Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X
September 8, 2023
NBA 2K24 is the latest in a long line of NBA2K games. Yearly sports games can be hit and miss, without a lot of difference from the previous year’s game. There are new features like ProPlay, an immersion ruining but new story in MyCAREER mode, heading ‘In Pursuit of Greatness’ in The W, reliving some of Kobe Bryant’s greatest MAMBA MOMENTS, and recreating or changing history in MyNBA. Even with these differences from the last game, this year’s NBA game is still in basketball terms: an airball. There are some redeeming qualities in the game, but alas they are few and far between.
The gameplay itself is solid, having played previous NBA 2K games I was not surprised at the gameplay on offer, but the ball movement and animations are as fluid as ever. By using actual footage of the NBA to translate into the animations they’ve taken the game’s feel to the next level. Some of the timings you need for shooting the ball can be hard to get down pat, especially under extreme defensive coverage, but scoring does feel like a reward for some good play. The DualShock 5 adaptive triggers become tighter when you are out of stamina letting you feel how it’s harder to run in a small but nice touch.
The game includes all NBA and WNBA teams to choose from, as well as some historical teams. Some of these inclusions make sense and others, like 2009/10 Portland Trail Blazers, a team knocked out in the first round of the playoffs that season, are interesting choices. Especially considering there are no EuroLeague teams present like there have been in previous years or no national teams in a year where the FIBA World Cup has occurred, this seems like a missed opportunity.
“I prefer the MyCAREER of 10 years ago…”
Imagine for a moment you are a college basketball player; you’re a highly touted prospect, and you are going to be an NBA star. All that stands between you and your destiny is the draft, where the bottom teams from the previous year get higher picks as a method of letting them catch up… except in NBA2K24’s MyCAREER mode, you skip this part and just get to choose which team you play for, just like in 2K23.
I found this to break the immersion in the game. Your created player, who is somehow the most highly touted prospect since one of the greatest of all-time players in Lebron James, can just start playing for last year’s championship-winning Denver Nuggets. You are meant to be the best player in this draft class, and yet you can go to any team you want, without your team having to trade players or anything else to get pick number 1. For some people, I can see the appeal of jumping right into your favourite team, but I personally would rather they have what they did in NBA2K22 alongside this, working your way through college and the developmental leagues before going into the NBA draft.
You can also traverse The City in NBA 2K24 and see other people’s created players and play 3v3 streetball against AI. You can get bonuses for your attributes by participating but you can also just play in the NBA and grind up that way. There are also various side quests you can do, with some being a bit odd. Why would I go visit a player who’s not on my team for tips on how to unlock a perk? There are already side quests for going to practice with your team run by the coaching staff, so why can’t they teach me the perks? I wouldn’t mind a cutscene where I must participate in a photo shoot and then I get the ability to choose which uniform my team plays in, but instead, I must go out into the hub world, find where this photoshoot takes place and then do it that way. It just makes it feel tedious and distracting.
I prefer the MyCAREER of 10 years ago to what we have now, and that feels like a problem. They’ve added all these extra ways to grind but if you wanted to you can spend money and skip all the grind.
NBA 2K23 is full of microtransactions in a full-priced game, and they’ve made sure you would at least consider spending some real-world money at many points. Want new street clothes or even a headband to wear when you’re playing for your created player? Well, it’s the same currency you use to upgrade their in-game stats. You can use this same currency to purchase MyTEAM, like that of FIFA Ultimate Team in that of EA Sports FC games (FKA FIFA games), packs as well. This currency is shared across all players you created in MyCAREER. While you can gain this Virtual Currency (seriously, that’s what they call it) by playing, the rate at which you gain it is slow. The prices start at $3.35 for 5000 VC and the prices for skill points go up based on how high that skill is.
There were enough starter packs for me to build what was a decent team for MyTEAM but I quickly found myself just playing the single-player modes for this after getting completely and utterly defeated in multiplayer, however, I found this came quite quickly and didn’t notice any in-game lag, which was nice. The rewards were generous enough, with cards and packs on offer for the higher tiers. The players you can get are not just limited to current players, with retired players also up for grabs, I can see this mode being popular for the more hardcore basketball fans as they attempt to build their dream team. This mode also has a separate currency which you can use to buy packs and players outright.
They’ve also made buying this currency tempting as each pack of 5 cards only has 1 guaranteed player and 4 random items, which could be shoes and badges to boost the stats of your MyTEAM players, courts to play on, and jerseys to play in. Each card is a different price to buy outright as well but it’s seemingly more cost effective than it is to gamble on the packs.
There is also a WNBA career mode called The W in which you can go “In Pursuit of Greatness” and track yourself against some of the League’s most gifted stars and your rivals. I was surprised to find you were able to randomly pick the team you started with, something not afforded to the NBA career mode. The mode also allows you to pick how you start your WNBA career. You can choose straight from the draft as a highly touted prospect or after plying your trade in Europe for a few years, the latter letting you start with higher overall stats. I feel like having multiple choices for how your career starts should be also in MyCAREER and not just The W. Unlike in MyCAREER mode your attributes go up automatically in The W.
The mode also allows you to participate in pickup games against coaches, veteran and star players of your teams, positional rivals, and 3v3 games like in MyCAREER. These are built into the mode’s menus without having to traverse a hub world. This is changed from last year’s game where you could choose your NBA contacts. While this is a little side-quest heavy, to me it feels a little more natural. They occur on days you’re not playing in the WNBA itself so it feels like there’s more incentive to do these things unlike in MyCAREER where it’s quicker to get to the next match than it is to get to 3v3 courts. It’s laid out better and adds to the overall experience of the game. Even if you don’t know much about the WNBA if you’re like me and not vibing with MyCAREER, give this a try.
NBA 2K24’s “My NBA Eras” is the most fun in the package, as you take control of a team in any of five eras and have a chance to rewrite history. Starting in the ’80s with Bird vs. Johnson, taking on Jordan in the ’90s, or even Kobe’s Lakers in the early 2000s, or perhaps even making a new contender in the recent LeBron vs. Curry era of the 2010s, and the current era starting from this season, adds a layer of replayability that I did not realise the game needed; it almost feels like five games in one. More sports games should take this concept and use it, having the ability to examine the history of sports teams as in-depth as you can in NBA 2K24 is something any sports fan would enjoy, being able to play and make your history.
This mode gives you the power to completely run the team from top to bottom, from the general manager making trades and signing players to the coach’s game plans to the players themselves, this is the mode that gives you as a player the most control over your team without the need for spending real-life money.
NBA 2K24’s MAMBA MOMENTS mode looks to be a centerpiece, the Late Kobe Bryant is a cover athlete and all. With 7 iconic Kobe Bryant games to relive and recreate, it’s a fun tribute to one of the all-time greats. Being able to replay games like when Bryant set the record for most 3 points shots made in a game or even replaying game 7 of the 2010 NBA finals and helping the Lakers win back-to-back titles will be fun for fans of Kobe and the Lakers alike, but outside of this, it doesn’t feel like it adds much to the overall experience. By starting with some archival footage of the game it then allows you to play the game from start to finish while attempting to complete objectives based on Kobe’s performance in that game. Perhaps if they added other players’ memorable games, I would find this mode more interesting.
- Taking actual NBA footage and translating that to in game animations lets you feel closer to the action
- MyNBA Eras allowing you to relive and recreate history is a gamechanger
- The DualShock 5's Adapative trigger lets you feel your stamina in game
- The City feels unneccsary for those who just want to play basketball
- Microtransactions are egregious for a full priced game
- Some of the choices for playable teams feel odd
No two basketball games play out the same, and the same can be said for NBA 2K24‘s variety of modes and features. ProPlay was a welcome addition to the overall feel of the gameplay, adding an extra level of realism. Some modes work extremely well, like The W, and others like the career mode fizzle out, but overall the gameplay itself is great. Unfortunately, having microtransactions at what feels like every corner is a real letdown for something that otherwise has real potential.