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 breaks down the five reasons that I’m putting MyCAREER aside in NBA 2K20.
Since finishing my second season of MyCAREER in NBA 2K19, I’ve played a grand total of one game in my third. I had still been dabbling with online play, but after a particularly demoralising session, I decided to play the season opener. The new roster was interesting to play with, and the thought of new goals such as reaching 10,000 career points and completing a threepeat has me considering a third campaign. I’d be simulating a bulk of the games – especially with the release of NBA 2K20 a month away – but I’m thinking about it. After that, however, I’m done with MyCAREER.
I know, I know. I said that almost a year ago, and ended up going further than I ever have before in MyCAREER. At the time I thought I was done, just as I do now. The difference is that after another year of playing MyCAREER, I truly feel ready to put it aside. My experience was significantly more positive in NBA 2K19, so I’m not ending my time with the mode on such a sour note. Furthermore, looking ahead to the release of NBA 2K20, I have other incentives to move away from the single player career experience. If you’ve spent a lot of time in MyCAREER these past few years and are similarly looking to move on, perhaps you can relate to my reasons for doing so.
1. The massive grind has led to burnout
If the Road to 99 wasn’t so long, if the journey didn’t have to be balanced for offline and online play alike, then this may be less of an issue. As it stands, MyCAREER demands a lot of time; hours and hours of gameplay to reach 90 Overall. I’ve seen estimates that it takes upwards of 1000 hours to reach 99 Overall, which is simply ridiculous. Granted, that’s only around forty days out of 365, but fitting those hours in with other responsibilities is easier said than done. While the rewards for reaching 99 are nice – your name in the next game and a free copy – many of the rewards between 90 and 99 aren’t really worth it, especially after putting in that much time and effort.
Of course, you don’t need to hit 99 Overall to enjoy the game or build up an effective player, but as I said, the journey to superstar ratings is long enough. Worse yet, it gets very repetitive along the way. If you want to make steady progress, you need to put up big numbers game after game. There’s hitting the Gatorade Gym to restore your boost; it isn’t necessary, but just try playing without it, especially online. There’s doing the same drills and spamming the same moves for minimal XP, which wasn’t helped in NBA 2K19 when an early patch nerfed the amount. After a while it feels more like work than a game, and that isn’t fun. After another year of it, I’m truly burned out.
2. I’m tired of starting over
Starting over every year when a new game comes out is painful. It was always tough having to leave behind a franchise or season game that you were enjoying in an older title, but it’s even worse with the card collecting and career modes. With MyCAREER in particular, I’m tired of starting over as a 60 Overall player, while the story makes my character out to be a potential superstar from Day One. I’m tired of going from a player with levelled-up ratings and all my preferred animations to a player that feels like they don’t even belong in the NBA. Honestly, I even miss the cosmetic items, and am weary of having to once again rock the 2K Generics and default garb.
MyCAREER desperately needs to raise the starting ratings, or offer a returning gamer bonus so that starting over isn’t such a chore. Raising key skills and athletic ratings in particular would not only improve the experience on the virtual hardwood, but also make sense conceptually. After all, being slightly more skilled would reflect a player who actually has a shot at being a star, and young players are generally at the peak of their athleticism when they enter the NBA. Under the current approach, not only is it a lot of work to make your player NBA-ready and viable for online, but all of that work goes out the window as progress is reset every year. At this point, I’m over it.
3. I want to play other modes
Even if the overall experience of MyCAREER makes the grinding feel worthwhile, it is nevertheless extremely time-consuming. Investing so many hours into MyCAREER has the drawback of leaving very little time to play other modes. I suppose this isn’t a huge problem for a lot of gamers who are only interested in career play and the online modes associated with it, but I’d prefer to play a little bit of everything. That’s been close to impossible with the annual MyCAREER grind getting in the way, and it only adds to the aforementioned feeling of repetitiveness. It’s not that the other modes don’t have their grindy moments, but they’ll still feel fresh after years of MyCAREER.
Thanks to the much better approach to Locker Codes in NBA 2K19, I’ve been able to build decent teams on both PC and PlayStation 4 this year, without spending a single cent on VC. Hopefully, I’ll be able to build up a collection that I enjoy playing with in NBA 2K20 as well. There’s also never been a better time to be a franchise gamer. As much as anything else, my desire to not only return to my roots as a franchise gamer, but also spend some more time with modes like MyTEAM, is one of the main reasons that I’m putting MyCAREER aside. It’ll be a shame to lose that source of VC to buy MyTEAM packs, but at least I’ll have more time to play with the cards I collect.
4. Online play has lost its appeal
Although I’ve greatly enjoyed the single player experience in MyCAREER, one of the main reasons that I’ve been grinding so hard these past few years is to have a player that’s capable of being competitive online. Sure, once I started maxing out a lot of my Badges I wanted to finish them all and attain the PlayStation Trophy for doing so, but I also wanted my player to have as many advantages as possible in The Playground and Jordan Rec Center. Hitting 92 Overall not only felt like an accomplishment after all that grinding, but also made online play more viable, since I no longer had to visit the Gatorade Gym every five games. The grind was at least tolerable offline…mostly.
Unfortunately, the online experience has been…well, if I’m being completely honest, rather dreadful in NBA 2K19. Between the gatekeeping restrictions on team Pro-Am, a lack of balance and matchmaking, and a myriad of legacy issues including a whole lot of lag, I’ve really soured on the online scene. I’m not alone, as most of the NLSC’s Pro-Am squad threw in the towel quite early this year, and understandably so. Trying to play with randoms has been a miserable experience for the most part, and after a particularly frustrating session, I’ve had enough. Simply put, if I don’t need a player for online play, that eliminates one of the main reasons to play MyCAREER.
5. I’ve done it all in MyCAREER
Allow me to finish on a more upbeat note, as I do have some positive reasons for wanting to move on from MyCAREER. As I noted in my introduction, I’ve had a far more enjoyable experience this year compared to NBA 2K18, where I didn’t make it past December and stopped playing the game altogether early on in 2018. In NBA 2K19, I played two full seasons without simulating. I set records, averaged a triple-double in Year 2, and won back-to-back championships. I maxed out my Badges and reached 93 Overall, without buying any VC along the way. I’ve qualified for the Hall of Fame, which I’ve never done before. I’ve done it all, had fun, and feel satisfied.
When I first got hooked on MyCAREER back in NBA 2K13, one of the main reasons was that it felt fresh. Association provided the deep experience I’d been craving from NBA Live’s Dynasty mode, but by then I was a bit over franchise play. It didn’t feel new, while MyCAREER did. Now that I’ve been playing MyCAREER for most of this past decade, it’s MyLEAGUE that feels fresh. A taste of great cards and better submodes than Ultimate Team has increased my enthusiasm for MyTEAM, too. I’ve reached all of my goals in MyCAREER, and I feel I can put a bow on it. Now it’s time to get hooked on other modes, and make some new basketball gaming memories.
Are you thinking of putting MyCAREER aside in NBA 2K20? If so, are your reasons similar to mine? If you’re going to stick with MyCAREER, what are your reasons for doing so? Let me know 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.