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 features that I’d like to see return in future NBA 2K games.
While many of us do have our gripes with recent NBA 2K games, for the most part the series has been very solid for a long time now. Unlike NBA Live, it hasn’t been set back by frequent changes in direction. Instead, it’s continued to build upon its established foundation, and the quality of the experience has been fairly consistent as a result. The depth of the modes and the assortment of features and options have gone a long way in making NBA 2K successful. From robust single player experiences to different modes for online play, to roster editing and customisation, there’s a lot for basketball gamers to sink their teeth into.
Unfortunately, some features have fallen by the wayside over the years. There are various reasons for their absence in recent titles, from technical issues to design choices. Thankfully, we have seen some really great features make their way back into the game, such as the “Start Today” option in MyLEAGUE and MyGM. However, there are still some other features from past NBA 2K titles that would make a deep and well-rounded product even better, if they were to return. These are the five features that spring immediately to mind for me.
1. NBA’s Greatest
Or at least, some kind of challenge mode that makes use of the bevy of historical teams that are currently featured in NBA 2K. Sure, simply having those teams in the game is better than not having them at all, and they also provide assets for modders looking to create historical projects. Even so, it still feels a little like they’re going to waste. I’d like to have a mode that encourages gamers to use those teams to play through some set challenges, and ideally unlock some rewards; perhaps a generous amount of VC, or the MyTEAM cards of the NBA Legends spotlighted in the mode. A connection to other modes would add more incentive to play, on top of nostalgia.
Ideally, the mode would feature the in-depth, historically accurate presentation that NBA’s Greatest did, and perhaps some in-game goals like the Jordan Challenge. At the very least, I envision 10-15 games based on historical match-ups and rivalries, or perhaps even specific scenarios similar to Moments Challenges in MyTEAM (Michael Jordan’s famous shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1989 comes to mind). A possible added benefit here is that the more prominent use of the historical teams should result in some more attention being paid to them in terms of ratings, tendencies, playbooks, and artwork; welcome news for fans of the retro content.
2. Creating a Legend
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the story-driven approach in MyCAREER has its problems, and it isn’t for everyone. That’s something I’ve discussed at length on many occasions, and it seems to be a fairly common complaint about the mode in general. There are a couple of solutions that Visual Concepts should be considering here. A story that branches more frequently would offer a deeper experience and more replay value, so that’s something I’d be in favour of anyway. Another option would be to bring back a variation on the old Creating a Legend mode, providing gamers with a career mode that doesn’t bother with a set storyline at all.
The original Creating a Legend mode was an alternative to MyCAREER, with fewer bells and whistles, and the option to use a real NBA player instead of a MyPLAYER. Using a real player would be a fun idea to bring back, but I think the mode’s main appeal these days would be in providing an alternative to the story-driven approach. It would be similar to the choice franchise gamers have between the RPG-style MyGM and sandbox-oriented MyLEAGUE, and I believe that MyCAREER would benefit from offering two alternatives. Tweak the concept a little, devise a new name that fits the “My” branding, and the return of Creating a Legend would be most welcome.
3. Standalone Dunk Contest
I’m not a huge fan of the mechanics of the dunk contest in NBA 2K17, but it’s better than not having the event at all. Unfortunately, it can only be played upon reaching the All-Star Weekend in MyCAREER, MyGM, and MyLEAGUE, assuming that you have a player that’s selected. This limits the amount of fun that can be had with it, and also makes it more challenging than it should be. With no exhibition or tutorial mode in which to get accustomed to the mechanics of the dunk contest, there’s no opportunity to master the timing outside of competing in the event during the course of one of the game modes (or starting a new game and simming through to it).
If nothing else, it’d be nice to be able to set up a dunk contest whenever you like, just as a change of pace. I’d also be in favour of making the three-point shootout available for exhibition play, or indeed, featuring an entire All-Star Weekend mode similar to the one that was available in NBA Live 2005-09. That will mean tweaking the dunk contest slightly to ensure that it follows the same (or at least, very similar) rules to the real event, which is what I’d prefer anyway. The All-Star events are too fun, and have too much work put into their presentation, to remain tucked away and unplayable outside of the other game modes. It’s time to feature them more prominently.
4. Abundance of Save Slots
We’ve gone from having a hundred slots for saved games in NBA 2K15 to twelve save slots in NBA 2K17, which are shared between MyLEAGUE, MyGM, and MyCAREER. I’m guessing that it’s the result of some kind of technical limitation, either with the user interface or the NBA 2K servers. That’s unfortunate if that is indeed the case, but if it’s at all feasible, I would suggest that the more save slots we have, the better. Admittedly, twelve slots is probably sufficient for a lot of gamers, and you can always delete files if you have no further need of them, but it would obviously be better to have too many save slots, rather than too few.
There are times when having those extra save slots would be really handy. Even if you “retire” a saved game, you may want to keep it as a record of your achievements, or just in case you want to pick it up again. Whether it’s MyLEAGUE, MyGM, or MyCAREER, you may want to experiment with a few different approaches. If nothing else, having those extra slots means that you don’t have to carefully ration them out when making backups of your saved games, avoiding loss of data and providing a restore point if something goes wrong. A hundred slots may be overkill – 25-50 might be more appropriate – but twelve just strikes me as being too few.
Right now, NBA 2K easily beats NBA Live in terms of roster editing, simply by the virtue of actually including roster customisation functionality. I know that a lot of gamers would like to see the current set of in-game customisation tools expanded, and I definitely agree that some added functionality wouldn’t go astray. However, there’s a customisation feature that hasn’t been in the game since the last gen version of NBA 2K14: Create-a-Team. While it’s fair to say that there are other priorities in terms of gameplay, modes, or even roster editing, Create-a-Team is a feature that I believe would be warmly received if it were to be brought back.
Considering all the customisation tools we have at our disposal for rebranding teams in MyLEAGUE and MyGM, as well as creating teams for 2K Pro-Am, the infrastructure would seem to be in place for an in-depth Create-a-Team function. Just imagine the detailed roster mods that could be made, without nearly as much external manipulation, if we could create our own teams, import all the necessary textures, and fill them with cloned or newly created players. Ideally, we’d then be able to share those custom teams, either individually or as a complete roster. Create-a-Team is definitely an old school feature, but one that I believe still has a use today.
Those aren’t the only features from previous NBA 2K games that would be great to see return in future releases, but as I said, they’re the first five that come to mind for me. What are some of the features and functions that you’d like to see return in future NBA 2K games? 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.