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.
Last week, I posted five suggestions for enhancing the gameplay in NBA Live 17 and beyond. While it’s important that the gameplay delivers a quality experience, basketball video games also need robust modes if they’re going to hold our interest for any length of time. After all, no matter how fun and realistic the gameplay, a string of meaningless exhibition games is going to get boring after a while. It’s therefore vital that NBA Live’s franchise, career, and card collecting modes are all deep and engaging experiences. The addition of a couple of other modes – such as All-Star Weekend – wouldn’t go astray, either.
For the moment, however, let’s focus on Dynasty Mode. It’s traditionally been my mode of choice in NBA Live, and it’s the mode with the longest heritage in the series. Right now, Dynasty is functional, but it’s also missing a lot of basic functions and features that could be found in its predecessors. Simply bringing back those elements would be a significant improvement for the mode, but I am hoping that future NBA Live games can go even further in fleshing out the franchise experience. Here are five suggestions that I believe would help achieve that goal.
1. Add Multi-Team Control
The inability to control more than one team in Dynasty Mode is not a recent change. In fact, it’s always been the case since Franchise Mode was revamped and rebranded into Dynasty Mode in NBA Live 2004. The change was intended to focus the experience upon running a single team, with all the responsibilities that the role entailed. It was an understandable decision and the concept isn’t without merit, but it’s not to everyone’s liking and it kind of railroads franchise gamers into playing Dynasty Mode one way. To be blunt, the ability to control more than one team is long overdue to be added.
Of course, if Dynasty Mode is going to have multi-team control, it’s vital that NBA Live offers gamers a few additional functions. There would need to be the ability to automate certain management functions for selected teams if desired, for gamers who would prefer to focus on a primary team. The ability to assume or relinquish control of teams in the middle of a season (or at least during the offseason) is also a must. While there are many features and functions that need to be added in order to flesh out Dynasty Mode, this is one that a lot of people have mentioned as being very important, so I’d suggest that it’s a good place to start.
2. Allow for Deep Customisation
There’s no way that Dynasty Mode can immediately catch up to MyLEAGUE and MyGM in terms of depth. However, it is an area where I think that NBA Live should look to take some cues from NBA 2K. I’d personally prefer to see Dynasty follow the example of MyLEAGUE, and be more of a sandbox experience. That means control over tendencies (injury frequencies, number of trades, and so forth), league customisation options, and commissioner tools. MyLEAGUE has set the standard for a customisable franchise mode experience, so I definitely believe that NBA Live should look to borrow some of its concepts and ideas.
That being said, previous NBA Live games have also boasted customisation and management features in Dynasty and Franchise Mode that would certainly be welcome additions in future games. A couple of paragraphs isn’t enough for a comprehensive list, but custom Season and Playoffs lengths, Division realignment, and trade overrides are just some of the features that spring immediately to mind. The default Dynasty experience should be optimised for realism and imitate the real NBA as closely as possible, but we should also have the ability to tweak the mode if we want.
3. Bring Back Basic Functions & Features
As I mentioned in my introduction, the last few NBA Live games have featured a Dynasty Mode that is functional, but lacks some basic functionality that we’ve come to expect in previous games. While I’d like to see NBA Live innovate and take the Dynasty experience to new heights, a deep mode starts with the basics, and a few too many of them are missing right now. This includes functions and features such as player editing (facilitating jersey number and position changes), transaction and injury listings, season awards listings, team chemistry and player satisfaction, and the rumour mill.
Other features that would be worth bringing back (and preferably enhancing) include team practice sessions and scrimmages, free agent negotiations, jersey number retirements, and three team trades. I’ll also reiterate the aforementioned options of multi-team control, custom Season and Playoffs lengths, and trade overrides. Once again, while I would like to see Dynasty borrow some ideas from MyLEAGUE and make some further innovations of its own, I’d also like to see the development team look into NBA Live’s past and bring back the basic building blocks of the mode, as well as some of the cool features seen in previous games.
4. Add More Statistics & League History Screens
A big part of making a franchise mode an immersive experience is representing the NBA’s rich history, and allowing gamers to add to that legacy. One of the extra touches that I really like in MyLEAGUE and MyGM in NBA 2K17 (and MyCAREER, for that matter) is the presence of all-time stats and records. Not only does it add a sense of history to those game modes, but you can also continue to make history by breaking records and accumulating statistics. This adds new goals and accomplishments, and makes those modes feel like less of a blank slate at the beginning. Sometimes, it’s fun to just scroll through those records and reminisce!
We need to see some more statistics and information screens for the current season, too. I mentioned injury and transaction listings above, but I’d like to see stats screens expanded to include advanced metrics and Per 36 averages as well. NBA 2K17 features an intuitive approach here, as users can toggle between raw stats, advanced stats, and Per 36 stats with the press of a button, in both the Player Statistics and League Leaders screens. Along with expanding player cards out to include career/season highs and full career stats, shot charts, and other information, I’d like to see NBA Live really cater to stats junkies in future iterations of Dynasty Mode.
5. Implement Long Awaited Features
Alright, so bringing back basic features and functionality seen in previous NBA Live titles is the first step in enhancing the current incarnation of Dynasty Mode. The next step is to continue to innovate, and add features that have been Wishlist staples for more than a decade now. Glancing at my own Wishlist for NBA Live 17, some key additions would include ten day contracts and contract extensions, the ability to hire and fire head coaches, normalisation of stats for shorter quarter lengths, and All-Star voting. If it’s a part of the NBA, then it should make its way into NBA Live; “it’s in the game”, after all.
The deepest Dynasty experience is always going to be offline, but bringing the mode online should also be a goal for NBA Live. An online league mode with some of the core elements of offline Dynasty – player trades, free agency, the option for a fantasy draft, and so on – would be a welcome addition to NBA Live’s online experience. As a long-time Dynasty enthusiast, I really want to see the mode get back to where it was before NBA Live’s reboot, and then continue to get better and better. Rising Star and Ultimate Team need work too – and I’ll get to them in future columns – but ideally all three modes should be deep, immersive, and enjoyably engaging experiences.
As you can see from my post in our NBA Live 17 Wishlist thread, there’s a laundry list of additions and improvements that I’d like to see made to Dynasty Mode moving forward, so this is just an outline in five points. What are some of your suggestions for Dynasty Mode in future NBA Live titles? 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.