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.
One of my resolutions for NBA 2K17 was to finally get stuck into a MyLEAGUE game. I’m still keen to do that, but I’m thinking that I might wait until the opening night rosters are pushed through. In the meantime, I’ve been playing MyCAREER with an enthusiasm I haven’t had for the mode since NBA 2K13. I’m partly playing it so that I can boost my MyPLAYER for 2K Pro-Am, but I am finding myself really enjoying the single player experience as well. It’s actually getting to the point where I want to get some closure on MyCAREER before I launch into the MyLEAGUE experience in NBA 2K17.
Over the next few editions of The Friday Five, I’m planning on posting some top five countdowns for various aspects of NBA 2K17. Since I’ve been hooked on MyCAREER, I’ve decided that that’s where I’ll begin. Needless to say, not everything is perfect, and I still have my criticisms, but I feel that NBA 2K17’s MyCAREER is the best incarnation of the mode since the game adopted the story-driven approach back in NBA 2K14. Without any further ado, here are my top five features in this year’s MyCAREER mode.
5. Face Scanning Via the MyNBA2K17 App
As I’ve mentioned a few times in previous articles and on the NLSC Podcast, I’ve never been able to get the face scan to work properly in NBA 2K15 and NBA 2K16. I found that particularly frustrating, as it was the whole reason I purchased the PlayStation Camera in the first place. When I heard that NBA 2K17 would support face scanning through mobile devices, it definitely felt like a step in the right direction. My NBA Live 16 face scan turned out quite well using that method, so I figured I might have more success if NBA 2K17 also allowed me to use my phone.
It took a couple of scans and a bit of sculpting to get a result I was happy with, but thanks to the MyNBA2K17 app, my MyPLAYER has a face that somewhat resembles me. At the very least, I look like a human this time around. I hope that NBA 2K continues to make use of the app for face scanning, especially as it makes the functionality available to PC gamers as well. As it stands, I’ll probably look to sell my PlayStation Camera, as it’s highly unlikely that I’ll want to go back and try to put my face in NBA 2K15 and NBA 2K16. It’s a shame I can’t use my NBA 2K17 scan in those games, if I did ever want to go back to them for whatever reason.
4. Practice Sessions & Doin’ Work
I didn’t get very far into the second season of MyCAREER last year, so I didn’t participate in any team practice sessions. As such, I’m experiencing all of the drills for the first time in NBA 2K17. I’m sure that some gamers find them tedious, but I personally find them a decent way to keep my skills sharp, and practice certain scenarios. They also fill up the Doin’ Work meter a lot quicker, allowing you to unlock more upgrades much sooner. On top of that, I feel that they add another level of immersion to the mode, replicating a real aspect of an NBA player’s life.
For the first month or so, I attended every optional practice, in order to fill up the Doin’ Work meter and make a good impression. Since then I’ve gotten a little lazy, skipping a few here and there, though I always attend team practices. It makes the process of unlocking upgrades a little slower, but as I’m currently an 88 Overall, I’m comfortable using some of that time to develop connections instead. I also like that there’s a Doin’ Work meter on MyCOURT that’s separate to the meter that appears during training sessions, so that I can make some extra progress towards the next upgrade while shooting around in my own time.
3. The Dual Controls upon Activating Orange Juice
Like a lot of gamers, I rolled my eyes and cringed a little when I read that the dynamic duo we’d form as part of this year’s MyCAREER story would be nicknamed “Orange Juice”. Along with the “President of Basketball” moniker, it seemed a bit silly. However, the story does offer a decent explanation for it, and there have probably been worse nicknames in professional sports. Any complaints about the name aside, the fact that we can control two players – either switching between our MyPLAYER and Justice Young, or giving him commands – is definitely fun, and adds a new dimension to the mode.
Since my MyPLAYER is a point guard and I love racking up assists, activating Orange Juice works out pretty well for me. Young is quite trigger-happy at the best of times, but it’s even easier to pad my assist numbers when I hit right on the D-Pad to pass him the ball with the instruction to immediately shoot. Thanks in large part to his shooting abilities, I’m leading the league with around 11 assists per game, and Justice Young is topping everyone in three-point percentage at 52.1%. This is all despite the fact we’ve only recently made the starting lineup, and are averaging around 24 minutes per game on the season.
2. The Whole Experience is Available in Year 1
I’ll talk about this a little more in a moment, but one of the things I found really frustrating in NBA 2K16 was the fact that the story limited you to eight NBA games in your rookie season. Furthermore, a bulk of the core features of the experience, such as team training sessions, player connections, and so on weren’t available until your second year, which meant you had to make it through the whole story to get to the meat of the mode. You couldn’t even change your secondary nickname until Year 2 either, which meant you were stuck with the “Freq” handle. I’m not saying that “A-Train” is a great nickname, but I at least feel it’s somehow based on my name.
Thankfully, that’s no longer the case in NBA 2K17. After progressing through your abbreviated college career, you immediately find yourself in the full NBA MyCAREER experience: off-day events, player connections, training, and best of all, a full 82 game schedule. There’s still a story taking place in the background, but your rookie season no longer feels like an afterthought, or pre-determined experience. It’s certainly viable to contend for Rookie of the Year, and if you’re good enough, an All-Star appearance in your freshman campaign. For me, it’s made playing through MyCAREER as appealing as it was in NBA 2K13.
1. A Less Intrusive Story
If not for this, most of the other features that I like in NBA 2K17’s MyCAREER would be moot. I know that there are people who liked NBA 2K16’s “Livin’ Da Dream”, and if you did, that’s fine. Personally, I thought it was corny and cliché, painfully linear, and pigeonholed gamers with a character that wasn’t necessarily a good fit. In some ways NBA 2K17 has similar problems, as there’s a pre-written story in place, and you can’t change certain elements of your character and back story. However, it feels much less intrusive, and definitely more “one size fits all” than “Livin’ Da Dream” ever did. The writing, acting, and characters are also superior.
Last year, the ratio of cutscenes to gameplay was skewed towards the former, so the games felt like small snippets of something to do in between watching a movie. With the focus returning to the gameplay experience in NBA 2K17, the cutscenes and story feel as though they compliment what you’re doing, building the world and creating atmosphere. The story is still fairly linear, and there are occasional discrepancies between some of the cutscenes and commentary and actual recent events, but there are some choices to make, less sitting around watching, and more engagement. If 2K is going to continue with the story-driven approach, this is how it should be done.
Once again, I’m still eager to dive into a MyLEAGUE game, but for now, MyCAREER has certainly been an enjoyable experience. While I was hoping to get drafted by the Chicago Bulls at the fourteenth pick, ending up in Denver has brought back fond memories of my NBA 2K13 MyCAREER. What are the best parts of MyCAREER in NBA 2K17 in your opinion? For that matter, which are the worst? 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.