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 Badges in NBA 2K17 that are overpowered.
Badges have become an important gameplay mechanic in NBA 2K. Like their predecessors, Signature Skills, they provide players with additional traits and abilities in order to realistically represent their performance and playing style. They cover a range of offensive and defensive abilities, as well as mental traits. If you’re playing MyCAREER, 2K Pro-Am, or MyPARK, attaining Badges is absolutely crucial if you want your player to be as effective as possible. In NBA 2K17, a Gold or Hall of Fame level Badge makes a huge difference in being able to finish in traffic, knock down long threes, thread the needle on difficult passes, and so on.
As I mentioned in my Wayback Wednesday retrospective on Freestyle Superstars, concepts such as Badges represent continued innovation in terms of differentiating between players beyond their common ratings, and representing individual styles of play. While Badges have generally yielded more realistic results than Freestyle Superstars, at times they can be just as cheesy in their own right. A few Badges in NBA 2K17 are definitely overpowered, and could stand to be fine tuned for NBA 2K18. These aren’t the only problematic Badges, of course, but they are five prominent examples that immediately come to mind for me.
1. Brick Wall Badge
The Pick & Roll game is as important as it’s ever been in today’s NBA, and its effectiveness relies on players who know how to set screens that stop defenders in their tracks. This ability is represented by the Brick Wall Badge, which allows players to set a tough screen that drains the sprint meter of players who run into them, with a higher chance of knocking them down as well. Reasonable in theory, but the Badge drains an opponent’s sprint meter far too easily. There are also a few too many knock-downs without much risk of being whistled for an offensive foul. Even with a Pick Dodger Badge, you’ll find yourself crumbling to the hardwood a bit too often.
Another problem with Brick Wall is the way in which it’s attained. If you set enough screens while grinding for Badges in MyCAREER, you’ll eventually get the Bronze level Brick Wall Badge. While it’s obviously far more effective for the Archetypes that can upgrade it to Gold and Hall of Fame level, even at the Bronze level, Brick Wall can do some damage. This means that smaller players without a lot of weight or strength to throw around can still set some really tough screens. That’s not to say smaller players can’t set good screens, but once again, the frequency of knock-downs being trigged and the ease of draining an opponent’s sprint makes it overpowered.
2. Deep Range Deadeye & Limitless Range Badges
I’m cheating a little here, but these two Badges often work in tandem, and it’s tough to single out one as the chief culprit in making 2K Pro-Am a little cheesier. Three-point shooting is clearly in vogue these days, not only with prolific outside threats like the Splash Brothers, but also with power forwards and centres, leading to the rise of stretch bigs. This evolution of the game, as well as the phenomenon of Steph Curry’s incredible ability to knock down treys under pressure from pretty much anywhere on the court, is something that the development team has tried to accurately represent. These Badges are the result, reflecting an innate shooting ability from downtown.
All well and good, but the boosts they provide are difficult to counteract. Even the best three-point shooters in the league have cold stretches, off-nights, or lone possessions where they’ll miss on a good look. With the Deep Range Deadeye and Limitless Range Badges, shooting percentages are often inflated as it’s tougher to challenge long range shots, and a rare ability to shoot from way downtown can become quite common. It also doesn’t help that gamers discovered efficient methods of grinding for those Badges. Combine them with other shooting Badges such as Corner Specialist and Catch & Shoot, and things can get really cheesy.
3. Difficult Shots Badge
Shot Creators are a popular Archetype in 2K Pro-Am, ranking right up there with Sharpshooters. Frankly, there’s no mystery as to why. Their high shooting ratings off the dribble facilitate some easy scoring opportunities, especially when combined with the Difficult Shots Badge. The Badge grants an additional boost when shooting off the dribble, so it’s not uncommon to see Shot Creators take advantage of it to drill some really wild shots, even from three-point range. Granted, we’ve seen great scorers with a knack for making difficult shot after difficult shot, but with this Badge, it can become a little too automatic in NBA 2K17.
That’s not to say that the Badge should be removed, of course. Again, it’s a skill that many great scorers have demonstrated over the years, and it should be a part of the game. As with the other problematic Badges, the solution isn’t to remove it from future games, nor render it completely useless, but instead carefully fine tune its effectiveness. I’ll admit that there is part of me that isn’t keen on seeing the Difficult Shots Badge nerfed too much, however. As a Shot Creator, it’s a Badge that Valor’s MyPLAYER possesses, and his ability to knock down a lot of midrange shots off the dribble has been very useful in many games for NLSC THRILLHO.
4. Acrobat Badge
Arguably, inside scoring Badges in NBA 2K17 are all a little too strong, so it’s tough to choose the most overpowered of the bunch. The Posterizer Badge is somewhat OP, but I’m going to go with Acrobat, because even at the Bronze level, it’s a tad more effective than it probably should be. The Badge’s special ability of “attempt(ing) layups without consequences” reduces the penalty for adjusting your shot, as well as the effectiveness of the defense. Some players are very adept at finishing inside, but the advantage that Acrobat grants feels overpowered in 2K Pro-Am, being a significant boost compared to other players who should still be competent in the paint.
Combine Acrobat with Relentless Finisher, and play in the paint can get very cheesy. It’s nowhere near as bad as the Acrobat Signature Skill exploit in NBA 2K13 that allowed players to knock down easy threes, but playing with NLSC THRILLHO, I’ve seen short players with the Badge finish at the rim in traffic way too easily, way too often. Compared to other Badges, Bronze level Acrobat isn’t too bad, but for Archetypes that can upgrade it to Gold or Hall of Fame level, the inside shooting percentages in 2K Pro-Am can quickly approach arcade basketball game levels. It’s another Badge that needs to be toned down, at least a little.
5. Bruiser Badge
In many respects, Bruiser is the defensive equivalent of Brick Wall. It represents an ability to play tough, physical defense, making the offensive players work harder and expend more energy. To that end, the Badge carries the perk of being able to drain an opponent’s sprint meter upon making contact with them. Once again, this is a sound and logical idea, but with the way the sprint meter is depleted and the speed at which it replenishes, it has too large of an effect. Fresh players can be stopped dead in their tracks by the Bruiser Badge, which is going to happen a lot because players still get sucked into two-man canned animations in NBA 2K17.
Just as the Brick Wall Badge can be gained by players who really don’t have the appropriate skills or physical attributes, the Bruiser Badge can also be unlocked by players who probably shouldn’t have it. This leads to situations where pretty much everyone on the court is at least a Bronze level Bruiser, meaning every defender can drain a significant amount of their opponent’s sprint meter with minimal effort. In theory, this might be an effective counter to the overpowered offensive Badges, but in practice, it doesn’t quite balance out that way. It’s another Badge that would benefit from some fine tuning, and perhaps even some ratings restrictions.
Perhaps, as Kenny has previously discussed, the biggest problem with Badges is that it’s too easy to grind for them on easier difficulty levels, leading to lots of MyPLAYERs with Hall of Fame level Badges. Hopefully, the situation can be balanced a little better in NBA 2K18. What are some other problematic Badges in NBA 2K17? What changes would you like to see in NBA 2K18? Have your say in the comments 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.