Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.
In just a few days, we’ll finally be able to get our hands on NBA 2K15. Well, those of us outside of North America will actually have to wait an extra couple of days, but in any event, the game is almost here! I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that most people are really looking forward to this year’s release, and are very eager to try out all of the great things that we’ve seen, heard, and read about. From gameplay to game modes, you can be sure that we’ll be scrutinising – and hopefully, enjoying – everything on offer in NBA 2K15.
But, where to begin? I personally have a bit of a routine and a few points of interest that I plan on checking out as soon as I get my hands on the game, which I thought I’d talk a little about in this week’s Friday Five. So, without any further ado, here’s my NBA 2K15 To Do list!
1. Run through the practice drills
It may seem like a boring place to start, but I do like to run through the practice drills in training camp every year. It’s a low-pressure environment in which I can get a feel for the game, while taking note of some of the improvements to animations, control, and responsiveness. I don’t like to wait too long before getting to some five-on-five gameplay, but just as you’d warm up before a real game, I like to shoot around a bit before I get started.
The other benefit of running through the drills again is that there are always a couple of advanced moves that I forget about. Without any major changes to the controls, I’m expecting that most of us will be able to pick up and play the game very quickly, but I for one find that a refresher course is quite handy when it comes to some of the off-ball and teammate controls. It doesn’t take long, and it’s a good way to shake off any rust without having to worry about winning any games.
Additionally, the practice facilities have been expanded upon this year with videos and voiceovers from NBA players, including cover athlete Kevin Durant, so I’d like to take some time to appreciate the efforts that have gone into that presentation.
2. Play some exhibition games
After I’m done resharpening my stick skills in training camp, it’s on to some exhibition games. I like to get some experience in games that don’t matter before I make a start on any of the modes; that way, I’m somewhat used to the gameplay, and have an idea about any slider and settings tweaks that I’d like to make, before I commit to any in-depth gaming. After all, that’s why the NBA itself has a pre-season: a final tune-up before the real games begin. Oh, and to make some extra money, too. I guess it’s the same for me, only the currency is virtual.
I still prefer to play twelve minute quarters as often as I can, though since I don’t have as much free time as I once did, that’s an approach that I may have to reconsider. Needless to say, an accelerated clock option would be very handy in that regard. Anyway, I’m always interested to see how a new game performs with full length quarters, and really indulging my inner sim geek. However, I’ll also play a few games with shorter quarters, in preparation for MyTEAM.
Something that I want to keep in mind this year is that those early games will be all about getting used to NBA 2K15 and honing my stick skills, not blowing out the AI. Last year, I found myself getting frustrated as I hadn’t been playing as much in the final couple of months between NBA 2K13 and NBA 2K14, and my performance was generally subpar as a result. My frustration ultimately tainted my initial impressions of NBA 2K14, as I was focusing too much on beating the CPU, rather than learning and getting into the game. This year, I intend to take a more patient approach.
3. Check out MyGM and MyLEAGUE, then dive right in
These are the modes that I’m looking forward to the most in NBA 2K15, and if you’ve listened to our interview with Leftos in Episode #95 of the NLSC Podcast, you’ll know why. I highly recommend tuning into that show if you’d like to get a lot of great info on both modes, but just in case anyone’s still wondering why NBA 2K15 features two management-oriented modes, MyGM provides an RPG-like experience – think MyCAREER from a GM’s standpoint – while MyLEAGUE is basically a sandbox mode, consisting of a more traditional approach to multiseason mode (only much, much deeper and customisable, to say the very least).
Just as I like to familiarise myself with the gameplay before I commit to playing through a mode, I like to check out all of the features and options in the management modes before starting a “proper” playthrough. Of course, there’s always a chance that I’ll be immediately hooked and my “main game” will be the one that I start not long after getting NBA 2K15, but I’ll probably look to run a few simulations first, playing around with the settings so that I know exactly what I want out of MyLEAGUE, and just how I want to approach MyGM.
I’m also interested to find out which mode I’ll ultimately end up playing the most. I soured on MyGM last year because of the Virtual Currency paywalls, but the development team has thankfully taken that criticism on board and made some pleasing adjustments to the way that VC is utilised this year. I can certainly see myself really getting into MyLEAGUE, but the challenge and RPG elements of MyGM are very intriguing. I guess I’ll find out which I prefer soon enough, though I may well end up splitting my time fairly evenly between the two.
4. Give MyCAREER a fair chance
If you’re a regular listener of the NLSC Podcast, or you’ve seen some of my recent posts in the Forum, then you’re most likely aware that I’m not too fond of the more “scripted” direction that the mode is taking. It’s not exactly to my taste, as I feel it cuts down on variety and replay value, essentially offering every user a single, linear storyline. The production values are fantastic of course, but on the whole, I have my reservations about the approach.
Having said that…I am beginning to change my mind about that. A little. I recently gave MyCAREER in NBA 2K14 another shot, and I found myself enjoying it a little more than before, as the ratio of gameplay to cutscenes became more favourable. I still have my concerns, and there are things that I believe MyCAREER needs to do to ensure that the story-driven approach offers the best possible experience, but I’m also interested to see what’s been done with the mode in NBA 2K15. I had a lot of fun with MyCAREER in NBA 2K13, so I’m definitely open to giving it another try.
While I’m iffy about MyCAREER right now, I reserve the right to change my mind. If I still don’t care for it, no harm done. I’m sure that between MyLEAGUE, MyGM, and MyTEAM, I’ll have something to keep me occupied until NBA 2K16 comes out. However, a lot of work has gone into MyCAREER – as I said, the production values are fantastic – and I’ve enjoyed the mode greatly in the past, so I’ll be keeping an open mind and taking another look.
5. Try out the roster customisation features
Somewhere between learning all about the game modes and starting to play them in-depth, I’ll be taking a look at the roster customisation features in NBA 2K15. It remains to be seen how moddable the PC version will be – remember, we’re likely going to be working with all-new files there – so until other solutions can be devised, the in-game functions may be all that we have to work with for a little while. If we are limited out of the gate, then I’d like to know what kind of content we can produce in the meantime.
I don’t have a PlayStation Eye Camera, and the PC version doesn’t support face scanning at all, so I’ll be limited to the face sculpting options. Once again, day one limitations may make some of our in-depth and historical mods difficult to produce, but with 150 slots for created players, we should be able to do some decent work with unofficial current roster updates. With the ability to add created players to any roster, adding missing players to the latest official update should be a lot quicker and easier than in years past.
After that? Well, as I said before, I expect that I’ll be sinking my time into MyGM and MyLEAGUE. If I continue to warm up to MyCAREER, no doubt I’ll be taking to the court with my MyPLAYER fairly regularly. And at some point, I’ll have a shot at building MyTEAM, as the packs supposedly offer better value and are more fairly priced this year. Needless to say, I’m sure I’ll have my gripes with NBA 2K15 – after all, no game is perfect, and there’ll always be room for improvement – but I’m expecting it to provide a fun year of basketball gaming. Not long now…
That’s all for this week. What are you most looking forward to in NBA 2K15? What will you be trying out first? Let me know in the comments section, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! Thanks for checking in, please join me again next Friday for another Five.