Needed changes come to latest NBA 2K

Tomaz Farina Escosteguy, Staff Writer

I would like to give you guys some background information about last year’s NBA 2K18 game and, of course, rant a little – who doesn’t like to rant – about this game’s predecessor.

Ranting was, actually, one of the best things that NBA 2K18 provided to players. The game was “pay-to-win” that it made almost impossible for players, casual or even regular ones, to enjoy the same experience. 

Players who spent all their money on VCs (the game’s virtual coins used to upgrade some settings and attributes in-game that can be earned playing A LOT or by buying them) had a huge advantage.

So, 2K’s biggest trump, the MyCareer mode, which basically depended on earning VCs for you to upgrade your own created player from a rookie to Stephen Curry, was a flop. Also, the abuse of “blow-by” animations as well as the cut scenes that you can’t skip, which was present for much of the game, annoyed even the players with the greatest patience.

Still, the VC matter was, for sure, the biggest problem from last year’s game. You may think that this is a hater opinion, but the numbers don’t lie: NBA 2K18 got a 5.8 average player rating on GameStop. NBA Youtuber Chris Smoove revealed in one of his videos that the 2K player counting was so low last year that the company started emailing some of its players, asking them why they were not playing the game anymore.

This action, plus the creation of The Neighborhood – a place where you could briefly interact with other players – revived my faith in 2K once again. A humongous company was emailing their players to discover what was wrong with last year’s game, so they could fix it on the upcoming one. Finally, they would listen to the community and solve the game’s problems. And, oh boy, did they.

This year’s NBA 2K19 game doesn’t have clamant novelties and huge differences from the previous ones, but it feels nicer because the details added to last year’s version were mostly fixed.

To start with, 2K fixed the problem with the crazy and abusive animations. So, if you want to drive to the basket like LeBron James, your player SHOULD be LeBron James (I found this out in the worst way getting blocked by Joel Embiid and KAT every time I drove to the basket with small point guards). Just kidding, that would be a hyperbole, since there is only one King.

Still, if you want to slash and play aggressive, or shoot contested mid-ranges, skills for it are now required, that makes the gameplay more realistic and genuine. This will probably be, as it was for me, a shock in the beginning, but you will get used to it. Trust me, it is for the best, even though it might be a little stressful to start.

In order to be successful with your own MyCareer player, you don’t need to “pay-to-win” anymore – of course, it still cheaper that way – if you strive and dedicate some time for it, you will eventually get to a high rating and destroy your friends on the park.

Also, this new MyCareer story is more relatable and believable, with skippable cut-scenes, different from 2K18’s, which basically consisted on telling the story of a random DJ who played in a streetball tournament and somehow ended up on an NBA team. Yes, you were a DJ last year. Don’t ask me why.

Right now, you play as AI, a former college player that didn’t get drafted and now has to show his worth in the Chinese Basketball League to, eventually, make to the NBA G-League and, after some heated games with your rivals, to the NBA.

Overall, the graphics have improved once again, the in-game mechanics added to the layups, slashing moves and defense are quite fine and gave a realistic air to the game. It may not be as “noob-friendly” as it was last year, but this was one of the community’s biggest requests: to make a game which would reward skilled players who invested time to get better at it.

Still, the game’s AI make dumb mistakes from time to time, but this has been happening since the first 2K game, so it is more a matter of adjusting your gameplay to it, like in previous years. What matters is that the improvement that the 2K community was expecting since 2017 has arrived.

As ESPN Brazil’s broadcaster Paulo Antunes, would say: “Temos Um Jogo” (Portuguese for: We, now, have a game!).