seen it very often – in fact, the PC version of NBA Live 96 is the only one that comes to mind – but an option to export rosters from a season in progress would be awesome. In other words, saving the rosters from your Franchise, MyLEAGUE, MyGM, and possibly even MyCAREER and The One games, for use in Play Now or starting a new season. Imagine being able to play a franchise game with your own avatar that you’ve made into a star, sharing your favourite generated rookies with other gamers, or being able to see what it’s like to play with a squad that the CPU has put together. It’d be great for some fantasy basketball gaming.
I’m sure that from a technical standpoint, it’s easier said than done. There’s a lot more data in the rosters than there was back in the games from the mid to late 90s, and there would be conflicts if data such as career stats was also exported. It’s possible that such a feature might also help facilitate cheating online, though it’s not as though that isn’t already an issue. This is another thing that we’ve been able to do ourselves through manipulation of DBF files in NBA Live or the use of a trainer in NBA 2K, but like editing the Playoffs brackets, it’d be even better to be able to do it in-game. As it stands, roster exporting was a feature ahead of its time.
5. Placeholder Player Editing
This is a tricky one, as it might be opening up a can of worms from a legal standpoint, but deeper in-game editing tools for the placeholder players in NBA 2K’s historical teams would be most welcome. As of NBA 2K18, we can edit their names and their attributes, the same as any other player, but we’re not able to change their appearance. If those players’ generic faces were made using CAP assets, we’d be able to edit them into the missing players that they’re standing in for. We’d also be able to remove the headbands that a lot of placeholder players are currently sporting, since they’re part of the model in recent games and thus inaccessible in the Edit Player screen.
These additional player customisation options would be great for user-made rosters, especially on the consoles where custom face files aren’t an option. Sure, players can be removed from rosters and replaced with ones that you create, but this could save some time and avoid using up the limited number of CAP slots. As I mentioned though, it’s probably something 2K would want to avoid in case it landed them in trouble for providing an easy method of adding unlicensed players to the game. The lawsuits that put an end to NCAA games are obviously an incentive to tread very carefully, but if it’s at all feasible, I’m definitely in favour of having this option.
What are some other options that aren’t absolutely essential, but would still be handy to have in NBA Live and NBA 2K? 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.